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I remember going to see DREAMSCAPE ($25) in a movie theater way back in 1984; it was a fun movie that I had hoped would someday be released in a good-looking edition. Both the tape and Laserdisc versions of the film were cropped and looked cruddy, which was a definite bummer. So, for more than a decade, fans like myself have been forced to live with bad looking editions of this very cool little sci-fi flick. Fortunately, the folks at Image Entertainment have rectified the situation, and have even exceeded my expectations, by delivering a terrific little DREAMSCAPE DVD.

For anyone unfamiliar with DREAMSCAPE, not only does the film have a tight, entertaining story; it also features a first rate cast that makes the material fly. DREAMSCAPE stars Dennis Quaid as Alex Gardner, a gifted psychic who grew tired of being poked and prodded by scientists, so he took a power and has been utilizing his gifts to make money at the racetrack. Unfortunately, Alex’s winning ways have not gone unnoticed by the disreputable element that hangs around the track, so when the opportunity to participate in a scientific endeavor is thrust upon him, Alex uses it as a way to dodge the goons on his tail. When Alex reaches the research facility, he meets up with Dr. Paul Novotny (Max von Sydow), one of the scientists that used to poke and prod him, who now wants Alex to become part of a radical new experiment.

At first, Alex isn’t interested, but Novotny manages to twist his arm. Soon, Alex is immersed in Novonty’s project, which entails placing a psychic within the dream of another individual. Alex becomes very adept at entering other people’s dreams, and manages to help a number of people with their sleep disorders. However, while he is engaged in the experiments, Alex becomes aware of Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer), a high-ranking government official, who may be looking for a way to use Dr. Novotny’s research for his own purposes. With the aid of Novotny’s associate, Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw), Alex tries to discover just what Blair is up to, now that the President (Eddie Albert) has been brought to the facility to deal with his recurring nightmares. The cast of DREAMSCAPE also features David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Larry Gelman, Cory 'Bumper' Yothers, Redmond Gleeson, Peter Jason, Chris Mulkey, Jana Taylor, Madison Mason and Kendall Carly Browne.

As I stated above, Image Entertainment has done a really nice job with their DVD edition of DREAMSCAPE. DREAMSCAPE has been given a high definition transfer on the Spirit Datacine, which was down-converted to a 16:9 enhanced presentation, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The hi-def transfer has eked every last bit of detail out of the film element, which at times looks astonishingly good. However, hi-def mastering also has the annoying side effect of bringing out the flaws in the original film element. The worst of these flaws consists of noticeable film grain and occasional splotches of dirt and negative dust. Other than these minor annoyances, the DREAMSCAPE DVD delivers a rather impressive image. Colors are naturally saturated and flesh tones appear healthy. Chroma noise is completely absent and there is no evidence of smearing amongst the stronger hues. Blacks are correctly reproduced and the level of shadow detail is better than what I expected from a fairly low budget sci-fi flick. DREAMSCAPE utilizes dual layer authoring, which manages to tame all noticeable traces of digital compression artifacts.

For this release, Image has created new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel and DTS 5.1 channel soundtracks. The new Dolby Digital mix is cleaner sounding and better defined than a matrixed soundtrack, although the soundtrack’s origins remain fairly evident. Dialogue is always intelligible, although the voices lack the fuller, richer timbre of a new recording. Surround usage is somewhat limited, which is on par with most mid-eighties soundtracks. Additionally, the soundtrack doesn’t present any earth shattering requirements, so the track’s limited bass response is adequate to the task. Maurice Jarre’s musical score seems to get a boost from the Dolby Digital encoding; sounding better defined than has in the past.

DREAMSCAPE sports nicely designed interactive menus that take advantage of full motion video, animation and sound. Through the menus, one has access to the standard set up and scene selection features, as well as a few supplements. Topping the list of extras is an audio commentary with producer Bruce Cohen Curtis, writer David Loughry and special effects man Craig Reardon. The commentary has provides a good level of detail into the production and the participants are good-natured personalities make for an easy lighten. Also included on the DVD is a special effects test reel for the "Snakeman" monster makeup, plus a still gallery.

DREAMSCAPE remains as much fun today, as it was when I saw it in the theater. Image Entertainment delivers the best looking and sounding home video edition that we are likely to see, that is, until High Definition. If you are a DREAMSCAPE fan, you can’t go wrong with this DVD.





DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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