DVD - OVERALL
Wars Trilogy: Limited Edition (Lucasfilm/20th
Didn't the Star
Wars Trilogy make last year's Bitsy
- Worst DVD list too? Ugh. Here's the THIRD trip to
the DVD well with everyone's favorite space opera trilogy. Same
discs as before, only now you get new cover art (gasp!), a tin
box to hold them in (if you buy 'em at Best Buy - gasp!) and...
wait... could it be? The original theatrical versions of the
films? Oh my God! Really? Hang on, I thought George said these
didn't exist anymore? Whatever, we're FINALLY getting these in
better than bootleg quality! Oh. Wait. Maybe not so much.
"Finally... Han Shoots First!"
exclaimed Mr. Sansweet gleefully. Tell us something we didn't
already know, pal. "We combed the
Lucasfilm Archives for the very best elements available and
lovingly mastered these discs for the highest--"
Yeah, right. Try again.
DVD - SPECIAL EDITION
The Complete Collection (Classic Media)
"Complete (adj.) - having all parts
or elements; lacking nothing." Obvious to some but the
folks at Classic Media may want to brush up on the definition
before they start tossing it around. This 4-disc set does not,
in fact, include the original theatrical Harveytoon shorts but
rather the edited-for-TV episodes from The
Harveytoon Show. And even by that standard, the set
misses more than 25 episodes of the series. Warner and Disney
have set the standard too high for collections of animated
shorts for a set like this to be released now.
DVD - STANDARD EDITION
Thief and the Cobbler (The Weinstein Company)
Richard Williams' labor of love just
can't catch a break. This latest release slices the widescreen
image into a dingy fullscreen box and retains the dreadful
redubbing imposed on the film against Williams' wishes. It's not
impossible to put this movie back so that it's at least close to
what its director intended but even if the Weinsteins don't want
to go through the time and expense, they could at least give us
a widescreen version of the Miramax cut.
DVD - BOXED SET
Da Vinci Code: Special Edition Gift Set (Sony)
There were a LOT of great box sets this year, so were going
personal with this pick. The Da Vinci
Code was an awful film. But to package the movie with
a replica of the cool "cryptic" is a cheap sales ploy.
Especially since Todd's mom wanted the DVD and once she heard
there was a version with a toy in it... well, let's just offer a
friendly reminder that DVDs aren't cereal boxes and this stupid
thing costs 80 bucks. Not that she's not worth 80 bucks. This
flick sure isn't worth 80 bucks.
DVD - VIDEO
Archival Edition (Pathfinder)
The only way to appreciate Leni
Riefenstahl's Olympia is
through its extraordinary images. Pathfinder's "Archival
Edition" DVD makes that impossible thanks to its shaky,
badly damaged and apparently completely unrestored transfer.
Despite the fact that this is a two-disc set with a fair amount
of extra material, the horrible treatment of the film itself
makes all that effort pointless.
DVD - SOUND
The Movie - Four-Disc Special Edition (Warner
Okay, so leaving the original 2.0 audio
off the theatrical cut of Superman
was an honest mistake, one that Warner (to their credit) quickly
acknowledged, apologized for and corrected. Accidents will
happen and apology accepted. But we're giving Superman
this award anyway, just to remind everybody that we are paying
attention and we do care about things like this.
USE OF DVD FEATURES
Wars Trilogy: Limited Edition (Lucasfilm/20th
By relegating the original theatrical versions of the Star
Wars films to the second disc of the Limited Edition
DVDs, Lucasfilm treated them not as something fans might
actually want to have because of their own merit but as an
afterthought bonus feature, worthy of no more respect than
trailers, TV spots or vintage TV specials. Here's a hint to
Lucasfilm for the inevitable next dip: You treat The
Star Wars Holiday Special like this. Not the ORIGINAL
Star Wars films. Oh, we
forgot... that doesn't exist anymore either. Sorry, it's just
getting hard to keep track of which of our Star
Wars memories are real and which ones we're supposed
Man With No Name Trilogy: Special Edition (MGM)
Instead of picking a film on DVD that
disappointed us, we chose an ACT that disappointed us. Why in
the name of all that is holy is MGM holding onto the greatest
spaghetti western trilogy ever? We're speaking, of course, of
Sergio Leone's masterful trio A
Fistful of Dollars, For a
Few Dollars More and The
Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Oh sure... they'll
release them in a wicked wooden box set edition over in Europe.
