Warner Bros. // 2000 // 118 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 18th, 2012
A son's only hope to stop a murder is the father who's been dead for 30 years.
New Line digs up and releases this 12 year-old sci-fi thriller, slapping on a new coat of high-def paint, a spunky 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and some very bad Photoshopping on the disc case. The result: an impressive technical treatment for a movie that isn't half bad.
Dennis Quaid (Flight of the Phoenix) and Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) star as a father and son, separated by three decades. Frank Sullivan (Quaid) is a firefighter who dies in a tragic accident, leaving his son John (Caviezel) fatherless and bitter. But thanks to a crazy science miracle generated by the Aurora Borealis, John one day finds himself talking with his deceased dad over a radio. This strange time paradox allows the two to reconnect, and (most importantly) start changing history in a sweepingly irresponsible manner. Step One: Save Frank from death. Step Two: Solve murders!
And so they do. Once you get past the idea of a father and son time traveling by microphone and making wholesale changes to reality that somehow don't in widespread disaster, the core of the film -- a serial killer mystery enhanced by some Flux Capacitor sleight-of-hand -- holds its own.
The actual mystery and investigation doesn't contain many surprises. Despite what the back of the disc case shows you, Dennis Quaid does not run away from a nuclear blast. But a lack-of-bombast and an unmemorable villain is trumped by the inventive ways the script has fun with time travel. Whether it's Frank getting a plot device to his son thirty years in the future or the big cross-time finale, the film embraces its goofiness. Actually, the endgame is pretty cool, and something I don't recall ever having seen. It's essentially a fight scene happening in both the future and past which features a nice pay-off. The denouement slightly overdoes the cornball sentiment, but I can see it resonating with people who get choked up over father-son tales, present company included.
Warner Bros' Blu-ray presentation is solid, its 2.40:1/1080p high definition widescreen transfer sporting noticeable uptick in clarity. These catalog releases tend to be mixed bags, but Frequency stays strong all the way through. A bigger surprise is the 7.1 DTS-HD mix, a rarity even in this age of next gen home theater. Granted, there's not a ton of action for the arrangement to play with, but the dialogue channel is strong and the few bits of mayhem sound terrific. There are also ton of extras on this disc: three commentary tracks with director Gregory Hoblit, writer Toby Emmerich, and actor Noah Emmerich; a music-only track commentary from composer Michael Kamen; a multi-part look at the science and technology behind the film; four animated visual effects galleries; and deleted scenes.
Even though the premise is pretty far out there, Frequency remains a nice little thriller.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes