Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Embarrassment of Riches



The reigning DVD set in my collection was until this past Tuesday the Planet of the Apes Ultimate Collection (which is housed in a bust of Caesar from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes). Well, Warner Bros. has now upped the ante in the outrageous collector's edition department with their recent release of the Blade Runner Ultimate Collector's Edition. This 5-disc set comes with five versions of the film (including the fabled workprint), a 3 1/2 hour documentary, over an hour of unused scenes and footage, lots of featurettes, trailers, and more. To top it off, it's housed in a replica of Deckard's briefcase which includes a folio of art, toy Spinner, origami unicorn, and a lenticular film scene. Truly, this set is unbelievable.

What blows my mind is how far the collectible video market has come. I can remember in the early 90's purchasing a Criterion laserdisc of the International Cut of the film for $100 (one of these days I'll have to do a whole thing on the laserdisc era)! That disc just had a passable widescreen transfer, a brief section of "fan notes," and some artwork. $100! I walked out of the store with this ultimate set for $35 (with some discounts). Good grief. This thing is so packed, it's daunting to even the most hardcore fan to plow through all the information. Having said that, you will find things in this that will leave you in awe. Unused voiceover narration (complete with Harrison Ford complaining about its quality), tons of deleted material (most of which is fascinating), screen tests (including actors who didn't make the cut), etc. Even if you aren't a fan, you will likely find this stuff interesting as the making-of was apparently quite a drama itself.

Sets like this make one wonder what will come out next. Of course it bears mentioning that folks in foreign countries get even more of this kind of special edition packaging than we in the U.S. do. If you happen to have the capability of playing Region 2 discs, you could enjoy the entire Phantasm series housed in a silver sphere, the Alien series housed in an Alien head, or Event Horizon (yes, Event Horizon) in what else but a model of the Event Horizon ship! Insanity! My wish for the next year is that Gymkata will finally be released in a 10-disc set, encased in a pommel horse : )

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