January – New Year Slump ^ In the post 2000 holiday season, not a lot happened. Disney released the Dinosaur two-disc SE without much fanfare, Criterion released a few decent flicks, and the DVD world spun on. However, a few mishaps happened along the way, along with a decent special edition, and here are the results.
The Must Have: “Glory: Special Edition” ^ Columbia’s two-disc “Glory SE” was a great idea, with so-so execution. The idea of putting the entire movie on both discs — one with a new anamorphic print and the other the old non-anamorphic transfer but with “video commentary” — is shoddy at best. The disc is pulled off simply due to its breadth of content. This release is handled well but clumsily. A two-disc was certainly called for, but a copy of the film on both discs? Sheesh.
The Hell No’s: “The Untouchables” and “The Oliver Stone Collection” ^ The disservice Paramount did to “The Untouchables” is just something I can’t forgive. While the new anamorphic print is undoubtedly the best the film has looked in its 14 year life span, it’s not the picture that is the problem. The new 5.1 soundtrack created for the DVD is just plain wretched. There’s no other word for it. Lame fidelity, ADR that screams, “Hi, I’m fake!” and bass that was left on the curb.
Paramount’s response to DVDReview.com’s less-than-ecstatic take on the DVD soundtrack can be found here.
Paramount’s Martin Blythe: ^ “Your review of ‘The Untouchables’ misrepresents the situation with regards to the audio tracks. This is a 1987 film transferred from 70 mm and the audio configuration in those days was inherently mixed for the front speakers. We (Paramount Home Entertainment) have chosen to be faithful to that configuration. For any older film, if the bass is muddy or there is no stereo surround, then that is how the original film was. This is a matter of æsthetics and it is our general policy to remain true to how the filmmaker finished the film.”
Yeah, it’s their policy to take a weak soundtrack and leave it that way. The 2.0 Stereo soundtrack on the disc is fine and dandy, but lacks the bandwidth of the 5.1 leaving the viewer between a rock and a hard place. While I’m not a huge advocate of reworking soundtracks just for the sake of gimmicky effects, this is simply a flub that they blame on 1987, when really it seems as though Paramount just didn’t want to spend any money on it. May I also point out this classic Oscar-winning film received no extras. None. Not a documentary, not a commentary, not even a dated EPK. A shitty trailer in mono sound and a few measly text supplements quickly detailing the lives of the characters you just saw in the flick. This is truly sad when you realize that Paramount has yet to reissue a DVD (that I’m aware of), and that this is as good as it’s going to get for a long time.
Running in a close second would be Warner’s “Oliver Stone Collection.” “The Oliver Stone Collection,” in either the six-pack or Damn-That’s-A-Lot-Of-Ego 10-pack, had a few two-disc sets in there, including “JFK,” Any Given Sunday, etc. Well, since Warner’s dreaded snapper cases-the bastard child of the industry-doesn’t support two discs very well, they had the unbelievably moronic idea of using a small paper sleeves to house the second disc. ^ Hmm. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I said paper Sleeves to house the second disc. This means that course, hard, scratching material will be up close and personal with those sensitive 5″ discs we know and love. After hearing many (legitimate) complaints about the housing, Warner promised to come out with a better version. This did come later, in the form of the cardboard slipcase, but wouldn’t be used for another 8 months until “Citizen Kane” arrived. As of this writing, the “Oliver Stone Collection” still has the same dreaded paper sleeve.
February – A little more active ^ A few more good releases were shown here, from both Criterion and Columbia, studios that have a reputation for solid DVDs.
The Must Have: “Do The Right Thing” (Criterion Collection) and “In The Line of Fire: SE” ^ Criterion’s “Do The Right Thing” is the focus this month, with a fantastic new anamorphic print that showcases the lovely warm summer hues of the film, as well as enough supplements to choke a horse. A wonderful commentary and a new video introduction by Spike Lee makes this set a no-brainer. ^ Columbia’s “Line of Fire Special Edition” also rocked the house, featuring a new anamorphic print, a yack-track by Wolfgang Peterson and new documentaries.
The Should Have Been: “Dr. Strangelove: Special Edition” ^ One word: anamorphic. This release is non-anamorphic, which the studio claims is because the film is shot in different aspect ratios. This is true. However, is it possible to anamorphically enhance those different ratios? Must an anamorphic print stay the same ratio the entire film, or can you mix and match? I would love to find out…
The Hell No’s: “The Doors: Special Edition” ^ Artisan released “The Doors Special Edition,” using the same crap non-anamorphic transfer and overblown supplements. Let’s just take a moment to mention that this movie has been released a total of three times on DVD, and not one of them has an anamorphic print. Even if it is a long and plodding flick (which it is), it deserves better treatment than this. But if you thought they screwed this one up…
Get the rest of the list in the next part of FILM THREAT’S 2001 DVD YEAR IN REVIEW: MAR – APR>>>