FEATURE | This issue
| Screen Test
| Top Ten reasons Titanic stunk
Grading from A-F
DEEP IMPACT (PG-13):
Stupidity runs amok in the latest effect-filled disaster thriller as every character seems hell-bent on proving the theory "survival of the brightest." B-
THE BIG HIT (R):
Mark Wahlberg shines as a misunderstood and manipulated hitman. Ridiculous situations and tongue-in-cheek action sequences blend perfectly with the hitman who craves love. B+
MERCURY RISING (R):
Bruce Willis with a twist -- this time he's a troubled "FBI" agent. C
WILD THINGS (R):
Neve Campbell, as you've never seen her before, stars in this hormone-ladden, sex-driven mystery. Cookie-cutter teen thriller. B
ROB GALLO |
Well positioned, the DVD waits -- poised and ready to strike. DVD, which stands for digital video disc, and the DVD
player is threatening to overthrow the VCR's reign and transform the home theater
Speaking from a scant two week experience with DVD, I am already
a convert. Now, without a doubt, let it be known that I am a movie buff not a techno junkie. I have a
subscription to Entertainment Weekly, I reviewed movies for my college
newspaper, and I can think of nothing better to do on a sunny Friday then to
watch a couple of new releases at the local multiplex.
"Fine, enough about you," you sneer smugly, "tell
me more about this conquering hero, the DVD."
To start off, a DVD looks just like a CD, but the DVD combines the high
quality sound of a CD with a picture
quality that up until now was only available at the movie theater. In addition,
a DVD can hold much more information than your typical CD or videotape -- easily fitting a three hour movie, plus a commentary track, the movie's theatrical
trailer and a documentary about the movie on one disc. "I'm intrigued
by this so-called DVD," you shrug, "but I'm still not convinced."
Is the picture and sound that much better than my VCR, and is this just a
newer version of Laserdisc?
Yes and No.
The picture and sound on a DVD is far superior than anything on a
videocassette. Because DVD offers both digital picture and sound it comes
closest to duplicating the movie theater experience. The picture is much
clearer and brighter and the sound is also clearer and louder with surround
DVD is not laserdisc. The technology is better, the picture is clearer, and
most importantly the price is much cheaper. Where the average laserdisc costs
over $50, the average DVD costs about $25.
What do I need to experience DVD and is it going to cost me a fortune?
The only real requirements are a television, a DVD player and some DVD's.
Assuming you have a television, a DVD player can run anywhere from $400 for a
good basic model up to $900 for a top of the line model. When you get more
money you might want to add a high quality digital receiver and a good set of
speakers, but DVD's played on your existing television will look and sound
better than any videotape.
Is there a large selection of movies available on DVD now and can I rent
Yes and Yes.
There are over 900 DVD titles currently out on the market, and with more new
releases every week this number is rapidly growing. The prices range from
about $20-$35, and the higher priced DVD's are usually labeled special
editions and loaded with such extras as director commentaries, cast bios and
interviews, and documentaries on the making of the film. One additional
advantage is that DVD's are released by most studios on the day and date of
their rental release. This means that you can buy a copy of your favorite
movie on DVD without waiting the several months it now takes for the vast
majority of videotapes to be priced to buy.
Blockbuster has recently embraced the DVD format, and will begin renting DVD's
at over 1,000 of their 4,000 locations this summer. Currently, DVD's can be
rented via the internet at www.netflix.com (7 day rental from the time
received, postage paid return envelope, $5 per movie). In addition, many
local video stores are renting DVD's.
Have all of the movie studios embraced DVD?
With the exception of Fox (Star Wars trilogy) and Stephen Spielberg (Jaws,
E.T., etc.) all of the major studios, including Disney, Warner Brothers and
Paramount, have embraced the format. And even Fox and Spielberg have
indicated that they will release their movies on DVD as soon as the format
reaches a wider audience. With Blockbuster now in the DVD mix and brisk DVD
sales nationally, it is my guess that Fox and Spielberg will not be able to
hold out much longer.
What are the best movies currently available on DVD?
Sorry, but I can't answer this one with a Yes or No. Of course it depends on
your taste for movies, but my personal favorite is L.A. Confidential. The DVD
is almost a perfect digital transfer, the picture is crystal clear and the
sound is excellent, plus the disc includes loads of great extras such as a
virtual tour of Los Angeles, interviews with the cast and creator, three
behind the scenes documentary features, and a music only soundtrack. All of
this for a retail price of $20. Other great DVD's include Terminator 2, Air
Force One, Glory and Contact.
What about Titanic?
No release date has been announced yet, but rumors place its release as early
as September. It is a Paramount title so it will be released on DVD. It has
the potential to sell one copy per owner of a DVD player, and will be able to
fit on one disc unlike its release on video which will take two tapes.
Where can I get more information on DVD?
An article of this size can only scratch the surface of a topic such as DVD.
Therefore I recommend the DVD Resource Page at www.dvdresource.com. The site
is operated by Steve Tannehill who does an excellent job keeping all of the
information up to date. The site includes a user forum, including such topics
as what players and movies to buy, movie reviews and frequent updates. I
learned a lot from the site before I decided to purchase my DVD player, and I
highly recommend it.
ROB GALLO of Wethersfield, CT, is a staff writer and the movie guru of Renaissance Online Magazine.