Monday, October 18, 2010

DVD Essentials: What Should Be There

Open wishlist to DVD companies far and wide:

♦ Barebones DVDs are balls. Hey, if it's the only way the show's available, fine. I'll live with it. But hell, at least have some chapter skips and closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

♦ The more language tracks, the better. Here in North America there should be English, Spanish, and French on as many damn DVDs as possible. Other languages are fun, too. Like Greek and Portuguese. And furthermore, the languages should be consistent on television series. Example: I recently Netflixed "Batman: The Animated Series". Some discs had English, Spanish, and French. Some didn't have Spanish. Season One of Justice League Unlimited had a Spanish track but Season Two didn't. Consistency, people! Having one language or languages missing is craptacular.

♦ Subtitles. Preferably in whatever languages are on the disc as well as on the commentary track if one's on there. Big honkin' subtitles that eat up half of the screen are stupid. The people that need those the most are deaf, not blind. Subtitles should be clear, concise, and in a san-serif font. White or yellow outlined with black. Not giant pure-white bs that no one can see when the screen's all light-colored.

♦ Foreign films with hard subtitles are a no-no. For you newbs, hard subtitles are when they're stuck on the bloody screen. Sometimes I like an unobscured screen. Don't worry about whether or not I understand the language, that's my damn business.

♦ Do NOT make me go back into the menu to change this crap. What I mean is, for example, on "The Princess and the Frog" I can't just jump from English to Spanish audio using my remote. I have to actually return to the menu and change the language there. That's stupid. Luckily, most DVDs are pretty good about not doing that. Additionally, if you have audio and subtitles on the same menu screen, don't yank me out of there immediately after I choose a one feature but don't get to choose another. (Like if I choose Spanish language and get pulled out before I can put on Spanish subtitles. That's dumb.)

♦ Commentary tracks are wonderful but if the film makers really have nothing further to say about the subject, you really don't have to bother. Some commentary tracks read like the bored version of those audio tracks for the blind: "Russell Crowe enters the circus tent. He sees a clown. The clown waves. He punches the clown." Speaking of which…

♦ I love those Descriptive Video Service tracks for the blind. It's like I'm five years old and it's story time. "The Princess and the Frog" and "Inside Man" both have this service and it's awesome.

♦ Music-only tracks are also really cool. If there's not enough stuff to fill a commentary, do a music-only track or combine the two. Get creative!

♦ I saw the movie "Karma Sutra" with Indira Varma on a Panasonic widescreen television and for whatever reason that movie had black bars on all four sides of the picture. I don't know what the technical term for this occurring is but I call it balls and I dun like it.

♦ Previews are NOT an extra. However, I want previews anyway. Disney's Fast Play feature is a cool idea. Another good idea is the DC Universe Animated Original Movies and how they combine a teaser and a preview for some of their other material. A bad idea? Forced previews. This especially chafes when you've BOUGHT the damn thing and are being held hostage for something fucking annoying. I mean, I hate one of the previews on "Bride and Prejudice" but at least I can skip that crap.

♦ Real extras are nice. What's nicer is when there's a list of extras and a PLAY ALL option. There are few things that suck more on a DVD rife with goodies than having to play each one by one.

♦ Galleries that you can't zoom and navigate through yourself are useless.

♦ I Netflixed "That Touch of Mink" and it had profiles, such as stuff about Doris Day and Cary Grant. When it got to Gig Young, it was all "Oh hey, this guy killed his wife then shot himself!" That shit's really a downer. Who the fuck thought putting that on there was a great idea? Gig Young had dozens upon dozens of film and television roles and that's what they chose to highlight. Use common sense.

♦ Stop ripping us off for not upgrading to your precious Blu-Ray. Not everyone needs it. Not everyone wants it. So what do companies do when they release stuff on both Blu-Ray and DVD? They pack on the commentaries and features on the Blu-Ray and rip everyone else off. Now, I get there's more room on a Blu-Ray disc. That's fair. What isn't fair is when some of those things fit just fine on a regular DVD but you just want to eff customers over because they don't want to go down on Blu-Ray's Dr. Manhattan dong. I was all excited about the upcoming "Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam" until I heard that there would be no commentary on the DVD. So what DVD customers get is the new twenty-minute short, three additional shorts that have already been released in extended format—whatever few minutes THAT entails—and four bonus episodes handpicked by Bruce Timm. These four episodes are among the stuff that's already been released and will most likely be "Justice League: Unlimited" episodes with Captain Marvel, Green Arrow, and probably either the "Batman:TAS" ep with Jonah Hex or the "Justice League: Unlimited" that has Jonah Hex in one episode. In other words, they expect people to pay fourteen bucks and change for way less than 50% new material. I call this jack-assery or "wait for the bargain-bin". Or even "piracy, ho!" I'd rather have commentary and some featurettes. You have a hard sell on your hands if you're going to try and convince me that stuff won't fit when "Inside Man" had a crapload of stuff on a single disc.

♦ Those DVD close-clip thingies on the side. You know the ones I mean. They have no purpose in life.

♦ There is no excuse for cover art like this these days. -> This one for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is horrific. Use the movie's poster. Use a nice screen cap. Those aren't even their bodies.

♦ In multi-DVD sets, if I have to take out one disc to get to another one you're doing it wrong.

♦ FYI, if there's a soundtrack or a novelization available, advertise it somewhere on the DVD. There's stuff I didn't even know had soundtracks until I Googled it one day. You people are losing money.

♦ Why, oh, why would you put something edited on the DVD release when it's not even neccessary? "Turtles Forever" I'm looking at you. Do the rest of us a favor and don't even bother. Go look at the reviews for "Turtles Forever" at Almost everybody loved it but HATE the way it was released. Do not shoot yourself in the foot.


  1. I agree with 90% of this. Especially the forced previews thing. You hit Disc Menu and get that little Ghostbusters logo without the ghost telling you, you can't. Then you hit chapter skip and it won't let you do that either. That is such bullshit. If I hit disc menu, then go to the disc menu (that also works on the Disney Fast Play disc too. Disney does a good job. Everyone else could learn from them.)

    And I also hate the Blu-Ray thing too. It's like they are blackmailing you into buying the Blue-Ray so they can charge you the extra 5-10 bucks for it. I mean I've been looking at Blu-Ray players, but that's only because I want better picture. I won't be buying it so I can see Jackie Chan fight the evil teacher in The Karate Kid.

    And on the widescreen TV with the block, they show up cause you have it set for Widescreen on a full screen format movie. There should be a way to fix it with the TV it's self. Might be a nice simple button on the remote, or you might have to spend a half hour searching through all the menus, but it is there. Might be easier to live with though, since you'd have to change it back when you watched a Widescreen movie.

  2. What's funny about the better picture thing is a 2D animated project can only look so crisp before it doesn't matter anymore. Ppl at Amazon were bitching for Batman:TAS and Justice League on Blu-Ray and miss this point completely. If upgrade-whores want Blu-Ray, give them Blu-Ray with a digital copy or whatever but denying extra features that are usually standard (like commentaries) fit just fine on regular DVD is balls. What was the point of buying Superman/Shazam! but for two things: the shorts are extended and commentaries. And they took one of those away! Boo!

    And I tried messing with the aspect button on my TV to no avail. Only one other movie did this, therefore, it must be something with the disc and not the television.