Time travel stories and their inevitable paradoxes have been with us since Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. This film takes a fresh approach to the subject. Instead of the characters moving through time, they are afforded the chance to communicate through time. Frequency is both engaging and often emotional. There is an amazing chemistry between father and son even though for most of the film they are never actually together. The baseball theme, for me, adds warmth that makes the relationship play out like a common memory. I hesitate to use the moniker “feel good movie” but it does seem to fit Frequency.
John Sullivan (Caviezel) is a policeman who lost his father (Quaid) to a fire when he was a child. It seems he has never emotionally recovered as witnessed in his current relationships. When strange “northern lights” invade New York, John takes out his dad’s old HAM radio and mysteriously connects with his dad 30 years in the past.
Together they become embroiled in the life of a serial killer, changing history in both wonderful and tragic ways as they go.
Frequency broadcasts a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This film is dialogue heavy, so most of the action understandably takes place in the center channel. There are a few clever examples of ambient sounds, particularly in the opening warehouse fire. The score provided by Michael Kamen is a welcome treat that adds dimension to the otherwise simple audio. You can also listen to an isolated score, a feature I would love to see more often.
There are two commentary tracks. The first is by Gregory Hoblit (director). This is one of the more informative commentary tracks to date. Hoblit will immerse you in the finer details of the film. He often discusses the origin of much of what you see finished on the screen. You will be impressed at his almost relentless pursuit of a sense of reality given the fantastic nature of the film. The second track features the Emerich brothers. This track mostly deals with a few story elements from the writer’s side of it. There are many minutes of dead silence. Overall not as entertaining or informative as Hoblit’s track.
Frequency is presented in its original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is in the video that Frequency truly shines. You won’t find a more perfect transfer. Flesh tones are reference quality. Blacks are incredibly deep and shadow detail is truly outstanding. The highlight of course, would have to be the northern lights. These lights blaze with brilliant color and amazing texture as they pass from clear to cloudy skies in dazzling clarity. There are no noticeable print flaws or artifacts present.
The most outstanding feature would have to be the half hour “The Science and Technology Behind Frequency”. This feature concentrates on the reality aspects of the film. It explores the science behind northern lights, HAM radio frequencies, and even fighting fires. It can be highly technical and will require patience, but the subject matter is fascinating. There are the obligatory trailers, cast and crew bios, DVD-Rom game demos, and production information. There’s a gallery that allows you to view the spectacular opening sequence from multi-angles, and some astronomical pictures.
You will also be treated to animated menus that are quite easy to navigate and pleasing to tour.
If Frequency suffers from anything, it is trying to be too much. Hoblit spends great effort in his attempt to portray the fire fighters and police officers in such a real manner. The film obviously wants to pull against your heartstrings. It is a unique serial killer drama with the usual and some not so usual twists. There are the science fiction elements of time travel, and the film tries to be a morality tale.
The effect is the movie is a very good collage of genres but never really masters any of them. Finally, the film is compelling enough that by the end you’ll be saying, “I’m still here, Chief”.