Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 3/20/00
1999 (2000) - Columbia
review by Chris Maynard of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
105 mins, R , letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:22:46, at the end
of Chapter 18), Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailers,
HBO First Look featurette,
commentary with director Sydney Pollack, deleted scenes, isolated
film score, cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene
access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and DD 2.0),
subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
I'm a certified sucker
for a good romantic drama with just a hint of mystery to it. Movies
like that make for great Saturday evening snuggle sessions on the
couch with the significant other. It's much better than being
tortured through 90 minutes of movies like Beaches.
And before you send me e-mail informing me of the importance of that
film, realize that I'm not saying that Beaches
is a bad movie. It's just that I'd rather have that hour and a half
of my life back.
With that said, in comes Random Hearts.
Here, Harrison Ford plays Dutch Van Den Broeck, a hardened but fair
D.C. Internal Affairs officer. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Kay
Chandler, a Congresswoman fighting for re-election. Chandler and her
family portray the idealistic American Dream, and she and Dutch
would have no reason to ever meet... if it weren't for a tragic
plane crash that claims the lives of their spouses. Dutch becomes
suspicious of the event, when he finds out that his wife did not
board the plane under her own name. And after looking at the facts
even closer, Dutch notices that Chandler's husband didn't board
under his own name either. Since the two were sitting together and
boarded as a Mr. & Mrs... well, Dutch shows us he has solid math
skills. Driven by an almost annoying obsession to find out every
dirty little detail of the affair, our main character tracks down
Kay to inform her of the situation.
This movie just never really clicked for me. I found the sub-plot
concerning Dutch and his job too distracting. Usually the sub-plot
and main storyline will converge by the end of the movie, or simply
compliment the story. In this film, I really can't see how either
come together. Still, given all the problems I have with Random
Hearts, Harrison Ford still delivers a excellent
performance, really showing why this guy is still a top box office
I was stunned to find the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer on this DVD to
be less than stellar, and definitely not up to Columbia TriStar's
usual high standards of quality. The print is clean, but riddled
with an inconsistent black-level. Some blacks looked washed out and
"alive" with noise, while other parts of the presentation
looked solid. The occasional compression artifact shows up on some
of the low light scenes. Colors tend to look muted in certain scenes
and very vibrant in select others. This could have been a style
decision, but with the problems in black level, I'm doubting that.
This is not normal for Columbia TriStar, as they generally deliver
some of the best quality video on DVD that the technology can offer.
It all goes to show that even the best of DVD production studios can
have a bad day.
The disc is encoded in 5.0 Dolby Digital, leaving no dedicated LFE
channel. This is not a problem, as the movie has very little
high-intensity audio, showcasing mostly dialog and musical score.
The audio is clean and open sounding, with the dialog coming across
perfectly through the center channel. The surrounds are used
sparingly and compliment the movie just enough while never being a
There are plenty of extras on this disc to spend your time on. One
of the most interesting ones I found were the deleted scenes.
Normally, deleted scenes are interesting enough to go through, but
you're not always sure why they were removed. A nice addition is the
director's narration that runs during the cut pieces of film, giving
you insight to his reasoning for omitting the clip. There can also
be found an HBO First Look: Making of
piece, director's commentary, an isolated musical score, talent bios
and theatrical trailers. This is a fairly loaded disc for your
Random Hearts may not be the
best film to come along on DVD, but it's worth checking out. It
might win some of you over but I must highly recommend renting it
first. It's better to be safe than sorry.