Saturday, November 05, 2005

Special Edition Showdown: Office Space v. Big Lebowski, Part One

The past couple of weeks have given us two rereleases that are particularly meaningful to yours truly, the Achiever's Edition of The Big Lebowski and the Special Edition (With Flair!) of Office Space. The only caveat about the releases is that while the Achiever's Edition of Lebowski is in wide release, the Office Space box set is available only from Best Buy. Aside from that, these are two heavy hitters in late 90's cult cinema, and I'm quite excited to see remastered editions of both films. Now, the real test with these releases is not so much with the films themselves, but with what each release adds to the viewing experience in terms of on-disc bonus features and the quality of the goodies that the box sets offer for their price. I'll start with the first special release, The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski: Achiever's Edition

This box is modeled after the bowling lanes where The Dude, Donnie, and Walter launch their balls right "into the semis." It's a substantial-feeling box with a glossy finish that opens up to a felt inlay that displays the DVD and a package of paper drink coasters featuring the characters of the film and their signature drink recipes. Behind the coasters is a somewhat underwhelming bowling ball chamois featuring the film's logo, and behind the DVD is a set of oversized post card stock pictures of scenes from the set of the film taken by Jeff Bridges. I can't help but feel that the producers of this set could have taken more care in offering higher-quality items, such as perhaps one ceramic coaster, as opposed to four paper ones, or picture-stock paper rather than picture postcards. Minor details you say? Not for a box that lists for $49.98. Why not a coaster that looks like the rug that was micturated upon in ol' Duder's apartment? Perhaps a little poster of Nixon bowling? How's about a special cocktail glass for enjoying those "caucasians?" This set just lacks creativity; especially in the light of a film whose creativity inspires so many as to hold cross-continental festivals in its honor.

Moving on to the DVD, this special edition does little to separate itself from the original release in terms of extras. The film has been digitally remastered, and looks and sounds superior to the original release; what with a 5.1 Dolby surround soundtrack available and an anamorphic widescreen display. So, the important thing is that fans now have a high quality version of the film in hand for now and eternity to celebrate at their (our) whimsy. This is where the good news ends. The potential of the bonus material that could have been released is simply so high that to only include the same featurette from the first DVD, along with typed production notes and still images from the set, is a "fucking travesty." The trailer for the movie is not even included, as it was on the original DVD. A whole feature on the Lebowski Fest that occurs in Louisville, KY would have been ripe for inclusion here, for example. This release is bereft of any sort of thought in regards to the features that fans of this film would enjoy. As Walter would say, "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!"

My conclusion, "the goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain!" Skip this box set, and pick up the special edition DVD on its own. You'll save $30.

Greymatter's Report Card: TBL Achievers Edition
SE DVD: Film - A
Features - F
Box Set: Design - C+
Content - C-


At 9:54 AM, November 06, 2005, Anonymous C. said...

The other day I was looking at the "Pictures from Iraq" thing that the News-Gazette has on it's website. One of the pictures was from a rug shop and the caption that the soldier wrote made a reference to "tying the room" together and it was both funny and thought provoking because a love of The Big Lebowski is not something that I would generally think someone in the military would have.

Oh, and good move with the addition of the word verification. Those spam bots were getting to be a bit much.

At 11:05 AM, November 06, 2005, Blogger greymatter said...

Yeah, Lebowski references tend to reach further and wider than expected. And that's a good thing!

Yeah, I definitely prefer the vord verification to having to manually delete all those spams.

At 1:41 PM, November 06, 2005, Blogger Don Gerard said...

i saw "smokey" perform at the high dive...

At 2:59 PM, November 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were over the line, Don, that's a foul. Mark it zero. Next frame.

At 9:02 PM, November 06, 2005, Blogger Don Gerard said...

bullshit...eight, dude.

yeah, but i wasn't over. gimme the marker, dude, i'm marking it an eight.


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