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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Dreamcatcher



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#1 of 20 Herb Kane

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Posted September 16 2003 - 12:53 AM

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Dreamcatcher





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 2003
Rated: R
Film Length: 134 Mins.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish





The Feature:
Although I didn’t see Dreamcatcher theatrically, when I had the chance to review a new release starring one of my favorites - Morgan Freeman, a group of young and burgeoning actors and based on a novel written by Stephen King, I jumped at the chance. Admittedly, a Sci-fi thriller isn’t necessarily my favorite genre but I am a fan of a few of the Stephen King adaptations to movies that do exist.

The opening credits start out with some futuristic looking photography and some unbelievable looking mountain scenes, aggressively scored to music by James Newton Howard (which seems strangely reminiscent of something cross between Peter Gabriel and Mike Oldfield – and that’s high praise, by the way). It was a pretty cool entrance.

While the story starts off during present day, we’re taken back twenty years in time where four friends while walking home one day stumble across three other teen punks who have a young mentally challenged boy stripped down to his underwear and are trying to force him to eat dog feces. The four younger kids realize they don’t stand a chance physically against the older boys, but stand their ground and eventually convince the punks to leave the helpless child alone. From that point on, the special boy befriends all four of the youths who helped save him and seems to have empowered them with a special gift.

This special power is demonstrated early in the film when Pete (played by Timothy Olyphant), a car salesman, helps a young woman find her lost keys and when Henry (Thomas Jane), who is a near suicidal psychiatrist feeling guilty over an overweight patient who eventually killed himself, knows things about the patient, he shouldn’t necessarily know.

As part of a ritual for the past twenty years, the four friends have gathered together at a cabin in a remote part of Maine for a diversion of hunting, drinking, bad cooking, and just being guys. While Beaver (Jason Lee) and Jonesy (Damian Lewis) are out hunting, they stumble across an extremely flatulent old man who appears to be lost suffering from hypothermia. What they don’t know is that he has been infected by a strange virus. Thinking he is just sick from being out in the cold, they bring him into the cabin and allow him to stay until help arrives.

In their cabin there is a huge dreamcatcher (an Indian charm that is used for catching nightmares within the webbing and allowing pleasant dreams to pass through the center opening) that hangs from the ceiling. After learning how to make the dreamcatcher in school, they showed their new friend Duddits how to make one and join them together, which, like their friendship, has been joined for so many years.

Col. Abraham Curtis (played by Morgan Freeman sporting the bushiest, whitest eyebrows you could ever imagine…) heads up a military unit in charge of locating the virus and those infected by it and isolating them from the rest of society. Owen (Tom Sizemore) is next in command and is the Colonel’s right hand man during the operation.

Soon they all realize how desperate the situation is and must try to contain the virus and its devastation within an area quarantined by the authorities before it becomes widespread…



Video:
As expected with this new release, this video presentation was outstanding. Filmed in beautiful British Columbia Canada, many of the outdoor shots are gorgeous. The transfer is sure to please with only a few minor points to mention. For the most part image was sharp with scenes looking soft only occasionally. Detail was very nice. Colors were brilliant and saturation was excellent. Skin tones seemed accurate. The movie seemed dark at times and many of the outdoor scenes had a bluish hue to them which I can only assume was intended. Black levels were exceptional and grain levels were minimal.

I could detect no visible signs of any dirt, noise or scratches or any sign of edge enhancement. Careful… a Full Screen version exists.

This is sure to please…



Audio:
Reviewing product from Warners certainly doesn’t allow me the opportunity to use the word “aggressive” as an adjective very often, this is an exception. This is one of the best audio offerings I’ve heard from WB (or any studio for that matter) in awhile.

Needless to say the entire movie is filled with action scenes, gunfire, explosions etc. They certainly made the most of this DD 5.1 track and it does deliver.

Dialogue is always clear and intelligible and considering the amount of action never experiencing dialnorm. All of the effects had an incredible sense of punch which was robust and dynamic. There was an interesting sense of directionality during a special effect when we hear voices coming from all various channels and it comes across very well. Surround use was effective and abundant. During many of the chase scenes, shootouts and helicopter scenes, the surrounds got a good workout and were rarely inactive, but always tactfully employed. LFE was also abundant and gave the foundation of my theater a nice massage.

An aggressive audio presentation – very impressive…



Special Features:
There is a fair amount of supplemental features to be found on this disc. There are three commentaries. The first is An Interview With Stephen King. This is an interview which was shot on September 27th, 2002 which talks about his accident and discusses the style of the movie and his emphasis of the friendship aspect and how it relates to the four in the movie. Duration: 7:27 mins.

