003797Reviews & Counting
DVD disk
10.09.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Dragonfly order
Tom Shadyac

Kevin Costen
Cathy Bates
Joe Morton


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Kevin Costner stars as Joe Darrow, a Chicago doctor who can't get over the recent, accidental loss of his wife Emily. While burying himself in his work to avoid facing that loss, he begins to experience strange feelings and messages from patients who are between life and death. Could it be his wife attempting to contact him from the netherworld, or is he just losing his mind?
I've always been a fan of Kevin Costner and always maintained that many of his recent movies have bombed simply because the critics and general media have been taking exaggerated potshots at a man who, at least, has had the courage to take on some different roles in his career. Whether or not some may find him pretentious or arrogant, I find him entertaining and talented. I've also always liked the ambiguous mix of strength and vulnerability he's portrayed throughout the years in many of his roles, often playing some very flawed characters and he was no different in DRAGONFLY. The film was a very interesting brew of action, thrills and of a very eerie feeling of supernatural happenings, something that can be credited to director Tom Shadyac, usually better known for his goofball comedies than for disturbing drama. As Costner begins to travel the very thin line that stands between the world of the living and the world of the dead, he's accompanied by a rather strong supporting cast that includes Oscar winners Kathy Bates and Linda Hunt. While Hunt has a very limited yet pivotal role, Bates acts a bit like Costner's sidekick (a bit of unnecessary information is passed along in making her a lesbian, which didn't really fit with the rest of the film but hey...) and as usual gives us a performance worthy of her reputation. Don Rifkin and Joe Morton, two great character actors also punch in the clock with some interesting if one dimensional parts. On the other hand, if you blink fast enough, you'll be fortunate enough to miss the split second appearance by the annoying Jay Thomas, who probably got the part the same way he manages to appear on every talk show at least twice a week: someone else couldn't make it. The use of the supernatural acts of the film, in this case, near-death experiences is also dealt with in a rather enjoyable way. Even though the end does reach a bit, it's all dealt with beforehand and therefore you can suspend your disbelief (if you happen to have any) and enjoy the film. If, on the other hand, you're already a believer in the world after death, then this is a rather entertaining way of dealing with an aspect of it. The film does provide its share of thrills and even though a few quick scares are provided for, it's mostly due to the overall creepiness and darkness of the film. The setting doesn't hurt either, a dank, dark and deserted hospital corridor is a pretty creepy place on its own but when you take into account that the only person in there is the doctor who may very well be losing his own mind, it only makes is danker and darker. A big thumbs up goes out to the set designer who made up the hospital set which downright creeped me out. The score is also very good and eerie and fits in very tight with the film. Overall, I found it to be quite enjoyable, especially since I watched it alone, late in a very rainy night.
Unfortunately, there's nothing really supernatural about the bonus material and I don't imagine anyone will be coming back from the dead for these. The first featurette is billed on the box as a Making-Of type documentary but "Spotlight: On Location" (13 minutes) is mostly just a set of cast and crew interviews about the topic and about parts of the film, and while you do get some on-set footage, there's nothing to really write home about. Next up is the feature-length commentary by director Tom Shadyac. The first impression I got from this guy is that he definitely doesn't think lightly of himself and that low self -esteem does not appear to be one of his problems. He is pretty talkative though and goes over in detail what you would expect him to, meaning cast, sets, particular scenes and the likes. For a guy who directed ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, I would have hoped for a couple of one-liners though... The deleted scenes follow and were actually a bit disappointing. The DVD gives you no way of selecting the scenes so you have to watch them all in a row. Most of them are very rough and unfinished and while some are interesting, other are definitely not. Nothing new is broken in though since many of them are different takes or different points of view on scenes in the movie. There are 9 scenes totaling about 10 minutes worth of footage.

One of the features I was looking most forward to when I read the back of the box was a discussion by best-selling author Betty Eadie on her own near death experience. It was by far the creepiest feature on the DVD. Unfortunately, it wasn't creepy because of the topic, but mostly because Betty Eadie is one weird chick. Watching this weird lady with a frozen smile talking about floating outside of her body and floating back home to watch her kids is bad enough, but the look in her eyes when she does it is pretty terrifying, sort of like it was totally normal for her to do that. I shouldn't really diss her though, she could be watching me right now and Casper the friendly ghost she ain't. The rest of the stuff is pretty normal. The theatrical trailer is included (and to my surprise, spoils a couple of the film's thrills, don't watch it before the film in case you haven't seen it yet or don't remember it), as well as a text version of the production notes, cast & crew bios and DVD-ROM features.
Overall, I was very happy with the film itself but the DVD was severely lacking in extras. Depending on the importance you give to bonus material (I must admit, I give a lot more weight to the film), you can decide that way. It's definitely a good choice for rental but as with most of the supernatural thrillers, the surprises usually go over a bit thin the second time around. If you're a Kevin Costner fan though, you'll definitely get a lot of the man in there.
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