23rd Feb2010

Fuck the MPAA – I’m Downloading My Movies From Now On!

by Will

I have a REAL BIG problem with the current state of DVDs at retail. I’ve been a fan of the medium for about 8 years, and I’ve dropped quite the coin on DVDs. I used to be a New Release Whore, who’d scour websites to plan out what I was going to buy each week. TV season sets? If it was a first season, I was down. Blockbuster Previously Viewed sections? I was a connoisseur. If I wasn’t cycling through a toy or comic phase, all of my disposable income (and then some) went to DVDs.

As a DVDphile, I wanted the BEST version of each title. If there was a 2-disc version, I didn’t waste my time with the single disc. If there was an anniversary on the horizon, I knew that I should wait to see if a special edition was on the way. If there was a Director’s Cut, don’t bother me with the theatrical version.

I guess, at this point, I should elaborate on something. Like a low-rent Batman villain, I have a bit of a psychological tic when it comes to DVDs: I don’t consider a viewing experience “complete” until I’ve watched EVERYTHING on the disc. This means unrated cut, theatrical cut, commentary track(s), and featurettes. I can’t file a disc away on my shelf until all of this has occurred. As a result, more of my collection is in the “incomplete” stage, stacked up around my apartment. I don’t always watch what I buy. In fact, in many cases, I may have found something on sale and just bought it because I’d heard of it by way of mouth. So, the piles keep growing…

Why do I do this? Well, I love pop culture, and I’m always out to learn. Many consider extra features to be a waste of time, but you can learn a LOT from them. A commentary track by a disgruntled director can be more entertaining than the movie itself. Actually, I have several movies in my collection where, had it not been for the special features, I would’ve gotten rid of them (Comic Book: The Movie, for example).

Anyway, DVDs and I had a great thing worked out. Then, however, the studios decided to come in and fuck everything up. How did they do this? The Digital Copy. The Digital motherfucking Copy! For those not in the know, many recent DVDs include a digital file of the movie that you can store on your iPod or computer. Apparently, this is so you don’t always have to have the disc on you, and it’s good for commuters. Commuters aside, there are so many reasons to hate the Digital Copy:

-It’s assumed that you’re essentially paying for your Digital Copy when you purchase the DVD so, like DRM-protected materials, the disc comes with an authentication code. That same code also has an expiration date. So, let’s say I find a copy of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2-disc edition on sale next summer (because I would only buy that thing on sale), the authentication code will have already expired. So, basically, part of the built-in cost of the DVD is already null and void. After all, the single disc would run you about $12.99-14.99, while the 2-disc would run about $19.99-24.99.

-Remember how the Digital Copy price is built in? Well, back in the day, you would buy a 2-disc edition of a movie, and you GOT 2 discs worth of material. The first disc was basically the movie and commentary tracks, while the second disc was for featurettes, web links, and the unnecessary-yet-quite-common text script. Nowadays, everything’s on the first disc, and the second disc is usually JUST the Digital Copy. So, you’re basically getting fewer features than you would’ve gotten 2 years ago.

-The introduction of the Digital Copy also changed the distribution of features on releases. A few years ago, a single disc edition would come with a commentary track and a couple of features, while the 2-disc came with the bulk of the features. Now, however, most single discs have NOTHING other than the movie. If you want any kind of feature, you’ve got to get that 2-disc version. Now, I know I said that I always wanted the best versions of DVDs, so you’re probably wondering why this bothers me. After all, I was going to buy the 2-disc anyway. Well, it bothers me that there exists ONE disc with EVERYTHING on it, but in order for me to get it, I have to buy the Digital Copy. You see, in most cases there’s nothing on Disc 2 that I even want, since it’s JUST the digital version. So, I’m expected to buy a 2-disc version of something that doesn’t exactly warrant 2 discs!

So, why this argument? Why now? I give you Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths.

Released today, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is the latest in the burgeoning market of direct-to-DVD animated features that are mainly aimed at fanboys. The faster they crank these out, the less special they seem. The fact that the average run-time is between 70-80 minutes means that these either fail to “get to the meat” or wrap up in a satisfying conclusion. I wasn’t really looking forward to the main feature, in this case, but I was interested in an animated short surrounding The Spectre. Considering the fanfare this feature was receiving online, it appeared that it was seen as more of an additional facet to the release than a mere “special feature”. Warner Bros, however, seems to disagree: the single disc of the movie has NO Spectre featurette. It merely has a sneak preview of their next DVD release. Thanks. If I want to see The Spectre, I have to buy the 2-disc Digital Copy version. For a 12-minute animated short. Oh, and with the 2-disc version, Disc 1 offers me trailers of DC Animated DVDs THAT ARE ALREADY OUT, while Disc 2 gives me 2 “bonus” episodes of Justice League, which any fan who’s gonna shell out for the 2-disc ALREADY HAS! They should’ve just called the 2-disc “The Fuck You Edition”.

I’m tired of being screwed around. Fuck it, I’m out! I’ll be over on uTorrent if you need me.