- May 7, 2001
Studio: Warner Brothers
Film Length: 134 Mins.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
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…
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…
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…
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.
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