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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Godsend (1 Viewer)

Michael Elliott

Senior HTF Member
Jul 11, 2003
Real Name
Michael Elliott



Studio: Lions Gate
Year: 2004
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Retail Price: $26.98

Paul Duncan (Greg Kinnear) is at the top of his life with a wonderful job and a family that loves him dearly. His wife Jessie (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and young son Adam live in a high-class apartment in New York City where Paul works as a teacher at an inner-city school. Everything seems to be going great until the day after Adam’s eighth birthday when he is stuck by a car in the street and killed. Paul and Jessie are heartbroken but the day after they run into a scientist (Robert DeNiro) who says he has something important to discuss with them.

The scientist explains that he’s involved in genetic experimenting and if the parents want to see their son again then he can make that possible by cloning. Without putting too much thought into the grieving parents agree and the experiment goes through without a problem. The first eight years of their new sons life goes off without a hitch but when the date arrives that the first Adam died, this new Adam starts to change mentally. At first it appears this is just due to nightmares but soon the parent begin to fear that this new son is starting to have memories of his previous life. The new Adam on the other hand starts to think that someone from his past is after him. Could it be the old Adam coming back to life?

For the past thirty years various films have dealt with children being possessed. Everything from Rosemary’s Baby to The Exorcist to The Omen has dealt with the subject matter used here but those films at least tried something different and didn’t just recycle stuff seen in previous films. Godsend tries to be exactly like those films and even mixes in a bit of The Shining but in the end we’re left with one extremely bad film that doesn’t have a single thing going for it, which is a shame since the story could have been a whole lot better.

The direction and screenplay really killed any hopes of a good movie. The screenplay has a pretty good ideas going and since cloning is such a hot topic today it seems like you could make an interesting story out of anything but that doesn’t happen here. The screenplay is all over the map by the time the film had ended I really wasn’t sure what the point was or if there was even a point. The film tries to throw in horror elements mixed with a family drama but neither are given any original thoughts and nothing plays out completely so in the end we’ve watched a film about nothing. Even after the child is child and the parents get the chance to clone him, there isn’t a scene where they think about what could happen by doing this. We get the dad saying no, the mom saying yes and then the screenplay jumps to the child being born.

The parents are dumb as a bag of rocks, which is another irritating thing about the screenplay. Not only do they not consider the side effects but they don’t seem to even know when things start to take a change for the worst in their new son. When his attitude begins to change, instead of being concerned they simply don’t want to know if something is really wrong or not. The film tries to take a more dramatic turn every once in a while by having the parents fight over what they’ve done but these scenes go nowhere and instead of having a thought provoking conversation the screenplay pretty much jumps over any bright ideas and goes into the next scene, which makes even less sense.

The horror elements never go full ahead either, which is probably due to the PG-13 era and the fact we’re living in times where it seems you can’t make an R-rated film. Perhaps this is a reason why nothing ever comes full circle but I’m really not sure because I still can’t tell what this film was supposed to be about. For the first two-thirds we’re led to believe that the old son has come back to haunt the new son but then in the final act we’re given a new mystery that is just downright stupid and once again, it never pays off in the end. When the movie finally ends you’re no better off then when the movie started.

Another problem are the actors, a couple of whom should probably stay out of dramatic pictures. Greg Kinnear can be good in comedy but his dramatic work here is so bad it becomes rather laughable. The scene where he tries to cry over the death of his son had me rolling on the floor, which I’m sure wasn’t what the director wanted. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos doesn’t fair any better with the dramatic role. Just look at any scene where she is crying because it appears there’s a quick cut whenever she is supposed to cry. Perhaps they did this because the tears never came? I’m not sure but that’s what I thought while watching the film. It saddens me to say this because he’s one of my favorite actors but Robert DeNiro doesn’t add anything to the film either and it appears he was simply cashing a check.

VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The picture quality is very good throughout with only a few minor problems. The only real problem I noticed where a couple scenes that had one white speckle pop up, which isn’t too bad but for such a recent film this shouldn’t be on the transfer. Edge enhancement is slightly visible but I doubt anyone with a screen under fifty-inches will notice this. Outside of the unforgivable two white speckles everything else is pretty much top-notch. The black levels are good throughout and since a lot of the film takes place at night this is important. Even better is the shadow detail, which doesn’t feature any artifacts or dirt. Just take a look at the scene towards the end of the film where Kinnear confront DeNiro at a funeral. The scene is lit very lightly and shadows are used to perfection and that’s clearly seen here. The colors are also very rich and full of detail making this appear three-dimensional. Flesh tones look very accurate as well.

