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(Archived Posts 7/10/06 - 6/22/06)
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UPDATE - 7/10/06 - 2:30 PM PDT)
We've got a quick update for all of you on our DVD
Sneak Peek 2006 panel at the upcoming Comic-Con convention in
San Diego. The Comic-Con staff has released the official program
schedule for all four days of the show, which is now just 10 days away.
schedule for Friday (7/21) originally indicated that our panel was
going to be from 2-3 PM - just an hour. That's an error and it's been
corrected on the schedule. Our DVD panel will run a full 90 minutes,
from 2-3:30 PM in room 6B. Once again, scheduled to participate in
addition to myself (Bill Hunt) and
Todd Doogan (your erstwhile
moderators) will be DVD producers Robert
Meyer Burnett, JM Kenny,
Charles de Lauzirika, Andy
Mangels and Javier Soto.
You're going to get the first details on some very cool upcoming DVD
titles (and even a look at a few of them), plus we'll talk about the new
HD formats and we'll answer a ton of your questions in a lengthy Q&A
session. It's going to be a lot of fun as always, so we hope to see you
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/10/06 -
11:45 AM PDT)
Okay... our first post for the new week covers both DVD and the HD
formats, because there's some interesting news to report on all three
First, Paramount has finally officially announced their first three
waves of HD-DVD titles, after an aborted near-announcement a couple
months ago. Due on 7/25 are Sahara,
Tomb Raider, Sky
Captain and the World of Tomorrow (that should make a nice HD
title!) and Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow.
Following on 8/1 are Four Brothers,
We Were Soldiers and The
Manchurian Candidate. A week later on 8/8, the studio will
release U2: Rattle and Hum, Æon
Flux and The Italian Job.
Each of these titles will carry an SRP of $29.95, will feature video on
1080p and audio options to include Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and DTS 5.1.
From the studio's official statement: "Paramount
Home Entertainment plans to support the HD DVD format with a strong
slate of titles throughout the year and beyond."
Meanwhile, Warner Bros has officially announced the DVD and HD-DVD
release of Wolfgang Petersen's Poseidon
for 8/22. The DVD will be available in a 2-disc special edition in
anamorphic widescreen (SRP $34.99), as well as full frame and anamorphic
widescreen single-disc editions (SRP $28.98). The 2-disc edition will
include the Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage
- The Complexities of Making a Modern Adventure Movie, A
Shipmate's Diary: A Film School Intern's Experiences on the Set
and Poseidon: Upside Down - A Unique Set
Design Chronicle documentaries, along with The History
Channel's Rogue Waves special. The
HD-DVD version of the film will street the same day (SRP $34.99) with
the same extras.
Also today, Sony has announced the DVD release of King
of Queens: The Complete Sixth Season and Hart
to Hart: The Complete Second Season on 9/19. They've also
reshuffled a few of their Blu-ray Disc titles to 9/19, including The
Big Hit, S.W.A.T. and
A Knight's Tale, and announced a
new title for that date as well... Tears of
We should also mention that some of Universal's September and October
HD-DVD releases have had their street dates pushed back later into their
respective months. We've updated the
Release List with all the relevant new information. Please
note that nearly all of the HD titles can be pre-ordered through our
Amazon links, and doing so helps support our work here at The
Bits (so we very much appreciate it!).
By the way, this would normally go in The
Rumor Mill, but we've confirmed with sources that Disney is
currently working on a 4-disc Extended Edition of The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Expect more official details to be revealed soon.
And Criterion is hinting in their latest e-mail newsletter that their
first titles from director Krzysztof Kieslowski will become part of the
Collection this fall. Very cool indeed.
Well... another week draws to a close. We have just a bit of new DVD
release news to report this morning, so let's get right to it.
First, 20th Century Fox's has pushed back its release of Behind
Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil and the 2-film Behind
Enemy Lines box set from 9/26 to 10/17.
Water Bearer Films has announced that it will release Wolfgang
Peterson's The Consequence (aka
Die Konsequenz) on DVD on 8/29
(SRP $29.95). We suspect the timing is likely designed to coincide with
Warner's yet-to-be-announced release of Poseidon.
Paramount has set a Too Cool for School:
John Hughes Collection for 10/10, which includes the recent
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
re-release, along with the new special editions of Some
Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in
Meanwhile, Warner has just announced Whose
Line Is It Anyway?: Season 1, Volume 1 for release on 9/26
(SRP $24.98). The 2-disc set includes the first 10 episodes of the
series along with "never-before-seen games" and a gag reel.
Also newly announced by Warner is La Femme
Nikita: The Complete Fifth Season (10/17). And don't forget,
Warner's E.R.: The Complete Fifth Season
arrives in stores next week (on 7/11).
Also, just a reminder that Anchor Bay's Masters
of Horror: Homecoming (directed by Joe Dante) is due to be
released on 7/11 as well.
And for those of you who might be interested in personalized "intro"
DVDs for your home theater (the kind of thing you play before the main
DVD feature when you have guests over), you might want to check out
the new CeRT
disc from Bitstream Animation. The disc's 2-minute CG intro
animation can be customized with your name, a logo, or even a personal
message. The animation is presented in standard definition anamorphic
widescreen video, and also included on the disc is an MPEG TS file in
1080i high definition for home theater PCs. Audio options are available
in both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES (the Foley effects and mix
were reportedly done by Skywalker Sound). You also get the classic "Let's
All Go to the Lobby" animation and more. It's a pretty cute little
disc - something for the home theater-phile who already has everything
else. Visit the website for more information and pricing. FYI, we'll be
giving away five copies of this DVD in a new Contest
starting next week.
There's just a bit of high-def news to report today. I'd love to tell
you that there are lots of new HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc software
announcements, but such is not the case. However, on the hardware side
of things, Panasonic has confirmed that their DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Disc
player will be available in September for an SRP of around $1,299.95.
And in a bit of news elsewhere around the Net,
Media Retailing is reporting that the pace of major studio DVD
releases is slowing down. So far this year the total number of new
titles is down about 10% from what it was this same time last year. This
is reportedly due to the studios being conscious of not releasing too
many titles at once - titles that then must compete for space on stores
shelves. When you consider that DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-ray Disc and UMD are
all out there at once, you can certainly see the concern on the part of
Finally this morning, here's a little bit more cover art for you...
temp art for Universal's The Office: Season
Two (due 9/12), and Warner's recently announced HD-DVD
releases of The Dukes of Hazzard: Unrated
and Enter the Dragon (both due
With that, another week bites the dust. Have a great weekend and we'll
see you back here on Monday!
