Plot: What’s it about?
Though Kevin Costner has never really regained the full momentum that he had after the public relations fiasco with "Waterworld", I still consider him a good actor. Coster, best-known for his roles in late 80’s-early 90’s movies (No Way Out, Bull Durham, Dances With Wolves, JFK) will most likely never have a repeat performance like he did with "Dances With Wolves". It’s just one of those things that won’t happen. Even his old staple of baseball movies (Field of Dreams, Bull Durham) gave way with the so-so "For Love of the Game". But Costner is still a commanding screen presence and as so, he almost makes this film work (i.e. watchable). But almost isn’t a certainty and that’s the same feeling that I got when the end credits rolled. Director Tom Shadyac, who made his name directing Jim Carrey in the highly popular/successful "Ace Ventura" movies is trying his best to shed that label. He doesn’t succeed here. Still, borrowing from the elements of "The Sixth Sense" (which every other film does these days), he tries.
I’ll try not to give too much away about the plot, the trailer takes care of that! Costner plays a workaholic Chicago emergency room doctor struggling to get over the death of his beautiful doctor wife (Susanna Thompson), who was killed in a bus accident while doing Red Cross volunteer work in the jungles of Venezuela. As an M.D., he’s a total skeptic about all things metaphysical. But, after talking to two children cancer patients who have had near-death experiences, he gradually concludes that his late wife is trying to contact him from the Other Side. Pretty soon, he’s seeing a strange cross symbol everywhere he looks, having visitations by dragonflies (his wife’s “personal totem”) and increasingly being regarded by his friends and co-workers as a nutcase as he throws himself into a quest to reconnect with his lost love.
And in a nutshell, that’s it. I’ll say that it’s not as predictable as you might think, but then again…nothing ever is. Costner does have some moments where he is the reason we’re watching the scene and we do really feel his pain. It’s not like the guy has lost any of his ability, just his looks and we also hope that every movie isn’t "The Postman"! The best thing that can be said for the film is that it had potential. It’s very unlikely that they’ll go back and remake the movie anytime soon, as it was a dismal failure the first time around. Costner and Shadyac for that matter, will both prevail if you ask me. For fans of the genre (The Others, The Sixth Sense, Ghost) you might be intrigued by the film, but for the rest of us…we’ll just have to wait for another outing to judge Mr. Costner one more time.
Video: How does it look?
The 2.35:1 anamopphic image is very clear and clean throughout. For the most part, the image is almost perfect, I only noticed a few spots where there was some minor pixelation. Black levels are right on and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum as well. The only thing I can think that might have affected this transfer was the addition of a DTS 5.1 track. As you see, there is a finite amount of information that the disc can store and the reason that a lot of movies don’t have dual DD/DTS tracks is that the image can be compromised. Still, I’d rather have two audio tracks and a very good picture anyday. Overall, the image is next to perfect and one that shouldn’t disappoint.
Audio: How does it sound?
As mentioned before, the disc contains two 5.1 tracks, one Dolby Digital and the other a DTS. I listened to the DTS while watching the movie and then went back and compared some parts using the Dolby Digital version. I can say that no matter which version you choose, you’ll be happy. The dialogue is clean and well-centered and free of any distortion. As movies get newer and the technology gets better, I find it hard to clarify what is a “good” soundtrack and what is a “great” soundtrack. Still, this has enough of both to suffice both needs and you’ll be hard pressed to find much to complain about here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
We don’t have “Deleted Scenes”, we have “Thrilling Deleted Scenes” here. Shown one at a time or all of them played together, I can see why they were cut from the film. Still, as always, it’s nice to see them included on the DVD. The feature commentary with Director Tom Shadyac is like that of his other commentaries (Patch Adams, Ace Ventura) he’s quite talkative and points out some things here and there. Naturally, dealing with Jim Carrey and Kevin Costner is as different as night and day, but you have to give the man credit for trying. Also included is a featurette with author Betty Eadie on her near death experience. I found it interesting, but also find it odd how all of these near death experiences are somehow alike. It makes you wonder what, if ever, we’ll find out when our time comes! Also included is the theatrical trailer (which essentially tells us the whole story), cast bios and production notes. Additionally, some DVD-ROM material is included with links to the website.