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Paramount Studios presents

Bless The Child (2000)

"Dear god, please help."- Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger)

Stars: Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits
Other Stars: Rufus Sewell, Ian Holm, Angela Bettis, Christina Ricci, Yan Birch, Lumi Cavazos, Holliston Coleman
Director: Chuck Russell

MPAA Rating: R for violence, drug content and brief language
Run Time: 01h:47m:40s
Release Date: 2001-02-13
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ D+AB- B-


DVD Review

Much like a bad penny the religious thriller genre just won't go away. Within the past three years we have seen Arnold fight Satan, and even Winona Ryder and Gabriel Byrne have taken their shots at the big red guy. The latest human versus Lucifer thriller is the unbelievably bad Bless the Child, and if you thought Satan was funny in South Park wait until you see him here. That is not to say that Bless the Child is funny, at least not intentionally.

I would like to make a bold statement. Bless The Child is the worst film of 2000. Considering the company that this film is surrounded with that is not such a good honor. For those doubting my choice I will say this; imagine if you took the acting from Batlefield Earth and placed it with the screenplay from Coyote Ugly then you might have close to the horrendous movie that Bless The Child succeeds at being.

Eric Stark (Sewell) is the leader of a Satanic Cult that believes that Satan wishes to take over the world. Stark sees hope in a six-year-old girl named Cody O'Connor (Coleman) who many believe to be autistic, as she has the ability to light candles, move plates, and resurrect dead birds with her mind. Her Aunt Maggie (Basinger) has raised Cody since birth. Once Stark sees that Cody is the child he has been searching for, he marries her birth mother, Jenna (Bettis)—Maggie's sister, then kidnaps Cody from Maggie's home. Stark ultimately tries to tempt her to give in to the power of evil, to turn to his side. If not, she will be killed. At the same time a FBI agent (Smits) has been investigating killings in New York, and all roads seem to lead to Stark. He, along with Maggie must stop Stark before the world is no longer.

If all of this sounds a bit strange, don't worry—it is. While most movies have an unoriginal plot, Bless The Child blatantly takes more than one page from Star Wars and has very few ideas of its own. Even the characters seem to fit the situations too easily. Is it any shock that the FBI agent that Smits is playing just happens to be an ex-seminary student who now must save the world from a Satan worshipping psychopath?

I must admit, though, that from a technical standpoint the film is very well done. Director Chuck Russell creates a few moments of tension including a wrong way car ride though New York traffic that is so well made it almost seems out of place. The visual effects are also nice to look at and never look fake as do most CGI.

Comebacks are often a very strange thing. Some actors such as John Travolta have the ability to comeback more than once and choose enough good projects to get back on the 'A List.' But for every John Travolta there is a Kim Basinger. Basinger, who won an Oscar® for her role in L.A. Confidential, has had two box office bombs this year, and like Travolta is close to easing back into obscurity. She doesn't help her career with her performance as Maggie. While one can argue that with this script even Laurence Olivier would look bad, Basinger doesn't even seem like she is trying. Smits, who is essentially playing the same role he abandoned on NYPD Blue is wooden and proves his film career peaked with his role as Julio in Running Scared. With Sewell's inclusion, this film has the distinct honor of having two actors from my favorite films of the last decade. While Basinger stole L.A. Confidential and Sewell bested Dark City, they fall short in Bless The Child.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Even though the film features many darkly lit scenes, this 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer from Paramount is at times stunning. Blacks are well defined and deep. Sharpness and detail are both very well done. The transfer also shows off some of the brighter colors creating a vibrant palette that never looks anything less than perfect. Pixelation and shimmering are never a problem, nor are there ever any print scratches. This is the best transfer I have seen from Paramount yet.

Image Transfer Grade: A

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English and Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Unlike the stellar video transfer, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is less than perfect. The mix remains relatively quiet until the final act, when the surrounds come alive with music and sound effects. Dialogue is for the most part understandable and clear, and the .1 LFE channel hits hard on more than one occasion providing deep tight bass. A Dolby 2.0 mix in French and English is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Chuck Russell and visual effects supervisor John Hynek
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Interviews with the cast and crew
Extras Review: A feature length audio commentary with director Chuck Russell and visual effects supervisor Joel Hyneck leads the extra features for Bless The Child. The discussion deals mainly with the technical aspect of making the film, as well as how some of the more challenging scenes were filmed. Russell, who provided a great commentary track for The Mask does the lions share of the talking here, and there are very few moments of silence.

Other features include promotional interviews with the cast and crew as well as the original theatrical trailer.

And while the case says that there are TV spots on the disc they are nowhere to be found. Easter Eggs?

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

With Bless The Child, the satanic thriller may have been finally run into the ground. It isn't the fault of the genre that Bless The Child is a below average film, it is because of the acting and script. Satan isn't really the bad guy in this film, he just needs a better agent.

Kevin Clemons 2001-02-27