(LATE UPDATE - 7/6/06 - 2
Here's some cool news for you classic monster fans... Universal has
just announced plans to release new 2-disc 75th
Anniversary Legacy Editions of both its original Dracula
and Frankenstein on DVD on 9/26
(SRP $26.98). The new editions will include the digitally remastered
films in their original full frame (1.33:1) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
audio. Extras are set to include documentaries, feature-length audio
commentaries and more TBA. We'll post additional details as they come
In other news today, HBO has announced plans to release Big
Love: The Complete First Season on 10/17 (SRP $99.98). Other
titles newly announced by the studio include the Lewis
Black: Red, White and Screwed comedy special on 10/3 (SRP
$19.97) and director John Frankenheimer's Against
the Wall, also on 10/3 (SRP $14.97).
And in a bit of interesting high-def news, it seems that Toshiba is
eating some $200 on the cost of every HD-A1 HD-DVD player they ship. The
player sells for $499, but according to
report at Home Media Retailing, the parts and
manufacturing costs add up to nearly $700.
Also on the high-def front today, those of you who happen to read the
Business section of today's L.A. Times
will find an interview with yours truly (click
here for the link). A couple weeks ago, I received a call from
Times staff writer David Colker,
who runs the paper's Technopolis
column. David has done several stories in recent weeks on the launch of
HD-DVD, and with the Blu-ray Disc launch at hand, he wanted to speak
with someone who had experience with the format (and with both formats).
So David came down to Irvine last week and we spent a couple hours
looking at Blu-ray high-def video on the big screen, compared to the
same titles on standard DVD. It's an interesting piece he's written as a
result. David's of the opinion that neither HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc is
likely to take off with mainstream consumers. I'd like to believe he's
wrong, but years of experience with this industry tells me he's probably
not, unless things change dramatically and soon. Now that both formats
are here, I can tell you personally that both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc
deliver stunning picture and sound quality, but you need good (and
generally new) equipment to fully appreciate the difference. The
associated costs and steep technical learning curve will probably scare
off all but the most avid early adopters. What's more, many of those
that are undaunted by the costs and complexity have no desire to back
the wrong horse, so the perception of a format war is likely to scare
off even more people. Based on my own recent experiences with online
readers and home theater discussion forum members, even the early
adopter community seems strongly divided about which format is best. In
light of that, what's the average video consumer likely to do? Stick
with tried-and-true standard DVD and sit tight, I suspect. Anyway, it's
a nice little piece, so do check it out if you have the moment. And my
thanks to David for coming down to The OC for a morning of high-def
I'll have more to say on both of the new HD formats next week. I've
been talking (both on and off the record) to a lot of my long-time
contacts at the studios and at various production and technical
facilities around Hollywood these last few weeks, trying to get a sense
of the mood in the industry with regard to HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc. I've
also got several reviews on the way for both formats - my goal is to
catch up with reviews of just about every title that's currently
available over the next few weeks. I'll tell you, there's just never a
dull moment around here these days...
We'll leave you today with a little more cover art. Here's Universal's
just-announced Dracula: 75th Anniversary
Legacy Edition and Frankenstein:
75th Anniversary Legacy Edition, along with 20th Century
Fox's The Unit: Season One (due on
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/6/06 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Well... it's late enough here in the day that I'm just going to pretend
it's tomorrow. So here's Barrie Maxwell's latest
Coming Attractions installment six hours early! As always,
Barrie reviews tons of new and recent classic film releases on DVD, and
runs down the latest classic release announcements too. Included in this
edition are Barrie's thoughts on Universal's
Cecil B. DeMille Collection (featuring The
Sign of the Cross, Four Frightened
People, Cleopatra, The
Crusades and Union Pacific),
It to Beaver: The Complete Second Season and the
Wayne: An American Icon Collection (featuring Seven
Sinners, Shepherd of the Hills,
Conqueror and Jet Pilot),
20th Century Fox's
Wake Up Screaming, the
Chan: Volume 1 box (featuring Charlie
Chan in London, Charlie Chan in
Paris, Charlie Chan in Egypt
and Charlie Chan in Shanghai), the
Grable Collection: Volume One box (featuring The
Dolly Sisters, Down Argentine Way,
Moon Over Miami and My
Blue Heaven), the
of the Dolls: Special Edition and the
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Ultimate Collector's Edition,
Searchers: Two-Disc Special Edition, Paramount's
of the Cat,
of the Sun and
Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Sixth Season, VCI's
Divas Double Feature (featuring The
Groom Wore Spurs and Oklahoma
Annie), and finally Sony's
Keaton Collection: The Great Stone Face and
We Fight. That's 16 titles and 28 films/programs in all. Whew!
Also today, Matt and his crew over at
MusicTAP.net have turned
in new DVD reviews of
Stage Fright from SPV,
Parsons: Fallen Angel from Rhino and
A Headbanger's Journey from Seville. Enjoy!
We'll be back later this afternoon if there's any late breaking DVD
news to report, otherwise we're going to try to get some more DVD,
HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc reviews posted for you.
As always, stay tuned...
Welcome back, folks! We'll be back with Barrie's column in a little
while, but first we wanted to catch you up on the latest DVD release
announcements this week.
First up, Paramount has begun to reveal their October release slate.
Among the titles on the way are a 2-disc Reds:
25th Anniversary Edition, Reeker,
The Roost, The
Curse of El Charro, Medium: The
Complete Second Season, G. I. Joe
Sigma 6: First Strike, CSI: New
York - The Complete Second Season, Penn
& Teller Bullshit: The Complete Third Season and a My
Little Pony Gift Set (including A
Very Minty Christmas, The Princess
Promenade and The Runaway Rainbow)
all for 10/3, Dora the Explorer: Dora's World
Adventure, Numbers: The Complete
Second Season, a Mean
Girls/Clueless 2-Pack, Carlos
Mencia: No Strings Attached - Live, Extended and Uncensored,
Marie Antoinette (PBS), Napoleon
(PBS), CSI: The Complete Sixth Season,
and an Edge of Your Seat Collection
(featuring Kiss the Girls, Along
Came a Spider and Double Jeopardy)
all for 10/10, and a Nick Jr. Favorites Box
Set, a Nick Picks Box Set,
CSI: Miami - The Complete Fourth Season,
Charmed: The Complete Sixth Season
and a Charmed: Six Season Pack all
for 10/17. That Reds release
should make a lot of people happy - it's been a long time coming. We'll
post more details when they're available.
Sony has moved the release dates for I'll
Always Know What You Did Last Summer (originally scheduled
for 8/1) and The Hard Corps
(originally scheduled for 8/29) to 8/15. Adjust your plans accordingly.
The studio has also announced the 9/12 DVD release of Bottoms
Up and Serving in Silence: The
Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer Story.
Also, Warner Bros. has set a Miami Heat:
2005-2006 NBA Champions DVD for release on 7/18 ( SRP $24.98)
for all you basketball fans. And for you classic film fans, Warner has
just announced a new Motion Picture
Masterpieces Collection for release on 10/10 (SRP $49.92)
that's due to include Treasure Island
(1934), David Copperfield (1935),
A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Marie
Antoinette (1939) and Pride and
Prejudice (1940), all of which are new to DVD. Each film will
also be available separately for SRP $19.97 each. Extras will include
vintage shorts, cartoons, theatrical trailers and more.
