Friday, April 19, 2013

Double-sided disc saves the day

I always kind of hate DVDs that can play on either side.

What should seem like a marvel of technological achievement instead just bothers me. Here are the reasons:

1) I like artwork on DVDs. Pure and simple. A DVD is all the more special if it looks nice. Or at least if you can read the title on anything but the inner rim of plastic.

2) I like having a protective side. I want there to be one surface that can come in contact with dust, dirt and other damaging particles without having any impact on the disc's ability to play.

3) If you have two sides, you are usually catering to some philistine who doesn't understand the value of keeping intact the film's original aspect ratio, and wants to watch the movie in pan-and-scan full screen.

However, in rare instances, having a second side to the DVD actually serves as a backup, preserving your ability to watch a movie you would otherwise have to send back to Netflix.

That was the case last night when I watched Wrong Turn, an absolutely terrible horror movie from a decade ago which I was watching for a series I'm doing on another film blog. When I removed it from its shipping sleeve, I immediately noticed a crack in the shape of a crow's foot on the playing surface, extending outward for maybe an inch from the center.

I might as well have just immediately put it back in the envelope, left it for the mailman, and started to scramble for another option to fulfill the needs of this week's post. Except I noticed that this was one of those two-sided discs, giving undiscriminating viewers the right to discriminate against the wide screen version. I also noticed that the seemingly fatal crow's foot was only on one playing surface, while the other one was generally pristine.

Sure enough, I inserted the disc into my BluRay player, and the FBI warning immediately confirmed the disc's ongoing viability. In fact, only at one point, maybe a half-hour in, did the disc start to have any problems at all, when it start doing that pausing/pixelating thing. At that point I'd already determined that the film was terrible, and thought it could be an even worse tease to see only a third of this terrible movie, wasting a half-hour of my life before having to scramble for another option anyway. But I successfully bypassed the problem section by moving on to the next chapter and manually rewinding to the point when it started pixelating, and it didn't pixelate the second time through.

I did have a couple problems when my wife returned from dropping her friend at the airport and asked me to continue the movie on another device so she could watch something on the living room TV. I had only 20 minutes remaining at this point, and neither the bedroom BluRay player nor my laptop seemed to want to oblige the damaged disc. I got nowhere on the BluRay player, and my laptop actually started playing the movie but then kicked me out. On my next three or four attempts, it wouldn't get past the menu screen. However, I randomly gave the BluRay player a second chance, and this time it read it right away and escorted me to the movie's merciful finish.

I had to watch the pan-and-scan version, but with a movie this shitty, that was probably more appropriate anyway.


Thaddeus said...

Nice one, Vance! Yeah, disc problems are weird - I've often been able to overcome the pixelation/pausing thing in exactly the same way you have. And I've also encountered damaged discs that only play some of the time.

Yes, Wrong Turn is terrible. It's basically that old X-Files episode, "Home," with a bit of Hills Have Eyes/Deliverance. Hysterically, I sort of knew the male lead when we were teens; nothing about him gave the sense that he might turn to acting someday...

Vancetastic said...

You knew Desmond Harrington? He's most known to me because of his appearance on Dexter. I'm a couple seasons behind, so I don't know if he's still on the show, but he appeared for at least two seasons.

I was shocked at how much I disliked this movie. I expected it to be bad, but I didn't expect it to be BAD.

Thanks for the comment ... I owe you a major catch-up session on your blog. I haven't been reading anyone's lately, so I'm trying to dig myself out of that hole ...