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If physical media is dead, why does this fall look so good on Blu-ray?
I hate the way the industry is rushing to try to convince people that they don't need physical media anymore because of the magic of streaming video, especially since they just finished trying to convince everyone that they needed to upgrade to Blu-ray. The reason the market is weaker than it was at the height of the DVD craze is because the studios are confusing consumers with mixed messages, and they still haven't managed to convince the general consumer that they need to upgrade simply for sound and picture reasons.
Even so, I think the rush to pronounce the format obsolete is premature. I remember Hercules The Strong getting angry at me for calling HD-DVD and Blu-ray "Laserdisc 2000," basically accusing it of being little more than a niche market. Don't get me wrong… I loved laserdisc, and I didn't mind that it was aimed more at the film freak than the casual viewer, but now it feels like it's not enough for the format to cater directly to the dedicated collector. Either it becomes the cash cow that DVD was for a few years, or the industry is going to get impatient and kill it.
Right? I mean, that's the theory I keep hearing. Everyone is determined to declare it dead even if it still delivers a picture and sound quality that goes way beyond anything we've ever had available to us as consumers before. And you can do things with the special features that still feels new and different. For example, I went to a demonstration at Warner Bros. a few weeks ago of the second screen content they delivered for "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" on Blu-ray, and it was dazzling. The idea that they can pack that much text and interactive material onto a disc and that you can have the movie star (Robert Downey Jr. in this case, about as good a host as you can ask for when it comes to this sort of onscreen special feature) walk you through the entire thing is just remarkable to me. I've watched the slow development from the early days of VHS to now, and I am amazed at what we almost seem to take for granted right now. It's a perfect example of how we get used to the remarkable when we have regular access to it.
There are signs of life for the format, though. This fall, there are any number of big titles coming, and we thought it was worth looking at 20 things that make us happy we've got working Blu-ray players in three rooms of the house already. We may need to be running that many screens at once if we ever plan to see all of the things that are coming out between now and the end of the year.
Since we can't include them in the gallery, there are a few trailers for these Blu-ray releases that are worth including here. Here's a look at what to expect when the year's biggest movie arrives on Blu-ray in September:
I'm personally very excited about the Universal release of a Blu-ray box set for their classic monster movies, and this piece about the restoration they're doing should give you some idea why:
Although I was never as devoted a fan of "The Next Generation" as I was of classic "Star Trek," I'm raising a nascent Trek fan, and he's totally excited that the second series is making its way to Blu-ray this year. I've heard great things about what's being done to get this series ready for its high-definition debut, so I'm excited, and this trailer just makes it worse.
It's a big year if you're a fan of classic Speilberg titles, and this trailer for "E.T." makes it look like they've cleaned it up magnificently.
Tell us what you think… are you still excited about buying movies, and if so, which ones? If not, could any of these titles change your mind, or are you just finished at this point. Whatever the case, I know my own shelves will need to find room for everything listed here, and I'd be curious to know if there's anything you think we missed.