Here's temp art for Paramount's Reds: 25th
Anniversary Edition, along with Warner's Motion
Picture Masterpieces Collection and Hollywood's
Legends of Horror Collection (10/3)...
Back with more soon. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. There's not a
lot of news to report today, given that the long holiday weekend is
still in progress here in the States. But we do have a few interesting
things for you, and some new cover art too.
First up, we've got word for you 80s fans that Paramount's new Pretty
in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition (due on 8/29) is going
to include the film's original "Lost Dance" ending, along with
new interviews with stars Molly Ringwald, Jon Crier, Andrew McCarthy and
Annie Potts, new featurettes and more. Meanwhile, their Some
Kind of Wonderful: Special Collector's Edition (also due
8/29) will include audio commentary with director Howard Deutch and star
Lea Thompson, along with The Making of Some
Kind of Wonderful documentary, and the Meet
the Cast, The Music and
John Hughes Time Capsule
The Weinstein Company's Lucky # Slevin
(due 9/12, SRP $29.95) will include deleted scenes, an alternate ending,
the Making Lucky # Slevin
featurette and audio commentary with the director and cast.
Warner has set Albert Brooks' Looking for
Comedy in the Muslim World for release on 8/29 (SRP $27.95),
with video in anamorphic widescreen and with features set to include
Warner has also announced that they'll be releasing a Hollywood's
Legends of Horror Collection on 10/3 (SRP $39.95), set to
include Doctor X (1932), The
Return of Doctor X (1939), Mad
Love (1935), The Devil-Doll
(1936), Mark of the Vampire (1935)
and The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932).
Any Troma fans out there? Troma and Koch Entertainment are releasing a
new 2-disc Tromeo & Juliet: 10th
Anniversary Edition on 8/8 (SRP $24.98). Video will be in the
original full frame, with extras that include new audio commentary with
writer James Gunn and director Lloyd Kaufman, new cast and crew
interviews, rehearsal footage, deleted scenes and more.
20th Century Fox's The Sentinel
(starring Michael Douglas and Keifer Sutherland - due on 8/29) will
include audio commentary by director Clark Johnson, 4 deleted scenes, an
alternate ending, 2 featurettes and more.
Fox's previously announced Romancing the
Stone: Special Edition and The
Jewel of the Nile: Special Edition will include (between the
two) new on-camera interviews with stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen
Turner and Danny DeVito, 14 deleted scenes, director commentary,
behind-the-scenes featurettes and more. Both titles sell for SRP $19.98
each, or can be purchased in a 2-pack for just SRP $29.98.
Also, 20th Century Fox has just announced that The
Unit: Season One will street on 9/19 (SRP $49.98). The 4-disc
set will include all 13 first-year episodes in full frame (sadly not
anamorphic widescreen as it should be) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio,
along with audio commentary on the episode SERE
and the Inside The Unit
Here at The Bits today, we've
kicked off FOUR new
giving you each the chance to take home copies of Sony's
Why We Fight,
Link: Secret Chimp, Universal's
: The First Season and Severin Films'
Unrated Director's Cut. The contests will run until Noon
(Pacific) on Sunday, July 9th. Click on the links to get started and
Around the Net, our friends over at From
Script to DVD.com have posted a list of all the theaters
where you can catch Superman Returns
digitally, or in
3-D format, in case you haven't seen it yet.
Also, our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com
have posted a bunch of new information today on such forthcoming TV
series DVD releases as Columbo,
Dark Shadows, The
Bill Cosby Show and more. Do check it out if you're
We'll leave you today with some new cover artwork... here's Universal's
Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.5
(9/19), Fox's Romancing the Stone/The Jewel
of the Nile Gift Set and Warner's Looking
for Comedy in the Muslim World...
Okay... we'll be off tomorrow, but we'll be back Wednesday with a new
column from Barrie Maxwell and plenty of news. We'll have some HD-DVD
and Blu-ray Disc reviews later this week as well.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, and a great Tuesday to the rest
of you! Stay tuned...
We've got a couple more DVD release announcements to report today...
just a little something to close out the week. Here's what we've got...
Universal will release The Munsters:
Two-Movie Fright Fest on 9/26 (SRP $19.98), featuring both
Munster, Go Home! (in anamorphic
widescreen) and The Munsters' Revenge
(in the original full frame).
We have some details for you on New Line's A
Nightmare on Elm Street: Infinifilm Edition due on 9/26 (SRP
$26.99). The film will be available in anamorphic widescreen video with
Dolby Digital 5.1 and stereo audio. Extras will include the Never
Sleep Again and Freddy's Coming
For You "All Access Pass" documentaries, the Night
Terrors and The House That Freddy
Built Beyond-the-Movie documentaries, exclusive Nightmare
Infinifilm video clips, and feature-length audio essays with Wes Craven,
Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and more.
And Fox will release Pretty Poison
(1968) on 9/5. They also have Fourteen Hours
(1951) due on 8/29, along with Shock
(1946) and Vicki (1953). And for
the kids (and the seriously bent or really easily amused), Fox will
release The Wiggles: Wiggledancing (Live in
the USA) on 8/15.
Here's a little more cover art - Fox's My
Name is Earl: Season One (9/19), New Line's A
Nightmare on Elm Street: Infinifilm Edition and Sony's Silent
Finally today, Video Business has
a pair of updates on industry reports of how
Disc titles and hardware are selling. If you're interested in HD,
the stories are worth checking out.
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/29/06 - 3:15 PM PDT)
Okay... as promised, we're back this afternoon with Russell Hammond's
big new update of the
DVD Cover Artwork section. There are TONS of new cover scans
in there now, some of which you probably haven't seen before. There's
definitely something for everyone, from major new feature releases to
documentaries to animation and more. Please keep in mind that
pre-ordering any of these titles via our Amazon links helps to support
our work here at The Bits. We
certainly appreciate it!
Well, I'd say that's good enough for one day. We'll be back tomorrow
with more news.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/29/06 -
1 PM PDT)
First up today, we've just posted a new update of
Electric Theatre, in which Adam reviews Superman
Returns, Over the Hedge
and Nacho Libre in theaters, as
well as 2046 and Running
Scared on DVD. Do check it out.
Now then... we've got a bunch of new DVD announcement news for you, so
let's get started.
20th Century Fox has set the release of The
Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Fourth Season for 9/5, along
with Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock: The Complete
Second Season and The Other
(1972). My Name Is Earl: Season One
is now officially set for 9/19. Deepa Mehta's Water
is also set to be released by the studio on 9/26.
Buena Vista has set Stay Alive
and a Stay Alive: Director's Cut
for release on 9/19.
