Bravo THE DIGITAL BITS for summing up how it feels to be a DVD REVIEWER

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I just read quite a rather remarkable article
    by Adam Jahnke that really hit home.

    http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articl...nke082703.html

    Please read the above before moving on.....

    Adam talks about what it feels like to write
    DVD REVIEWS despite all the criticism that
    surrounds people who write for DVD websites.

    I was rather pleased he used our forum as
    a reference point, because I have seen the type
    of posts that he is referring to.

    I wrote DVD reviews for this forum for a little
    over two years, despite the criticism I received
    from those that stood on a pedestal (as if they
    earned that right) and proclaimed that I had no
    right to review DVD product and that this forum
    had no place as a review site.

    I stopped doing reviews simply because I became
    burned out. As Adam's article also points out,
    it just became plain difficult to find new and
    exciting adjectives to describe the quality of
    these DVDs. As Adam also points out, a major
    studio release is going to look far better than
    its VHS or (in most cases) LASERDISC counterpart.
    Unless you have a company like Artisan
    releasing a title, you can expect the transfer
    to look quite decent.

    Adam also dwells into the argument as to whether
    we DVD reviewers should be talking about the merits
    of the film itself. I always believed that it was
    equally important to sell the movie as it was the
    transfer -- especially for those that may never
    have previously heard of the film. You may not
    agree with their opinion of the film itself, and
    it mostly at those times when critics fall under
    attack.

    As reviewers, we are doing publicity for the
    studio that is sending us the product. In the
    same token, we are also keeping the studios in
    check by expressing our opinions of how well a
    particular studio's product comes across. It is
    forums like ours and THE DIGITAL BITS that talk
    frankly and honestly about how well the studios
    are handling their DVD product.

    I don't think there is any print publication that
    gives a more frank and honest look at the industry
    from the consumer's point-of-view than the Internet
    forums and websites all of you regularly frequent.

    As Adam points out, none of us will ever get the
    respect that PRINT and TV reviewers receive. But
    you know what? In my unbias opinion, I don't think
    you'll find more honesty in a DVD review than the
    ones you read from the "unrespected" reviewers of
    sites like these who give you heartfelt and
    detailed opinions of what they see and hear, and
    do it without trying to impress anyone with their
    enlarged vocabulary.

    Quite frankly, I have read reviews from some of
    the self-proclaimed "professional reviewers," and
    I find reviews written by the common guy to show
    far more enthusiasm.

    This is why Parker and I finally decided to pick
    seven "amateurs" (or near amateurs) to review for
    this site. I think it's more important that you
    get the viewpoint from someone that writes reviews
    from the heart rather than from the Thesaurus.

    I am very happy that Mr. Jahnke took the time to
    write an article that really hits home when it comes
    to looking at the "unrespected" DVD reviewers of
    the Internet.
     
  2. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    I agree 100%.

    You can have the best looking DVD in the world, but if it's of a bad movie, who cares?

    A good DVD review should review the content of the presentation as well as the quality. Blind buys I and others make are most likely the result of reading a post on this forum (or a review on the Bits or a similar resource) that take the time to use a review as an opportunity to present a film to a new audience.

    When I read a review, I want to get a sense of the entire package, which includes content. If you don't want to read a review of the film, skip that part or don't read it - don't blast the kind, underpaid soul who's providing it. If you want a strictly technical review, subscribe to Widescreen Review. (That's not a knock on that publication; rather, it just points out that WSR strives to be a technical publication and succeeds. They accomplish what they set out to do, and they do that quite well.)

    I particularly like reading DVD reviews by people who have never seen that film before; if it's a film I've never seen before, I'm interested to know how someone else who's unbiased feels about it. If I know the film, I'm curious what someone who had never seen it thought.

    Anyone can write: "The 16x9 enhanced transfer is done well" or "The surround sound is wonderful."
     
  3. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    I relate, bruthas, I relate...

    Great article, great post. Should be a part of the DVD FAQ!

    Cheers,
     
  4. Travis_W

    Travis_W Supporting Actor

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    I've written well over 80 reviews freelance and am now writing officially for EYECRAVEDVD.COM . I always weigh the film more than the actual disc. Video quality is important to me but very rarely can I ever give one a low score. The film is the most important thing at the end of the day, you're not going to watch a terrible film just because it has an excellent transfer.
     
  5. Anthony Connor

    Anthony Connor Stunt Coordinator

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    Good Article. I agree. If I want an honest opinion on a DVD release I will come online.

