Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
This is one of those covers that just is a classic. I will admit that it is a bit cheesy with the moon in the background and Kevin Costner looking pretty smug with himself, but this was back when Costner ruled the movies. This is one of those covers that everyone immediately identifies with, and that is a good thing.
The menus for Field of Dreams are scenes from the movie over the same black background that is apparently the standard for Universal releases. I am not in love with the basic layout, but at least you know what you are getting. A bit more originality would seem to be more appropriate with a Blu-ray release, given the expense of the disks coupled with the expectations of the quality that we desire from a Blu-ray. It just seems to me that the Blu-ray disk is a perfect place to get creative with things like menus, and these are already stale.
- Deleted Scenes – There are a number of deleted scenes included on the Blu-ray version of the movie. Some are obviously better than others, but I don’t think they were needed in the final cut of the film. They are also introduced by director Phil Alden Robinson.
- From Father To Son – This is a longer feature that goes into the making and behind the scenes shots of the movie. It runs almost 40 minutes, and is a very through, and very entertaining piece.
- Roundtable With Kevin Costner, Bret Saberhagen, George Brett & Johnny Bench – Round table is another interesting extra. It features the baseball legends listed above, and has Kevin Costner inviting them in to screen the movie (a recent screening, years after the release of the movie) and then he sits down to talk to them about their views on the movie, and how it relates to the game that they played and loved. Being from Kansas City, I was very interested in seeing both Royals legends George Brett and Bret Saberhagen, heroes of my youth, talk about their experiences. Rounding this out with Johnny Bench was quite amazing as well. A very good extra, even though it does not flatter Costner’s seemingly large ego.
- The Diamond In The Husks – This extra features the real Field of Dreams baseball field, which still exists in the cornfields of Iowa. Apparently the field is open to visitors (for free even) and has become a huge tourist attraction. It was neat to see some of the visitors running the bases and enjoying such an integral part of the movie.
- Galena, IL Pinch Hits For Chisholm, MN – This short details how the city of Galena was used to create Chisholm Minnesota in the movie, where Ray searches out Dr. Archibald “moonlight” Graham, who played for only a brief stint in the majors as a kid.
- Field Of Dreams A Scrapbook – This is basically tons of photos form the movie and the production. I believe there were close to 300 photos.
- Bravo Special From Page To Screen – This is another longer (45 minutes or so) extra that goes into detail about how director Phil Alden Robinson decided to make the book written by W.P. Kinsella to the big screen. Another very interesting extra, and very well done.
- Feature Commentary With Director & DP – I really enjoyed the commentary done by Director Phil Alden Robinson and John Lindley, the director of photography. This could have been very stale, but they did a great job of discussing the way the movie was shot and the direction that they wanted to take the movie as it progressed. It was very entertaining for a commentary.
- BDLive – Once again BD Live perplexes me. You are given the ability to share scenes that you like with other BD Live users, and access Universal’s site, but overall I just don’t know how much I will use this sort of feature.
The Movie: 8/10
Check your reality at the door for Field of Dreams, which is one of the true American sports movies that has hit audiences with brute force. Field of Dreams has become part of the American lexicon, with the “if you build it, he will come” mantra recognized probably as often as “I’ll be back” from the terminator. To me, not having seen Field of Dreams in over a decade, the movie has changed dramatically in that time. Well, perhaps a better way of putting that is that I have changed, and the second time around, Field of Dreams is a completely different movie for me, and I liked it more this time around.
The first time I watched Field of Dreams, I was 19 (it was release in 1989 theatrically). I was a kid who had last played baseball when I was around 12, and I had already moved on to soccer, girls, and music at that point of my life. Back then Field of Dreams represented baseball to me, and I thought that while the movie was decent, the premise and the story were all about baseball, which I had already kind of outgrown at that point. I liked the movie, but it did not resonate with me, and I was not old enough or mature enough to delve deeper into what the movie stood for.
On the surface, Field of Dreams is a movie about Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) who is an Iowa farmer, by way of Berkley. An ex hippie, Ray is now married and has a daughter, and scratches his living out of the land, raising corn. Barely getting by, Ray starts to hear voices in the corn telling him that “if you build it, he will come.” Ray can’t figure out who or what, and starts to question his sanity as well as his life. After some soul searching, Ray embarks on a journey that sees him first build a baseball field in the middle of his corn, and then embark on a journey to figure out just why he built the field.
As the story progresses, Ray and his family see (and this is where it gets a bit weird) Shoeless Joe Jackson and members of the disgraced 1919 Chicago White Sox team emerge from the corn to play baseball on his field. Only certain people can see the “ghosts” of baseball past play the game, and Ray and his family can talk and interact with the players, who can not step off of the field.
Ray ends up travelling to meet with reclusive author Terence Mann (played by the great James Earl Jones) who at first fights Ray’s attempt to explain his bizarre actions, and then joins Ray as he continues to try to figure out why he has destroyed his livelihood to create a baseball diamond, when the bank is trying to foreclose his home.
Like I said, the first time I watched this movie, it was all about baseball. To me at that time, what he was building was simply a baseball field so that the legends of baseball past could come back and play one more time. I guess I could have left the movie early, but I imagine that I just was impatient and didn’t get the whole idea. Having seen this movie today, I bring to it a new perspective, and I am so glad that I saw this movie again. The big change for me in that time is that fact that now, I am a dad, and I see now that the movie is about Ray getting a second chance to connect with his father.
Now I realize that the whole journey was so that his father would return, not so much the actual legends of baseball. Field of Dreams has taken on a whole new meaning for me now that I am a father, and it is a much better story for me now. I realize this is not something that really has changed in the movie itself, but just me growing up and paying more attention, but it proves that movies are often times worth a second look, regardless of how you might have felt about them originally. It also means that each person brings their own views and faults to a movie, so even though I am glad you are reading my review of this Blu-ray, remember that each movie represents something different to each person. In other words, even though I liked Field of Dreams, that does not necessarily mean you will too. Make up your own mind, for yourself. (Cidtalk would be proud of me right now.)
Audio & Video: 6/10
I know that Field of Dreams came out many years ago, but not so long ago that the audio and video would be this mediocre. I have come to expect a lot from a re-release on Blu-ray, and this movie did not really live up.
The video was decent, but not what I would call impressive. Released on 1.85:1 wide screen in 1080p, the movie itself was somewhat grainy, which is to be expected, but the only scenes in the movie that I thought really popped were the evening scenes, with the brilliant sky over the fields themselves. A majority of the movie felt flat or washed out, and I guess that this could simply be the way the movie was shot, but I was not overly impressed.
The audio was also just above average. Use of the rear speakers was pretty sparse, and while the levels of the audio were pretty decent, it just did not seem to have any real depth for most of the movie.
Blu-rays cost a lot more than I thought they would at this point in their existence, and I truly think that they need to come down in price if they are going to take off like everyone has predicted. To get a movie like Field of Dreams on Blu-ray, when more than likely you own it on DVD already (if you are a fan already) seems to me to be a big expense. I have a hard time justifying the $30 to $40 that it requires to get this in high definition, when many of the extras are already on the standard DVD. It is a great movie, and it looks and sounds great, but at some point we are going to have to decide if the price of upgrading is worth it.
Overall Score 8/10