Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The only worthwhile DVD release on Christmas Day

I thought we'd be able to post a few things over the holidays, but that didn't really happen. So, now that we're sobering up a bit, it's time to get things back on track.

There really wasn't any DVD releases on Christmas Day, so I'll take the opportunity to discuss what was released, the HD DVD and Blu-ray versions of what was, far and away, one of the best films of the last few years - "Pan's Labyrinth". "Pan's Labyrinth" was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and was produced and distributed by the Mexican film company, Esperanto Films with a budget of $19Million - which is extremely low, considering it had its fair share of effects. It's also a little strange that del Toro would do a lower budget film at all, as "Labyrinth" comes off the heels of "Hellboy" and "Blade II" and he probably could've done another studio film with a bigger budget and, presumably, a bigger paycheck.

Having said that, del Toro does tend to mix up the films he does, shooting a big-budget Hollywood film like "Hellboy", "Mimic" or "Blade II", then following it up with a lower-budget film like "Cronos" or "The Devil's Backbone". A lot of horror and genre fans know exactly who Del Toro is because of the afore mentioned films, but "Pan's Labyrinth" has put him on mainstream Hollywood's radar. Currently, he has three films in various stages of production, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" - obviously, the sequel to 2004's "Hellboy", "3993" - a ghost story about 'the hostages left to fortune by the past' set in 1990's Spain and with connections with the Spanish Civil War in 1939 and "At the Mountains of Madness" - a chilling recollection of an Antarctic expedition's uncanny discoveries and their encounter with untold menance in the ruins of a lost civilization.

"Pan's Labyrinth" was shot over 11 weeks, from June to October in 2005, in and around Madrid and was first released at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival on May 27, 2006, where it received a 22 minute standing ovation. Its first release in an English speaking country was at the London FrightFest Film Festival on August 25, 2006 and it had it's general release in December of 2006. It was first released on DVD in the U.S. on May 15, 2007 through New Line Home Entertainment. Now, the high def and blu ray releases are being released and they offer picture-in-picture commentaries, exclusive web content and DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio in 7.1 surround sound, which is a first for New Line. It's critically acclaimed (for what that's worth) and has won numerous awards from various institutions, including the Academy Awards.

There's various reasons that I hold this film in such high regard. First off, for what they were setting out to do (and subsequently accomplished), it was done on a modest budget. Further, it was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards, even though, for all intents and purposes, it was a horror movie. Also, they preferred to use complex make-up and puppetry for most of the effects, as opposed to using CGI (even though they did use some CGI), which is rarely done anymore, but created some very convincing effects. All this, and much more, make this one of the most monumental films of the last few years and if you haven't seen it, you must. If you have seen it, buy the DVD and check out the Blu Ray and HD DVD versions...

"Pan's Labyrinth":

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