|Category||Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.85:1 non 16x9, DD 2.0|
|Year Released||1998||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||108:44||Other Extras||Featurette-Untitled|
|Start Up||Language Selection,
Universal Home Video
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Max Von Sydow
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Subtitles||English For The Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
What Dreams May Come stars Robin Williams as Chris Neilson, a paediatrician with a zest for life. He is married to Annie (Annabella Sciorra), a painter, a woman he loves dearly. They have two children, Marie (Jessica Brooks Grant) and Ian (Josh Paddock). The children are cruelly taken away from Chris and Annie by a car accident, and they are left with each other, to cope with life as best as they can. Four years pass, and Chris is also cruelly taken away, also by a car accident.
Here is where the movie's journey really begins, in the afterlife. Chris finds himself in his own personal heaven, a painting by Annie, through which the two of them can subtly communicate. Chris has a guide through this early part of his journey, Albert (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).
Driven to the depths of despair by the loss of her two children and her husband, Annie commits suicide, which Chris initially greets with some positivity since they will soon meet - sadly this is not to be the case, as "suicides don't go to heaven". Thus Chris undertakes a journey through scenes which are recreations of 19th Century visions of heaven and hell to reach Annie.
The special effects are quite remarkable in this movie, and serve the story well, once the initial sense of special effects wonderment subsides and you accept them for what they are - a representation of Chris' personal heaven. This is a very visual movie, and a very sombre story, so have those tissues handy since you'll need them. All in all, I found this a satisfying, if somewhat emotionally draining, movie.
The transfer is nicely defined, sharp and clear. The majority of the movie is very darkly lit, and yet generally there is plenty of subtle shadow detail to be seen. This particular movie is one which will be best viewed in complete darkness, as otherwise all of the superb and subtle shadow detail will be lost to ambient light. There is no low level noise.
Colours are always appropriately rendered, from sombre grays and browns, to vibrant greens, to the radiant pastel shades of Chris' heaven. All manner of different styles of colour are presented here, and the DVD is exemplary in bringing them all out to perfection. Of particular note are the frequent white-outs between scenes, which are beautifully clean and clear.
MPEG artefacting consisted of some minimal shimmer of the opening titles (the Gibb effect) but this was so minor as to be hardly noticeable. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some trivial aliasing that will pass you by unnoticed. Film artefacts are rare, with the only irritating one at a particularly dramatic moment involving Robin Williams early on in the movie where a large film artefact appears momentarily on his forehead.
Dialogue was clear and very easy to understand at all times. Indeed, this was a highlight of this particular transfer. Whilst there was not copious amounts of dialogue in this movie, the dialogue that was present was quite important to the progression of the story. Of particular note is the complete silence that accompanies the logos at the start of the transfer - I defy you to sit through these without at least casting a glance at your receiver to confirm that it is turned on.
Audio sync was spot-on throughout.
The music was by Michael Kamen, and was predominantly symphonic in nature, setting a variety of moods according to the on-screen action; despair, hope, sadness, and joy are but some of the emotions evoked by the excellent scoring of this movie.
The surround channels were subtly but very effectively used throughout the movie. This is by no means an "in-your-face" surround mix, but whenever the surrounds were used, they were used well. There were specific scenes which are worthy of mention - many of the scenes in hell in particular were very enveloping, with voices and sound effects placed all around the listener with eerie effect.
The subwoofer was used subtly but effectively to underscore the music and the on-screen action. It never called particular attention to itself, but just provided that necessary extra oomph when required.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good.
The extras are limited.
© Michael Demtschyna
21st March 2000
|DVD||Palsonic DVD-2000, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer|