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I remember seeing the trailer for FREQUENCY ($25) in the Movie Theater and thinking to myself, "this flick is either going to be very entertaining or very stupid." Fortunately, FREQUENCY is a crowd-pleasing fantasy movie that pushes all the right buttons, while maintaining its own fairly intelligent core logic. FREQUENCY opens in 1969, where we meet a courageous NYC Fireman named Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid). In addition to being a firefighter, Frank is also a devoted family man, who loves his wife Julia (Elizabeth Mitchell) and his six-year-old son Johnny (Daniel Henson).

After meeting Frank and his family, FREQUENCY then slides thirty years into the future, where we encounter a grown up John Sullivan (James Caviezel), who is now a detective on the NYC police officer force. After his girlfriend dumps him and a he gets a visit from his friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich), who tries to console him, John digs out his fatherís old ham radio and switches it on. While he doesnít expect the radio to work, John is able to make contact with another radio operator who turns out to be his long dead father Frank. At this point, FREQUENCY puts forth the notion that sunspots and the aura borealis have opened up a frequency that allows John to speak to his father on the very same ham radio thirty years in the past.

Having an open channel to the past gives John the opportunity to change history, so he warns his father that he is going to die while fighting a fire in 1969. Of course, Frank heeds Johnís warning, and survives the warehouse fire that was supposed to claim his life. While John is elated that his father lived past his boyhood, Frankís survival changes a large chunk of history, thus allowing a serial killer to claim even more victims in 1969. With no other choice, Frank and John are forced to team up across the boundaries of time to track down this unknown killer. As you can see, FREQUENCY canít be pigeonholed into just a single genre. The plot contains elements of fantasy, sci-fi, family drama and crime thriller. However, as I said above, FREQUENCY knows how to push the audienceís buttons and therefore succeed as a solid piece of escapist motion picture entertainment. The cast of FREQUENCY also includes Shawn Doyle, Andre Braugher, Melissa Errico, Jordan Bridges, Stephen Joffe and Jack McCormack.

New Line Home Video has made FREQUENCY available as part of their Platinum Series of DVDs. As always, New Line has done a superb job with the video and audio presentation of the film. FREQUENCY is framed at 2.35:1 and the DVD has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Picture quality is stunning, with the transfer delivering a crisp, finely detailed image. There is a tiny bit of film grain in picture, but otherwise it is quite flawless. Colors are beautifully rendered, with natural saturation and appealing flesh tones. There are no signs of chromatic distortion or color bleeding anywhere during the presentation. Although the picture is a little dark at times, there is still a good level of shadow detail. The blacks are a perfect inky black, which gives the darker scenes a genuine sense of character. This smartly authored dual layer disc doesnít betray any signs of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has an enveloping mix that really draws one into the filmís little universe. Channel separation is very clean and the mix makes aggressive use of the rear channels for sound effect placement. Dialogue is cleanly recorded and naturally reproduced, without the other sonic elements ever threatening to overwhelm the actorsí voices. The bass channel provides a solid foundation for the track, as well as kicking into action whenever deep percussive lows are called for. Michael Kamenís engaging score is beautifully mixed into the track, thus maintaining its full musical identity. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also provided on the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound have been combined to give the DVD very cool interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some very nice supplemental materials. FREQUENCY includes two running audio commentaries, one with director Gregory Hoblit and the other with writer Toby Emmerich and his brother Noah Emmerich, who appears in the film as Gordo. Both tracks have their merits, but the directorís commentary may offer fans more of the kind of details that they are looking for. Michael Kamenís musical score is presented on an isolated 5.1 channel track and the composer offers his own commentary between musical passages.

The DVD also features a Fact & Trivia Track, which when activated, allows subtitles to appear on the screen that provides information about virtually everything you are seeing on the screen or hearing on the soundtrack- this is a very cool feature that I hope to see implemented on other DVD releases. The Science Behind Frequency is a 40-minute documentary that looks at everything from the solar science to fighting fires to time travel. There are four deleted scenes on the DVD, two of which are expanded versions of scenes that are in the movie. The Conceptual & Solar Galleries utilizes the multi-angle feature to give one a chance to examine the filmís opening computer-generated shot of the sun and solar flares at four separate levels of development. A theatrical trailer, DVD-ROM game demo and cast/crew filmographies fill out the DVDís video supplements. FREQUENCY is also DVD-ROM enabled, which gives those with a properly equipped PC, access to things like the original theatrical and the filmís screenplay.

FREQUENCY is an entertaining film and a terrific DVD thanks to the tender loving care supplied by New Line Home Video. Combining a terrific presentation with some cool extras, this disc is a keeper. Recommended.




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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