Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 11/14/00
Line Platinum Series - 2000 (2000) - New Line
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B
Specs and Features
118 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:20:30 in chapter
14), Snapper case packaging, audio commentary with director Gregory
Hoblit, audio commentary with writer/producer Toby Emmerich and
actor Noah Emmerich, isolated score with commentary by composer
Michael Kamen (DD 5.1), theatrical trailer, 4 deleted scenes, "fact
& trivia" subtitle track, The
Science & Technology Behind Frequency video clips
(includes Solar Science, Ham
Radios, Time Travel &
Theoretical Physics, Fighting
Fires & Creating Natural
Phenomenon for Film), Conceptual & Solar Galleries
(multi-angle presentation of opening effects shot), cast & crew
bios, DVD-ROM features (including PC Friendly weblinks and Ground
Control playable PC game demo), animated film-themed
menus with sound & music, scene access (21 chapters), languages:
English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
"What if you
could reach back in time? What if you could change the past? What if
it changed everything?"
These are the questions posed by the makers of
Frequency in the ad campaign
that preceded its theatrical release in the spring of 2000.
Box-office analysts were predicting the same sort of box office
sleeper success that The Sixth Sense
achieved in the previous summer. Both films dealt with similar
themes of unsolved murders and supernatural forces, and both work
really well in their genres. In the end, Frequency
did relatively well and found an audience, but the success that came
to The Sixth Sense isn't
something that happens very often. Fortunately, New Line has given
Frequency a great DVD
treatment that will hopefully widen its audience base.
Part of what really works for Frequency
are the twists and turns it takes as the story unfolds, so I'll keep
my description of the story brief. The film starts in Queens, New
York in 1969, right around the time of the World Series. Frank
Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) is a firefighter and a devoted father and
husband. He spends his spare time speaking on a HAMM radio and
playing ball with his son, John. Flash forward to 1999. John (Jim
Caviezel) now works for the NYPD as a homicide investigator and
lives in the same home he grew up in. His mom lives in a small
apartment, and his father died on the job shortly after the opening
set-up of the story.
Prompted by a visit from his next-door neighbor and childhood
friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich), John pulls out his dad's old HAMM
radio and starts to mess it. Soon, however, he starts to realize
that he's talking with his dad, thirty years in the past. The
premise of Frequency that
allows John to talk with his father is admittedly fantastic, but it
works for most of the film. In the film, both 1969 and 1999 fall
into the high point of the sun's solar cycle, which produces
brilliant aurora borealis right above New York. This interferes with
the radio transmissions and allows the two of them to talk across
time. But in just talking together, the two manage to change the way
events unfolded in John's past. John soon realizes that his father
can help him solve a brutal series of murders that have been
plaguing New York for years - murders which, because of their
altering the timeline, hit closer and closer to home. Frequency
is a film that will definitely test your willingness to suspend
disbelief, but it's a fantasy, and I think it pulls off that part of
the story quite nicely.
Frequency could easily have
been one of the best films of the year had the filmmakers spent more
time on the sweet-natured father-son relationship (think
Field of Dreams) and less on
the crime/caper part of the story. That's where the movie stumbles.
The character of John, for example, isn't always the most likable
guy, so you have to work to empathize with him at times. The film's
ambitious premise really works for certain parts of the movie, but
seems to be an afterthought at other times. Toby Emmerich doesn't
put a great amount of thought into the after effects of changing
history. The theory here is that even the smallest change to the
past could result in great, even fateful, changes to the present.
The historical changes in Frequency
affect only the main character in the film and those close to them.
Emmerich even mentions in the documentary that Frequency
is not going to please hardcore Sci-fi fans, who may be looking for
H.G. Welles-style time travel fare. The gimmick here is all in the
name of getting to a happy (and a bit too cheesy) ending. But, on
the whole, it works to create an entertaining and touching film.
New Line has prepared a very nice all-around package of
Frequency for its DVD release.
The video is an almost completely defect-free anamorphic transfer,
that preserves the 2.35:1 aspect ratio of its theatrical exhibition.
