Monday, August 31, 2009

Caught by the Fuzz

Over the weekend, I was reminded again of how frustrating new DVD technology can be. In this most recent case, I saw that Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are now available on Blu-ray. Both movies are two of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in the last few years, and their DVD extras are exceptional. Except for the fact that both movies have already been re-released a couple of times each. And that's not counting the Blu-ray version or HD DVD version.

Since the popularity of both movies have been substantially bigger in England, it makes sense that their Region 2 DVD editions have way more supplements than the Region 1 editions. So I was surprised when Hot Fuzz came out as a three-disc set in the U.S., importing all of the extras from the Region 2 version along with some more things. Alas, the Region 1 version of Shaun of the Dead only has half of the supplements from the Region 2 version. I'm thankful I held onto my region-free DVD player.

Now with the Blu-Ray edition of Hot Fuzz, I'm slightly torn. The transfer is much better, and it seems like all of the DVD extras made it onto this edition. But is it really worth buying again? If I find a used copy for a great deal, I'd definitely consider it. I already did that with Donnie Darko, a film I already had two different versions of on standard DVD.

For those that aren't that well aware of the benefits of Blu-ray, let's just say you cannot get much better than its screen resolution. But I have found that only truly benefits movies that were made since mostly with digital technology. And not all Blu-ray transfers are the same.

I could be chasing my tail here. There might be another, different format in five years that seems to be the standard. Or, there could be a way to make high definition movies much easier to store and download, thus jettisoning discs completely. And for me as a fan of DVD extras, that would be a great loss. Since I've learned way more about filmmaking because of DVD extras than I learned from my film classes in college, I can't imagine somebody benefiting from that kind of convenience. But I digress.

All this said, I have to say that there is a lot to be happy about with Blu-ray players and 1080p TVs. Just even on standard DVD, seeing a show like Cheers look incredible through that system is way better than I remember on a 28-inch analog TV in the 1980s. I just wonder when we'll all decide what's good enough with screen resolution and presentation. Or is that always subject to change with technology?

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