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HTF DVD REVIEW: Warner/New Line Re-Package Round-Up



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

Ken_McAlinden

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  • Real Name:Kenneth McAlinden
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Posted February 25 2009 - 06:38 AM

Warner/New Line Re-Package Round-Up

John Grisham Courtroom Collection / New Line Jason Slasher Collection / TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Dramas, Romantic Comedies, and Best Picture Winners

Through the first two months of 2009, Warner and New Line have released a series of multi-film collections that are deja vu all over again. These sets re-package material originally released as recently as late 2008 and as long ago as 1997 when the DVD format was in its infancy. None of them feature newly created masters or authored discs.

Having come to the conclusion that offering detailed opinions of material that has been on shelves for ages is of little use to anyone, I decided to compile all of these releases into one omnibus review detailing their contents and, the one item that distinguishes them from their predecessors: packaging.

General note: All widescreen presentations mentioned below are enhanced for 16:9 displays.




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John Grisham Courtroom Collection

Release Date: January 7, 2009

This is a joint venture release re-packaging three titles from the Warner library with the Fox release of Runaway Jury.

The Pelican Brief (1993 - Warner Bros. - PG-13 - 141 Minutes)

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Starring: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard, John Heard, Tony Goldwyn, James B. Sikking, William Atheron, Robert Culp, Stanley Tucci, Hume Cronyn, John Lithgow

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Subtitles: Eng SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: DD5.1: English DD 2.0: French, Spanish

Previously released: June 25, 1997

The Client (1994 - Warner Bros. - PG-13 - 121 Minutes)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia, Anthony Edwards, Ossie Davis

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/4:3

Subtitles: Eng SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0: English, French, Spanish

Original DVD Release: December 17, 1997

A Time to Kill (1996 - Warner Bros. - R - 150 Minutes)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaghey, Kevin Spacey, Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Ashley Judd, Patrick McGoohan, Donald Sutherland

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English, French

Original Release Date: March 26, 1997

Runaway Jury (2003 - Fox - PG-13 - 127 Minutes)

Director: Gary Fleder

Starring: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Bruce Davison, Bruce McGill, Jeremy Piven, Nick Searcy

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Audio: DD5.1: English, DD2.0: Spanish, French

Original DVD Release: February 17th, 2004

Extras

The Pelican Brief , The Client, and A Time to Kill have text production notes and trailers as extras. Runaway Jury has a full complement of extras including a commentary by Director Gary Fleder, commentary on two specific scenes by Hoffman and Hackman, two deleted scenes, seven behind the scenes featurettes, and a trailer for Man on Fire.

Packaging

The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill are flippers with the movie split over two sides of a double-sided single layered DVD-10. The Client has a widescreen and reformatted 4:3 presentation on either side of a DVD-10 "flipper". Runaway Jury contains the film and all extras on a single side of a dual layered DVD-9 disc.

All discs are housed in slim cases which re-purposes the artwork from the previous releases which were in snapper cases (the three Warner titles) or an Amaray case (Runaway Jury). The slim cases are bound together by a thin cardboard box.





New Line Jason Slasher Collection

Release Date: February 3, 2009

This release includes the three films released since New Line acquired the rights to the Jason character from the "Friday the 13th[/img]Jason X). That being said, the first two films at least feature fan favorite Kane Hodder as the hockey-masked mass murderer and the third delivers higher production values along with the cross-franchise showdown for which fans had been clamoring ever since Jason came under the same movie production shingle as Freddy Krueger.


Jason Goes to Hell (1993 - New Line - R/Unrated - 88/91 Minutes)

Director: Adam Marcus

Starring: John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Erin Gray, Allison Smith, Steven Culp, Steven Williams, Kane Hodder

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English

Audio: DTS 5.1: English, DD5.1: English, DD 2.0: English

Original DVD Release: October 8, 2002

Jason X (2002 - New Line - R - 93 Minutes)

Director: Jim Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Chuck Campbell, Lisa Ryder, Peter Mensah, Melyssa Ade

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English

Audio: DTS 5.1: English. DD5.1: English, DD2.0: English

Original DVD Release: June 1, 2004 ("New Line Platinum Series")

Freddy Vs. Jason (2004 - New Line - R - 98 Minutes)

