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Top 10 Double-Dips of 2007

Top 10 Double-Dips of 2007

As high-definition DVDs (a format where nearly every release is a double-dip) start to build momentum, the abuse that studios used to heap on DVD fanatics has started to subside a bit. In fact, compared to previous years, the double-dips were practically light in 2007, though the stupid edition names keep on coming, including the "One Size Fits All" Edition (Porky's), the "Extra-Curricular"  Edition (Back to School), and the "Looking Good, Feeling Good" Edition (Trading Places.) But amongst some blatant grabs for cash, the year featured a surprisingly decent amount of genuine attempts to improve the DVD presentation of several films. In fact, half-hearted re-releases like the relatively empty two-disc set of Brokeback Mountain stand out in contrast to a pretty solid year that though lacking any real blockbusters, gets a high average across the board.

1. The Third Man
The first release of The Third Man was an impressive piece of work on the part of the Criterion Collection, taking an incredible film by Carol Reed, cleaning it up to create a version unseen before and supplementing it with a quality collection of related material and an introduction by Peter Bodanovich. In taking another shot at the Orson Welles classic, the niche publisher had to up the ante if it was going to get anyone to re-buy the DVD. Instead, they went all-in, adding two audio commentaries, including one by Steven Soderbergh, a feature-length documentary (plus two shorter ones), some galleries and an interesting clip from the film. They also went back and cleaned the film AGAIN. It's that kind of attention to detail, and the willingness to seek out the best supplements possible, that make Criterion the gold standard in DVD.
Read the reviews by DVD Savant and Jamie S. Rich

2. Taxi Driver
Originally released in what was called a collector's edition in 1999, featuring a making-of featurette, a screenplay feature, and some digital bric-a-brac, this film deserved a true blow-out DVD, and finally got it this year, in a two-disc special edition. The improvement in the video quality was nice, but the addition of two audio commentaries, including a revealing track by writer Paul Schrader, eight substantial featurettes (to go with the original DVD's excellent making-of), and some nice still galleries, as well as the appropriately-designed menus, make for a big improvement over 1999, and a release that no one could argue against upgrading to.
Read the review by Ian Jane

3. I am Cuba: The Ultimate Edition
Originally released in a gauzy bare-bones edition back in 2000, this important piece of international cinematic history received an incredibly improved double-dip in 2007, courtesy of New Yorker Video. What you get in a beautifully designed and constructed (and oh-so-appropriate) cigar box, is an awesome three-DVD course in this infamous team-up of Cuban and Russian film, as your "teacher" introduces you to the kind of insightful "found" material that helps you appreciate and understand this unique and little-known masterpiece. The welcome enhancements in the audio and video are just icing on this beautiful package. Read the review by Jamie S. Rich

4. The Graduate
The 40th anniversary of the classic film is a great chance to revisit the DVD, which had a decent release back in 2000, thanks to a documentary and an interview with Dustin Hoffman. The new release brings its A-list game though, with two audio commentaries that boast serious talent, as Hoffman and Katherine Ross pair up for one track, while Steven Soderbergh (again!) joins forces with director Mike Nichols on the other. Listening to the master of the guest-star audio commentary essentially interview Nichols about his film is a great treat, up there with the aural-voyeuristic feel of a John Carpenter/Kurt Russell track. A pair of featurettes that put the film in its proper historical context (with help from some big names in film) and a bonus CD of music from the movie round out a great package for a great film.
Read the review by Jamie S. Rich and DVD Savant

5. Bram Stoker's Dracula
Just looking at the cover of this new release, which follows an original barebones disc and a Superbit, but also barebones DVD, tells you a lot. With an art design that belongs more comfortably amongst the Criterion Collection than the studio behind I Know Who Killed Me and Hudson Hawk, there's a sense that this might be something special, finally, and it truly is. From the beautiful image and sound mix to the commentary with Francis Ford Coppola to the documentaries and deleted scenes, it's a tight and impressive package that doesn't falter or pad its length with fluff. The commentary with Coppola alone makes it worth checking this release out, but when you add it to the gorgeous, underrated film and the rest of the extras, you get a proper and welcome double-dip.
Read the review by Jamie S. Rich

