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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

What Dreams May Come [Blu-ray]

 

(Vincent Ward, 1998)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal

Video: Universal Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:53:43.817

Disc Size: 34,368,662,075 bytes

Feature Size: 31,167,092,736 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.56 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 3rd, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3134 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3134 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Portuguese 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Portuguese, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary with director Vincent Ward

• Alternate Ending (6:35 in 480i)

Featurette: What Dreams May Come (15:17 in 480i)

• The Visual Effects (Joel Hynek - 2:55 in 480i) + (Josh Rosen - 1:51 in 480i)

• Two Trailers (2:26 + 2:25 in 480i)

My Scenes + BDLive

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Academy Award-winners Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. embark on a supernatural journey beyond the realm of mortality in this visually stunning and unforgettable epic. After Chris Nielsen (Williams) dies in an accident he tries to remain close to his beautiful mortal wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra). With the friendly spirit (Gooding Jr.) assigned to guide him he begins to adapt to his new state of being in a setting that can only be described as heavenly. But when his distraught wife takes her own life she is banished to an eternal damnation. Chris vows to find her so they can share eternity together but no one has ever succeeded in rescuing a soul from such a horrific fate. With the help of his heavenly friends Chris sets out on the most perilous and harrowing journey of his life or afterlife: a quest for everlasting love that will take him to hell and back!

***

Despite everything we have experienced and all we have seen, nothing can prepare us for the wonders of what lies beyond.... Academy Award¨ Winner Robin Williams is about to take you on an amazing journey...through heaven and hell. To rediscover the meaning of life...and the wonders of love.

 

 

The Film:

What Dreams May Come has the sensibilities of an art film placed into a big-budget feature with an A-list cast. Although it is undeniably a tear-jerker, it's probably not mainstream enough to enthrall audiences and assure a big return at the box office. It is arguably too offbeat. The storyline, which has Chris relishing the serenity of heaven before taking a trip through hell, is compelling, even if the ending is a little too cute. Part of the reason the movie works is that the characters are likable. Most of us would love to have the kind of relationship that Chris and Annie enjoyed, so it's not hard to root for them to somehow find each other again, even with the chasm of death dividing them. Also, the production design is truly amazing, coming in second only to Dark City for the most visually arresting picture of the year (with the upcoming Pleasantville a close third).

The presence of Max von Sydow immediately conjures up associations with the work of legendary film maker Ingmar Bergman, and, indeed, there's something almost Bergman-esque about What Dreams May Come. This film is about life, death, and the connection between the two - themes that Bergman explored more than once. Granted, von Sydow was a lot younger when he appeared in The Seventh Seal, but the link is there. However, it's worth mentioning that had Bergman made this film, the ending would not have been as hopelessly crowd-pleasing.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at Reel views located HERE

Robin Williams somehow has a quality that makes him seem at home in imaginary universes. Remember him in ``Popeye,'' ``The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,'' ``Toys,'' ``Jumanji,'' and in his animated incarnation in ``Aladdin.'' There is a muscular reality about him, despite his mercurial wit, that anchors him and makes the fantastic images around him seem almost plausible. He is good, too, at emotion: He brings us along with him. In Annabella Sciorra, he has a co-star whose own character is deeply unhappy and yet touching; her sin of despair was committed, we believe, because she loved so much and was so happy she cannot exist in the absence of those feelings.

And yet, as I've suggested, the movie somehow gathers all these threads and its triumphant art direction and special effects, and then doesn't get across the finish line with them. I walked out of the theater sensing that I should have felt more, that an opportunity had been lost. ``What Dreams May Come'' takes us too far and risks too much to turn conventional at the end. It could have been better. It could perhaps have been the best film of the year. Whatever its shortcomings, it is a film to treasure.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

What Dreams May Come has some impressive art direction and painterly effects that hold up extremely well via 1080P. This seems to be one of the last of the Universal HD transfers finally moved to Blu-ray and it retains the VC-1 encode but the size outstrips the capacity of the now defunct format with the feature taking up over 30 Gig of space on the disc. We've all seen colors on the Blu-ray format that go overboard with saturation, and while this is part of the effects of the fantasy sequences of What Dreams May Come - it never extends beyond its balance and for that I am appreciative and the image quality benefits from this restraint. I guess what I am trying to say is that the effect colors don't look enhanced for this release. This is dual-layered, clean, bright and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. This is a beautiful film that often has me thinking of Kurosawa's Dreams. The Universal transfer is quite strong and offers a memorable presentation in this format.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Solid lossless track - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3134 kbps covers all the bases well with effect noises sounding springy or buoyantly separated depending on the intent. I'm always keen on the subtleties and they exist here in harmony with the more boisterous sound-staging. Dialogue is not an abundant part with vibrant, visuals taking the lead but everything is in place here and sounds as close to flawless as I could ascertain. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Everything is from the past DVD and HD editions with the commentary with director Vincent Ward, a 6.5 minute alternate ending, the standard featurette: What Dreams May Come for 15-minutes with cast and crew giving soundbytes. There is also a 'Visual Effects' section with separate, very short, interviews with Joel Hynek (visual effects supervisor: Mass. Illusions) and Josh Rosen (visual effects art director), plus two trailers although nothing is in HD. We lose the photo gallery that was present on past digital editions. So, nothing new but the commentary will be appreciated by those who indulge.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is a pretty cool movie on lots of fronts. The extravagant visuals mesh well with the story to create a rare fantasy hybrid - that we don't often see anymore. Fans of the film will be happy to see it on Blu-ray looking occasionally breathtaking. Audio is likewise competent and even if we get no new extras - it is still a worthwhile film to own in this format - certainly capable of 'demo' purposes for certain crowds. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 25th, 2011


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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