Director: Ronny Yu

Starring: Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Christopher George Marquette, Lochlyn Munro, Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 4:3 reformatted

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Audio: DD5.1: English, DD2.0: English

Original DVD Release: January 13, 2004 ("New Line Platinum Series")

Extras

All three titles include filmmaker commentaries, "Jump to a Death" menu options, and trailers. Jason Goes to Hell includes a series of alternate scenes from the TV version of the film. Jason X and Freddy vs. Jason both have behind the scenes featurettes. Freddy vs. Jason includes storyboards and still galleries, deleted/alternate scenes, DVD-ROM interactive features, and a music video. My favorite of the extras is the series retrosepctive The Many Lives of Jason Vorhees on the Jason X disc.

Packaging

All titles are presented in widescreen on single-sided dual-layered DVD-9 discs and are enclosed in slim-cases. Freddie vs. Jason comes in a double disc slimcase reproducing the entirety of the previously released "Platinum Series" edition. Disc art is adapted from what came before with the "Platinum Series" banners removed. The slimcases are bound together in a thin cardboard box. One added bon-bon for franchise fans is a coupon insert good towards a ticket to the recently "re-imagined" Friday the Thirteenth film currently in theaters.




TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection

Taking a similar approach to last year's Essential Classics collections, each of the releases in the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection series pull together the most recent DVD masterings of four films from the classic Warner and MGM libraries.

Each entry in the series encodes its four films across two double-sided "flipper" discs (either DVD-18s or, in one case, a DVD-10). The discs are packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with a hinged tray allowing it to accommodate both discs. The hard case is inserted into a carboard slipcover with slightly glossier graphics that are identical to the hard case on the front, but different and more promotional in nature on the back.




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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Best Picture Winners

Release date: February 3, 2009

In the case of the "Best Picture Winners[/img]Casablanca, An American in Paris, and Gigi and to the R1 DVD of Mrs. Miniver.

Casablanca (1942 - Warner - PG - 102 Minutes)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: August 5, 2003 (Disc One of a 2-disc Special Edition)
Subsequent DVD Release: April 24, 2007 (Included in Warner "Essential Classics: Romances" compilation)
Subsequent DVD Release: December 2, 2008 (Disc One of 3-disc "Ultimate Collector's Edition")

Mrs. Miniver (1942 - MGM - NR - 133 Minutes)

Director: William Wyler

Starring: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Henry Travers, Richard Ney, Henry Wilcoxon

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: February 3, 2004

Gigi
(1958 - MGM - G - 115 Minutes)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Starring: Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold, Eva Gabor, Jacques Bergerac, Isabel Jeans

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Japanese

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English Dolby Digital 1.0: French

Original DVD Release: September 16, 2008 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)

An American in Paris (1951 - MGM - NR - 114 Minutes)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Starring: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, Nina Foch

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Japanese, Thai

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: September 16, 2008 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)

Extras

All four films include original theatrical trailers.

Extras-wise, Mrs. Miniver includes a minute or so of Academy Awards footage featuring Garson, a behind the scenes stills gallery, the film's theatrical trailer, and a couple of vintage WWII propaganda shorts. Casablanca includes two separate commentaries from Historian Rudy Behlmer and Critic Roger Ebert, stills and text features highlighting the cast and crew, two trailers for the film and a set of trailers for some other prominent Warner titles. Gigi includes an audio commentary from Jeanine Basinger with Leslie Caron, a 1958 propaganda short featuring Caron called "Million Dollar Nickel", and a 1958 Hanna-Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoon called "The Vanishing Duck". An American in Paris includes an "oral history" commentary hoseted by Patricia Ward-Kelly with audio snippets from many of the key contributors to the film, a vintage 1951 short Paris on Parade, and a vintage 1951 Tex Avery cartoon called Symphony in Slang.