6. The Lady Vanishes
The third Criterion DVD brought Hitchcock's classic darkly comic mystery into film fans' homes, but it was unavailable for so long that a rerelease of the original, with just a simple audio commentary, would have been good. Instead, we were presented with an improved transfer, an interesting conversation between Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut, a video essay on the film, and a stills gallery, while still retaining the original commentary. Best of all though, is the inclusion of Crook's Tour, the 1941 spin-off with characters from The Lady Vanishes, which was previously unavailable on home video. A 2-for-1 deal like that is rare, no less one that makes sense and brings something special to the table.
Read the review by Jamie S. Rich

7. The Jungle Book
Just about every animated feature put out by Disney these days could make this list, following up on the barebones Gold Collection editions originally released by the studio, before DVD really took off. The Jungle Book makes the list over Peter Pan, mainly because Peter Pan had an intermediate tie-in release which had some of the same features. The Jungle Book, on the other hand, came back with a host of original bonus material, a mix of animation focused retrospection, environmentally-connected features, games and musical content, which supports impressively improved picture and sound. That it accompanies one of the studio's mid-tier offerings, makes it all the more impressive.
Read the review by Brian Orndorf

8. Face/Off
Aside from the honorable mention title, this is probably the least respected film on this list, as it's not John Woo's finest work, but it's definitely a blast of an action thriller. The original DVD release, from 1998, held nothing extra for the fans, though at least it was anamorphic widescreen. This new set has a better transfer and more impressive audio tracks, as well as a nice group of extras that are thankfully fluff-free, with a pair of quality commentaries, some deleted scenes, and a pair of interesting featurettes focusing on the film and Woo. It's a case where the effort on the presentation is just as improved as the bonus features.
Read the review by Randy Miller III

9. A Christmas Carol
One could get into an argument about which A Christmas Carol adaptation is the best one, but the Alastair Sim version is somewhat the standard-bearer, thanks to his iconic performance. A previous 2004 release by VCI wasn't half-bad for an older film, but this new two-disc affair threatens to make any future release unnecessary. A gorgeously restored transfer is joined by two alternate ways to watch the film (anamorphic widescreen and color versions) and a slate of extras, including a wonderful audio commentary, a short adaptation from 1935, and some enjoyable and interesting featurettes that cover a variety of topics related to the film. This holiday classic now gives you reason to watch it any time of year.
Read the review by Randy Miller III

10. Kubrick Collection - Warner Home Video Directors Series
You could base the economy of a small country on the cottage industry of Stanley Kubrick releases, but here is another set of the master's work, unfortunately missing some of his best work, including Lolita and Dr. Strangelove (notice I didn't say Barry Lyndon, but that's missing too.) Their exclusion is basically the only problem, as the films include get improved transfers and audio, and some really great extras that fill in the blanks found in previous releases, including commentaries, documentaries and galleries. 2001 - A Space Odyssey got an immense collection of bonus material, while the fantastic O Lucky Malcolm, a feature-length profile of Malcolm McDowell, is as good as anything on this set.
Read the review by Ian Jane

Honorable Mention. "Wrestlemania III"
Didn't expect this one, huh? Originally released as part of the Wrestlemania Complete Anthology, it was barebones. Hardly the treatment deserved by an event many consider the peak of the WWF/WWE's existence, and an epic three-hours remembered rather fondly by anyone who watched as a part of the massive 93,000-plus live audience or the pay-per-view audience. This new DVD corrects the error, in two-disc fashion, adding a new edition with pop-up video comments about the event, along with a slew of classic interviews and two fun, old matches from the late, great Saturday Night's Main Event. It's a healthy dose of memorabilia that anyone who remembers the modern golden age of wrestling will enjoy.
Read the review by John Crichton


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