Next is Dream Makers: A Journey Through The Production. This is an interview with Lawrence Kasdan who basically takes the lead and features most of the cast and crew from the film. Kasdan goes into great detail as to his vision and how he wanted the film to look. Duration: 18:53 mins.

The final commentary is called Dream Weavers. This is a series of interviews with those who were involved with the special effects and the processes used to create the manual and CG effects. Duration: 8:14 mins.

All of the commentaries and interviews are interesting and definitely offer up some substantial information relating to the production of the movie.

Up next - a set of Deleted Scenes including an alternate ending. They are:

- Meeting Josie 0:47
- Henry returns to the loggers shelter 1:16
- Col. Curtis takes off 1:36
- One worm kills 1:46
- Alternate (titled original ending) 8:27

I can see why most of the deleted scenes didn’t make it but thought that Meeting Josie should have been included as it would seem to tie up somewhat of an unanswered question as to who she is when we do finally encounter her in the movie. I also thought the original ending was more appropriate than the final ending. For fear of spoiling the ending, suffice it to say it’s a more peaceful ending… one that seems to coincide more with the character of Duddits.

Teaser Trailer which looks great – 2:29 mins.

Cast & Crew is merely a one page text listing of the major characters and their roles in the movie.

And finally a DVD-ROM. I didn’t spend a lot of time with this but looks to be nothing more than advertising for WB.



Final Thoughts:

Other than Gigli, no other film was trashed to the level Dreamcatcher was earlier this year by the critics. That’s perhaps an exaggeration beyond proportion, because Dreamcatcher really isn’t that bad. While watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think I was watching a combination of The Shining and the 1982 version of The Thing. While both of those movies seem to have qualities that parallel Dreamcatcher, for the most part I enjoyed it. While I have no idea how true this movie is to the novel and I suspect, not very (given Hollywood’s previous history), fans of King’s books may be disappointed. I said earlier, it’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but it did a decent job of keeping my attention. The movie possessed a certain atmosphere which I found pleasing.

Presented with a healthy amount of supplemental material, an audio/video presentation that’s sure to leave you impressed, fans of Sci-fi thrillers or of Stephen King may want to check out this DVD.




Release Date: September 30th, 2003
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 20 Lou Sytsma

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Posted September 16 2003 - 01:12 AM

Thanks Herb - due to the bad reviews I passed this one up at the theatres.

As a big Stephen King fan I am duty bound to rent this for a looks see at home.:b

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#3 of 20 Jordan_E

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Posted September 16 2003 - 02:19 AM

I also passed due to bad reviews, but seeing bad movies at home is fun, as you can loudly bad mouth the movie with your friends. I'll rent this one.
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#4 of 20 Kenneth Cummings

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Posted September 16 2003 - 03:47 AM

Thanks for the good review Herb. I was thinking about getting this due to the small or even little connection it has with another Stephen King book, It.
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#5 of 20 Steve Bjorg

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Posted September 16 2003 - 05:04 AM

Same here. Skipped it at the cinema, but now it's atop my netflix queue.
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#6 of 20 JeffMuller

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Posted September 16 2003 - 06:05 AM

Lou,

Youbetcha! Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

#7 of 20 Bill J

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Posted September 16 2003 - 10:09 AM

Definitely do not make a blind purchase with this film. Even if you are a fan of the Sci-fi genre, you will most likely be disappointed.

#8 of 20 Jeff Rogers

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Posted September 16 2003 - 10:13 AM

As far as the aliens bursting out of your ass genre goes.. this is at the top of the heap..

I liked it very much for what it was..

But damn if Morgan Freeman isnt the worst part of the movie...Posted Image
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#9 of 20 Jeremy Allin

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Posted September 16 2003 - 10:16 AM

Excellent review, Herb! I also missed this one theatrically but it should make for a good rental.

#10 of 20 Herb Kane

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Posted September 16 2003 - 10:24 AM

Quote:
As far as the aliens bursting out of your ass genre goes.. this is at the top of the heap..


Priceless... Posted Image


Quote:
But damn if Morgan Freeman isnt the worst part of the movie...


Very true. In fact, Jason Lee was superb!

