Super 35 - 2.35:1
2.35:1 - 16:9 - 1.37:1
Written by: Shane Black
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Starring: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Malahide, Craig Bierko, Brian Cox, David Morse, Yvonne Zima
What happens when you've found a script you like and your wife happens to be an actress? Why, you team up with a bunch of your friends and pass the time by making a movie. In this case, what you wind up with is The Long Kiss Goodnight, directed by action-boy Renny Harlin and starring Geena Davis. Although absolutely nothing in Shane Black's (Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, The Monster Squad, The Last Action Hero) screenplay holds even the slightest shred of believability, The Long Kiss Goodnight is just so much fun that I completely ignored any protesting that my brain cells tried to put up, and you'll probably wind up doing the same.
The storyline revolves around happy little schoolteacher Samantha Caine (Davis), who can only remember the past eight years of her life due to severe amnesia. She's got a lovely little daughter, Caitlin (Yvonne Zima), a straight-laced boyfriend, and has spent years trying to find out who she really is. A low-rent, wise-ass detective Samantha hired, Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson), finally discovers some clues as to her real identity, but the information is slightly lacking and a little late in coming. You see, quite a few people from Samantha's past have found out she's alive, and they pay her a visit so they can...shall we say...eliminate her withÝextreme prejudice. Turns out that Samantha is actually a top CIA assassin named Charlie Baltimore, and her amnesia was caused by job-related foul up (actually pick your own spelling of the character's name - depending upon where you see her name listed in the film, the credits, or the DVD materials, it's either Charlie, Charley or Charly...so much for continuity). Anyway, before long, Charlie regains all her memory, turns into her former bleached-blond, hard-as-nails assassin self, and teams up with Mitch to take out the bad guys before the bad guys take out them. Lots of action, lots of excitement, lots of stupidity, but a hell of a fun viewing experience.
New Line Home Video's DVD release of The Long Kiss Goodnight is as flashy as the film itself, and should please everyone. The film is presented in a widescreen edition on one side of the disc, and in a standard "full-frame" edition on the other side. The Long Kiss Goodnight was apparently filmed in Super 35, and matted to about 2.35:1 for theatrical release. The widescreen edition retains that formatting with an approx. 2.38:1 aspect ratio (it is also enhanced for 16:9 widescreen TVs). The standard version is a full-frame transfer taken from that Super 35 negative...it features a little extra picture information at the top of the frame, and a ton along the bottom, but the sides are a bit cropped. While I find the composition of the letterboxed version to be more accurate (no kidding), the standard edition should be fine for those of you who are only used to viewing videotaped copies of film and haven't gotten used to the black bars yet (try letterboxing...you'll like it...).
I haven't gotten the chance yet to view the laserdisc edition The Long Kiss Goodnight, so I can't compare the DVD to the LD at this time. However, I can say that the DVD transfer shined. The transfer is always sharp and crisp, and the varied color scheme comes across absolutely solid. The film is also composed of many nighttime and darkly-lit sequences, and there was never a problem with any of the black levels/contrasts, either. Overall, the transfer is first rate. However, during the opening sequence from about 0:00:20-0:00:33, they seemed to be what might have been the faintest hint of artifacts around the lower edge of Davis' finger and hand...it's a close-up handwriting sequence filmed in slow-motion, and while it might just be some grain in the original, I can't say for sure (it's times like these I wish I hand the laserdisc version handy for a comparison.
The Long Kiss Goodnight comes with an English-language Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack, as well as a standard French-language Dolby Surround stereo soundtrack. As you would expect from an action film, and one directed by Renny Harlin no less, the sound mix is very rich and deep and goes all the way. You'll find yourself ducking to keep away from all those bullets you hear! (On a side note, I also like the cheesy background "music" that shows up at the beginning of chapter 6 - it's a bunch of dogs barking out "Jingle Bells"...) With regard to the French Dolby Surround track, it's in great shape as well, but in what seems to be a standard problem with the French dubbed soundtracks appearing on the DVDs, the dialogue echoes a bit and ultimately sounds unnatural. Should you wish to flip between the English and French tracks, you can do so with your remote.
As you may have gathered by now as well, the DVD also offers subtitles in English, French and Spanish also accompany both versions of the film, and all three do a fine job in carrying the dialogue (well, as far as I can tell...English I do fine with, but my French and Spanish fall horribly short). Again, these three subtitle tracks can be instantly changed via your remote should you feel the need to do so. The disc is also closed-captioned (requires the use of an external decoder).
Identical interactive menus appear for both versions of The Long Kiss Goodnight, giving you your standard options of playing the film, changing your subtitles or language settings, or jumping to a selected scene (although the disc contain 29 encoded chapters, the "jump to scene" section display only 9 selected scenes featuring a still image and a description). There is also a 2m30s theatrical trailer that is in beautiful shape and contains a surround stereo soundtrack - it's been letterboxed at about 1.71:1 on the widescreen side, and is presented in a cropped version on the standard side (both in English, with no other language or subtitling options). Finally, production notes appear for the cast and director, featuring both a biography and filmography - presented are Geena Davis (5 frames), Samuel L. Jackson (11 frames), Craig Bierko (4 frames), Brian Cox (6 frames), David Morse (6 frames), director Renny Harlin (6 frames) and writer Shane Black (3 frames).
The DVD is encoded for Region 1 players only (U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada), and is packaged in a plastic and cardboard "keep case." The inside flap contains a full listing of all 29 chapters.
Review by Jeff Krispow
Original Review: 05/04/97
Last Updated: 08/22/97