|Who makes the best DVDs?
||[Jul. 15th, 2007|03:51 pm]
DVD Buyers Anonymous
|||||King And I OST - 15 - Shall We Dance||]|
Now that it seems like most major studios are finally stepping up their game for DVD releases, although a few still seem to be stuck in the dark ages, which studios/companies do you still think shine above the rest? I'll put my top 3 in order.
1. Warner Bros.
I chose Warner Bros. as #1 because they consistently come out with the best DVD debuts/reissues of their classic catalogue, constantly releasing sets to debut/reissue films on DVD, such as The Lucille Ball Collection, Forbidden Hollywood, and the upcoming Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland collection. They've also released many impressive multi-disc sets for single films - in many cases using other full-length films as bonus material. Sets like this include Gone With The Wind: 4-Disc Collector's Edition, (which doesn't include a movie as a bonus, but is a very impressive set) Ben-Hur: 4-Disc Collector's Edition, (which includes the restored 1925 silent version) The Wizard of Oz: 3-Disc Collector's Edition, (the 3-Disc set contains several feature-length pre-MGM Oz movies) and the recent 3-Disc Special Edition of The Maltese Falcon. (Contains the first two film versions of the novel as bonus materials.) Even Warner's most "bare-bones" releases of classic films are often given the best care in their DVD presentation and include at least a trailer and a short or two. And all take the best care in transferring the films to DVD, many with brand new digital restorations to restore them to their original splendor. Their Technicolor restorations especially take one's breath away thanks to the Ultra Resolution process. Warner Bros. has since been very consistent in pleasing me with their releases. My one gripe is their new trend of releasing new films to DVD in separate single and double disc releases, such as Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire. This is a new trend with most companies and it gets on my nerves having to go out of town to find the double-disc set and having to pay almost full retail price, when the single-disc gets discounted by like half. If you're going to make a 2-Disc set, just release that and that alone. PLEASE.
2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Warner's first Wizard of Oz release were my first two DVDs. (That Oz DVD resides with a family member now that I have the 3-Disc set.) Until Warner started stepping up their game, Snow White had spoiled me for DVDs, and I still haven't found many Disney DVDs that measure up to it. Disney may not be THE most consistent in terms of quality, but their Platinum Editions...or most of them anyway...have one thing in common - brilliant digital restorations. Excessive grain, dirt, dull colors, grime, etc. are removed to reveal the original artwork as one has never seen them, although some believe they have occasionally gone too far. But I don't squabble about little details like the sparkles from the Fairy Godmother's wand. They're still there, damnit! But until I viewed the Snow White DVD, I never knew it was possible for old movies to look and sound like that. Disney hasn't always been consistent with reissues, bonus features, etc. Not even with their Platinum Editions, which in terms of bonus materials range from outstanding (Snow White, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid which, while light, is substantial.) to decent (Beauty and the Beast and its duplicated bonuses in different menus) to disappointing. (Peter Pan and the lack of a new substantial making-of documentary and the inclusion of the movie with sparkly captions as a "read-along" "bonus feature", The Lion King and its confusing menu and lack of new-making of, and both with NO trailers whatsoever.) Not to mention the Tarzan fiasco, (You know, advertising it as a 2-Disc set for months, then making it a 1-Disc set at the last minute.) and the recent reissues of Dumbo, The Fox and the Hound, and Robin Hood, which did little to improve upon their initial DVD releases. And the current state of limbo the 2-Disc set of The Aristocats is in. You know, whether it'll even get released with 2-Discs or this year. But when Disney goes all out, I'm always very pleased.
3. I've not had MUCH experience with Criterion. The experience I've had ranges from outstanding to not-so-hot. When Criterion is good, it's outstanding. But they're not consistently outstanding. Some of their releases are barebones, and they don't always have excellent transfers. For the amount of money they charge for these films, it doesn't always seem worth it. I know why they have to charge so much, but it still doesn't make it any more consumer friendly when you're plunking down $40 for a DVD that could be so much better. However, $40 for Jean Cocteau's La Belle Et La Bete? If I had it, I'd so pick it up, and it'd so be worth it. I've seen the DVD, and it's brilliant. The transfer is excellent, the bonuses are wonderful. But I've been told about some of Criterion's lesser DVD attempts, such as The Scarlet Empress. However, I still consider them one of the best in the business, so yes. Thumbs up!