Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Initial thoughts on Kubrick box set


Well, Oct. 23 is finally here and as you can see from above -- I did not need reminding. Just a few early items about the Kubrick box set, I expect to have more comprehensive posts on the DVDs after checking out all the extras.

-- A nice surprise is the cover art, which is different (save for The Shining) from the new individual releases that also came out today (get a look at the normal art here). It's a cool extra, and I really like how the 2001 cover looks with the effect. The reverse sides are identical to the individual releases, which unlike the box set come with slip covers.

--Eyes Wide Shut is advertised on the back as "Selectable in both rated and -- for the first time in North America -- unrated versions," yet as far as I can tell the unrated version is the only one on the disc. In most DVDs with this option, you go to a menu after selecting "play" that allows you to toggle between rated or unrated, but there's nothing like that here. The second disc contains all extras. The rated version is definitely no real loss, since all you gain are those CGI censors, but it's a little curious that it's missing.

--About those CGI censors in the Eyes orgy scene: Their absence has a much more positive impact on that scene than I had anticipated. They were a distraction to begin with, but without them an already great scene is made even better. It just seems right to see all the debauchery that Bill is seeing, and the sex itself is presented with the artistry of the rest of the movie. A shot of two women having oral sex with their masks still on is an interesting choice that adds to the scene's mysterious atmosphere.

--A commentary track on Full Metal Jacket featuring Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey and critic/screenwriter Jay Cocks is highly entertaining and informative. There's no dead air, and everyone has something insightful to say.

--That said, Full Metal Jacket is the only release in this set unavailable individually on regular DVD. HD and BluRay get an individual release, though that may be due to the fact that the current release of the movie on next generation formats had mastering problems.

--I'm excited to watch Vivien Kubrick's documentary The Making of the Shining, that surprisingly contains a commentary track.

--2001 has a lot of good looking extras, including a 1966 audio-only interview with Kubrick.

For $55, this is a very attractive box set.

11 comments:

pacheco said...

That's what I'm talking about. I'm surprised time flew this quickly for me, as I completely forgot that it came out.

I really dig the new covers as well, though I do wish they had come up with something different for The Shining. But man, all that for $55? That's pretty awesome. Is that pricing everywhere?

Even though I recognize that Kubricks best films are probably 2001 and Strangelove, my favorites, the ones I can watch over and over, are actually Eyes Wide Shut and Full Metal Jacket. Now, to check my budget....

Moviezzz said...

Great review!

I still have yet to order this. I love Kubrick yet realize that I owned most of his films on laserdisc, and never watched them.

For $55, it seems like it is worth it.

Adam Ross said...

You and me both Pacheco, with EWS and FMJ. Eyes Wide Shut is a Christmas tradition for me.

I forgot to add that even though these movies were filmed in full frame, they do benefit from being cropped to widescreen, as they were originally intended to be seen. Full Metal Jacket in particular, like those long sweeping shots of the barracks, is really enhanced by it.

pacheco said...

EWS, a Christmas tradition? Never thought of it that way, but it makes plenty of sense. Not a bad idea! I always play a movie or some audio on my laptop or TV when I go to sleep, and while I usually put comedies like Zoolander, Seinfeld, or The Office, for some reason, EWS and FMJ found their way into the mix.

So Kubrick actually DID want them cropped? I always heard that he prefered 4:3, and then I heard otherwise, and then I was just confused as to what he really said and what he really wanted. Either way, it's nice to hear that the cropping works well.

Adam Ross said...

He preferred 4:3 when the letterbox revolution started in the mid 90s. Since most of his films were shot in open matte, he saw no need for them to be in their theatrical ratio on everyone's 4:3 tv. With FMJ and The Shining, there are certain shots where you can tell they were framed for a 1.85:1 cropping -- The Shining has a helicopter shadow in the opening sequence that's visible when not cropped.

Anonymous said...

I was a bit put off my the inconsistent covers for the set, but I'm over it. The movies and bonus features are what really matters and they're great.

I paid $55 for mine at Best Buy, but Family Video has a better saving, according to IMDB message board.

http://www.familyvideo.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=277820

use the coupon code NEWPGMEM to get $5 off your first order.
and shipping is only $.99

It's basically will cost you $42.

Nic said...

They DID come up with a different cover for the Shining; it seems as though through some error, it shipped in the box with the stand-alone cover. The intended cover can be seen on kubrickfilms.warnerbros.com; it's just like the others, plain black with the "Redrum" door on it.

Ooops, WB.

Adam Ross said...

Thanks for the info, Nic -- that's news to me. It's disappointing, especially in the wake of WB's disastrous Superman box set release last year.

Jeff said...

I noticed that the individual dvd release say they are 2disc with lots of bonus features. Does each film in the box set have a second disc?

Adam Ross said...

Jeff -- all except FMJ are two-discers, and look to have quite a nice assortment of extras.

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