Packaging

The films are spread across two DVD-18s




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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Dramas

Release date: February 3, 2009

In the case of the "Romantic Drama[/img]Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and A Streetcar Named Desire and to the R1 DVD of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955 - Warner - PG-13 - 111 Minutes)

Director: Nicholas Ray

Starring: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Corey Allem, William Hopper

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English Dolby Digital 1.0: French

Original DVD Release: May 31, 2005 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)

East of Eden (1954 - Warner - PG - 118 Minutes)

Director: Elia Kazan

Starring: James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, Jo Van Fleet, Lois Smith

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo: French

Original DVD Release: May 31, 2005 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958 - MGM - NR - 108 Minutes)

Director: Richard Brooks

Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, Judith Anderson

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: May 2, 2006

A Streetcar Named Desire (Original Director's Version) (1993 [censored cut 1951] - Warner - PG - Minutes)

Director: Elia Kazan

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: May 2, 2006 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)


Extras

All four films include original theatrical trailers.

Rebel Without a Cause includes an Audio Commentary from James Dean biographer Douglas Rathegeb. East of Eden includes a commentary from film critic Richard Schickel. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof includes a commentary from author Donald Spoto, and a ten minute "Making of" Featurette called Playing Cat and Mouse. A Streetcar Named Desire includes a commentary from Karl Malden, Rudy Behlmer, and Jeff Young, in addition to trailers for the original theatrical and re-release issues of the film it includes a gallery of trailers for five other Kazan films (East of Eden, Baby Doll, A Face in the Crowd, Splendor in the Grass, andAmerica America).

Packaging

The films are spread across two double-sided double-layered DVD-18s.




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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Comedies

Release date: February 3, 2009

In the case of the "Romantic Comedies[/img]The Philadelphia Story and Bringing up Baby as well as the previous MGM and Warner R1 DVDs of Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year. All four films in this collection star Katherine Hepburn, pairing her twice with Cary Grant, and twice with Spencer Tracy.

The Philadelphia Story (1940 - MGM - NR - 112 Minutes)

Director: George Cukor

Starring: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English

Original DVD Release: March 1, 2005 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)

Bringing up Baby (1938 - RKO - NR - 102 Minutes)

Director: Howard Hawks

Starring: Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charlie Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald, May Robson, Walter Catlett, Fritz Feld

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English

Original DVD Release: March 1, 2005 (Disc One of Two-Disc Special Edition)

Adam's Rib (1949 - MGM - NR - 100 Minutes)

Director: George Cukor

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne, Jean Hagen

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: August 26, 1997 (MGM Amaray Case)
Subsequent DVD Release: September 19, 2000 (Warner "Snapper" Case)

Woman of the Year (1942 - MGM - NR - 112 Minutes)

Director: George Stevens

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen
Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French, Spanish

Original DVD Release: August 20, 1997 (MGM Amaray Case)
Subsequent DVD Release: September 19, 2000 (Warner "Snapper" Case)

Extras

All four films include original theatrical trailers.

The Philadelphia Story includes an audio commentary from film historian Jeanine Basinger, a still-frame text list of awards for the film, and a George Cukor trailer gallery which, in addition to The Philadelphia Story also includes Dinner at Eight, Little Women, The Women, Gaslight, Adam's Rib, Pat and Mike, A Star is Born, Les Girls, and My Fair Lady. Bringing Up Baby includes an audio commentray from filmmaker Peter Bogdonavich, a Howard Hawks Trailer gallery which, in addition to Bringing up Baby also includes Sergeant York, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, and Rio Bravo.

Packaging

The Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby are presented across both sides a double-sided double-layered DVD-18. Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year are presented across both sides of a double-sided single-layered DVD-10.

Picture and Sound

Purchasers of this set can be assured that they will receive the latest DVD masterings of these titles at the time of their release. This is normally good news, although five of the titles are over ten years old and I have some reservations about the color timing of Gigi. With those noted exceptions, thest titles are limited only by the quality of their source elements.

For the five titles that are over ten years old, The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill suffer from the unacceptable by modern standards practice of being split across two sides of a flipper disc. Setting that aside, those two films, as well as The Client, were very good DVD presentations for their time, but could have used an update to modern telecine and compression standards. Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year hold up surprisingly well, although a modern authoring would likely have cleaned up some of the visible film wear and tear and reduced the mild compression artifacts to almost nothing.

Summary

Everything old is new again in the case of these sets of re-packaged titles from Warner and New Line. All of the sets present excellent value for those who do not already own these films in any of their prior incarnations with nothing new beyond packaging to entice viewers who already own them all.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA