Sony // 1998 // 108 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // April 28th, 1999
They're dying to play with you.
Wild Things is an entertaining film, which is well acted and presented.
The first, and probably most important thing to note about Wild Things is the quality of the transfer. While some problems are present, the transfer measures up quite nicely to the usual Columbia fare. Generally speaking, contrast is solid and colors and deep and richly saturated. Blacks are very deep as well. Little, if any, artifacting is present and edges are clear and crisp.
The audio track is pretty standard Dolby Digital 5.1, with little use of surrounds and low frequency effects. However, dialogue is clear and well presented. The few effects that use the rear channels are also well delineated and clearly located. The soundtrack, specifically the areas using George S. Clinton's music are superb and add to the tension built by the storyline.
The story is also a strong point of this disc. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that the story will keep you guessing until the very end. And I do mean the very end. To get the complete and full presentation of this movie, it is imperative that you watch all the way through, until the last credits have rolled. There is quite a bit of extra material which helps flush out the story presented as intermingling vignettes throughout the credits at the end of the movie. Be sure not to miss it.
The acting in this movie is another plus. With string performances turned in by the four main players -- Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell and Denise Richards -- this movie should not disappoint. Especially of note is Neve Campbell's performance as a dark, rebellious teenager is superb. Her intensity surely brings life to an otherwise difficult role. I am sure she had a lot of fun stretching her abilities in this film. As a comparison, Katie Holmes attempted a similar performance in Disturbing Behavior. Katie's inability to pull off such a performance should underscore Ms. Campbell's rare talents as an actress. She is surely one to watch as a possible breakout performer in the years to come.
Yet another favorable element of this disc is the inclusion of some extras by Columbia. Not one to usually include a lot of extras on their discs, Columbia has stepped up to the plate on this one. The disc includes a commentary by the director, John McNaughton, as well as theatrical trailers for Wild Things (widescreen) and Starship Troopers (full frame) and three deleted scenes (very soft picture). This brings up a nice touch by Columbia that I have only recently noticed. It seems to me that for most if not all their DVD releases, they include a widescreen theatrical trailer on the widescreen side of the disc and a full frame trailer on the full frame side. If this is indeed true, then bravo Columbia -- what a nice touch. Would that the other studios would all follow in your footsteps.
As discussed above, there was on little trouble spot with the film. However, I attribute it to more of a lighting problem than a transfer problem. In any event, check out Chapter 2 at about 4:45 in the movie, right before Denise Richards tells some scumbag student to "F-off." Her face seems totally washed out and pasty. The shot has an eerie two-dimensional quality to it. As I said, however, I attribute this flaw more to an oversaturation of lighting than anything else. Since that is virtually the only trouble spot in the movie, the transfer/video quality comes highly recommended.
Wild Things measures up in the best way to my favorite thriller genre movies. While it may not be as good as some of the older Hitchcock greats of yesteryear, it certainly passes muster when compared to many recent releases claiming to be of the thriller variety. With the exception of The Usual Suspects, this is probably one of my favorite recent twist and turn, whodunit movies of recent years.
Acquitted on all counts.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailers
* Deleted Scenes
* Director's Commentary