    Funny thing is though that I read online reviews for the technical aspects of the DVD. Most "print mags" will not really go into this area.

    I must take exception to his dig at other sites, (AICN) and it almost feels to me hypocritical. After all, he points out that the lack of respect Internet sites recieve for being honest then he digs in on AICN.

    Keep up the good work guys [​IMG] Lord knows I couldn't do it.

    Regards

    AXE
     
  6. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I'm really not sure why any reviewer takes so much heat over something they write reguarding a movie. Reviewers aren't God and they aren't writing down facts. A reviewer is like everyone else on a website and they are just giving an opinion. Just because they are the reviewer doesn't make them any better or worse than someone buying the disc on their own.

    If someone hates a movie I doubt they'll buy the DVD just because it has a great 5.1 track. Personally, I don't care how many extras a disc has or if it has a DTS track. If I don't like the movie then I could care less how the picture is or how the sound quality is. I'm somewhat certain that most fans will buy a film no matter if there's something wrong with the picture or sound.

    I think many studios know that the "fans" will buy a movie they like even if it has less than stellar V/A. At the same time I'm sure studios are hoping someone new will read a review and get interested in the movie enough to buy it.
     
  7. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  8. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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    Jeff, are you a clone of Harry Knowles, with the ability to know what a shower and a haircut are? [​IMG]
     
  9. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    Jeff, if you do shower and get haircuts, how could anyone possible mistake you for HK? [​IMG]
     
  10. Anthony Connor

    Anthony Connor Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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  12. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Insider
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    I'm sure Adam will weigh in here at some point, but thanks for all the kind words on his behalf.

    As far as AICN, hey - we read the site too, and it has its purpose. The problem is, the whole Internet ends up getting painted with the AICN/Drudge Report brush. And when you try to go talk with someone in the industry (or the business world as a whole) who doesn't haunt the Net frequently, the moment you mention you're from INSERT YOUR NAME HERE.com, people groan and roll there eyes and say, "Oh, you mean like Ain't it Cool News.com?" People just don't take you seriously. And so you have to work ten times harder to earn their respect.

    Anyway, back to the subject of reviews. Speaking for myself and Todd (and I think Adam as well), we've always tried to use our reviews to expose people to films they might have missed, genres they might not have explored, etc. Anyone can review Daredevil, but how many sites are going to review Zatoichi? There's a huge world of film out there, and most people have only sampled a tiny slice of it. We love DVD, but we love films more. That's really what this is all about. If you just want a laundry list of all the extras, and a technical evaluation of the quality, there are lots of places that can give it to you. At The Bits, we have three missions:

    1. To constantly bring new people into the DVD and film lovers fold, and to educate them to be savvy DVD consumers.

    2. To widen people's film horizons by exposing them to films they may never have seen or heard of before.

    3. To exert a positive influence on the industry, so that both the studios AND film fans can reap the best benefits from DVD and whatever comes next.

    We have always recognized that The Digital Bits is part of an active and vibrant online community. We're not going to try to be everything to everyone. Our goal is NOT to be the best DVD site at absoluetly everything, so why would anyone want to read any other DVD site. That's just silly. We do what we do. If you want something we don't offer, then you can find it from the HTF or DVD File or DVD Talk or any number of other great online resources. We know our strengths and we do what we do very well... which complements what other sites do very well. And vise versa. That's what the online DVD community is all about. The key word being community. In the end, you guys are the ones who benefit.

    And best of all, it's free. Can't beat that. ;-)

    Cheers!
     
  13. Shawn_Sek

    Shawn_Sek Stunt Coordinator

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    generally, i skip over the section of reviews that deal only with the film itself, usually because i already know the movie and whether i like it or not and i dont really need another opinion BUT i do NOT want it gone from the review. its good to have it there whether i need it or not, sometimes i actually do, sometimes it does interest me in a movie, or sway me into giving it a chance. whether i read it or not, its nice to know that its there.

    personally, i read DVD reviews for the DVD presentation. i want to know the audio/video quality (i like hearing the phrase "this is the best this film has ever looked"), i like a brief description/review of the supplemental material (not just a laundry list, i can get that from reading the back of the case), and any obvious cuts or glitches in the product. if i get that, im happy.
     
  14. Steve Meskell

    Steve Meskell Second Unit

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    Most of the time I usually skip past a reviewers take on the movie or show...ect, and I go right to the video/audio ratings. DVD's like the new Animal House I need to know how the transfer looks compared to the older version that I have. If most of the reviews say the new transfer smokes the older one....I buy it,again. Ron and others have saved me money on many discs, The Quiet Man comes to mind.

