For the longest time I avoided Field of Dreams. This is simply because Iï¿½ve never really liked Kevin Costner as an actor, and mainly because I figured a film about baseball starring him would be boring. Boy was I wrong on this one. Sure Field of Dreams isnï¿½t the best film ever made, but damn if itï¿½s not a film that one canï¿½t help but enjoy slowly falling for the story, characters and surroundings.
Ray Kinsella (Costner) is a simple man who has a lovely wife named Annie (Amy Madigan). Ray decides to move to Iowa soon buying a farm. One night, while in the crops, Ray beings to hear a calm, subdued voice that repeats, ï¿½if you build it, he will comeï¿½. Ray begins to think itï¿½s a sound truck or a bunch of kids playing a joke. Soon the chant happens again only this time Ray sees a vision of a baseball field. (Remember the scandal surrounding the 1918 White Sox where 8 of them were suspended over apparently being paid to throw the World Series). Once the field is built, Rayï¿½s young daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) tells her daddy that a strange man is walking in the field. Ray goes out and sees none other than Shoeless Joe Jackson (the always fabulous Ray Liotta). The rest of the film follows Ray receiving more clues that lead him to meeting more players including one particularly important player.
I suppose what makes Field of Dreams work on the level it does is that the story is so charming and interesting that we as the audience canï¿½t help but want Ray to succeed in realizing what the fieldï¿½s true purpose is (any causal film fan will be able to decipher its message 30-40 minutes in). The acting is surprisingly convincing as many of Hollywood greats lend their talent to the picture including Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster (with the exception of Costner who I couldnï¿½t really believe in the role).
After seeing this film, one can certainly understand why some call this film a legend. I couldnï¿½t help but think of another excellent baseball film in The Sandlot as both tell compelling stories that we can help but become attached to. While The Sandlot is obviously the more kiddy film of the two, Field of Dreams is the perfect film to watch with the whole family (especially if your family is not together or is going through rough times). Trust me on this one, you wonï¿½t help but wonder how you could have changed your past with a certain family member by the end. I certainly did.
This disc is presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Iï¿½m sad to report that Field of Dreams, despite older catalogue titles looking impressive on HD, has a transfer that has moments of appropriate grain, but has too flat of an image to ever look impressive.
As I mentioned above, the filmï¿½s print is loaded with grain. Luckily most of the grain helps bring out the filmsï¿½ themes in an appropriate manner. Video noise, on the other hand, is rather distracting with constant buzzing. Color usage was fine in some sequences (the exterior shots of the corn fields). Most of the color felt pumped up giving the image a rather fake look. Sure Field of Dreams didnï¿½t ever really have the 3-D image weï¿½ve come to expect from HD material (I didnï¿½t honestly expect it to though), but the image looks too flat and oversaturated throughout. One of the few negatives Iï¿½ve seen from Universal.
The standard English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is equally disappointing. I didnï¿½t go into this expecting something like Superman Returns, but I had hoped for more overall response.
Speaking of surround response, I only really noticed any surround response from the opening Universal logo and some of the cheering from Rayï¿½s family. Dialogue was fairly clear throughout even though some of the arguing between town members at the town meeting ended up muddled (luck for subtitles though). Dynamic Range, like the surrounds, was rather flat and nearly un-existent except from a few key scenes (most of them were around the initial arrival of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other team members). A true disappointment here.
- Audio Commentary with Director Phil Alden Robinson and director of photography John Lindley: Originally recorded for the Laserdisc release a few years back, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I thought that both would just drone on about how great their film was. While both do this a bit, I liked how Robinson gives us a bit of information on the various effects used for the film and the casting of Costner and Liotta.
- From Father to Son: Passing Along the Pastime: This 40 minute feature was entertaining and interesting throughout. Co-producers Charles and Lawrence Gordon give us a bit of information on the production, behind-the-scenes footage and other cast members. This one is definitely worth a watch for fans of the film.
- Roundtable with Kevin Costner, Bret Saberhagen, George Brett and Johnny Bench: This 30 minute discussion has Costner quiz the three baseball legends on the filmï¿½s impact and, most importantly, the legend that is the sport of baseball.
- Galena, IL Pinch Hits for Chisholm, MN: This brief 6 minute feature takes a look into a visit to Galena, IL with historian Steve Repp. He shows off some of the various locales used for some of the filmï¿½s pivotal scenes.
- The Diamond in the Husks: This one runs 13 minutes and focuses on the actual location used for the baseball diamond in Iowa. What surprised me most is that the actual locale has become quite the tourist spot.
- Fields of Dreams: From Page to Screen: This whopping 46 minute Bravo TV Special focuses on the decision of Robinson to bring W.P. Kinsellaï¿½s novel to the big screen.
- Deleted Scenes: Here, over 13 scenes, we get about 15 minutes worth of deleted scenes with an introduction by Director Robinson.
- Field of Dreams Scrapbook: 300 various photo of behind-the-scenes action and production sets.
Fields of Dreams, simply put, is a great film. Containing a great, heart-wrenching story with some fine acting, the film is perfect for family gatherings or building relationships. The unfortunate part here on this HD disc is that the V/A is rather unimpressive especially when you consider what Universal is capable of. The features, on the other hand, were extensive and interesting. Iï¿½m going to recommend this one to everyone as a healthy upgrade for fans and for those who havenï¿½t seen it.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with Director Phil Alden Robinson and director of photography John Lindley
- From Father to Son: Passing Along the Pastime
- Roundtable with Kevin Costner, Bret Saberhagen, George Brett and Johnny Bench
- Galena, IL Pinch Hits for Chisholm, MN
- The Diamond in the Husks
- Fields of Dreams: From Page to Screen
- Deleted Scenes
- Field of Dreams Scrapbook