July – Summer Slowdown ^ This month saw the American Pie‘s four-way Ultimate release, both in “Unrated” and “Rated” flavors, in Pan & Scan or Widescreen. Choose your poison; all of the features are pretty much the same (e.g. the deleted scenes on the Rated Version are the same that are inserted in the film for the unrated – take THAT Wal-Mart!).
The Must Have: “Akira: Special Edition” and “The Die Hard Trilogy” ^ This month saw the release of the two-disc special edition of “Akira” in a groovy limited tin as well as a simple single-disc version. Pioneer’s excellent treatment should be applauded, as shown by the immense work done for this restoration in the too-short documentaries included on the second disc. While the Japanese track is still 2.0 Mono, something the purists are pissed about, the English dub was vastly improved from its last incarnation and rerecorded in a great Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The picture is now in a striking anamorphic presentation, if not slightly cropped from its original 2.2:1 ratio to 1.78:1. Even if you can’t find the tin, the two-disc is worth the clams, and is a prerequisite before entering the world of Anime. ^ Another worthy addition to the month’s must have is Fox’s “Die Hard Trilogy,” with special editions for each title. While the first gets the five-star treatment, the sequels are no slouches. Commentary, deleted scenes and documentaries are included for all. A great set for any DVD fan.
The Should Have Been: The Gift ^ Once again, Paramount takes a good opportunity and screws it up. Keanu Reeves’ first real foray into acting and the infamous Katie Holmes tit shot were prime documentary material. Not to mention Sam Raimi’s well acquainted with providing commentary, as shown from his contributions to the wonderful “Evil Dead” discs. Nope, all we have on the disc is the movie, trailer, and EPK. Yay…*snore*
The Hell No’s: Saving Silverman (PG-13 and R rated versions) ^ An unfunny comedy that even when you add nudity and more vulgarity it’s still not worth watching. Please, next time you re-edit for a stronger rating, add more than a tit shot and a few more “fucks,” okay?
August – Family DVD Triumph ^ This seems to have been the month for kids’ releases, including “The Goonies,” “Willy Wonka,” “Gremlins” and more. A pretty good month for DVD and all those associated, as the format is even more accepted into the lives of consumers.
The Must Have: Hannibal: Special Edition, “Silence of the Lambs: Special Edition,” “The Goonies,” Wicker Man: Special Edition, and “Maniac: Special Edition” ^ The one-two punch of Hannibal and “Silence of the Lambs” both in great special editions take the cake here. Other notables include the awesome special edition of “The Goonies” with a wonderful new print and hilarious commentary. Anchor Bay also got a little limited-edition happy this month, releasing the all-wooden Wicker Man: Special Edition and “Maniac: Special Edition” that, to this day, is still one bizarre up flick.
The Should Have Been: “Gremlins” ^ Sigh, I wish I could say better for the worthless release of “Gremlins,” that childhood fave and brainchild of Steven Spielberg. No commentary, documentary, behind the scenes or even stills. I’ll wait for the special edition.
The Hell No’s: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (full frame) ^ Warner had a perfectly fine anamorphic print and promised both on the same disc until at the last minute when it decided that all family titles should be full screen only. Thank God for Richard Donner who set his foot down and said he wouldn’t be involved with “The Goonies,” unless it was in widescreen. Warner finally listened to the DVD enthusiasts out there about “Wonka” but waited two months worth of consumer buying-time to release the widescreen counterpart.
Get the rest of the list in the next part of FILM THREAT’S 2001 DVD YEAR IN REVIEW: SEPT – OCT>>>