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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently ordered Summertime from Criterion Collection, and have not received it yet. I want to own this particular film because of the lush colors and the scenes of Venice; also not a bad movie. I have not seen another CC movie and was wondering if the PQ is substatially better than a typical studio release or if CC is more dedicated to preserving film? I looked at their title list and am considering buying: For All Mankind, The Blob (just for the fun of having a 50's Sci-Fi movie in my collection), and Sparticus. Any remarks on the PQ in general that CC produces?


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CC has been guilty of using EE and not doing anamorphic transfers in the past but they have put this era behind them. As far as I know all the newer transfers they are doing are outstanding, and many of their black and white classics look very good, if not quite up to the standard set by, say, Sunset Blvd or Citizen Kane.


I have For All Mankind. I haven't watched it in a while but as I remember it looked very good considering that the source was 16mm blow-up NASA footage. Also, it's 4:3 so not being anamorphic is a non-issue. It's a fantastic film if you're a space buff and the commentaries are very informative. Can't tell you about Blob or Spartacus, though my memory of the reviews Spartacus got when released are that it looked very good.
 

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Criterion seems hit or miss at times. My first Criterion title was The Rock, and I guess that spoiled me because it's the smoothest, most detailed, film-like transfer I've ever seen. Really top rate. But then I pop in The Royal Tanenbaums and wonder what happened. Lots of EE on that one.


Spartacus is a great color-corrected transfer and I'd recommend it to anyone. I haven't seen the others you're considering.
 

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In answer to the original question "..PQ is substatially better than a typical studio release?" I would say no and I agree with the last two posts. Many of their releases are not substaintially better than major studio classics like Singin in the Rain, Sunset Blvd, etc.


On some of the more recent films, like say Rushmore, the transfers don't stand out as being superior either.


That being said I have to give them lots of points for releasing so many great foreign classic films from French, Italian, and Japanese cinema. Many of these would probably not get released otherwise. However, I'm still pissed that they haven't released Blow Up yet.
 

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Criterion has recently picked up a few trashier modern hollywood titles like Armageddon, apparantly just to boost their own sales. On such releases you will probably find a wealth of supplemental materials but the transfer itself will probably not be any better than what you would see in a recent release from other major studio's.


Where Criterion shines is older, more obscure titles, particularily foreign films that no R1 publisher is likely to pay much attention to. They usually do a good job of finding high quality elements and do some pretty good restoration work. If worthwhile supplemental materials exist they usually dig them up and include them. They frequently record commentaries by film historians, critics, or people involved with the film. While some older Criterion releases that are still being sold often do exhibit less than optimal transfers, recent Criterion releases typically have superb PQ. They do, from time to time, rerelease new and improved versions of their past releases, but confusingly with the same spine numbers. Many of their titles are licensed to them for a limited period of time, so some Criterion titles go out of print and fetch obscene prices on ebay or other auction sites.


The downside to Criterion titles, of course, is the prices. I'm not completely convinced they're offering the same value for the money that other publishers are. For example, Kino's restoration of Metropolis dwarfs anything Criterion has ever done, and their DVD was priced far lower than any Criterion title out there. Then again, Metropolis is probably a much bigger seller than a lot of Criterion titles. In any case, imperfections and high prices aside, Criterion releases are typically of high quality and are frequently the only DVD version of a film available.


In cases where there are non-Criterion releases of a film available, it is worth checking out the alternatives. Spartacus, for example, can be bought for a fraction of the price with a few less special features and less vibrant colors. If you love the film, by all means get the Criterion version. If you're on a budget and probably won't watch it that often, consider the non-Criterion version.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Cor
The downside to Criterion titles, of course, is the prices. I'm not completely convinced they're offering the same value for the money that other publishers are.
Criterion's prices are a reflection of their licensing costs. Since they do not actually own any of the films that they release, they must license them from the studios that do.
 

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I took a look at Summertime last night. I purchased it some time ago, watched it on my RPTV two or three times, but never looked at it on my LCD PJ. Picture is soft, nowhere near reference quality. Might be the source material. I think Criterion does the best it can with the source materials available, and does some wonderful restorations to older films.


I'm glad Summertime is available, but it's not going to awe you in terms of PQ on a big screen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Darrel,

Rats I already ordered it. Maybe I should return it unopened. I did expect PQ to be excellent.



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Is Criterion trying to be a competitor to Superbit?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Josh Z
Criterion's prices are a reflection of their licensing costs. Since they do not actually own any of the films that they release, they must license them from the studios that do.
Is this true in every case?? I thought Criterion was a division of Janus, and they own some of the films like Seven Samurai.


