Dragonfly (2002)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Kevin Costner, Joe Morton, Kathy Bates, Linda Hunt
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Biographies, Production Notes, Trailers

Tom Shadyac’s supernatural thriller "Dragonfly" is making a very quick turn-around to appear on DVD after its lukewarm theatrical run earlier this year. Despite the criticism however, "Dragonfly" turns out to be a solid film with som great suspenseful moments.

"Dragonfly" tells the story of Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) who loses his wife in an accident in South America. Since her remains were never found, he is unable to find closure and believes her spirit is coming to visit him. Strange events confirm his impression, but when children with near-death experiences tell him that they met his wife in the afterlife, and that she is indeed trying to get a message to him, Darrow is determined to make contact. Slowly the secret unravels and Darrow follows the sign his wife seems to leave for him.

"Dragonfly" is a well-done supernatural thriller that has some great moments and manages to produce some truly spooky moments that are nicely set up. While comparisons to "The Sixth Sense" are inevitable, "Dragonfly" has a very different note in that it is a much more personal experience as the story revolves about Kevin Costner’s character trying to find closure and to get over the pain. The movie’s final however stands out as one of the most surprising endings that I have seen in a long time. In retrospect you will notice that a good number of hints were dropped during the entire movie to set up this incredible ending, but nonetheless it turns out to be so unexpected and incredibly rewarding.

Universal Home Video is presenting "Dragonfly" in a <$PS,widescreen> version on this DVD that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets – a <$PS,fullscreen> version is available also, sold separately. As expected, the transfer is beautifully detailed and sharp without defects or blemishes. Colors are very well reproduced with vibrant hues and a naturally balanced look. With its deep blacks and fabulous shadow delineation, the image has a lot of depth and manages to beautifully to recreate some of the eerie nighttime shots while also reproducing the sterile hard-edged hospital interiors. No distracting edge-enhancement is evident and the compression of the material is free of compression artifacts.

"Dragonfly" comes with a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track that is dynamic and makes efficient use of the surround channels. A <$DTS,DTS> audio track is also part of the release, but by comparing the two I was unable to find any notable differences. Sound effects are aggressively fed into the rear channels at times to create an engulfing sound field while at others subtle ambient effects surround the viewer to enhance the spooky and suspenseful atmosphere the film conjures up at others. The frequency response is very wide and exhibits a good bass reproduction as well as transparent high ends that reveals the multi-textured sounds and orchestrations. Dialogues are well produced and are well-integrated, always standing above the rest of the mix.

The DVD contains a number of extras, such as a <$commentary,commentary track> featuring director Tom Shadyac. The track is very informative and discusses some of the events seen on the screen in more detail and also explains some of the medical truths and findings behind the events. But Shadyac also spends a good portion of the time discussion production issues, his cast and has a good number of entertaining anecdotes ready.

Next up is a "Spotlight on Location" featurette that also covers some of the movie’s production aspects. It boasts a lot of footage from the movie – a tad too much for my taste – intercut with talking head interview segments as a few aspects of the movie are discussed in more detail by cast and crew members.

A selection of deleted scenes can also be found on the DVD, which give viewers a glimpse at some of the footage that didn’t make the final cut, further expanding the understanding and emotional depth of the story. These deleted scenes are presented in non-<$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and the quality of the footage is rather poor as these seem to be taken from work prints. They are also not accessible individually and strung up as 11 minutes of continuous footage.

Universal has also added a dedicated featurette with best-selling author Betty Eadie on the DVD, who has written a series of books about the near-death experience, in which she discusses her own brush with death.

The DVD is rounded out by the movie’s trailer in non-<$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen>, Cast and Crew Biographies and Production Notes, as well as a reel of other DVD titles and selected DVD-ROM content, such as "Dragonfly"-themed wallpapers and screensavers.

"Dragonfly" didn’t make much of an impact at the box office but upon viewing it on this DVD I found it to be a suspenseful experience that is very emotional at times. The story is well-paced and the continuous planting of seeds in the viewers mind allows the audience to think along while watching the film. The film is not as dark as "The Sixth Sense" for example, and uses basically no shocks at all, thus making it a movie that is very enjoyable for the timid as well. All in all, Universal delivers a great DVD for this movie that is well worth seeing. What an ending…