Herb.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#11 of 20 Elbert Lee

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Posted September 16 2003 - 11:37 AM

i found this movie and story fairly disapointing. What promises to be a somewhat profound and mystical movie turns out to be sloppy combinatio of "Stand By Me", "Outbreak", and "Graveyard Shift". What starts off to be something spiritual and mystical, ends up into another generic gestatating monster film that can't help but to cause audiences from bursting out in laughter rather than to be truly horrified by what terror SHOULD be unfoldung.
That being said, I've seen enough Steven King movies to know thar this is, by far, not the worst one and that it still held my attention throughout. I was curious enough to see what was going to happen next and the cold, isolated setting just started to become effective until the film shifted into "Outbreak" mode.

#12 of 20 Wyatt_Y

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Posted September 16 2003 - 01:18 PM

I really enjoyed the book and saw it at the theater regardless of the poor reviews. The moment the movie started (literally!) I realized that it would be impossible to cover everything in the book within the confines of a single movie...

Watching the movie, I felt it would be difficult if not impossible to truly follow the nuances of the story without having read the book previously....

Interesting in that I think one of the movies that most closely follows the book is another Stephen King item - "The Langoliers"...albeit a short story made into a movie...

Wyatt

#13 of 20 Joseph J.D

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Posted September 16 2003 - 02:54 PM

Nice review for a truly bad film(IMHO) Herb. I saw this film at a sneak preview just before it was released in the theatres this past winter. As far as I'm concerned, the critical bashing it got was well deserved.

For those who haven't seen this one but are planning to buy this title blind....I strongly urge you to rent this first.
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#14 of 20 Steve_Tk

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Posted September 17 2003 - 06:35 AM

Another rent first here. I actually enjoyed it till we get the first look at the alien, then it went downhill for me.

#15 of 20 ChrisBEA

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Posted September 17 2003 - 08:49 AM

Nice review, I'll probably end up picking this up.
I saw it in the theater and enjoyed it, it's not nearly as bad as the reviews made it seem. On the downside, I felt the movie was too schizophrenic, it really didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. If the focused on a few less elements it would have been much better.

My fovorite concept in the movie was
I forget the characters name, but the guy trapped in his own mind, I though the library concept and the windows out was brilliant.
I'd like to see a movie exploring that concept for it's entirety (or more of it anyway).

#16 of 20 Jenna

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Posted September 17 2003 - 09:11 AM

I was definitely disappointed by the theatrical release - everyone had said the book was so spooky.
Quote:
As far as the aliens bursting out of your ass genre goes.. this is at the top of the heap..

Makes you wonder what King was smoking when he wrote THAT scene, huh? If I had heard more about the movie, I probably would have skipped it...and I'm a fan of his, er, was. Posted Image

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#17 of 20 Justin Bauer

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Posted September 17 2003 - 09:29 AM

I was really let down by this movie. I had read the book and found it a let down, but I loved the actors in this movie and wanted to give it a chance. It just turned really bad really fast. RENT first.
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#18 of 20 DanielSmi

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Posted September 23 2003 - 08:06 PM

One of the main reasons I wen to see it was to see the Animatrix short in the beginning. I remember afterwards agrueing with my friends about the complexity of the story and what was going on. I did like the schizophrenic guy but I didn't like Morgan. He as well as Samuel L Jackson seem to star in bad movies, they should be a little pickier. I can't think of a bad movie Denzel has done but I don't follow him that much.

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#19 of 20 Carlo Medina

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Posted September 24 2003 - 05:18 AM

Lou - major props on the Viggo for Roland suggestion. A few years ago I talked with Frank Darabont at a studio day signing at Dave's in Burbank. We talked about our love for King's work and we both agreed our favorite was The Dark Tower. I asked if he'd be interested in doing a movie version (having done two good and very faithful adaptations in The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption) and he stumped me with one question (that neither of us could answer):

"Yeah, but who would you get to play Roland?"

We thought about it for a while and couldn't come up with anyone appropriate (given that Roland is kind of a Gary Cooper/Clint Eastwood hybrid). Didn't want to ponder it too long as people behind me in line were going to get pissed that I was monopolizing his time Posted Image

Now having seen Viggo get dressed up (and grunged up) for his Aragorn role, I think he could actually be Roland (if only he were a bit taller/lankier).

#20 of 20 RyanPC

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Posted September 24 2003 - 09:35 AM

Great review, Herb. As a Stephen King fan, I will definitely rent this although I am not a big fan of the Sci-fi genre. I haven't read any of King's latest books, but knowing what I do about their plots, it's making me more and more uneasy with the direction King is taking with them. I miss the old "monster in the closet" style that his earlier books had. I don't know if I will enjoy Dreamcatcher, but I most definitely check it out.





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