New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Andre Braugher, James Caviezel, Noah Emmerich, Elizabeth Mitchell, Shawn Doyle
Extras: Documentary, Deleted Scenes, Isolated Score, Conceptual and Solar Galleries, Fact and Trivia Subtitle Track, Filmographies, Theatrical Trailer, Cast and Crew Bios
"Frequency, " the name is rather non-descript for a movie that is filled elements that create such a racy experience that it does. Filled with elements of time travel, taking it a bit into science fiction territory, "Frequency" is basically a thriller with some intriguing twists. New Line Home Video has prepared a full-blown Special Edition DVD for this film, and it was time for me to see how it turned out.
Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) is a fireman and one of the best at that. Putting his own life on the line every day in an effort to save others, Frank enjoys his family life with his lovely wife and their son John even more. Until one day, Frank dies in the blaze.
30 years later, John (James Caviezel), now a grown up man and police officer rediscovers some of his father’s belongings, including an old Ham Radio. Full of nostalgic feelings he turns on the outdated piece of equipment and after a few seconds he makes contact with a stranger. Over the course of the next days he discovers something unbelievable. The voice on the other end is his father – some 30 years earlier! Through a unique atmospheric constellation, the two can communicate with each other – each one in their own time. As they both realize what it happening, John warns his father of his imminent death in a warehouse fire – and changes the course of history! From there on, nothing is the way it was, the world changes around John as he witnesses some of the effects his interference has had. He has helped to keep his father a live for some more time, but now his mother has fallen victim to a serial killer! Together, father and son, separated by 30 years, are frantically trying to solve the murder mystery and to create a future that is bright and healthy for all of them.
As soon as you start thinking about a story down the lines of time travel, it becomes imminent how involving the subject matter is and how inconclusive many things become. There are now easy fixes for many questions that arise and "Frequency" does an admirable job, keeping these "leaps of faith" so well hidden that upon watching the film for the first time, you won’t even notice them. Although "Frequency" uses elements from a variety of genres and stories, the movie itself creates an incredibly tight atmosphere that keeps the viewer on the edge. Sometimes the whole time-travel, changing the future thing becomes almost irrelevant, as the thriller takes on shape and the serial killer becomes central to the story, only to kick back into the "what-if" mode a few seconds later as Frank and John get back on their radios to talk.
New Line Home Video presents "Frequency" on this DVD in a <$16x9,16x9 enhanced> <$PS,widescreen> transfer that maintains the movie’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is without any speckles or blemishes and creates a very stable, vibrant image. There is some slight grain evident in the film, a result of the film stock used to shoot this film, giving it a look that is perfectly suited for both the late 60s and late 90s eras in which the film plays, adding some "vintage" quality to the material. Colors in the transfer are very good and nicely reproduced. The rainbow colors of the aura in the night sky are beautifully vibrant, and the overall production design of the film has some nicely accentuated color highlights. The 60s footage has a noticeably warmer atmosphere than the contemporary footage with its significantly colder colors. All of that is perfectly reproduced on the DVD. The overall transfer appears a little dark however – which may have been the intention of the filmmakers – and many areas of the film are shrouded in impenetrable blacks. Blacks themselves are deep and solid without any noticeable pixel break-up. "Frequency" has been carefully prepared and no noise or edge-enhancement hamper the presentation. The film has been carefully compressed to make sure not a hint of a compression artifact can be found on this release.
"Frequency" features a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track as well as a <$DS,Dolby Surround> track. The audio tracks are energetic and very dynamic. With good surround effects that are used quite effectively, the film creates a rather immersive experience. The audio has a wide frequency response with a good bottom end that engages the LFE channel to good effect. Although not used extremely urgently, the LFE channel at times creates an incredible punch – especially towards the film’s climax – that is highly effective. I did notice some distorted sound effects on a handful of occasion but the distortion seemed to stem from the original recordings, rather than the DVD presentation. Dialogues are well recorded and sound absolutely natural. They have a tendency to be a little low in volume though, and although never drowned out by effects or music, they create a bit of an inconsistency in the volume balance of the overall mix. The music on the disc is also presented in a captivating mix that also uses the surround channels for a wide spatial integration that engulfs the listener. Michael Kamen’s score for the film is highly dramatic, creating some very suspenseful moments on its very own. Fortunately, his score is also presented as an isolated score on the disc, together with an <$commentary,audio commentary> by Michael Kamen, in which he discusses his general approach to the film and the pieces of music presented.
As a Platinum Series release, "Frequency" contains a number of great additional features, starting with two more <$commentary,commentary track>s. The first one features director Gregory Hoblit as he discusses his work in quite some detail. From his initial attachment to his understanding of the material, Hoblit delivers an informative <$commentary,commentary track> that not only covers technical aspects of the production but also some scientific and forensic background. The commentary has a few gaps here and there but always manages to maintain a good level of information and entertainment. The second <$commentary,commentary track> on the disc features writer Toby Emmerich and actor Noah Emmerich. The two are isolated on the left and right channels on the track to help distinguishing the voices and works very well. Their commentary is rather anecdotal in nature and offers many bits and pieces here and there, as well as some exciting stories from behind the scenes.
As a very interesting feature, the DVD also contains a Fact and Trivia subtitle track. As you watch the film, information will appear on the screen that relates either directly or peripherally to the action you see on the screen. Filled with valuables and anecdotes, this is a great track for all trivia buffs among you.
A 40-minute documentary is also part of the release, called "The Science Behind Frequency." This is a great documentary that is a far cry from the standard fare of Hollywood publicity. In this feature viewers can learn a lot about the scientific aspects that are covered and seen in the film to a degree. Whether it’s the breathtaking appearance of Northern Lights, Ham Radios, Time Travel, Fire Fighting or the visual effects for the movie itself, this documentary covers all of it in an informative, understandable and entertaining fashion.
You can also find four deleted scenes on the disc. Also presented in perfectly clean 16×9 <$PS,widescreen>, these deleted scenes vary in quality quite a bit and it is obviously why they have been omitted from the final film, but all of them offer additional insight into the characters themselves.
"Conceptual and Solar Galleries" is a multi-angle feature that gives you a good look at the development of the film’s opening shot with the solar protuberations. Each one of the angles – which can also be accessed directly from the menu – gives you a different stage of the computer generated shot to show how it was accomplished. It does not feature any explanatory commentary however and does not loop. Given the short running length of the shot there is hardly enough time to go through all angles, and a looping sequence would have made that somewhat easier.
The DVD is rounded out with the movie’s theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and an advertisement trailer for a computer game that has nothing to do with the film at all. You figure its purpose… but let’s just hope, DVD is not turning into another bottomless advertising trash can.
The disc also contains a number of DVD-ROM content, such as a script-to-screen comparison, the movie’s official website, and some other gimmicks, including a fully playable trial demo for the same computer game that has nothing to do with the film.
Once again, New Line Home Video delivers the goods. "Frequency" is a gripping film and it is making an outstanding DVD debut on this Platinum Edition. Films revolving around the subject of the time paradox are inevitably inconclusive and riddled with errors, but the drive the "Frequency" has will hardly let you notice the spots where the filmmakers allowed themselves creative freedom. Tune into this "Frequency" and check this disc out.