Echo Bridge is releasing NBC's 10.5
Apocalypse and The Black Hole
(not the Disney film) on 8/1, with The Curse
of King Tut's Tomb: The Complete Miniseries following on 8/8.
The Weinstein Company has moved the street date for its Lucky
Number Sleven from 8/22 to 9/12.
Hart Sharp Video will release ESPN's Code
Breakers on 7/18.
Universal's given us the new date for its Brick
DVD (delayed from 7/11). Look for it now to street on 8/8.
has finally posted details on the 3-disc anamorphic widescreen
re-issue of Brazil (Cat # 51) on
their website, for those of you who might be interested. Normally, we're
not a fan of double-dips, but we're downright excited about this one.
Paramount has set the re-issue of DreamWorks' ANTZ
for release on 8/29. They have Noah's Arc:
The Complete First Season set for release on 8/8. Paramount
has also set both a new Pretty in Pink:
Everything's Duckie Edition and a Some
Kind of Wonderful: Special Collector's Edition for release on
8/29, with a new Dead Zone: Special Edition
and a Pet Sematary: Special Edition
following on 9/26.
Geneon Entertainment is getting ready to release the live-action Tetsujin
28 on 7/4 (SRP $19.98), complete with trailers and with
Japanese audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS formats (with English
subs). Following on 8/6 from Geneon is the classic animated Barefoot
Gen (both films - SRP $29.98 for both), complete with a photo
gallery and Japanese Dolby Digital audio (with English subs).
In other anime news, Manga (via Anchor Bay Entertainment) will release
a new Castle of Cagliostro: Special Edition
on 8/29 (SRP $24.98). As many animation fans know, the film was the
first directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. The new DVD will include
the original Japanese audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 (with English subs)
along with an interview with animation director Yasuo Ohtsuka, complete
animatic storyboards (with feature soundtrack), additional original
storyboards, original character and set drawings, a "fans' gallery"
and theatrical trailers.
Not done yet... Media Blasters has informed us that they're hard at
work on Voltron: Collection One - Blue Lion
(street date TBA). It will be a 3-disc set containing the first 15
episodes of the series, along with the original pilot The
Voltron Trilogy, staff interviews, a featurette on the making
of the DVDs, new 5.1 surround mixes, and a booklet insert featuring
episode synopses and original air dates. All of this will be contained
in a special molded tin case that will be stackable with the subsequent
volumes. As I said, the street date isn't available yet, but Richard
York of Media Blasters had this to say via e-mail: "Everything's
moving forward but, as you might imagine, it's a lot of work. The
editors are re-assembling the episodes frame-by-frame from the best
available sources (mostly from original Japanese film negatives), and
video and audio imperfections are being wiped clean wherever possible.
It's going to be quite a set!" Here's a look at the
prototype for the packaging...
Meanwhile, Warner has announced the Humphrey
Bogart Signature Collection, Volume 1 for release on 10/3
(SRP $59.92), due to include the Casablanca:
Special Edition, The Treasure of
the Sierra Madre: Special Edition, High
Sierra and They Drive by Night.
That same day, they'll also release the Humphrey
Bogart Signature Collection, Volume 2 (SRP also $59.92), set
to include Across the Pacific,
Action in the North Atlantic, All
Through the Night, the 3-disc The
Maltese Falcon: Special Edition and Passage
For the BBC, Warner will release Gormenghast
on 9/26 (SRP $34.98), along with a box set of Walking
with Dinosaurs, Allosaurus: A
Walking with Dinosaurs Special and Walking
with Prehistoric Beasts (SRP $59.98). And for the Cartoon
Network, Warner will bow Harvey Birdman,
Attorney At Law: Volume 2 on 10/10 (SRP $29.98).
By the way, all three of New Line's new Lord
of the Rings: Limited Editions will be available in a new box
set on 8/29 (SRP $86.94) as well as the individual 2-disc sets. For the
record, we've been told by those in the know that the new editions will
actually look BETTER than the original 2-disc theatrical edition DVDs,
due to advances in MPEG-2 compression (though they won't look better
than the 4-disc extended edition sets). Interesting...
Now then, let's have some cover art, shall we? Here's a look at those
Lord of the Rings: Limited Editions
from New Line, along with temp art for Universal's United
93 (9/5), Fox's Taps: 25th
Anniversary Special Edition (9/12) and Universal Music's U2:
Zoo TV - Live from Sidney (TBA)...
We'll have that
DVD Cover Art update later today or tonight as well, so be
sure to check back for that. We've just got to get all the art uploaded
to the server and make sure it's all working.
Finally, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge
passing of Aaron Spelling, the veteran TV producer of such classic
series as Charlie's Angels, Dynasty,
Hart to Hart, Fantasy
Island, Starsky and Hutch,
The Love Boat, T.J.
Hooker, Beverly Hills, 90210,
Melrose Place, Charmed
and many, many others. We'd love to see more of his shows released on
DVD. Unfortunately, Beverly Hills, 90210
and Melrose Place are tied up by
music clearance issues, but hopefully something will happen sooner
rather than later. Sony did just recently announce the release of Charlie's
Angels: The Complete Third Season for 7/4. In any case,
Spelling was 83. He'll certainly be missed.
So, anyone want to hear a little about Superman
Returns? Yeah... turns out it's a pretty good movie. I'm not
going to say it's a home run or a knock-out punch or anything. And don't
worry, I'm not going to give away any spoilers in this review. I'll just
comment in general. The main thing to know is that director Bryan Singer
and his team have largely succeeded in returning the Man of Steel to the
big screen in such a way that the franchise is alive and well again, and
the future is wide open.
I'm pleased to say, and with absolutely no hesitation, that newcomer
Brandon Routh deftly assumes the mantle as the big screen's newest
Superman. He simply owns the role now. Before seeing this film, I
wondered how ANYONE could make me forget Christopher Reeve in the cape
and tights. Routh cleverly manages the feat by not even really trying to
make you forget. He simply honors Reeve's performance in any number of
ways and then gradually, over the course of the film, adds his own
sensitivity to the character. His Superman feels a little different than
Reeve's, and yet also the same, at least in all the important ways.
Whereas Reeve played the role with a bit of a twinkle in his eye, Routh
goes for a more straight-laced calm. In any case, Routh absolutely pulls
The rest of the casting is excellent top to bottom. Kevin Spacey, as
you'd expect, is simply the PERFECT Lex Luthor. His performance is less
campy than Gene Hackman's and significantly more sinister, but he's no
less funny and engaging, which is exactly what the character needs.
James Marsden (you might recall him as Cyclops from Singer's X-Men),
Parker Posey and Frank Langella are all very solid in their respective
roles. Sam Huntington quietly shines in a number of scenes as Jimmy
Olsen. There's a very young actor here as well, Tristan Lake Leabu, who
I think gives one of the best performances in the film. So often child
stars overact or come off as precocious, but this kid is just... you
know... a sweet kid. It's nice to see.