    My pet peeve on reviewers are the ones that go into how they don't like for example Paul McCartney and they review his "Back in the USA" DVD.....Why give him/her the disc to review?? Another peeve is reviewers that don't have proper equipment. "I can not rate the dts track because I don't have the capabilities" granted it is less now than 3 years ago but on another DVD forum someone reviewed a few DVD-A's and they didn't even have a DVD-A player.... [​IMG]
    I tip my hat to vast majority of reviewers that have to sit thru 5 "Kelly and Justin's" to get to a "Citizen Kane". Not a easy job.

    Like my father use to say "opinions are like assh#$%s, everyone has one."
     
  15. MikeM

    MikeM Screenwriter

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    I feel your pain. [​IMG]

    As a reviewer for THEDIGITALREVIEW.COM, I can say that it honestly is not as easy as it looks. I don't mind providing the technical geek type portions of the review, such as the audio/video quality and a summary of the extras. However, the review portion of the film itself is the always the most difficult, and probably the least important.

    Most people want reviews simply to know if the DVD serves up an excellent transfer, or whether it has any glaring flaws/errors. The last thing they need is someone like me to bash a film they love. But, so is the nature of the beast, and DVD reviews which only highlight the technical merits of the DVD, and have no mention of the film's quality are, in my opinion, not telling the full story. I'm sure Gigli will most likely have a great transfer, excellent audio levels, and maybe even some amusing extras...but I fear the day that that DVD ends up on my doorstep and I have to review it. : )
     
  16. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Bill Hunt wrote:
     
  17. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I have found HTF through the TDB several years ago mainly due to the Star Wars dvd news. This was my exposure to what is called DVD and since that time I have bought many a dvd that I have never heard of before, or simply to build up a collection. Movies like OUATIA or GBU from Leone are a blind buy and don't read any reviews for them. Then there are obscure movies like Zatoichi or Lang's Die Nibulungen that intrigue me enough to read or skim through a review and buy it or not.

    I have more obscure and classic titles then recently released movies simply because of a love for movies.

    over and out

    Oscar
     
  18. Shane_M

    Shane_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks to sites like THE BITS, DVDFile, and a few others which have now disappeared from the web I was inspired to start my own site.

    So, when I first started up EyeCraveDVD.com my focus was going to be the technical aspect and only write up a very brief summary of how the film made me feel. I’ve always loved movies, which made it an easy decision to start up a site. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed the experience of watching a great movie, visually and audibly.

    I'll admit I was only looking to review mainstream films (DVDs), but as the discs started to arrive for movies I'd never seen nor heard of I was amazed at how much other stuff is out there. Now, I believe that without the little write up on the movie some readers would miss out on some great flicks that aren’t advertised like crazy. Otherwise how would anyone know that Mulva: Zombie Ass-kicker is a fun flick to watch. Being a reviewer may not be the most glorious job, but it’s the love of film and experiencing something new that makes it all worthwhile for most of us.

    I'd also like to thank all reviewers/critics out there for helping me get started. You've all been a great inspiration. Even though we're now the best (just kidding). Thanks!

    Oh ya! Hey Travis
     
  19. Anthony Connor

    Anthony Connor Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh yeah, I have to add as well.

    If it wasn't for the digital Bits I wouldn't have been part of this hobby. I owe you guys more than you know. Thanks for all your effort. I appreciate it.

    ...and to the HTF I am also very thankful. I Discovered HTF via the Digital bits all those years ago.

    Thanks again guys

    AXE
     
  20. Chris Beveridge

    Chris Beveridge Second Unit

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    I'm basically in the midst of this myself at the moment, where one reader has suggested a change in my writing style (plug plug - www.animeondvd.com) so that I can gain more credibility, since I apparently lack it now after something like five years and over probably 1500 reviews. Adam's article got posted as the most recent link and it's definitely been an interesting read. But like said above, it's the knowledge that there are people (the silent majority usually) who read a review and take something useful away from it but never post or never actually talk to the person who wrote it to let them know. One of the best things about DVD sites and the forums is that there is some payoff.

    I posted a new review last night for a new series called Super Gals. A lot of people hadn't heard of it beyond the title, but after the review they realized exactly what it is and that it was something they'd love. Getting comments like "that review made me salivating for the disc even more-so" or seeing a review generate much interesting discussion stemming from various thoughts I had on a show is definitely a great payoff and one of the reasons I love and continue to do what I do.

    Thank god I learned long ago though that you can't please everyone and if you try, you please no one.
     

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