The Good

The Bad

Robert DeNiro just doesn’t have it anymore. I know that people have been saying this for awhile, but I think his last really good performance was in Heat. I am sorry to say this, but I now agree, that he doesn’t have it anymore. Whether he’s laughing, or looking mean it all just seems like he’s doing a caricature of himself. It is quite telling that in Hide and Seek he is all but blown off screen by Dakota Fanning. DAKOTA FANNING!!! This isn’t like he’s up against Pacino (who is also starting to show huge signs of slowing down), or some other good actor and he just can’t keep up. He’s playing against a little girl and the girl is bringing more to the screen then he is. Now I know what people are thinking, she’s a young girl, we aren’t as familiar with her as we are with DeNiro, but this isn’t like it’s Fanning’s first film. There is just so much more to her performance. At the end of the movie, when DeNiro has reached full on creep mode, it doesn’t play as anything more then being something almost ridiculous.

I stayed away from Hide and Seek when the movie came out, simply because I thought it looked like a typical thriller. It looked like it was going to have all these red herrings, but it would eventually give in the fact that it is a “star vehicle”. Now, with all the alternative endings, and talk of the last reel of the film not showing up at theaters, I got swept up into thinking that this movie was going to be different. So imagine my disappointment after watching it. I watched all the alternative endings, and of the four, I think they should have gone with the second one. This movie became so predictable by the end that the only reason I didn’t turn it off was because I had invested so much time in watching it already.

Features

4 Alternative Endings

I can appreciate them creating 4 different endings for this movie before choosing the one that they eventually went with. What is the coolest part of this disk, is that you can choose to watch the movie with another ending. So, in a sense, you have the ability to screen four different versions of this movie. Granted, the only thing different is the ending, I still think this is a neat little feature. There is an optional commentary track for each of these alternative endings.

14 Deleted/Extended Scenes

This seems like it was clearly a movie that it had it’s problems. Or, maybe the creators were just very “into” the idea of experimenting a lot. How else to explain the large amount of supplemental material that comes with this DVD? From a purely cinematic standpoint, these scenes are good to watch right after you screen the film. I am always impressed with what made it into the film, as opposed to what didn’t, just because I feel like we are really getting a chance to compare and contrast the creator’s thought process. There is also an optional commentary track for each of these scenes.

Rough Conceptual Sequences

These sequences are “Charlie Chases Emily”, “Katherine Confronts Charlie” and “Final Moments Between David and Emily”. This is the live action of the film, mixed with storyboards. These scenes have been excised for one reason or another, but it’s very interesting seeing how they were drawn on paper and then seeing how they actually ended up being. The director talks over these sequences.

”Making Of” Featurette

This is a pretty in-depth featurette about the making of Hide and Seek. It deals with the technical and logistical aspects of pulling off the special FX, but it also looks at the actors and actresses as well as the people behind the camera who make things happen. Nobody really says anything that we haven’t heard before, but I like the seriousness of this. John Polson the director and and David Chandler (Mr. Haskins) give the most insightful comments, I think.

Feature Commentary

This is a commentary track with the Director, Screenwriter and Editor. It’s cool to listen to their technical takes on the movie, but these guys seem too serious. There weren’t many laughs, which isn’t bad, because lord knows it’s hard to pay attention when the people talking are guffawing every 5 minutes, but man these guys need to lighten up. This is truly a commentary track for people who are interested in the process of making a movie.

Video

Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1. Right off the bad, I didn’t like the look of the film. Thankfully, it didn’t use too much slow motion imagery and it wasn’t very darkly lit, but man this is a movie that really could have picked up the pace. It seems that the whole piece was little vignettes that were supposed to lead to something extraordinary. The whole time we are wondering, “Who’s Charlie?”. This goes on throughout the entire film until it finally reaches it’s conclusion. Well, sort of, because we then can watch four different endings of the movie. It isn’t that this movie is hard to watch, or that the way it’s filmed is draining... it’s just that it seems like all the characters are listless. They seem to exist to have things happen to them. It doesn’t even seem like DeNiro or Fanning do anything. Famke Janssen’s character is the only really proactive one out of all the main character’s, but she isn’t around enough to really add anything to the film.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English 5.1 Dolby Surround. Spanish Dolby Surround. French Dolby Surround. This movie is also subtitled in English and Spanish. Well if the pacing is slow, that could have something to do with the quietness of this movie. It just isn’t a loud film. It’s almost lifeless in parts, and when I saw this in the trailer that is what initially made me keep away from this film. Although, in the final parts of the movie (the ones that take place in the house), we hear music from a cartoon playing intermittently throughout the scene. This is used to great effect because in the right situation that music is very scary. Overall, there just wasn’t enough of these types of moments in this movie. It would be quiet, something scary would happen, the music would swell for a few seconds and then things would get quiet again.

Package

This cover is the same cover I believe that was used to advertise the movie when it came out theatrically. We have DeNiro and Fanning with a lot of black around them, and a half opened door in which Fanning is half in and half out of. Add to this, the hints of blood on the bottom of the cover and it does a very good job of giving the film a sense of foreboding. The back has a collage of Fanning, DeNiro and Famke Janssen next to a description of the film. There is a listing of the extensive special features, technical specifications and a cast list. Something tells me that this isn’t going to be the only release of this movie. There is just too much here for it to only be released one way. In fact, I could see them making a sequel from this film, but that would surely hinge on having Fanning be a part of it.

Final Word

The best thing about this movie, hands down, is the fact that Amy Irving isn’t in it for very long. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s because she has always projected a blue blood, regal, liberalism that just reeks of condescension, or maybe it’s because she seemed to be really mean to my man Steve Spielberg or maybe it’s just because she reminds me of a friend of my parents that I despise. Either way, good work Polson and Co. on getting rid of her and getting rid of her early!

Hide and Seek tricked me, I think. I bought into the hype of all the alternative endings, that when I saw the film I was expecting something great. Something big. Something I had never seen before. What I got was an average thriller that ended up being everything that I thought it would be. I hope that in the future, I won’t fall into the marketing ploys of companies who know how to take chicken sh*! and turn it into chicken salad.

Hide and Seek was released January 27, 2005.