Frequency: Platinum Edition

James Caviezel, Dennis Quaid, Andre Braugher, Elizabeth Mitchell, Noah Emmerich. Directed by Gregory Hoblit. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. 119 minutes. 2000. New Line Home Video N5058. PG-13. $24.98.

Everyone who has lost a loved one before his or her time will not only be able to relate to Frequency, but will likely spend hours daydreaming about being the movie's protagonist. Of course, we can't bridge time via a ham radio, as Johnny Sullivan does with his firefighter dad, but just the thought of being able to turn back the clock, undo our ancestors' mistakes, and make everything the way we think it ought to be is a powerful basis for a film. Though this is pure fantasy, Frequency presses all the right emotional buttons.

James Caviezel plays Johnny, a New York cop and ardent Mets fan who, thanks to a strong display of Northern Lights in the Earth's stratosphere, stumbles on the ability to talk to his long-dead dad, Frank (Dennis Quaid), on an old ham radio. After all the requisite "this can't be happening" sentiments, son and father set about a) saving dad's life in a warehouse fire that consumed him 30 years earlier, and b) thwarting a serial killer whose crimes hit too close to home in an alternate timeline of the pair's creation. Got that?

Director Gregory Hoblit and writer Toby Emmerich play loosey-goosey with time-travel paradoxes and throw in some nifty new twists. While the clunky serial-killer subplot consumes too much time, father and son ultimately needed something more to do for the film's running time than compare notes on the '69 World Series.

Quaid is sufficiently warm and charming as the father we all wish we'd had. Caviezel, meanwhile, nails the part of the Brooklyn-accented cop maybe a little too well. The young actor is a bit too rough around the edges for my taste. Regardless, the story is so involving that it won't matter to most viewers if they find Caviezel abrasive.

This DVD is a "Platinum Edition" in every sense of the phrase. The robust, omnidirectional surround track goes to work almost immediately, during a Contact-like opening tour of space accompanied by a jumble of Terran radio transmissions. As the movie unfolds, the soundtrack only improves—particularly noteworthy is the engaging ambience from the rear surrounds.

The picture is sharply rendered, with lots of deep, detailed blacks. There is nothing distracting about the image, making it easier to concentrate on the story's mind-bending complexities. It's those complexities that cry out for additional insight, and this disc delivers that and more. Separate commentary tracks by Hoblit and Emmerich (joined by his actor brother, Noah) are rife with trivia, production information, and thoughts on the story and the implications of being able to alter history. Both tracks are engaging and complement the film well. They're joined by a music-only track with commentary by Michael Kamen, the film's accomplished composer, who, we learn, wrote the theme for the New Line logo. Kamen wisely reserves his comments for scenes with no music, so as not to break up his multi-faceted score.

Other worthwhile supplements include four deleted/extended scenes (including a cameo by Emmerich as a cop), the film's trailer, and a 37-minute look at the science of the movie. The documentary is a nice feature that should be included with every science-fiction or fantasy film. It goes into detail on the Aurora Borealis, ham radios, and even firefighting. That's complemented by a subtitle track with facts and trivia related to the onscreen action, which are useful if you want to know more about the '69 Mets, Elvis Presley tunes, or just about anything else referenced in the movie.

The disc also makes good use of DVD's multi-angle feature, providing a look at the opening space sequence through four steps of development, switchable from one stage of completion to the next by pressing the Angle button. The bit is brief, but give New Line credit for throwing it in.

Finally, the impressive DVD-ROM section is highlighted by a script-to-screen comparison and includes a strange film-related time capsule, Web links, and a teaser for the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy. In total, there are at least eight hours' worth of material. Given the movie's complex plot and adherence to some strict time-rift "rules," it's a lineup that's well worth the time investment.