Rod Williams

Site Reviewer/Proofreader

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Vital Statistics

Age Group Thirtysomething (born July 1969).
Video Likes Correct aspect ratios, anamorphic enhancement, saturated colours. I am also a detail junkie so I love seeing surface textures and background elements fairly well resolved. Part of the buzz I get from good quality home video is the reproduction of "real life" in front of me on a screen. The better the display device, DVD player, video cable, source elements, telecine operation, etc, the more I enjoy a watching the film - perhaps not the story itself.
Video Dislikes The usual things: softness, muted colours, excessive edge enhancement, cropping of any sort, digital noise reduction, compression artefacts.
Audio Likes Clear dialogue, directional effects, split surrounds, and songs mixed loud and pumping, low frequency bass mixed sensibly.
Audio Dislikes Busy surround soundtracks just for the sake of it, poor imaging, lazy sound design, distortion.
Favourite DVDs A Bug's Life, Bully, Armageddon, Boogie Nights, The Fifth Element, Saving Private Ryan, Das Boot, Apollo 13, Deep Red, Austin Powers 1 and 2, Fargo, The Game, Heat, The Insider, Jerry Maguire, Leaving Las Vegas (R1), Mad Max 2, The Matrix, Psycho SE (R1), Ronin, Shakespeare in Love, Magnolia, Starship Troopers SE, Taxi Driver, The Thing (R1), North by Northwest, Seven SE, Silence of the Lambs, Fight Club, Contact, Amercian Pie (R1 uncut), Almost Famous (Dir cut), Speed SE, Black Hawk Down, The Time Machine (original), Suspiria (R1), Notting Hill
Least Favourite DVDs The original R4 Das Boot DVD could have contained the German DD 5.1 track - this was a maddeningly illogical oversight. Anything by Avenue One or Force Video. Troma's DVDs are frustratingly lousy.
Most Eagerly Awaited DVDs Cannibal Holocaust, Last House on the Left, The Two Towers Extended Edition, Dagon.

Opinions About Specific Movies and their DVDs

Titanic I saw this film five times at the cinema with different friends and relatives, and once alone. I think it's a fabulous achievement. The actors really do look like the original passengers. The local DVD is good enough during the wait for the extended special edition. It is trendy to bag this movie nowadays, which is sad. PEARL HARBOR shows how terrible TITANIC could have been, or how good it is.
The Matrix I know the flaws and plot holes, but this is still by far one of the best science fiction movies from the last 10 years. The local DVD from the under-new-management Roadshow Home video is sensational. Will RELOAD be as good? AMERICAN PIE 2 was better than expected, so who knows.
Terminator 2 I like James Cameron. He is the antithesis of David Lynch, who I also like very much, a lot more in fact. T2 is a technical marvel for its day that is almost matched by the characterization. Superb entertainment: violent and mean with a bit of thought too, and a two million-dollar dream sequence later stolen for ID4. Writer Harlan Ellison successfully sued Cameron for using his story 'Solider' as the basis for THE TERMINATOR. The end of the world STILL has not happened - am I waiting in the wrong queue??
Star Wars Of course I'll buy the trilogy when it arrives on DVD, but it wouldn't bother me if it took another two or five years. I have seen them a couple of times each. I'd like to see and hear them in anamorphic video and 5.1 surround formats, but my fanaticism goes no further than that. Hey I own ARMAGEDDON on DVD too; wanting to buy STAR WARS is hardly an endorsement. Will ATTACK OF THE CLONES coincide with the world's first cloned baby? Cunning, George.
Godzilla I got the DVD for the transfer and sound quality. This is a terrible, dumb, poorly acted movie, but how can you resist a big lizard stomping on New York? My imagination is perpetually hungry and sometimes it prefers McDonalds to fine gourmet cuisine. Makes ID4 look like a masterpiece.
Independence Day Yes, speaking of take-away food, this is one of my favourite pop-corn movies. It is leagues ahead of Godzilla, and that is mainly thanks to an ensemble cast chewing the CGI scenery like mad PacMen. Great special effects, beaut scene progression, fine action sequences and none of it is particularly believeable. This is the ultimate alien invasion pastiche. Roland and Emerlich succeeded where Tim Burton failed because Tim tried to make something comedic. R&E didn't actually mean to. Some of the inane logic is explained in the longer cut, e.g. the virus upload is more plausible. Goldblum does not save the world, he saves the movie. Still, it is riddled with gaffes. Independence from common sense? Just turn it up and plough through a few cans of Cougar Bourbon and Dry. If you don't like ID4 in some capacity then you don't truly love cinema. Well, they said that about Hitchcock's MARNIE, so that is probably a bad analogy.

Equipment

DVD Player Pioneer DV-737 , using Component output
Display Loewe Ergo (81cm) . Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio Decoder Marantz AV9000 Pre-amp .
Amplification Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
Speakers Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

Top 10 DVDs

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1. The Exorcist: Special Edition (1973)
Bypasses your logic centres and squeezes the terror gland every time!
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2. The Evil Dead (1981)
Still Sam Raimi's best film. Mixes gore and terror to create a nightmare ride through the subways of the human condition. Classick.
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3. Carrie: 25th Anniversary Edition (1976)
De Palma's best film? Perhaps. Holds up even now. Gives me the creeps.
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4. Starship Troopers: Special Edition (1997)
More satire than horror. Brilliant showcase for Verhoeven's common themes. Note how all the 'beautiful' people are eventually mutilated.
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5. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
My favourite Tim Burton fairytale. Crank it loud for a nerve-jangling experience.
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6. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Literate adaptation by Rice of her own novel. Another case of a writer treated badly by Hollywood during production, but it all worked out. Superb horror tainted by the trite ending.
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7. American Psycho (2000)
Another solid adaptation of a famous novel. Deserves repeated viewings. More gore and sex would have been lovely.
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8. The Fly (1986)
The Film David Lynch praised as
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9. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
A respectable slasher film from wunderkid Kevin Williamson. Good performances and a downbeat ending raise this above the norm. Forget s*** like VALENTINE.
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10. The Others (2001) (Rental)
Although more effective in a cinema, this curiosity is worth a rental. It is quite terrifying when given the right viewing ambience.

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