I must say that Kate Bosworth really surprised me as Lois Lane. She's a
very different kind of Lois than the one played by Margot Kidder. She's
more mature, more together, she's a capable parent now... and yet she
still has trouble spelling (a nice homage to the Donner film). Bosworth
has a very sort of wide-eyed, 1940s movie star quality that I think
works particularly well in this sort of film. This is the bit of casting
that was the most risky, but I think it paid off by and large. It's the
one performance in the film that I think fans might have the most
difficulty with, but it worked for me. (Without getting into too much
detail, I should also briefly note here that I appreciated the tactful
way the film's romance, and particularly its romantic triangle, was
handled. I think most of you will agree that it's nicely done -
intelligent and surprisingly satisifying in its way.)
Actually the only truly jarring bit of casting - the one that pulled me
out of the moment every time I saw him - was Kal Penn as one of Luthor's
henchmen. He's not bad in any way, but I just can't stop thinking of him
as Kumar from Harold and Kumar Go to White
Castle. Ah well. I guess Kumar's just turned to a life of
crime, poor kid.
Speaking of references to director Richard Donner's Superman,
there are many here, not the least of which involve the use of Marlon
Brando's likeness and voice from outtake footage from the original 1978
film. There are nice cameos by Jack Larson and Noel Neill (the original
Jimmy and Lois from the 1950s TV series, starring George Reeves). There
are also lots of great little visual touchstone moments, honoring the
comics or other iconic Superman imagery. At one point, Superman holds a
car over his head in a classic recreation of the cover of Action
Comics #1. In another moment, Superman floats in space over
the Earth in a shot inspired by a well-known Alex Ross painting of the
character. There's even a nifty little reference on a TV news report to
events in Gotham City, presumably setting up the possibility of a future
big screen meeting between Routh's Superman and Christian Bale's Batman.
The special effects in this film are absolutely spectacular. Trust me
when I say that you have NEVER seen the Man of Steel in action like this
before. I don't want to give away any of the film's major action
moments, but there are a couple that will leave you gasping and they're
entirely believable - a real surprise considering the fact that we're
talking about a guy flying around in blue and red tights. The film is
very impressive on this score. The only thing I didn't love effects-wise
was the opening flight through space back to Earth. It's the same sort
of sequence we saw in Contact,
only in reverse. Except that in Contact,
it actually looked like we were flying through space. The imagery here
is just a bit too cartoonish for my taste. Maybe that was the point, but
the lack of visual realism just didn't work for me when compared to the
high calibur of digital effects in the rest of the film.
As for the music, it's certainly nice to hear some of the original John
Williams score again, as sampled by composer John Ottman. You'll hear
the famous opening fanfare and other classic Williams themes reused here
and there, but Ottman adds some of his own flare to them. The opening
theme presented in this film is crisper, tighter and more 'sparkly'
sounding, if you will, than I remember it from back in 1978. It's good
work, but I'm looking forward to hearing Ottman branch out more
thematically for the next film.
All of this is not to say that Superman
Returns is perfect. First, the religious metaphor is carried
a little too far, I think. It certainly works, and it's always been part
of the character's mythology, but it's a lot more hit-you-over-the-head
than anything we've seen in the previous films. Returns
is also... well... very predictable. If you're surprised by any of the
twists, I'LL be surprised. Clearly pattered after Donner's original, I
don't think this film is necessarily too long, but there are some pacing
problems here and there, especially in the first half. Some of the
intercutting between the Clark/Superman and Lex storylines doesn't work
as smoothly as it should. At times the film begins to build real
momentum only to let it slip away again. If anything, it felt to me as
if we were missing moments here and there. We know that a significant
opening scene, showing Kal-El on the remains of Krypton, was deleted,
and there are other bits of footage as well - material that we'd seen in
the trailers - that were missing from the final cut of the film. I hope
that Warner lets Singer release his ultimate director's cut of the film
on DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc later this year, because I really want
to see it.
If I had any single major complaint about this film, it's that Singer
and company are trying so hard to thread the needle of respecting the
previous Superman films, while
also rejuvenating the franchise for a new generation of film-goers, that
they sometimes forget to be bold. Luthor's criminal plot, in particular,
is evidence of this. Sure, it's epic in size and scope. If it's
successful, billions of people will die. And it ties in nicely to the
first film in a couple of ways. But somehow, I want to believe that
Lex's need for revenge against Superman would trump his desire for
riches and power, such that he'd cook up something a little more
sinister than his scheme here. The logic of his plan doesn't quite work
either... for if he kills billions of people, who's going to be around
to...? Eh. You just can't think too hard about it, I guess.
Still, Superman Returns offers
warmth, optimism and savvy in spades. It largely manages to overcome
what I think was one of the most difficult hurdles of recent film
history. It successfully returns the Man of Steel... the Last Son of
Krypton... to the big screen, where he belongs and where we've missed
his presence all these years. In this era of ubiquitous digital trickery
and jaded movie audiences, Singer's film simply makes you believe
again... and that's a very neat trick indeed. I'm happy to say that
there's plenty to like here. This isn't quite as good as Batman
Begins or Spider-Man 2,
but then I think it was a significantly harder challenge, and it's a LOT
closer to those films than the ranks of such 'classics' as Catwoman
and Batman and Robin. Despite some
flaws, Superman Returns is a solid
film. It's entertaining. It works. I'm definitely interested to see what
happens next. Something truly daring, I hope. Superman
Unleashed, anyone? My grade: B
Okay... we'll be back later tonight (for tomorrow) with an Upcoming
DVD Cover Art update and some new DVD news as well. Stay
(LATE UPDATE - 6/27/06 - 5 PM PDT)
As promised, we're back with Todd Doogan's latest installment of
Views, just in time for the biggest blockbuster of the Summer
to hit theaters! Appropriately, in this edition, our ol' pal Doogan
offers you all some sage advice to help make the most of your Summer
blockbuster experience. So without further yammering, here's
Views Presents... The Digital Bits "How To" Series: Chapter
11 - How To Watch a Summer Movie (and Not Get Lost In The Shuffle).
Well... that's it for now. Matt, Sarah, Adam, Todd and myself (and
other Bits staffers too) are all
off to see wee-early first showings of Superman
Returns tonight, in each of our respective geographic areas.
Maybe we'll see you in line. If not, whereever you may be, we hope you
all have a great time!
Be back tomorrow with more... but probably not until late in the
afternoon. Gotta sleep sometime, right? Stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/27/06 -
1:45 PM PDT)
I love the smell of Kryptonite in the morning.
Yes... tonight at 11:59 AM (10 PM in some places), audiences at large
will get their first look at Bryan Singer's Superman
Returns... the official return of the Man of Steel to the big
screen. For my part, I can't wait. Matt and I are already planning to
head down to the Irvine Spectrum, tickets in hand, for the Midnight
show. It's the biggest movie of the Summer and the reviews have all been
pretty kind so far. Sure looking forward to it, and I know a lot of you
are too. Matt, I'll bet, will be wearing his White Sox baseball cap, so
if any of you are going to be at the same theater, be sure to look us up
and say hello.
