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Review needed for "What Dreams May Come"

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Review needed for "What Dreams May Come"

Old 12-21-99, 05:27 AM
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Hi All,
Has anyone seen this movie in the theater or on DVD. Would it be worth the price of a DVD, or should I just rent it?

Thanks for your help.

Best Regards,
Don

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Old 12-21-99, 05:47 AM
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The DVD is darn near perfect in every regard, but opinions on the film itself (which I loved, personally) vary enough that I'd have to recommend you rent it first.

- Mr. About
Old 12-21-99, 09:28 AM
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The DVD review I did last April for my web site A Guide To Current DVD
:

The Movie:


Where do we go when we die? It's a question pondered over by many,truely answered by none. And yet we keep trying, keep figuring. It's an simple question with an endless answer. "What Dreams May Come" is a film that tries to put the pieces together. It succeeds so well that I worry that this is a film that won't be successful. Why? Simply because it deals with a subject that people are uncomfortable with. That's unfortunate, because those people who choose not to see this film are missing what I think is a masterful work. Visually breathtaking and emotionally beautiful, "What Dreams May Come" is like nothing audiences have ever seen.

It's also a very heavy picture, one of those films that is simply so emotionally intense for the viewer that you feel as if you've been put through the emotional spin cycle. You laugh(the film does have a few comic moments), but most of all you shed tears. Tears for the characters; tears for a realization that life is simply so outstanding, wonderfully, fantastically great and yet it can also end as quickly as it began. There's been many a film that convinces an audience that life is to be savored; none seemed to work as well for me as this one, although I think "Fearless", the Peter Weir film with Jeff Bridges as a plane crash survivor, is on about the same level for me. Anyways, this is a film that I think is going to blow a lot of people's minds. "What Dreams May Come" is a very special film; I hope it's really remembered for a while as a visionairy masterpiece by director Vincent Ward. Outstanding performances by Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. really bring to the front a film that is so wonderfully caring and soft while it goes through some of the harshest planes of existence that we ponder.

The film itself is about a family that is broken apart by tragedy. Chris Neilsen(Williams) and wife Annie(Annibella Sciorra) have their kids taken from them by a car crash. The scenes are really touching and effective without being...well, I guess, for use of a better word, sappy. In fact, what makes this film so wonderful is that it's so effortlessly emotionally satisfying and full. This film has a wonderful emotional purity and reality that is outstanding. Although the script isn't always perfect, it has originality and imagination. The performers also rise above the script's few faults.

4 years later, Chris is killed in a car crash of his own, sending him up to heaven where he is lead by a guide named Albert(Cuba Gooding, Jr.). There was a film that came out in the early half of the year by a young director named Alex Proyas, called "Dark City". Watching "Dark City", I was simply blown away by the outstanding special effects in the film. Not only are these great special effects, but they simply aren't all noise and sparks; they actually serve to move along the film and help to shape the plot.

Chris finds that his version of heaven is standing inside one of his wife's paintings. There are some really strong visuals right in the begining of the scene where Chris reaches out to touch a flower and it melts away in his hand, simply becoming oil paint. It's here that the film has some of it's most outstanding visual sequences. Many FX houses worked on this film, and it shows mightily. Seamless effects that are like nothing we've ever seen before in film.

Back on earth, Annie is deeply saddened by her loss and takes her own life, sending her down to hell. When Chris gets this news, he crosses the universe as we know it to find her. I was simply mindblown at how powerful, imaginative and striking the early half of the film was(not to mention that I cried my eyes out throughout) that it's incredible that the film keeps going with a set of just the opposite; a view of hell so visually wild it has to be seen to be believed.

I definitely won't go into more plot than that, this is a film that simply is so far and beyond what we as audiences have to put up with in this day and age that I think it's just too outstanding to miss.

In terms of performances, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Robin Williams are outstanding. Reportedly very good friends on the set, it shows here as well. Their conversations seem wonderfully fresh and friendly, until Chris realizes that he can't live without Annie. Williams performance here is outstanding; easily deserving of multiple awards and recognition at year's end. His performance is so strong, so bold that it's hard to believe that just last year Williams was doing horrid comedy vehicles like "Flubber".

"Dreams" is simply wonderful. A fresh, outstanding, soulful masterpiece that deserves to be treasured. Fantastic performances in a film that's simply like nothing, and I mean NOTHING we've ever seen as audiences.

A truely great masterpiece.

THE DVD:
VIDEO QUALITY: An absolute stunner of a disc in terms of image quality. The anamorphic widescreen picture is wonderfully clear and razor sharp. Colors are beautiful and color saturation is excellent.All of the colors; reds, yellows, greens and golds are among the many colors on display here and they all look goregous. The opening scenes in Chris's heaven look brilliant, vibrant and beautiful colors abound. There are no problems with artifacts at all, such as shimmering or pixelization; the THX approved transfer is letterboxed at 2.35:1 and really, is the only way that this picture should be seen; the widescreen image captures all of the striking visual effects that are lost in pan/scan versions such as the VHS version, which takes away an incredible amount of the image. Contrast, flesh tones; all excellently rendered in this presentation, a wonderful job by Polygram. Even in the low-light and dark scenes, the image still retains great detail.

SOUND: Absolutely beautiful. I was mainly looking forward to hearing the stunning score by Michael Kamen, but there is so much more here; a sweeping, thrilling sound mix that is filled with loving detail and amibent sounds. Surrounds are used often as well. Dialogue sounds great as well; natural and well-integrated...but man....you have to love that score; absolutely exquisite. The later scenes are especially phenomenal as the band travels to well, "the other side"; thunder and winds and rain whip all around, enveloping the viewer as waves crash all around- absolutely wild stuff and incredibly sensational to listen to.

