This week, I received a review copy of the new Ultra HD Blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This is not a review of the movie. (I already did that and I like it a lot.) And I don’t often write about new home video releases, but there’s something pretty remarkable about this one: After initially sitting out on Ultra HD Blu-ray (also known as 4K) releases, Disney has finally started producing discs. This is pretty big news considering that Disney has the rights to Marvel and Star Wars and Pixar – you know, a lot of titles that you probably want to watch in the best quality possible.
Oh, also, I’ve started buying physical media again – a big reason for that is 4K – and now I’m the weird fringe person who likes to have discs and I kind of love that it’s “weird.”
In college, one of my roommates had a laserdisc player and he would tout over and over the benefits compared to VHS. And, yes, technically he was correct. He wanted to show off his player one evening by playing Star Wars. It looked pretty good! And most importantly, the film was letterboxed – it wasn’t the easiest thing to get the original trilogy in anything other than pan and scan back then. And then it happened: about 45 minutes into the movie it stopped. And my roommate had to get up, eject the (comically large) disc, flip the disc, then hit play again. And then 45 minutes later he had to do this again, only this time it needed a new disc.
At the time, and now, this seems ridiculous. I remember saying to him there will be something better and the day it came out I would buy it. (Smash cut to a couple of years later and there’s me putting a $700 Panasonic DVD player and an Austin Powers DVD on my credit card that would take me over a year to pay off. I am a person of my word, I guess. Also, I remember there were maybe 10 DVDs available at the time. It was basically a choice between Austin Powers and Goldeneye.) I loved my DVD collection (and, later, to an extent, Blu-ray, which always kind of felt like a stop gap after it won the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD format battle). But then comes the clutter and owning a bunch of movies that I will never watch again. (I have no idea why I owned a copy of Six Days, Seven Nights, but for some reason I did.) Then once HDTVs became a thing, those DVDs didn’t look so hot anymore. And then you learn what “anamorphic” means and realize a large number of the movies you own aren’t and that becomes a problem.