March – Artisan’s Folly ^ Not a huge month by any means, the biggest release probably being Charlie’s Angels from Columbia. While there were no movers and shakers, Criterion’s “The Rock” was the most notable for its absence of the original “Got Milk?” commercial Michæl Bay directed, included on the laserdisc but absent here. Also, the first wave of Universal’s great “Alfred Hitchcock Collection” rolled out, bringing such classics as Rope and the gorgeous anamorphic “Rear Window” to store shelves everywhere.
The Must Have: Almost Famous ^ Even though it was re-released in December 2001, Almost Famous was just too good of a movie not to pick up, with its vibrant transfer and rocking soundtrack. Who can pass up Tiny Dancer in beautiful 5.1?
The Should Have Been: “The Ice Storm” ^ Fox’s “The Ice Storm,” Ang Lee’s first American film, gets a really nice transfer, good soundtrack and only a trailer for supplements. What happened?
The Hell No’s: “Dune: Sci-Fi Miniseries” ^ In another of those Classic DVD snafus, Artisan shows its a*s with its “Dune” miniseries release. Here’s how the story goes: ^ The Sci-Fi channel created a solid adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” at the end of 2000. Artisan secured the rights and promised a DVD edition that would rock the house. 5.1 soundtrack, anamorphic widescreen presentation, trailers, commentary, deleted scenes, the works. ^ So by the time this thing was released, fans of the very popular mini-series were drooling to get their hands on it. Expectation wasn’t the word. However when it finally showed up, the curtain was pulled back, and the flaws were revealed for all to see. First, the box says that the film is in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen. That’s a lie. Going into the Audio Setup, you realize that a 5.1 Soundtrack is nowhere to be found. A commentary is absent. Further exploration of the extras reveals no trailers, no deleted scenes, and a crippled image gallery. ^ The real irony is that Artisan, seeing the strong sales of the set, is now promising all those absent extras will be included in yet another DVD release sometime in the near future. The question remains: Why didn’t you do it right the first time? ^ Read a breakdown of the entire Dune DVD saga is located here.
April – Ho-hum ^ Not much here to speak of.
The Must Have: Spartacus (Criterion Collection), Rififi (Criterion Collection), and “Lawrence of Arabia” ^ Criterion’s Spartacus features a sparkling anamorphic transfer, fantastic supplements (possibly the best commentary track available today) and more bang for your buck than a dozen studio-driven “epics.” Criterion’s Rififi is also nothing to sneeze at, with the greatest heist film treated with an excellent edition. Columbia’s “Lawrence of Arabia” is worth mentioning, with its beautiful packaging and superb transfer and supplements.
The Should Have Been: “Empire Records” ^ This little cult film deserves better than the movie-trailer combo that is so often given to lesser movies.
The Hell No’s: “Rocky II-V” ^ Numbers II through IV were the same non-anamorphic, supplement-free versions that had been available for a year or more. Number V was anamorphic, but no supplements. Damn MGM, what were you smoking?
Get the rest of the list in the next part of FILM THREAT’S 2001 DVD YEAR IN REVIEW: MAY – JUNE>>>