There's baseball movies...and then there's the baseball movie.
'Field of Dreams' – arguably even more so than the terrific 'Bull Durham' – is one of a miniscule few sports flicks that possess significant appeal to the mainstream movie masses. Its dedication to explore the deep-seeded emotion that sport enlivens...versus the reverse approach so common to this genre...continues to keep this movie fresh 20 years since its inception.
W.P. Kinsella's novel about ousted baseball player 'Shoeless Joe' Jackson is wonderfully executed by Screenwriter and Director Phil Alden Robinson, a visual, soundtrack (James Horner) and script gem perfectly executed by its team of A-grade actors.
Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer who begins to hear voices (“if you build it they will come”) encouraging he and his wife (Amy Madigan) – under tremendous financial duress - to build a baseball diamond over their cornfield.
With the assistance of legendary satirist Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) and a ghostly Archie 'Moonlight' Graham (Burt Lancaster), Kinsella's field enables – among others – Jackson (Ray Liotta) and his 7 'Black Sox' counterparts – to again play the sport taken from them during their living years. Eventually the field likewise serves as both a playing and reuniting conduit for Kinsella's father, John – briefly a major league ballplayer - with whom Ray wished to reconcile for several decades. In particular, Liotta, Madigan and Jones truly shine, displaying the combined wit, skepticism and genuineness that make this a movie legend.
The Blu-Ray version of 'Field of Dreams' is easily the best version of the film to date, most notably in landscape-powered scenes and/or when emphasizing Horner's brilliant score. Universal certainly made the most of the format on a 20-year old title.
Still, I would be hesitant to recommend this version to DVD owners of this title, as the presentation quality gains are simply not enough to justify upwards of $30.
Moreover, disc Special Features carry over from the DVD version...still analog, redundant and boring. The ass-kissing of an egomaniac Costner, endless rambling by Robinson, and – worse yet – excessive copy and paste of the same content across multiple features made both my eyes and ears scream 'no mas.'
While the field museum and site makeover pieces were cute, I've admittedly heard much better (and no doubt more accurate) tales about 'Field of Dreams' origins from my longtime friend Matt (born and raised in Dyersville, IA: home of the field-turned-museum where the movie was shot).
Blu-Ray/Special Features: D