Anyone up for some new standard DVD release news?
Let's start with Universal. The studio has announced the release of the
animated Curious George on 9/26
(SRP $29.98). The film will be available in anamorphic widescreen and
full frame DVD versions, as well as a VHS full frame version too. VHS?
Set the Wayback Machine, Sherman...
Due on 9/5 from Universal is Paul Greengrass' controversial but well
made United 93, in both full frame
and anamorphic widescreen versions (SRP $29.98). Extras will include
audio commentary with Greengrass, as well as the United
93: The Families and the Film documentary.
On 9/12, look for Universal to release The
Land Before Time: 2 Tales of Discovery and Friendship, with
Players following on 10/3.
And on the high-def front, Universal will release HD-DVD/DVD combo
versions of Army of Darkness and
Fast Times at Ridgemont High on
10/3 as well (SRP $34.98 each). We've updated the
Release List accordingly.
By the way, Universal is also delaying the 7/11 DVD release of Brick
until mid-August. We'll post the new date when we have it.
Meanwhile, Bandai Visual USA and Image Entertainment will be showing
off their recently announced DVD release of a 2-disc Patlabor
2: The Movie - Limited Edition at
Anime Expo in
Anaheim, CA next week. The title, limited to 10,000 units, will street
on 7/11 (SRP $89.99). A single-disc movie only version will also be
available (SRP $29.99).
In other news, Sony has set Broken Trail,
Clive Barker's The Plague and Population
436 for release on 9/5, along with Mike Nichol's Family:
The Complete First and Second Seasons (that's right, that
show with Kristy McNichol - can James at 15
or Apple's Way be far behind?).
Also due on that date is a repackaged All the
King's Men and a new Jim Henson
Fantasy Film Collection Box Set (which includes Labryinth,
The Dark Crystal, Mirrormask
and a booklet).
Paramount has set the re-release of its first DreamWorks DVDs under the
new distribution arrangement for 8/29. The first titles include Chicken
Run, The Road to El Dorado
and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
Paramount has also set Queer As Folk: The
Complete Third Season and Diagnosis
Murder: The Complete First Season for release on 9/12, Criminal
Minds: The Complete First Season for 9/19, and Ghost
Whisperer: The Complete First Season for 9/26.
Buena Vista will release Kinky Boots
on 9/5. The studio has also added Stay Alive
to its 9/19 release slate, along with Stick
And for you music fans,
has just announced that U2: Zoo TV -
Live from Sydney will be released on DVD by Universal Music
in September (exact street date TBA). Click the link for more details.
Back on the HD front, any of you guys see The
Colbert Report on Comedy Central last night? In his All
You Need to Know Segment, host Stephen Colbert actually
mentioned the HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc format war, and I about fell out of my
seat laughing. Here's his exact comments:
"Last week, Sony released the first movies
on Blu-ray, which will battle with Toshiba's HD-DVD to be the
next-generation DVD format. All you need to know? The winner will be the
one you DON'T buy."
Awwww SNAP! See folks? This is what comes of a format war. If anyone
spots the clip online, please let me know so we can link to it.
On a related note,
President Atsutoshi Nishida is again claiming that they're STILL
not ruling out the possibility of creating a united high-definition
format: "We have not given up on a unified
format. We would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if
opportunities arise." Isn't that a little bit like closing
the barn doors AFTER the cows have run loose across the south forty?
Back with Todd's new Doogan's Views
in a little while. Stay tuned...
Okay... hope you guys all had a great weekend. Hot as blazes here in
The OC, but that seems to be the trend everywhere these days.
I wanted to check in this afternoon with a bit of an update on Blu-ray
Disc. As I reported on Friday, I was having troubles with the HDMI
output on the Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc player. Actually, I was
having three separate issues. The first was what I consider to be subpar
picture quality on several of the first Blu-ray Disc releases. The
second was a problem with the HDMI output feeding video to my Panasonic
projector properly at 1080i resolution. The final issue, is what I
consider to be a problem with the BD-P1000's HDMI output video quality
in general. All of these were rather vexing.
Fortunately, on Friday afternoon, I was able to spend a couple hours at
Pioneer Electronics with Chris Walker, the company's Manager of New
Technology. He invited me to bring my Samsung player and a few of the
first Sony and Lionsgate discs over to their offices here in The OC, to
take a closer look at some of the quality issues. Pioneer is
understandably concerned that people don't judge the quality potential
of the Blu-ray Disc format by just a single player and the first few
discs, and I was happy to have a chance to compare the performance of
the Samsung Blu-ray player to Pioneer's yet-to-be-released Elite
We began by connecting both the BD-P1000 and the Elite BDP-HD1 to a
pair of side-by-side, matching 50-inch plasma displays - Pioneer's new
Pro-FHD1 Elite plasma, that's fully 1080p compatible. We connected the
players to the monitors first via HDMI, selected full 1080p resolution
(which both the Samsung and the Pioneer are capable of delivering), and
used an identical test disc in each player to play back MPEG-2 encoded
footage of Disney's Chicken Little
nearly identical setup playing the same disc at CES in January). I
had told Chris that my first impression of the Samsung player was that
the video image lacked some of the detail I had expected to see, and
that it wasn't fully delivering all of the color and contrast
information encoded on the disc either. He had also experienced this on
another production BD-P1000 that they in the office, by the way. Sure
enough, that was the first thing we both noticed. Colors and contrast
(particularly color) from the BD-P1000 just seemed more subdued compared
to the same image delivered by the BDP-HD1, and some of the fine detail
in the image was also missing. The difference was rather dramatic. It's
almost as if some kind of high-frequency filter is being applied, or as
if the Samsung player is doing some kind of extra signal conversion
before it sends the signal out via the HDMI connection. It's not the
connection itself, because as Chris confirmed, both players use the same
HDMI hardware and chipset. So it has to do with the way the Samsung
player is processing the signal. By the way, to confirm that what we
were seeing was really an issue with the Samsung player, and not the
plasma displays, we swapped the displays connected to each player and
sure enough, the video quality issues migrated to the new display.
To test something that I suspected might be the case based on my
experiences with the Samsung player, we next connected the BD-P1000 to
the display via the component output, and selected 1080i resolution. As
I suspected, and to Chris' surprise, all of the problems with the video
signal just disappeared. Suddenly, the video being displayed by the
Samsung was MUCH closer in quality to the 1080p HDMI output of the
Pioneer. Colors and contrast were VERY close to identical - colors just
popped off the screen - and fine image detail was significantly improved
on the Samsung side (although still not quite as good as the Pioneer -
the difference was about what you would reasonably expect between analog
component and digital HDMI connection, along with an interlaced image
versus progressive scan). The upshot is, if you own a Samsung BD-P1000
and you want to experience the best possible image quality - quality
that closely approaches the full potential of the video signal encoded
on the disc - you NEED to be viewing via the component output. Now,
that's troubling given that protected digital HDMI is what everyone in
the industry is encouraging people to use. Yes... the Samsung is capable
of delivering full-resolution 1080i video to your display via component.
