|Hey you, yeah you with the pre-ordered PS2 (who
probably wont see it for a few more months)! I want you to slowly put down that VHS
copy of Planet of the Apes and run, run I say, from the analog realm of home video.
Youre going to have a DVD player in just a few weeks. With virtually every movie
that you could want to own (see the note on George Lucas at the bottom of the page) on
DVD, or that is coming to DVD, you might need a little introduction into the fanatical
world that is DVD video.
For three years I have been coping with an addiction to those little silver and gold jam-packed discs. It all started with a desire to watch my movie in letter-box format. Nothing irritates me more than that little message at the beginning of most video tapes: "The movie has been altered from its original format. It has been formatted to fit your screen." I want to see the whole picture, and I knew that DVD could give that to me. What I didnt know was everything else that those shiny little discs could do. In fact, the extras started taking precedence over the actual movies.
You must be Warned: You will be tempted to buy movies that you didnt like on the basis of their added content. I, for one, just bought Men In Black. Its a movie that I liked just fine, but the list of extra features was so extensive that I couldnt justify not having it. There will be other movies that will have really impressive sound tracks or super cool special effects, and you will be tempted to say, "Boy, that was a crappy movie, but it would look/sound fantastic on my system." For instance, Mission to Mars rocketed to the top of the DVD sales chart the week that it was releaseda very disturbing fact for anyone who had to sit through it. You will notice that a lot of really bad movies have elaborate special editions (just look at Supergirl). The studios know that packaging sells, and DVDs offer the studio endless packaging possibilities. Also, you may get suckered into buying multiple editions of the same movie. Companies will offer bare bones editions of movies and then turn around to reissue it as a full blown special edition only a few months later.
You will also find more ways to waste your time on-line by looking up DVD related websites; dvdfile.com and thedigitalbits.com are two of the best. Youll be amazed to find out how often you check these sites to find out when the special edition of Ishtar will be coming out, or what extras are going to be included on the X-Men DVD. Another warning: No matter how bad a movie is, if it has a nice transfer, good sound, and plenty of supplements, the reviewers on these websites will try to find something positive about the movie. It was amazing to see how many near-glowing reviews Godzilla(1998) got when it came out with a gorgeous transfer and a handful of extras.
If you dont have a religion, the DVD will become like one. If you do have a religion, be prepared to adopt a second one. You will do more preaching about the virtues of this digital medium than most Mormon missionaries. People will come into your home and you will sit them in front of your TV and you will do all within your power to save them from their sinful VHS ways. And, believe me, you wont have to do much selling.
There will be lots of temptations to go with your new DVD player. Do not sign up for a new credit card. Do not browse the aisles of Best Buy or Circuit City. It will be more than you can bear. There will be a temptation to get a bigger TV and a stereo that can process 5.1 Dolby Digital. Your 19 inch screen might have been great for sitting up close and playing Madden 2000, but when you want to sit back and watch Any Given Sunday it will be too small. What you thought was a $300.00 investment may very well turn out to be a $1000.00 entertainment center. DVD offers sound possibilities that are superior to most theaters in the country. Your little boom box just wont cut it anymore. Trust me.
Be prepared to start replacing your collection of VHS tapes. The picture and sound are so stunning that you will not be able to happily watch analog again. Just a couple of weeks ago I sat through Princess Mononoke on VHS (the DVD was delayed!) and I found myself saying over and over, "Boy, that would have looked really beautiful on disc. You cant go back to tape. The analog world will be dead to you. Welcome to the wonderful world of DVD; youre here for good.
Note: I just want to warn you that owning a DVD player will engender intense feelings of disloyalty towards George Lucas. No Indiana Jones movies (not even the Young Indy), and no Star Wars have been offered on disc in an attempt to get as many people to buy these movies on VHS as many times as possible. For a "pioneer" of digital technology he seems to have completely ignored the most revolutionary digital technology of them all. He makes a lot of claims of being a supporter of the format, but he has only released American Graffiti and Radioland Murders. It was his lack of DVD support that got me to finally admit that, with his iron grip on the most popular film franchise in the world, maybe he has given into the dark side.