Came a Spider
(2001) - Paramount
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
103 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual layered (layer switch at 1:01:34), Amaray
keep case packaging, behind-the-scenes featurette, theatrical
trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (12 chapters),
languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0) subtitles:
English, Closed Captioned
living proof, that a mind... a mind is a terrible thing."
I would be hard pressed to explain myself if I said
Along Came a Spider is a
return to form for Morgan Freeman, simply because Freeman is never
out of form. Becoming a household name for his Oscar-nominated work
in The Shawshank Redemption,
Freeman has been the glue in half-a-dozen otherwise unworthy films.
In Along Came a Spider, Alex
Cross (Freeman) is a damaged detective for the Washington D.C.
police department. His partner was killed in a sting a few months
ago and he's been grieving ever since. Suddenly, Alex is thrown back
into service when a kidnapper uses him as a means to communicate
with the police and the kidnapped child's family. The family, whose
patriarch is a senator, can't understand why the kidnapper's chosen
Cross, and Cross can only think that it's because he's a famous
pathologist - his involvement can only bring fame to the case and to
But not everything in this case, which seems eerily similar to the
Lindbergh kidnapping, is as it seems. If the kidnapper wants fame,
why take a backwater Senator's daughter? If he hasn't demanded
money, why does he suddenly want 12 million dollars in diamonds?
Naturally, as Cross continues the investigation, he finds that the
real plot behind the kidnapping is bigger than he could have
From Chain Reaction to
Hard Rain to
Nurse Betty to
Kiss the Girls (which made
Ashley Judd a household name), Freeman has always been the calming
force that quietly added character to each film. While some of those
films are less than memorable, Freeman's presence has always been
welcome, and Along Came a Spider
capitalizes on Freeman's abilities as a "star" more than
as an actor. He helps to make this film much more than your average
"huntin' for a kidnapper" flick. It also doesn't hurt that
the script makes some wildly ambitious plot twists that call in some
question of credibility, but somehow work if you allow yourself to
be taken for the ride.
Still, Along Came a Spider
can't escape the trappings of the genre. Flashbacks become important
plot points and you can sense that the twist is coming even if you
aren't sure what it is (and you're usually sure). You can't say that
Along Came a Spider isn't a
well-structured film. It's just that it uses the structure of dozens
of films before it, and doesn't exactly add anything new to the
formula. But, then again, there is Morgan Freeman.
Paramount has done yet another good job with the transfer on this
DVD. Video-wise, the transfer is crisp, devoid of grain and
artifacting. Flesh tones appear to be accurately presented, and I
noticed no color bleeding anywhere in the picture. There is a bit of
noticeable edge enhancement, which keeps the transfer from being
reference quality, but it's pretty close.
On the audio-side, this track is heaven. The numerous action scenes
make great use of the surround channels, and the dialogue is always
intelligible. The bass is also used well throughout the film. To my
surprise, Jerry Goldsmith's score also uses the surrounds - the
electronic instruments float from front to rear and back again to
great eerie effect throughout the film.
The extras are a bit thin. There's a 14-minute long promotional
featurette (that's not THAT great) and the theatrical trailer.
Along Came a Spider is far
from a perfect crime movie, but is certainly solid entertainment.
And with a great transfer and audio that'll make your home theater
shine, it's definitely worth a spin.