Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Confessions of a Blu-ray Collector: Blu-ray Pet Peeves

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Time to vent a little.  Now of course, I am a big fan of the blu-ray format, but there are a few things about the overall bluray culture that do bother me which I would like to get off of my chest.  Let me know if you agree with any of these, or if you have pet peeves of your own.

1. No Playback!!!

I’m starting off with my biggest problem with the blu-ray format.  No playback function.  Now, this is not all blurays, but it is probably more than half, and tends to be more prominent in earlier releases.  So what’s the problem?  If I stop a movie partway through, I cannot go back to that same point in the movie.  Once I go back to the film, it takes me back to the menu!! What?? Why?

I mean, DVDs have always been able to remember where you left off and immediately picks it up again when you turn the power back on.  Hell, even VHS was able to hold your place!  So not including this feature in blu-ray seems like a step backwards.  It makes no sense.  I really don’t want to have to sit through the studio logos, previews, and FBI warnings again just because I wanted to stop the movie for a bit and come back to it later.

Now granted, most newer releases do have this feature.  But there are a LOT of  movies in my collection which don’t and it really bothers me.  Its very inconvenient and there is really no reason NOT to have this feature.

2. DNR

AV nerds will know what DNR is, but for those who don’t it means Digital Noise Reduction.  Basically what this is in layman’s terms is that the movie is altered digitally to remove film grain from the picture.  The belief is that by doing so, the movie will look cleaner and more “high def’.  In actuality what it does is makes the picture look less real.  By removing grain, much of the detail in the picture is removed, especially the textures.  Skin will start looking plastic and objects will lose their character and seem less real.  Basically it starts to make things look more like a video game than a live action film.

I see blu-ray as an excellent tool for film preservation, but along with that comes the understanding that the film transfer should emulate the original film’s look and feel as closely as possible.  Taking out details in the film’s picture is the opposite of this.  Now, to be fair, some people like this.  The Predator Ultimate Hunter Edition blu-ray actually has  lot of fans, despite the fact that Fox went crazy with DNR and made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a plastic action figure.

Now, some studios have actually gone back and fixed transfers in which DNR was used too liberally.  Paramount fixed the Gladiator transfer, which now looks great, and Fox did the same thing with Patton.  But the biggest offender is Universal, who often seems unapologetic in their overuse of DNR.  Even a classic like Spartacus, a film I wouldn’t mind having in my collection if there was a proper version of it, was given shoddy treatment with no plans to fix it.  Film preservationist Robert Harris can explain the problems behind these sorts of transfers better than I in this post.

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3. Packaging nitpicks

Okay, these are much more minor problems, but they bug me!  First up is the height of digibook packaging.  Now, I love digibooks.  They look great, their booklets are cool, but they need to be just a few centimeters shorter!  That way they will actually line up with the tops of the other bluray cases.  Instead, my shelf has all these spots of uneven cases.

I also really dislike box sets.  As far as I’m concerned each movie should have its own self-contained case.  It pains me to have all my Star Wars movies and Indiana Jones movies in the same package.  The Lord of the Rings extended edition did it right; it was  box set which still gave each film its own case.

And don’t even get me started on those disgusting 2-in-1, 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 blu-rays. *shudder*

4. The lack of catalog releases

It feels like the push to digital is making studios less likely to release their catalog films on blu-ray.  But there are some real classics which still aren’t getting support, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the Marx Brothersfilmography.  Blu-ray is a great too for film preservation, so as far as I’m concerned our greatest films should get a chance with the blu.  We’ve already seem Warner do great things with their catalogs, lest see more studios give their great films the respect they deserve.

5. Previews

I hate when blu-ray discs have previews before the film.  For one thing, I’ve paid for this disc; I don’t want to be paying for advertising.  Especially for films which will probably be forgotten about a few years in the future when I want to re-watch the movie I chose to buy.  But IF you are going to put previews on, at least let us be able to skip them! I don’t want to see that stupid “This function cannot be performed” icon on my screen when I try to get tot the menu! Don’t force us to watch your stupid previews.  There is a time and place for that and on a self-purchased product is not it!

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6. Not the total package

Okay, this one doesn’t bother me as much but I thought I’d throw it out there regardless.  When DVDs first came out, they were a whole package deal.  You got the film, a bunch of features, and packaging which included information booklets and great disc artwork, the whole 9 yards.  But with blurays, all you usually get it the case and disc.  They still have the flaps on the inside case but never have anything there, unless they are lame advertisements.

But the bi problem trending right now is the elimination of bonus features due to exclusive deals with stores.  Because retailers have their own bonus content, the actually disc has almost nothing for features.  This was most recently brought to light by Bill Hunt over at the Digital bits here where he has been lambasting Paramount’s new Star Trek blu-ray release.

I personally don’t care since I stopped caring about bonus features long ago.  I really just want the movie in some nice packaging.  I find making-of featurettes boring and unoriginal, blooper reels stupid, and never watch a movie with commentary.  But I do recognize that many people do want these things and that its a further sign of studios not respecting their own products, and ergo their customers.

What are your blu-ray pet peeves?  Do you share any with me or do you think my complaints are off-base?

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8 Responses to “Confessions of a Blu-ray Collector: Blu-ray Pet Peeves”

  1. Yep, you nailed those that bother me. Of course, there is the double-dip studios do purposely, but that started with the VHS product and they really perfected it with DVD so I can say it’s a BD problem I have. But it is ;-). The bottomline is not one that really respects the consumer or collector. And with streaming coming on fast, how long will it be before they relegate physical media to the waste bin of history? Studios wouldn’t want you to think you actually ‘own’ a movie of theirs, anyway. Fine write-up, Ian.

    • Double dips dont really bother me much since I dont actually have to buy them. But again this probably comes down to whether or not you’re a bonus features person or not, and I am not.

      As for the streaming, I plan to dedicate my next post in the series to that whole issue.

  2. I’m a big blu-ray collector as well and have some of the same issues you do. I have issues with DNR, the playback, and the previews, but one thing that annoys me is that some of the discs I have start off at the film instead of the menu. It’s not a big issue, but it’s a bit irritating, especially if I want to watch some of the bonus features first.

    • Yeah, that is annoying too. Sometimes I will throw a disc in and then go get snacks ready or something while the previews and warnings go by and the menu loads, only to come back and see I’m 5 minutes into the film. But I do think that these are pretty rare though.

      On that note the disney blu-rays are starting to annoy me with their initial langauge selection before the menu loads.

  3. While I’m not on the Blu-ray bandwagon yet, I do find the lack of bonus features rather annoying. Sure, there weren’t a whole lot in the early days of the DVD but it seems more like a regression in replay value and caring about what the consumers really want.

  4. I’m with you on your first packaging nitpicks. Hate having cases that are different heights within the collection.

  5. My #1 issue is yours: No Playback. It drives me crazy, which makes all the Blu-rays that have it stand out to me. I think the only ones that remember your spot is Disney, if I remember correctly.

  6. Oh totally agree with your #1 complain. I hope they’d add the Playback feature in future BDs, I mean with all the technology advances these days, how hard could that be?


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