Like all Blu-ray and HD-DVD players, the player must be able to read the
Image Constraint Token flag on the software if the studios choose to
turn it on (and thus disallow full-resolution analog playback). However,
the good news so far is that neither Sony or Lionsgate has chosen to
exercise this option yet (for that matter, neither have any of the
HD-DVD supporting studios either).
By the way, the scaling problem I was having between the Samsung and my
Panasonic LCD projector via HDMI at 1080i resolution wasn't happening
with the Pioneer plasma. It also isn't happening at any resolution via
the component outputs, so it's definitely something endemic to the way
the Samsung and my projector handshake via the HDMI connection. I'm
hearing a few reports from other Panasonic projector owners who are
having the same problem, so it's not just confined to my specific model
While we were conducting our tests, Pioneer's Senior Vice President
Andy Parsons joined us for while. We continued sampling various Blu-ray
Disc titles from Sony and Lionsgate, along with some other film demo
material, including one clip that was encoded in VC1 format. Those of
you who are interested in how Blu-ray displays VC1 material will be
pleased to know that it looks absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately, I
can't talk about the specific clips we saw, but it wouldn't be fair to
compare Blu-ray's VC1 quality to that of HD-DVD at this point anyway,
especially not from a single short clip. I will tell you, however, that
one specific piece of test footage we looked at (in MPEG-2) was
hands-down the single most stunning high-def video I've ever seen. I've
seen a lot of HD video in my day, but NOTHING this good in terms of
detail, color, contrast and lack of compression artifacting. I have no
doubt that both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc are capable of delivering video
quality of this level eventually, but I'm betting full-length movie
discs this good won't start hitting store shelves until mid-to-late next
year... when the authoring and compression folks have had enough time to
really hone their wizardry with these formats. The same was also true in
the early days of DVD, of course, and compression quality has only
gotten better since 1997. I suspect the same will be true with HD.
Suffice it to say that when the average video DOES get that good on
HD-DVD and Blu-ray, there's going to be something said for the argument
that once you experience that kind of HD quality, it's hard to go back
to regular DVD.
For the record, and for those who may be interested, I've been told
that one of the chief advantages of using MPEG-2 over VC1, at least in
the near term, is that it's easier to encode quickly in high quality. A
good MPEG-2 encoding can be done in, say, two passes, whereas VC1 right
now can take as many as five or six passes to achieve high quality.
Still, that will certainly change over time as the VC1 compression
software gets better.
Anyway, I left Pioneer feeling a LOT more confident about what I was
seeing from the Samsung player. I know now that the picture quality the
player delivers via HDMI is significantly inferior to that of its
component output, and I know that Samsung's 1080i component output comes
very close to delivering the full image quality encoded on the discs. I
also have a better handle on the software quality issues - what's
related to disc compression or to transfer issues. As a result of this,
I've begun to evaluate the first wave of Blu-ray titles with all this in
mind. I'm also going to compare the Toshiba's HD-A1 player's HDMI output
with its component quality, and begin seriously reviewing the first
several waves of HD-DVD titles with a more confident eye as well. Chalk
it all up to the kinds of critical re-training you need to do with any
new video format. C'est la vie in this industry in the 21st Century!
Rest assured, however, we'll check back tomorrow with a full update of
all the latest standard DVD release news, and we've got a number of
standard DVD reviews on the way as well. Also, we've got a big (and long
overdue, we know) update of the Upcoming DVD
Cover Art section nearly ready, and Todd checks back in with
a new Doogan's Views column this
week as well. So stay tuned...!
We have another a quick DVD release announcement for you. Universal has
set Heath Ledger's Roar: The Complete Series
for 9/19 (SRP $39.98). Look for 3 discs with all the episodes in the
original full frame.
We also have a pair of new HD-DVD announcements to report from Warner
today. The studio will deliver Dukes of
Hazzard and Enter the Dragon
on the high-def format on 7/11 (SRP $28.99). All standard DVD extras
will be included on the new HD-DVDs, and Dukes
of Hazzard will also include Warner's In-Movie Experience
feature (which was also included on Constantine).
Think of it like a picture-in-picture video commentary track.
Also on the high-def front today, we're getting word that Sony's PS3,
which is expected to feature full Blu-ray Disc functionality, will also
include an HDMI 1.3 spec output, meaning it should be fully compatible
with all of the latest audio options being offered by the new high-def
formats. You can read more
The HDMI 1.3 spec, we should add, has
just been officially finalized.
Also, Toshiba is apparently preparing to release an HD-DVD recorder in
Japan, but there's no word of a U.S. release yet. The device will
reportedly be able to record as much as 130 hours of high-def video on
to its internal hard drive, then burn it onto blank HD-DVD media.
Wouldn't that be handy? You can read more
at Video Business.
I've gotten a lot of nice e-mails from people who are experiencing
similar problems with the HDMI outputs on the Samsung, and/or who have
suggestions on the matter. So thanks for all your kind words and
assistance. I'll have more to say about Blu-ray on Monday, and hopefully
I'll have ironed out what's happening with the player by then too.
One last thing today... we've got a Comic-Con panel update for you!
Here's the description we've just submitted to the show for their event
DVD Sneak Peek 2006 - Join Bill
Hunt and Todd Doogan,
editors of The Digital Bits.com,
and a panel of some of Hollywood's leading special edition DVD producers
as they give you a first look at lots of great movie and TV DVDs on the
way for 2006 and 2007! They'll talk about the new HD-DVD and Blu-ray
Disc high-definition formats and answer lots of audience questions as
well. Scheduled to participate are Robert
Meyer Burnett (Superman Returns, Free Enterprise: SE,
Chronicles of Narnia), JM Kenny
(Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, Zoom, Rocky Balboa), Charles
de Lauzirika (Kingdom of Heaven, Monster House, Blade
Runner), Andy Mangels (He-Man,
She-Ra, Dungeons & Dragons) and Javier
Soto (Pan's Labyrinth, The 4400).
For the record, our panel is going to be held on Friday, July 21st from
2:00-3:30 in the San Diego Convention Center, Room 6B. It's going to be
a lot of fun, so we hope to see you there!
Okay... a great weekend to all of you and we'll see you back on Monday!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/22/06 - 7
Well... it looks like the scaling problems I've been having with the
BD-P1000 at 1080i are specifically related to the HDMI output. I've
switched to component and BAM... not only are the scaling problems gone
at 1080i resolution, but now I'm seeing more vibrant color reproduction.