Bah! The fact that this hasn't been released yet here in the
States, where the Western genre was born, is a crime in our
book. Get on the ball MGM!
1080p High-Definition Transfers
Yeah, sure... Blu-ray Discs and HD-DVDs
look fantastic. But all of that sparkling new 1080p telecine and
restoration work isn't just benefitting early adopters. No way!
Here's a case where the trickle-down theory REALLY works. New
transfers done for the high-def formats are available for
down-converted DVD release as well... and that means better
looking movies on disc for everyone, not to mention new masters
in the vault to help preserve Hollywood's film heritage for the
This might seem like a surprise pick, but everywhere we look
behind-the-scenes in this high-definition format war, there we
find Microsoft's handiwork. Few in the industry will actually
come right out and say on the record that Microsoft is
subsidizing Toshiba and the HD-DVD format, but off the record
even many neutral observers lament it. Remember back in late
2005, when Toshiba and Sony met one last time to try to avoid a
format war, but Toshiba broke off the discussions saying that
their partners in the HD-DVD camp had already invested too much
money in the format to walk away from it? Wanna guess who the
chief partner was? And it should be no surprise that Microsoft's
HD-DVD Evangelists are quick to report new "exclusives"
coming to their format from CBS/Paramount (despite that studio's
stated support for both HD formats) like episodes of Star
Trek and South Park,
given the fact that both series top the list of Xbox Live
digital downloads for the 360. Someone on the Melrose lot has
made a deal. Bottom line: Microsoft appears to be heavily
subsidizing a format war that is good for no one... save perhaps
Microsoft. Life was so much easier when you could just dislike
them for Windows.
STUDIO WE WANT MORE FROM (TIE)
This category was close, but both of
these studios need a good talking to. Not only did Sony bungle
the launch of the Blu-ray Disc format with lackluster software,
they've still yet to release more than a handful of great titles
on the format. RV?
Seriously? Casino Royale
is a major improvement, but where's Lawrence
of Arabia and Spider-Man
to name but two? As for Universal, you have to either love them
or hate them for their tenacity in remaining the only major
studio to exclusively support HD-DVD. Weren't they one of the
last studios to jump on the DVD bandwagon too back in the day
(anyone recall their DIVX support)? Anyway, what drives us most
crazy about Universal is how long they've taken to deliver
certain classic TV series and DVD special editions, how willing
they are to junk up their special editions with features that
are special only to a second grader, how often they double and
even triple dip their titles, how consistently bad their QC is,
and how often their good special editions disappear from store
shelves after only a couple weeks... if you could ever even find
them at all. Ugh.
WANTED DVD RELEASE
Colbert presents Steven Colbert's Tek Jansen: Alpha Squad Seven
So what do WE want to see on DVD? How
about the 10-disc Steven Colbert
presents Steven Colbert's Tek Jansen: Alpha Squad Seven - The
Solar Plexus Ultimate Edition! We can picture it now:
deleted scenes, uncensored love-making, three hours of "making
of" featurettes, episode audio commentary by Steven
Colbert, Gore Vidal, Henri Kissinger and Bill "Papa Bear"
O'Reilly. DVD-ROM script and storyboard access. All packaged
with a limited edition, signed hardcover copy of the Stephen
Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne - A Tek Jansen Adventure
novel. It could be a HUGE set. It could be THE most important
DVD release of our generation. We're waiting...
Oh, and yeah... while we're waiting? Where the @#%& is The