This is an exceedingly clean print that presents a crisp, detailed
and darn near immaculate picture. Colors and flesh tones are stable
and appropriately saturated without bleed or fading, and black level
is rich and deep. There is little (if any) in the way of edge
enhancement, and you'd be hard pressed to find any NTSC artifacting.
My only qualm with the picture is that there were one or two scenes
that had a little more grain than they should have, given the
relative newness of the film.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is also first-rate. This is a
full-bodied mix that takes advantage of the entire audio system to
create a really immersive sound field. Bass extension is active, but
never forced, and adds natural intensity and depth to the mix.
Surround separation and panning effects are also executed in a
manner that creates a great sonic experience without ever taking the
focus off of the film. Dialogue is well maintained with the focus on
the center speaker, and there's a good balance in the rear surrounds
with the effects and music tracks. New Line has also included a
decent 2.0 surround track for those without 5.1 capability. It's
good, but obviously doesn't come near the robust strength of the
Dolby 5.1 mix.
As can be expected from New Line's Platinum Series, the features
here are excellent. First up is a trio of commentaries that address
different aspects of the film. The first two (one with director
Gregory Hoblit and another with writer/producer Toby Emmerich and
his brother, actor Noah Emmerich) are informative tracks that really
show how much care went into making of the movie. This project was
obviously close to Toby Emmerich's heart. However, both of these
tracks leaned a little on the dry side. There are a lot of facts
dished out here, but none of it is done with any great enthusiasm,
and it becomes a tad tedious to wade through for more than 20
minutes or so at a time. I didn't necessarily find the score of
Frequency to be one of the
film's bigger assets, but it's here on an isolated track in 5.1 with
commentary by composer Michael Kamen. Sometimes the music didn't
seem to be in touch with the on-screen action (so a scene that
should be sentimental ends up sounding foreboding and unsure), but
it's good to hear Kamen discussing his work. Similar to the
commentaries is an unadvertised fact and trivia subtitle track
(think VH1 Pop-Up Video). Some
of the facts are directly related to the film, while others are a
stretch to say the least. But it's a fun, lighthearted and
fast-paced track that adds a different dimension to the features.
The best of the features is easily the 30-minute documentary
The Science and Technology Behind
Frequency. It's a thoroughly engaging featurette that
touches on the technical nature of some of the main themes of
Frequency. An equal amount of
time is spent discussing HAMM radios, solar patterns and auroras,
fire fighting and the special effects in the film. It's like having
Emmerich's script research for this film in documentary form. The
packaging promotes the fact that the featurette is in Dolby Digital
5.1 and continues New Line's recent trend (along with
Final Destination) toward
anamorphic enhancement for ALL of their supplements. Way to go, New
Line! Hoblit's commentary tells us that there were some 30 minutes
cut from the film, and four of those scenes are here on the disc.
They're not vital to the plot, so they were left out of the final
edit. There's also a small video sequence that utilizes the
multi-angle feature on your DVD player to show the different stages
that went into creating the solar flare effects at the beginning of
But we're not done yet. There are still the DVD-ROM features. You
get the standard ROM features, like links to the film's theatrical
website. Feeding the growing frenzy over the Lord
of the Rings films, New Line included a themed web
browser, wallpaper and screensaver if you just can't wait for the
film. There's also a playable demo of the PC game
Ground Control, but why it's
on the disc and what it has to do with this movie I have no idea.
New Line also took the "script-to-screen" concept way
beyond what has been done before and made what they call a "dynamic
index" for even more features. Each scene in the screenplay is
indexed with corresponding illustrations and storyboards (if
available), action sequences and music. It's another way to delve
even deeper into the disc. This is a very cool feature that I hope
becomes a standard part of New Line's DVD's.
New Line really went all out on this DVD. Frequency
is a great little movie, and the features on the disc really
complement the film. If you missed it in theatres, it's definitely
worth a look on home video. Frequency
is a hidden gem in New Line's recent library, and they've polished
it up very nicely on DVD.