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Although it doesn't gel together as well as other supernatural thrillers, BLESS THE CHILD ($30) does prove to be a worthwhile evening's entertainment that mixes well with your favorite flavor of microwave popcorn. Kim Basinger stars in BLESS THE CHILD as Maggie O'Connor, a nurse who returns home from work during the Christmas season to discover the drug-addicted sister that she hasn't seen in years sitting on her doorstep. While the arrival Maggie's sister Jenna (Angela Bettis) is indeed a surprise, the fact that she has a newborn daughter with her is a total shock. Maggie immediately recognizes that Jenna is completely unprepared to care for her daughter and after a heated exchange; Jenna takes off, leaving Maggie with the child. As the child begins to grow up, Maggie discovers that her niece Cody (Holliston Coleman) is unlike other children. The doctors believe that Cody is suffering from something akin to autism, but Maggie comes to believe that it is something else that makes her niece different.

Although Maggie and Cody develop the bond of mother and daughter, their structured existence is overturned when Jenna returns drug free and married to Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell) the leader of a religious organization noted for getting troubled teens off the street. When Stark abducts Cody from Maggie's home, she turns to the police for help. BLESS THE CHILD also stars Jimmy Smits as FBI Agent John Travis, who takes an interest in Cody's case because he suspects that her abduction may be related to a series of child murders whose victims were all born on the same day as Cody. Agent Travis suspects that Stark's organization is a front for a dark religious group, however he doesn't know that Stark intends exploit the hidden supernatural powers that Cody is only starting to realize. As a movie, BLESS THE CHILD is rather predictable, with the villains making rather obvious mistakes, especially when it comes to getting rid of the one person who could ruin their plans. The cast of BLESS THE CHILD also includes Christina Ricci, Michael Gaston, Lumi Cavazos, Dimitra Arlys, Eugene Lipinski, Anne Betancourt and Ian Holm.

Paramount Home Entertainment has issued BLESS THE CHILD on DVD in a wide screen presentation that restores the film's 2.35:1 framing, as well as being enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. BLESS THE CHILD has the glossy sheen of a studio "A" movie just coming off theatrical release. The image is very sharp and displays an excellent level of detail. Film grain is rarely noticeable and the element utilized for the transfer has only a handful of minor blemishes. Colors are strongly rendered, although the flesh tones maintain a natural appearance. All of the hues remain solid throughout, without any signs of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks look very good, with the image producing a healthy level of shadow detail and depth. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight during the film's entire running time.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is well mixed, taking advantage of the discrete channels to effectively pan sound effect through the entire 360 soundstage. In addition to sound effects, the split surround channels produce a healthy dose of ambient sound, as well as musical fill. Dialogue reproduction is very clean, and the actors voices never becoming drowned out by the barrages of sound that are part of the special effects sequences. The bass channel provides a solid bottom end to the track that reinforces the sound effects and music. Christopher Young's musical score is well recorded and strongly integrated into the sound mix to produce its own sense of presence. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, a well as a few supplements. Director Chuck Russell and visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek provide a running audio commentary that is relaxed, entertaining and fairly informative. The talk focuses on what the director vision and what he was trying to achieve with the film. Slightly less than ten minutes of cast interviews are also present on the DVD, as is a theatrical trailer.

As I said above, BLESS THE CHILD doesn't come together as well as other supernatural thrillers. However, it does make for a respectable evening's popcorn entertainment (hot butter or caramel optional), plus the DVD looks and sounds just great.


Bless the Child


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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