The Richard Matheson Blogathon – What Dreams May Come (1998)


This is my second of two reviews for the The Richard Matheson Blogathon being run by Debbie over at Moon in Gemini and Rich at Wide Screen World.

Tnx guys for letting me take part!

“What some folks call impossible, is just stuff they haven’t seen before.” – Chris

Number of Times Seen – Twice (27 Aug 1999 and 10 Mar 2019)

Brief Synopsis – Following his death, a pediatrician tries to discover the truths of the afterlife.

My Take on it – This is a film that I saw when it originally came out and had very mixed feelings about it.

Having not seen it ion nearly twenty years, I thought, it would be a great opportunity to take a look at it again from a new perspective.

This is actually a film that can be used as the perfect example of a move that has a very lean narrative yet is very deep from the visual perspective.

This film’s story is filled with some very deep and meaningful themes yet they are only touched upon very superficially and I’m sure that the novel this is based on goes into much more depth on these issues.

The visual aspects of this film tho are amazing to look at especially due to the way that they “paint” their own version of how the afterlife might possible look.

Watching those images are quite wondrous and iot shows how much potential special effects used properly in a film can add so much to the story.

Unfortunately, the film relies much too heavily on the visual aspects and the narrative itself suffers dearly along the way.

The cast is superb with Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Annabella Sciorra all giving great performances here but they each feel as if they are being held back from giving deeper and more emotional performances.

This film deservingly won an Oscar for Best Visual effects beating Armaggedon (1998) and Mighty Joe Young (1998) for that gold statue.

This story has the potential of being much more poignant, impactful and important and they missed their chance to getting it done right due to the failure to balance the visual and narrative aspects of the film.

Bottom Line – Perfect example of a film with very lean narrative but deep visuals.  The story tries too hard to explore very deep themes yet does so very superficially. The way that they are able to use special effects to “paint” their version of the afterlife is actually wondrous to look at but this film feels too much as if it relies much too heavily of the visual aspects instead of the narrative one.  Williams, Gooding and Sciorra are all superb here, yet they feel as if they are being held back too much from making things even more poignant, impactful and important.  Deservingly won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Annabella Sciorra initially had no desire to appear in the film, thinking that it would be too intense and sad. A read-through with Robin Williams convinced her otherwise. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)

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8 thoughts on “The Richard Matheson Blogathon – What Dreams May Come (1998)

  1. I watched this last year for a 1998 retrospective podcast and it doesn’t hold up well. It’s especially awkward how it addresses suicide now that Williams is gone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Richard Matheson Blogathon Day 1 is Here! – MOON IN GEMINI

  3. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1998 | MovieRob

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