Dreamscape: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

About 15 years ago, something happened to movies that has actually made a decent, long-lasting impression upon the entire industry. A new rating was invented for that grey area between a “PG” movie and an “R” movie. The first movie to feature this new rating of “PG-13” was Dreamscape. [Editor: I’m correcting my own review here, I have been informed that it was actually “Red Dawn”, sorry about that] Basically it said that kids over the age of 13 could attend the movie, and had some adult content, but nothing too bad. Of course, over the passage of time, that rating has probably become the most popular yet, with 7 of the top ten grossing movie of all time carrying the “PG-13” rating. Anyhow, this isn’t about a rating, it’s about Image Entertainment’s new release of Dreamscape…

Whenever watching older 80’s movies, it’s very easy to tell that some are very dated by the likes of hairstyles, clothes, cars, etc. Dreamscape is one of those movies. While I think Dreamscape will ultimately being remembered for being the first PG-13 movie, rather than it’s content. We meet Dennis Quaid’s character, Alex Gardner, a former boy genius who also possesses minor psychic abilities. He became tired of being poked and prodded by scientists before the age of 20, so he called it quits, and now is content to use his talents by raking it in at the horse races…or picking up women. Apparantley, he isn’t very good at paying his debts, though. When chased by henchmen looking for money, he opts to go with two strange men who want him to help out with an experiment at a local university. What he doesn’t know is that his old pal, Dr. Paul Novotny (Max Von Sydow) is behind this new, cutting edge experiment where he has psychics taking an active part in subjects dreams. Being less that intrigued by the offer, he is forced to stay at the treat of an IRS audit.

The movie wastes no time getting into the heart of the matter and we see how quickly the plot develops. Aside from Alex, there’s only one other person who can succesfully “Dreamscape” or get inside and take part, that’s our nemisis, Tommy. All of this is fine and good, but there’s a sub story of the President of the United States (played by Eddie Albert) that keeps having nuclear fallout nightmares and is determined to start a treaty with the Russians (again, dated…Cold War) to start dismantling the nuclear warheads. But Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer) is against this and the plan is for Tommy to go into the President’s dream and kill him, hence the President will be dead…

In what is a very good idea for a movie, it’s acted very well, and has a very good cast. I can only imagine what a CGI mess this would be, had it been made today. Still, Dreamscape is a good movie, not one that I will particularly watch over and over per se, but if you enjoyed it this DVD will serve you well.

Video: How does it look?

The 1.78 image is enhanced for widescreen TV’s and overall, looks good. However some scenes look great, while others look less than flattering. There is a lot of “stock” footage when entering the dream that I think had something to do with the overall image. Colors look a bit muted, and I think that the image’s fault was more a fault of the source material than the actual movie itself. In some scenes there was major artifacting, while others looked crystal clear. On the overall, it “averaged” out to a decent transfer, but was very inconsistent.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is what’s exciting…not only is there a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the disc, but there is also a DTS 5.1 track on the disc as well. I listened to both, and as expected the DTS won out. While the DD sounded a bit dry and broken off at times, the DTS surpassed it in almost every way, shape and form. Now the DTS did sound better, as was just mentioned, but compared to the likes of Twister or The Peacemaker, it doesn’t even compare. Still, it’s nice to see that we have the option and the ability to choose a DTS track back when movies were barely made in stereo surround.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The main extra on the Dreamscape disc, aside from the DTS soundtrack, is the feature-length commentary with the director. This commentary is almost a must, seeing as how much additional information was given. While not the most upbeat commentary, it is very easy to follow and is another that is in “stereo” with one voice in the right front speaker, and the other on the left front speaker. A nice touch, as I feel it gives it an added depth. Also included is a slide show that showed some of the effects and a brief featurette on how they made the “snake man” effect, back when the cheesy “clay-mation” effects were still “the thing”. Overall, Image has put out a very good special edition here, with their avid support of DTS, I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon. If Dreamscape is a favorite of yours, this is the version to own.

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