BTW, SCSI, I don't think Criterion is trying to be a competitor to the Superbit line. First, they've been around for many years, having started in the Laserdisk era. Second, while Criterion tries to have good PQ (and lately succeeds more of the time than they have in the past) they are very much about extras, especially commentaries. Most commentary tracks on Criterion editions are widely considered to be the very best available. They were the first to edit commentary tracks to get rid of dry spots, and offer multiple commentaries for a single film. Superbit, of course, passes over extras in lieu of superior picture quality, except for Superbit Deluxe editions, but they never, ever have a commentary due to their "mission statement" goal of offering only a DD and DTS soundtrack. And of course, Superbit offers only Sony/Columbia pictures, while Criterion will license titles from any studio. A closer comparison would be Anchor Bay, often thought of as the Criterion Collection of cult movies!!!
 

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Criterion puts out films for the sake of the art of movies. They were late to get into anamorphic DVDs, coming from laser disk productions. They are not at all comparable to Sony's superbit releases. Superbit is a gimmick, albeit a nice one if you care for the movies that are covered --but it's a marketing ploy to resell some of their own titles.


Criterion titles are meant to preserve film history and IMO they are not tryiing to present the ultimate in digital video quality --except in the aspect that in the films they transfer to DVD, they try to do a very good job of preserving/restoring the original detail.


Comparisons to Anchor Bay are not at all relevant. Anchor Bay started out as a very cheapo DVD retailer. They have redeemed themselves with some of their later releases, but have a long way to go to acheive status comparable to Criterion.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Darrel Johansen



Comparisons to Anchor Bay are not at all relevant. Anchor Bay started out as a very cheapo DVD retailer. They have redeemed themselves with some of their later releases, but have a long way to go to acheive status comparable to Criterion.
Who cares? The Beatles started out as a crappy R&B/beat band playing a dive in Hamburg. What's your point. Would you feel better if they had not had the chance to get to where they are now? AB loves the films they put out just as much as Criterion. They have preserved the work of Hammer studios and put out cult classics like Repo Man which have as much importance to some of us as Terry Gilliam's films on CC. Many of their transfers were better than CC's were before CC caught up. They have presented commentaries and documentaries of high quality whenever they can. They are preserving film, just like CC. If you want to be a snob and look down on the film they preserve, you may, but I have dozens of their releases and I love them all. Oh, true, they have never released an important, historical Micheal Bay blockbuster, but you can't have everything. AB gives the CC treatment to films that CC will never touch, and that's my point.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Darrel Johansen
Criterion puts out films for the sake of the art of movies. They were late to get into anamorphic DVDs, coming from laser disk productions. They are not at all comparable to Sony's superbit releases. Superbit is a gimmick, albeit a nice one if you care for the movies that are covered --but it's a marketing ploy to resell some of their own titles.

As I indicated in my last post I am grateful to Criterion for putting out many foreign films that otherwise might not be released. At the same time they are a business and must make money. Their discs cost quite a bit more than others so I don't buy this altruistic stuff. While Superbit may be a marketing ploy (agreed), the discs look great so I couldn't care less what they call them. They deliever when it comes to PQ. If I had a choice between a CC version and a Superbit version I would go for the Superbit in a heartbeat because the PQ would probably be better and it would also cost less.
 

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Does Criterion do its mastering, or does it accept whatever the rights holder gives it to release? Their more recent releases can look pretty darn good.


Wish I'd gotten the Tati films. I was just about ready, and poof! OOP.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Shaded Dogfood
Does Criterion do its mastering, or does it accept whatever the rights holder gives it to release? Their more recent releases can look pretty darn good.
Criterion does its own disc mastering, but they are often at the mercy of the quality of the source material provided to them by the owners.
 

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My point was in reply to the question about Criterion being a competitor to Superbit. My disappointment in Anchor Bay was related to the very early days of DVDs, when Anchor Bay had a very poor catalog. I, too, have many fine recent Anchor Bay DVDs and definitely appreciate their more recent efforts. If I were going to get critical, I might start out with Fox-Lorber. Mainly because they have such fine titles in foreign films, but with poor DVD transfers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Josh,

That's true. But after looking at their site it looks like they go to great lenght to find the best sorce material. At least that's the impression the web site gave me.


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Quote:
Originally posted by Darrel Johansen
If I were going to get critical, I might start out with Fox-Lorber. Mainly because they have such fine titles in foreign films, but with poor DVD transfers.
Fox/Lorber should definitely be stopped. They have done some terrible things to some fine movies. Actually, are they putting much out recently? Maybe they're succumbing to their own bad product...
 
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