vs. Vertical Limit Hold Your Breath Sitting in my collection for the past year or more is a sealed copy of the original Columbia DVD release of Vertical Limit. It stands amongst hundreds of other DVDs that I have yet to watch because my time is taken up with reviews. Fortunately, Columbia sent me an early copy of their new Superbit version of this title. It gave me the opportunity to finally sit down and watch a film I had always wanted to see. Many of you already have seen this film theatrically or on DVD. Since this review is intended to promote the new DVD release, I will recap the film's story for those that have never seen it. The story is a tale of young climber Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell), who launches a treacherous rescue effort up K2, the world's second highest peak. His sister Annie Annie (Robin Tunney), and her teammates (Bill Paxton and Nicholas Lea) are trapped in a crevice that has become enclosed by an avalanche at 26,000+ feet. This is the endurance point known as the Vertical Limit where the human body cannot survive the elements. The movie comes off as a roller coaster than a logical progression of events. While it remains somewhat thrilling at times, it becomes filled with all sorts of distractions including the scheming of a publicity hungry media mogul, and of a crazy old mountaineer who constantly combs the mountain in search of his wife who died in a disaster several years previously, and oh yes, unstable nitro-glycerine at a Pakistani military outpost. Superbit vs. Standard Many of you already know that I am not exactly an advocate for Superbit. In most side-by-side reviews that I have done on other titles, I can usually see either little improvement or no improvement at all over the original DVD release. Let's face it -- most studios are putting out incredible DVD product that look incredible while not boasting extra signal bandwidth. You will notice immediately that the Superbit version has a generic menu as well as no Special Features as the original DVD release did. The reason is simple: if you want to have the bandwidth for the extra bitrate and DTS track, you need to can all the extras. For this reason, the ONE question that should be on everyone's mind is whether it is worth upgrading from the original 2001 DVD release brimmed with Special Features and commentary, to the Superbit release that has no extras except a DTS track. Transfer vs. Transfer To compare both these titles, no-one needs to go any further than the first 12 minutes of the film where we are exposed to warm desert browns and cold snow whites. Because I don't have two identical players, I had to constantly compare scenes by switching DVDs back and forth. Unfortunately, this hinders the opportunity to make a proper side-by-side comparison. After watching the first 12 minutes of this movie, switching back and forth between both discs, I am sorry to say that once again I find no difference in the video quality. All the video noise I saw was identical in both versions. Shots of overhead blue sky as well as shots set against brown rocks both gave out the same amount of video noise. Let's face it -- both these releases are about a year apart. Last Year Columbia was releasing top-notch transfers out of their hi-def center. Everyone knew that last year's Vertical Limit release was among the year's top transfers. So trying to find a difference in overall transfer quality is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I found the standard release of the DVD to be just as good as the Superbit version in overall transfer. Sound is another matter.... The 5.1 DTS track is amazingly more robust than the Dolby Digital track. I could immediately hear more powerful sound coming from my speakers, with more emphasis put on the LFE channel. My SV SUBWOOFER was getting more pounds per beat over the Dolby Digital track on the standard release. My recommendation? If I could find a reason to make any of you cough up another $20 to buy this new version, it would be solely based on the DTS track. The problem is, I always prefer DTS over Dolby Digital, finding DTS discs to be a sonic improvement over their counterpart. So, the fact that Columbia wins on their Superbit merely because of a DTS track makes them real losers. If this were a perfect world, Columbia would release ALL their titles with a DTS track like Universal and Fox usually do. This way, people don't get duped into buying an initially unannounced separate version that gets released a year later. Once again, I find myself at bitter odds with Superbit. It's a gimmick that I feel has worn out its welcome. Why doesn't Columbia just continue putting out first-rate standard DVD releases as they always have, and include a DTS track? If Columbia is so intent on Superbit, then they should release ALL their "A" titles in that format from the get go. Otherwise, these are just attempts to make us repurchase titles we already own.