Soon we're reviewing current and past DVDs, from a little different perspective...
There are plenty of DVD review sites on the net, and a couple we read regularly, but we feel that most DVD reviews spend too much time critiquing the actual movie. Most of us with limited discretionary income are unlikely to spend money on a DVD unless we already know we like/want the content.
What we feel is under emphasized in most DVD reviews is how the content is presented. Are the menus attractive and useful? Is the navigation set up for logical ease of use? Is the packaging appropriate and attractive, or just thrown together with random pictures and common fonts? (in this respect, Warner has had the lead far ahead of any other studio) Are some play options disabled by the studio? (very annoying) Are we forced to watch commercials, vanity titles or warnings every time we press play? (Sony & Disney) Is the material handled like just another title on an assembly line, or did they actually know the feature and handle it appropriately? What extras are included? Are they easy to find, or do they require a search party? How well are they done? Was anything we want not included? Is anything missing from the previous release?
If a TV series is presented on DVD, is there an option to play all the episodes in a row, or must you go click back to the menu and choose the next one? (MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW from Fox)
Subtitles & captioning on movies are often inaccurate, sometimes comically off base. You may be surprised to learn that accuracy is not the priority when they are prepared.
Some studios handle older catalog material fairly well, while others don't have a clue, especially with roadshow titles. We'll point out who has preserved some theatrical flavor in the material, and presented the feature as a show, rather than just software. Some of our special favorites follow the "Night at the Movies" concept that Warners introduced back in the old VHS days: including appropriately matched featurettes, cartoons, newsreels, etc., as you might have seen in a vintage theatre back in the day. That kind of showmanship is totally lacking in most DVD releases, and we'll clue you in to which titles have it... and if they make the most of it.
We will spotlight some hard to find DVDs that we feel are worthy of attention. You will also find titles relevant to our overall topic of movie presentation and showmanship. Joe Dante's nostalgic MATINEE takes a fun look back at gimmicks like costumed monsters and tingling seats, and the 50s British film SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH depicts a little old movie theatre that inspired the one in Frank Darabont's THE MAJESTIC. A fun idea to enhance Home Theatre Movie Nights is the newly revamped series of Drive-In Theatre Shorts and Trailers offered by The Drive-In Exchange.
We're planning to take a look at catalog titles as well as new releases. We'll recommend discs that we especially like, and point out others we think weren't done justice. DVD titles we recommend will have buy links in our shop section, as well as in their reviews. We'll have a forum for DVD discussion, and some items from the forums, especially WISH LIST titles, may appear on the site itself.
One upcoming DVD release we are most looking forward to is Warner's amazingly thorough redo of HOW THE WEST WAS WON. Originally shot in 3-strip Cinerama in a curved configuration for showing on a huge curved screen, previous releases of HTWWW have been severely cropped from a flat composite of the the three panels. This time the three original panels have been seamlessly blended together and presented full width, as well as an option that faithfully imitates the curved Cinerama screen. Often, added supplements can sell a package when interest in the movie itself is marginal, and this one has enough extras to sell it on their own. Sadly, only Blu-Ray owners get to see the "smilebox" simulated Cinerama version. There's some more incentive to go buy a new player...
Our resources are limited, so we'll be getting into this slowly. If there is a current or upcoming DVD title you'd like to see covered, please let us know. If you have some thoughts on DVDs you have or want, post in our DVD Forum.
TJ Edwards Garan Grey