Post Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:33 pm

BR Ultimate DVD - A new gold standard has been set

There have been lots of post congratulating Charles on a job well done and thanking him for the effort and his presence here, but I think there is a bigger picture that has been overlooked a bit.

The Blade Runner Ultimate Collection really represents a new gold standard for DVD releases. Previously the most impressive DVD releases were (to me) the LOTR Extended editions; however, those movies were created in the DVD era when all of the extras were expected and filmed early on.

Prior to the release of Blade Runner, it seemed like the process for a "special edition dvd" was something along these lines:

- Make an anamorphic transfer
- Throw a few sounds to the rear speakers for a "new 5.1 mix"
- Collect all the trailers you can find
- Include old tv specials on the making of the movie
- Create one new 30 minute or so documentary on the film
- Get a few people in a room to ramble over the film for a commentary
- Find a few deleted scenes and throw them on the disc
- Call it a new super deluxe mega bonus collector's edition
- Rake in the dough.

Now I realize this isn't true for every release, but it characterizes far too many of them.

What Warner Brothers has done with Blade Runner is shown that the old process is really not good enough. The care and painstaking work that has gone into this set is simply groundbreaking. Consider what you hold in your hands:

(1) FIVE separate versions of the films, including a brilliant use of seamless branching.

(2) 45 minutes of deleted scenes, all of which look fantastic. Come on, you've got to be kidding here. Furthermore, they are cut together to essentially create a sixth version of the film. Nobody has done this better.

(3) Documentaries on almost every topic of interest, well produced and directed, all great quality, informative and interesting.

(4) 25 year old audio interviews with the late author of the book!

(5) A brand new epic documentary.

(6) A final cut of the film, involving the director, that is truly a special treat that fixes many of the annoying parts of this film.

(7) A fantastic transfer, in standard and high def, with wonderful audio.

After all of that, we get a briefcase & all its goodies which are simply icing on the cake.

Honestly, I am still completely blown away by the quality of this set. No other purchase has ever knocked me over like this one has. It is simply astonishing what has been accomplished here.

Sure, I miss the art galleries that were part of the Criterion Collection Laser Disc, but Charles has said they are trying to find a way to make those available, which would be great, but that really doesn't detract from the experience.

I am hopeful that the quality of this set will inspire other filmmakers (George Lucas comes to mind... Time for a proper release with all the deleted scenes we've known about for thirty years!) to do the same with films worthy of this treatment.

Sure, Blade Runner is a special movie and that is a big part of what makes this set so great, but it could easily have been done like I described above. We have Charles and the team at Warner Brothers to thank for creating something truly great.

I imagine that a set like this for, say, Ishtar wouldn't quite have the same appeal... But for those movies that deserve it, the care given to Blade Runner is the new gold standard of what can and should be done.

So, memo to the studios: Look at this release and learn what can be done if true care and dedication are applied to the process. Please give us more sets with this kind of quality!

The only thing I can think of that I would truly love is something that I don't think is technically possible yet. It would be cool to let fans "build" their own version of the film to watch, and then have a way to share their edit lists. Each person could then build their own perfect version of the film from the five versions plus the deleted scenes available to them. I know what I would do, I'd love to see what some of the other bladezone members would consider the perfect cut of the film. Someday...

Thanks again to Charles and Warner Brothers. This set is simply awe inspiring.