|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 30 July 2002|
In Chapter 1, Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) has a panicked conversation with his wife Emily, who is currently in a remote tribal village in Venezuela. That conversation is the last that Joe will have with Emily in this life. Emily has to flee the village because of flooding. The rain drives fiercely through the main and rear speakers, leaving the conversation funneling through the center speaker(s). With surround sound, we feel as though we should cover our heads to keep from getting wet. The rotor noise of a helicopter lifting off cycles through the right main speaker.
Chapter 2 offers up a true-to-life auditory experience of being in a hospital. We hurtle into the hospital along with a crash cart banging through opening elevator doors loud enough to tweak the subwoofer into action. The hospital voices and noises immediately immerse the audience through the surround sound system, putting us in the middle of the heated and hurried action. Joe is a driven man in this scene, without mercy as he refuses to treat an attempted suicide because he only wants to work with people who want to live. Later, when Joe is confronted by the hospital administrator and has a low-key argument, a locker door slamming shut echoes with the emptiness of the room and what Joe must be facing, ringing through the subwoofer. The administrator tells Joe that he needs to take time off to grieve because all he has done is work since Emily’s death. The thunder in the background echoes in the main and rear speakers.
Joe’s next-door neighbor Miriam (Kathy Bates) shows up in Chapter 3. The rain becomes a solid presence throughout much of the first half of the movie, always hissing and spluttering in the main and rear speakers. When Joe returns to his home, the lamp fizzles out, snapping and popping through the left main speaker to mirror the placement of the lamp in the scene. Inside the house, Joe’s footsteps on the wooden floor echo through the surround sound, reminding audience and character alike of how hollow and empty the house is without Emily.
Later, Joe follows a young patient headed to the emergency room, watches as the boy appears to die, then stares in stunned fascination as the child seemingly comes back from the dead.
Chapter 6 delivers a lot of information on near-death and out-of-body-experiences. This chapter also shows the squiggly cross sign that is Joe’s beacon, the symbol of what he believes is a clue to what Emily wants him to do.
The rain comes back in Chapter 8, echoing all around through the main and rear speakers. Chapter 10 gets really creepy in a sequence at Joe’s house. The door creaks in the silence of the house, then the lamp tinkles through the left main speaker. Joe’s pet parrot Big Bird goes ballistic, loud enough to tweak the subwoofer. Then Joe sees Emily reflected in the window, there one instant and gone in the next. Overcome with grief, fear, confusion and a need to understand what’s really going on, Joe rushes outside the house. The sound of traffic outside of the house in the main speakers returns a sense of normalcy, but it’s like a bandage over a wound — the damage may be out of sight but the pain still lingers.
In Chapter 11, a police siren rips through the left main speaker, matching its placement on the screen. The rustle of the leaves and the whisper of the wind in Chapter 12 sets up the action that happens only seconds later as a body on a crashcart shoots through the hospital hallway.
In Chapter 13, the sound of a lamp blowing out through the right main startles us. At this point, the movie directly shifts into the eerie aspect of the story. To discuss “Dragonfly” in more detail would destroy the effect of the twists and turns and clues presented throughout the film.
In some ways, “Dragonfly” is a little lean on special features for a DVD these days. The feature commentary by director Tom Shadyac is highly recommended because — after viewing the movie — the evolution of the scenes and the overall plot as seen through his eyes is a great trip to take. Shadyac mentions several decisions that had to be made along the way to keep from revealing the ending too far in advance. The deleted scenes are fun to watch, but nothing really outstanding comes out there. The spotlight on location feature is entertaining and educational because it talks about the culture of the South American people featured in the film. The fun the film crew had during the shoot is apparent and layers in nicely with all the beautiful scenery around them.
Overall, “Dragonfly” works well as a film that can be viewed with equal enjoyment by men and women, making it a perfect couple movie. Costner comes across as an endearing protagonist because he is vulnerable and needs to believe in something. Costner fans will like this movie a lot and want to add the DVD to their collections, and people who want a feel-good movie they can watch more than once will also want it. If only a single night of viewing pleasure is wanted, rent the DVD. Then stay home and watch, but be prepared to question the supernatural things that go on in this world — and what the next world may hold.