MENUS: Very cool dual menus(you can choose either "Heaven" or "Hell") Well, they don't seem to have much purpose besides looking "cool"; they both offer the same material, just choose your path wisely, I guess.

EXTRAS: Really interesting is a way different alternate ending. I won't give what happens away here, but I must say it's much longer and I don't think it works quite as well. It's a little too strange, in my opinion. More than that, it's just too confusing compared to the final ending that ended up in the film. The commentary is by director Vincent Ward. It's a decent commentary, not one of my favorites. Ward occasionally falls into narrating the onscreen events, just telling us what is going on in the film at that moment; it's my least favorite brand of commentary, where there are so many things going on in the film that you want to know about and you're hearing just what is onscreen. We know what is onscreen; what we want to find out is how it got there. When Ward finally talks about things behind the scenes, he provides some interesting elements, such as the differences between the book and the film and talking about how the performances were sculpted. His commentary picks up a bit during the scenes in heaven where he talks about how some of the visual effects were attained. I just wish Ward would have talked more; there are a lot of noticable pauses. To make a long story short, a rather dissapointing commentary for a film that I was looking forward to hearing from the director on. "What Dreams May Come" was absolutely one of my favorite films of 1998; it was one of those films that I told everyone "you must see this film". I absolutely respect and admire the work that Ward did here as a director and I still do. I guess maybe I just had too high expectations for this commentary; it's good, but I was just looking for an overflow of all of the details, everything it took to bring this stunning film to the screen. There is also a pretty good featurette that's fairly long( well, for a "featurette", at least) included with cast and crew interviews as well as some very interesting details about the film's special effects that I found quite fascinating. The trailers for this film didn't really hint at how good the film was and I didn't enjoy them that much, but they're(2) are also included here. There are also some DVD-Rom features, including a photo gallery.

GRADES:
The Film: 98/A = (490/500 possible points)
Video: 94/A = (376/400 possible points)
Audio: 96/A = (384/400 possible points)
Extras: 89/B+= (267/300 possible points)
Menus: 91/A- = (182/200 possible points)
Value: 86/B = (258/300 possible points)
Presentation:90/A- = (90/100 possible points)

TOTAL POINTS:2047/2200
Overall:93%/A

[This message has been edited by DVDRules1 (edited 12-21-1999).]
Old 12-21-99, 12:05 PM
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The dvd package was great!

I rented so I didn't get to see all the extras so as far as picture and sound goes it was awesome!

The visuals in the film where also awesome!

The story...just ok IMHO

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Old 12-21-99, 12:51 PM
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I'll second Mr. About's recommendation that you rent this title before buying.

While I'm happy that DVDRules1 found the movie so deep and meaningful, most critics found it gorgeous to look at but otherwise unsatisfactory.

Audience reactions were very mixed. Many cried, others were bored or annoyed. I personally thought it was very shallow, not to mention relentlessly self-important. And it took moping self-pity to a whole new movie level...
Old 12-21-99, 01:39 PM
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Roger Ebert considered it one of the year`s best. I was very impressed by both the film and the DVD. Going into the film I was already a fan of director Vincent Ward, who previously directed one of the great unsung films of the `90s: "Map of the Human Heart".
"What Dreams May Come" is visually stunning, the story is unique, and Robin Williams gives one of his "non-annoying" performances. At least rent it.
Old 12-21-99, 01:43 PM
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This film is AWFUL.

Special effects can not save this dreck! Save yourself the time and the money and avoid this like the plague!!!
Old 12-21-99, 04:42 PM
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I found the movie to have stunning imagination in the way it presented imagery. I appreciated the allegorical way it related existence and color in certain objects. The movie is very strong in visual imagery and cinematography, and has quite a few scenes in which the cinematography is given opportunity to be used to GREAT advantage. The acting by Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr is excellent. If certain religious overtones in the version of heaven presented is acceptable to you then this would be a fine movie.

It has a reasonable set of extras, including alternate ending, full-length commentary, and a few still frame images. The movie HAS a number of surprises to present to you, so if some reviews seemed stilted, it is because the reviewer is trying hard not to spoil the EXPERIENCE for you.

There are a lot of original concepts of heaven and hell presented onscreen. I say original in the context that they are finally shown onscreen as opposed to being merely descriptive words in some fantasy novel.

** mild spoiler ** read no further

The version of heaven presented would be acceptable to those religions supporting such a belief that all men are gods able to form their own worlds. If you can get by this point, then the remaining religious aspects should not bother you.

my slowly growing dvd collection

[This message has been edited by Startide (edited 12-21-1999).]
Old 12-23-99, 11:45 AM
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I go with rent it first. The movie itself was OK, but not one I would want to watch twice. DVD quality was quite good though.
Old 12-23-99, 06:24 PM
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As most of the others have said What dreams may come is not for everyone. My wife and I totally loved the film, both the story and the images. It is a very sad movie but with a message of hope through out. I can't add much to this thread after the posting left by DVDRules1, all I can say is I liked the movie a great deal and recommend it.
Greg
Old 12-24-99, 03:34 AM
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Thanks all,
For your kind reviews and courteous help.

Have a very safe and happy holiday season.

Best Regards,
Don

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Old 12-27-99, 10:24 AM
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I saw it in the theater. It was visually stunning. Robin Williams was superb. Emotions ran high. Then Cuba Gooding came in as his side kick and turned the movie into amatuer hour. I'll probably get it on DVD though because of the visuals and the alternet ending.

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