BRIEF MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CASUAL MOVIEGOERS
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Back to Red Cliff: The movies are not really sequels, but two parts of an entire storyline. The movies were shown separately in the cinemas, and were also released in two separate DVDs.
Red Cliff was a big hit in Asia, so it was a surprised to discover how poorly conceived one of the DVDs were.
The subject in scrutiny is DVD Part I, which was not an anamorphic transfer, meaning that the the video was recorded as a 4:3 fullscreen video (a near perfect square, like what you see on free TV). This isn't an issue if the video was cropped to fit a fullscreen TV, but they used the widescreen format (a rectangle, like in the cinemas) and "squeezed" it into fullscreen. This means that on a classic, square TV, you will see the two black bars on the top and bottom of the screen instead of a video that fills the entire screen. Not much problem there. But on a widescreen TV, the picture looks overstretched width-wise. Worse, the black bars eats up screen and data space, reducing the picture quality of the actual video presentation. If you are not familiar with anamorphic transfers, there's a bit of a technical explanation to it, but essentially it's a recording technique that efficiently retains video quality of movies shot in widescreen format on DVDs. Most good original DVDs would indicate whether it's an anamorphic transfer at the back of their covers. Red Cliff Part I DVD is not anamorphic, thus the video quality is glaringly low on a hi-definition LCD.
Red Cliff Part 2 DVD is anamorphic, though, and the picture fits my LCD correctly. Picture quality is a lot better than Part I DVD, but then I noticed that the video seemed to have fine, horizontal "black stripes". I was about to blame the DVD again, until I read this article about video interlacing and progressive scan. Nevertheless, the video quality is still not to my satisfaction when compared to other original DVDs I owned.
Bottom line: Don't buy Red Cliff Part I DVD (unless they release an anamorphic version), but Part II is ok, though you may see some interlacing issues if your player or TV isn't "progressive". Chim... The Red Cliff Blu-Rays are a better bet, but no comments on those until I finally get them.
All the Red Cliff discs in Singapore are currently distributed by Scorpio East.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
However, this is not the first time poop like this has happened. Many ages ago, a video store with a name that rhymes with "taser" brought in purportedly original VCDs of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return of the King from Thailand, mere weeks after the theatrical release. Took a while before anyone noticed the aquatic stench, including yours truly, who was at the time just too elated to have the opportunity to revisit Middle Earth at such short notice. The company was slapped with a million-dollar fine for its efforts; unfortunately I can't seem to track down the original news article about this fiasco. Hopefully, the evidences of my gullibility, as pictured on the left, would suffice.
Anyway, the article suggests that we should all become digital artwork analysts and look out for slightly "pixellated" graphics, in order to guard ourselves from these fakes. We know how busy the officials are, catching those pesky teen downloaders and fining holiday-ers who bought the same fake DVDs abroad; we must do our part to protect the billion-dollar movie industry from losing millions. Actually, there is an easier and quicker way to spot a dodgy DVD - if an English movie has big Chinese titles on its cover, avoid buying it. This will reduce your chances of making a bogus buy by about maybe 99, 100%?
Left picture: The Maltese Falcon DVD, a made in Taiwan variant (with an all-English cover art) sold at Suntec Carrefour for a measly S$6.99...
Err... Then again, maybe not.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Monday, December 3, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Big winners for these omissions include drug-themed thriller Protege, now getting nods for Best Director and Original Screenplay, while The Sun Also Rises director Kiang Wen and Kidnap star Rene Liu were added into the Best Director and Actress categories respectively.
Apparently, some guy is trying his luck to squeeze US$5 mil out of Microsoft's cash cow by suing Bill and co. and even the guys who put Master Chief together for making his console "crash, freeze or lock up".
Digital Journal article is here.
Singapore's Today Online article over here.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Anyway, it is funny how companies think that they can get us to keep buying portable players even if we already own like three unused portables at home. Check this YouTube Zune 2 Demo. Link here.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
"So it's kind of a PG-13 animated TV series, which is something that has never been done before and obviously doesn't fit in any of the conventional slots that these things fall into. In that, it's very different, and I think it's very exciting."