AUDIO---The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is pretty disappointed. I’m not sure how this sounded in theaters but the mix done is without a doubt one of the worst I’ve heard in recent memory. It appears the film is supposed to sound this way so perhaps this is a sound mix problem and not really the DVDs fault. The biggest problem I noticed was during the scenes where characters are speaking very lowly. Usually a good mix even with soft-spoken dialogue would come off hearable but that’s not the case here. Every time characters were talking quietly I had to adjust the volume on my remote because I couldn’t make out what was being said. If the characters were speaking at a natural level then the dialogue was crystal clear without any problems. My guess this is how it was mixed originally because the Surrounds are barely used throughout the film and when they are put into effect there isn’t much action in the mix. There are several times where the film offers fake scares meaning things jump into frame and the director tries to scare us with a loud bang from the Surrounds. These jump scenes never sound too good and what action does come from the Surrounds are rather weak and don’t leave much of an impact.

EXTRAS---Up first is an audio commentary with director Nick Hamm and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau. The track is on the boring side throughout because it’s one of those commentaries where the people involved simply tell us what we’re looking at. During the opening credits the director is kind enough to tell us we’re seeing the open credits so there you go. During several of the scenes he tries to explain what’s going on but his ideas don’t make any better sense than what came across in the film. He constantly refers to DeNiro as Mr. DeNiro but doesn’t have any good stories about the actor. Up next is a small photo gallery section, which again is pretty boring. I’m not into storyboards but I doubt those who are will find these very entertaining. Up next are four alternate endings with optional commentary from the director. You can select these endings one at a time or there’s a play all option. The first ending is somewhat better than what’s in the final film with DeNiro playing a bigger role. The second ending is exactly what’s in the final film but there’s an added minute at the end with an appearance by DeNiro. The third ending isn’t very good but it would have made the film a lot shorter in running time so perhaps this one should have been used. The forth ending is a bit more upbeat but doesn’t work well at all. Finally we get trailers for The Punisher, Shattered Glass and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. For some reason there’s no trailer for this film.

OVERALL---I found this film to be very poor throughout including the performances and even DeNiro. If DeNiro is bad then you can just imagine how the rest of the film is. The DVD from Lions Gate is a mixed bag. Outside those two speckles the transfer is very good but there’s something not right with the sound mix. The extras are all pretty boring but if you enjoyed the film then you might like seeing the four alternate endings. For the rest this is certainly a disc you should rent before buying.

Release Date: August 17, 2004

Joel C

Oct 23, 1999
This is the kind of movie that I found horrible but still sort of entertaining. I spent some time giggling at the cliches (let's go visit the msterious old woman with all the answers!), enough so that I didn't feel cheated out of my $4.00 ticket.

But don't buy the DVD, whatever you do, unless you've seen and liked the film. This is NOT a blind buy.

Richard Travale

Senior HTF Member
Feb 27, 2001
The Island, Canada
Real Name
Rich Travale
I will give this a rent but only because the kid is from my town and I want to see how he did. I liked his 45 seconds of screen time in The Butterfly Effect (young Tommy).

Nate Anderson

Jan 18, 2001
I'll give it a rental to see what the alternate endings were, but I was very dissapointed by the film.

Josh Simpson

Supporting Actor
Jan 23, 2002
This movie was pretty painful to watch. It was a first date movie with my now girlfriend and we a good time making fun of it. Really there are no bright spots to this flick. Lots of cliches or just boring stuff.

Mark Murphy

Supporting Actor
Nov 20, 2002
This movie was absolutely terrible. I thought the picture quality was awful too. It reminded me of Daddy Day Care in that respect.

The movie seemed to go in different directions at a moments notice. When the boy was killed by the brook in the woods, no one seemed to interested in finding out what happened. I guess the boys murder was there to provide a venue (the church after the funeral service) for Deniro and Kinnear to fight.

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