Significantly more vibrant color, that really pops off the screen. Go
Let me just say, that I'm more excited to look at Blu-ray Disc material
now, that's for sure. After some calibrating, I'm going to dive right
into watching some discs. I'm taking back my snap judgement from last
night on being less than impressed with Blu-ray, until I've had more
time to look at FINALLY decent 1080i video out of this Samsung player.
However, I am fully ready to pass judgement on the BD-P1000's HDMI
output. Ugh... nicht gut.
Okay, enough for now. Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 6/22/06 - 6 PM PDT)
Okay... a little bit of follow-up on my experience with Blu-ray Disc
and this Samsung BD-P1000 player. First, the good so far. Let me just
say that the PCM 5.1 Uncompressed audio on these Blu-ray Discs is
absolutely spectacular. Smooth, rich, enveloping... these audio tracks
are just really impressive. It's a lovely experience listening to these
Now for the... well, troubling. I will say right up front that I think
most of the problems I'm seeing with the video are related to the
Samsung player itself, rather than anything indemic to the format. Upon
much consideration, I believe that The Fifth
Element Blu-ray Disc suffers from problems with the source
material - at times it looks good, at times it looks pretty bad.
Specifically, the print itself is of questionable quality, with obvious
dust and dirt, grain issues and other problems. Again, it seems to vary
from reel to reel. The opening credits and the shots in the desert are
really awful looking - blotchy, lacking in detail. Later, it improves a
great deal, but the image quality overall really suffers in comparision
to the other titles I've now seen.
But back to the issues with the player... I'm going to be attending a
demo soon of the Samsung player compared side-by-side with another
forthcoming player model to confirm my suspicions, but it appears to me
that the BD-P1000 in general isn't showing all of the detail that's in
the image encoded on the discs, and it's not reproducing all of the
color either. The bigger problem I'm having however, is that the HDMI
output on the player looks fine on my Panasonic PT-L500U LCD projector
at 720p resolution. But when I try to switch over to 1080i, I'm seeing
major scaling errors - errors that I don't see at 1080i resolution from
any other source via HDMI, including the Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player,
which tells me that it's something to do with the BD-P1000's HDMI output
specifically. It's extremely frustrating not to be able to evaluate this
material at close to its best intended resolution.
In any case, such is the state of things when you're looking at the
first player on a new format. I'll have more to say tomorrow or Monday.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/22/06
- 5:30 PM PDT)
We've got some interesting standard DVD release news to report for you
First up, Universal has announced the DVD release of NBC's The
Book of Daniel: The Complete Series on 9/26 (2 discs, SRP
$29.98). On 10/13, look for a Lock, Stock and
Two Smoking Barrels: Locked 'N Loaded Unrated Director's Cut
(SRP $19.98) in anamorphic widescreen. Extras are TBA. Also on 10/13,
the studio will release a 2-disc Scarface:
Platinum Edition (SRP $29.98). Again, no word yet on extras.
Fox has announced the DVD release of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer: Tales from the Hellmouth on 9/5 (SRP
$29.98). This is a 2-disc "best of" set containing the
episodes The Pack, Halloween,
Wish, Helpless, Fear
Itself, Hush and Same
Time Same Place.
Fox has also announced the separate DVD release of Mel Brooks' To
Be or Not to Be and Robin Hood:
Men in Tights on 9/5 (SRP $14.98 each). To
Be or Not to Be will include anamorphic widescreen video,
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, a "making of" featurette,
characters profiles and interviews with Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and
FYI, Fox's Taps: 25th Anniversary Edition
(due 9/12, SRP $19.98), will include the film in anamorphic widescreen
video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Harold
Becker, the Sounding the Call to Arms:
Mobilizing the TAPS Generation and The
Bugler's Cry: The Origins of Playing Taps documentaries,
theatrical trailers and TV spots.
Also newly announced by Fox are Remington
Steele: Season 4 & 5 for 8/15 (5-discs, SRP $49.98) and a
Romancing the Stone/Jewel of the Nile 2-Pack
(SRP $29.98), both of which are new special editions with
never-before-seen deleted scenes and behind-the-scene featurettes.
Meanwhile, BCI's Ink & Paint panel has officially announced the DVD
release of the animated Blackstar
on 8/22 (SRP $19.98). The 2-disc set will include all 13 episodes of the
series, interviews with creators Lou Scheimer, Michael Swanigan, Marc
Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves, Robert Kline, Robby London and Ted Field,
The Magic of Filmation
documentary, audio commentary for 2 episodes, an image gallery of
original "heroes and villains" model sheets and sketches, a
gallery of presentation artwork and backgrounds uses in the series,
trivia and the scripts for all 13 episodes via DVD-ROM. Also due from
BCI's Ink & Paint label on 8/22 (SRP $19.98) is Space
Sentinels & The Freedom Force: The Complete Series. The
2-disc set will include all 13 episodes of Space
Sentinels, all 5 episodes of The
Freedom Force, interviews with creators Lou Scheimer, Buzz
Dixon, Darrell McNeil, Michael Reaves, Robert Kline and David Wise, the
The Magic of Filmation
documentary, Young Sentinels
audition tapes, the original Young Sentinels
storyboard presentation, galleries of model sheet art and Young
Sentinels early presentation images, trivia for both series
and the scripts for all 13 Space Sentinels
and 3 Freedom Force episodes via
Finally, Warner has announced the release of Avenger,
staring Sam Elliott, on 10/3 (SRP $19.98).
And on the high-def front today, it seems as if Samsung is considering
the prospect of releasing an HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc combo player late this
year or early in 2007, according to
report at TG Daily. According to the story, the
information comes from recent quotes by Kim Du-Hyon, an assistant
manager in Samsung's home-platform product planning division.
By the way, on the subject Blu-ray Disc, we've confirmed with our
industry contacts that pre-release 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray titles have
been pressed and are working just fine with prototype hardware in
testing. What's apparently happening now is that the replicators are
working to be able to reliably manufacture them in high quantities. As I
posted last night, many titles on dual-layered HD-DVDs (HD-30s) have
already been released. In fact, most of Warner's first waves of titles
are on dual-layered discs.
Speaking of high-def, I'll definitely have more to say about the
Samsung player and Blu-ray Disc tomorrow afternoon, so be sure to check
Also, around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new
IN ADDITION TO THOSE ALREADY RUNNING, giving each of you the chance to
win copies of Warner's
Clark: The Complete Third Season,
of Superman: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons and the
The Signature Collection box set, Universal's
First Season - Limited Edition and
Files: Season Two, Paramount's
Launch: Special Collector's Edition and ThinkFilm's
Stand-up Stood Out. All of these contests will run until Noon
(Pacific) on Sunday, July 2nd. Not that the previously running contests
will end on Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, June 25th. Click the links to get
started and good luck!
Back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned...
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