Dragonfly (2002)

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Released 28-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Deleted Scenes-8
Featurette-Betty Eadie Segment
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 100:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:56) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Shadyac
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Kevin Costner
Joe Morton
Ron Rifkin
Linda Hunt
Kathy Bates
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
French
Spanish
Czech
Croatian
Hungarian
Slovenian
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
German Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dragonfly is a supernatural drama about ghosts, the after-life and near death experiences. It stars Kevin Costner as a grieving husband who is still mourning over the tragic death of his wife, and for once, the generally "stunned mullet" look that Kevin employs in all his movies actually fits his character in this film.

    Kevin plays Joe Darrow, an emergency room doctor who is still grieving over the death of his wife Emily (Susanna Thompson) six months after she was involved in a landslide during heavy rain in Venezuela. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, a number of strange things happen that might suggest the ghost of Emily is trying to communicate with Joe - which is very difficult for Joe to accept, since he is an atheist who doesn't believe in an afterlife.

    A package arrives from a toy company addressed to Emily - it contains a dragonfly that you hang on top of a baby's crib (Emily had a birthmark in the shape of a dragonfly). A dragonfly paperweight suddenly moves in the middle of the night and woke Joe up.

    At first Joe shrugs off these coincidences, then, while visiting some of Emily's former patients in the oncology ward, he meets a child who has recently encountered a near death experience. The child - Jeffrey (Robert Bailey Jr.) - claims that he saw Emily when he was "flat-lined" (clinically dead) - inside a rainbow in the mist and that she wanted him to tell Joe something. Jeffrey keeps drawing a squiggle that looks like a wavy cross - a symbol that other children who have recently had near death experiences also drew. Another child tells Joe that Emily wants Joe to "go there" (to the place denoted by the squiggle).

    The rest of the film shows Joe trying to figure out what all this means as more and more clues unfold. Nobody believes or understands the experiences Joe is having, not even his neighbour and friend Mrs. Belmont (Kathy Bates) - except for a nun called Sister Madeline (Linda Hunt) who has been interviewing the children about their near-death experiences. Gradually, however, Joe pieces the puzzle together and we all get to find out what all the clues mean and what really happened to Emily,

    I liked this film because it was not entirely a ghost story, or a romance, or a mystery but has elements of all three. Some people would say they saw the ending coming a kilometre away, but it was a kind of surprise for me so I won't spoil it by revealing it here. Go and watch for yourself!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a widescreen, 16x9 enhanced transfer in the intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1, based on a 35mm anamorphic film print.

    Most of the first half of the film looks somewhat murky and dark, with subdued colours. I suspect this is intentional, to complement the storyline. The final scene looks bright with vibrant colours by comparison.

    Detail levels are very good; as an example, notice how well defined the words are in the patient list for the oncology ward around 19:59-20:10.

    The film print is relatively clean, but suffers from minor grain. Moderate ringing due to edge enhancement is noticeable throughout the film.

    I did not notice any significant video or compression artefacts, but the scrolling end titles are rather shimmery.

    There are a number of subtitle tracks available: English, German, German for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, French, Spanish, Czech, Croatian, Hungarian, Slovenian, German Audio Commentary, Italian Audio Commentary, German Titling, Italian Titling. I turned on the English subtitle track to confirm its presence. Dialogue accuracy is about average.

    This is a single sided, dual layered disc, formatted RSDL. The layer change occurs in mid-scene around 57:56 and results in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are a number of audio tracks present: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kb/s), German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384kb/s), Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192kb/s), English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kb/s). I listened to both English audio tracks.

    The audio track sounds pretty much what I expected from a recent film - apart from a few key scenes the audio track is fairly front centre focused. Dialogue was pretty crystal clear throughout, and I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

    The surround speakers are mostly used for background music ambience, except for a few critical scenes such as the thunderstorm around 34:39-34:43 and the sound of a helicopter around 58:26 (and of course the climax at the end which I am not going to reveal).

    The subwoofer track is mostly silent apart from a few scenes.

    The original music score is by John Debney and sounds fairly derivative of similar films. The end titles includes a song called Star from a band called Zoo Story. Tom Shadyac (director) refers to this band in the commentary track as a cross between "U2 and the Beatles and Queen". Hmm. I'll let you judge that for yourself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a reasonable number of extras, most of which are subtitled in German and Italian.

Menu

    The menu is available in several languages, and is static but 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-Spotlight On Location (13:14)

    This is also titled "Dragonfly - A Spiritual Journey" and is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    It includes excerpts from the film (presented in a mixture of 1.78:1 and 2.35:1 letterboxed), behind the scenes footage, and interviews with:

Deleted Scenes-8

    These are all presented in (low quality) 2.35:1 letterboxed and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kb/s):

Featurette-Betty Eadie Segment (6:17)

    This is a short featurette, presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kb/s). It contains an interview with Betty Eadie (author) in which she describes her own near death experience. It also includes excerpts from the film (presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed and pan & scan). Warning: this contains a spoiler for the ending of the film.

Audio Commentary

    This commentary starts off with a studio disclaimer.

    This is presented by Tom Shadyac (director). He warns us to watch the film prior to listening to the audio commentary, as his comments contain spoilers about the ending of the film. The commentary is recorded whilst he was watching the film, as he does make screen specific comments (such as: "Hello, Kevin!"). Tom provides some useful information - such as the opening of the film being changed from the original concept (scenes of children recounting their near death experiences as they are interviewed by the nun), and balancing between supplying clues and keeping the audience guessing (earlier edits apparently had too many clues and over 50% of the audience managed to guess the ending).

    Most of Tom's comments are on the sets, the plot, alternate ideas for scenes, discarded/edited footage, comparisons with other films - in other words, the sort of comments you would expect a director to make. I found the commentary quite interesting in revealing Tom's thinking process and roads not taken. Tom pretty much speaks continuously throughout the entire film, so he ends up giving a lot of information even though he has a tendency to repeat himself on occasions.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    I would award a win to Region 1 for the dts audio track and slightly more in the way of extras.

Summary

    Dragonfly is a supernatural drama about near death experiences and a man who gradually discovers his wife (supposedly killed in an accident six months ago) appear to be trying to communicate to him.

    The video transfer quality is excellent, although a bit dark and grainy, but I suspect that is intentional.

    The audio transfer quality is okay.

    Extras include a director's commentary track, deleted scenes and a featurette.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, April 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
Poor Kevin! - Steve R (Biola)