Play it Again Philip

22 06 2016

Philips DVD Player

This past Saturday, I bought a brand new DVD player. Not much in the extraordinary I understand: people buy DVD’s and DVD Players all the time; so why is mine so special? Well, I say this, because, the previous DVD Player I had I received all the way back in November 2005. Yes, I have had the same DVD Player for nearly exactly 11 years. Yet again, maybe not the most extraordinary thing out there to talk about, but given the time I had it for and had become acclimatised too, plus the panic and nerves I created in buying a new one, I thought it could be an interesting blog post (if anyone is interested in history of personal items belonging to other people, sort of like those posts I wrote last year about my Bed).

New Bed with Bedding

Back in 2004, I got into watching Pro Wrestling. Every Saturday morning for a time I would watch WWE Smackdown on Sky One. As time passed by, I bought some WWE DVD’s to watch, however the only DVD player in the house was down stairs, and it was hard to watch any WWE event on DVD on the DVD Player as other people were not necessarily a big as a fan of WWE as I was. After several months, I decided to buy my own DVD Player, and put it in my room with my TV. So, the day after my birthday, I bought one from Currys, took it home, hooked it up to my TV and was able to watch programming. I cannot remember much about that player, except the title screen showed bubbles, the manufacturer started with an S and it had this blue streak across the front of the machine. That machine was pretty problematic as it would not play some DVD’s, would majorly struggle with others, and by October (less than 5 months after buying it), the machine packed in and had swallowed one of my DVD’s (WWE Armageddon 2004). My Mam took me to Currys, but they could not fix it, and the following Monday when I returned, they were able to take out the disc, but the machine had already totalled. As I still had the receipt, I was able to swap it though, and under the advice of a store clerk, I bought the Philips Machine, which worked brilliantly for over a decade.

Philips DVD Player 2

The machine was a nice silvery colour, and the controller was short and fat, but easy to control. It was a wonderful machine. I remember the week I picked it up, going to Currys with the old one after College, swapping it over, watching some DVD’s on it, then breaking my Knee Cap the following Saturday. It’s not the DVD Players fault, it just happened within a few days of each other. Anyway, it was good and I liked it. Back then I had an old TV which my family had previously rented before buying which I then utilised for my room. It was perched on a table which I still have, and the DVD Player was next to it. The early history of the machine was tumultuous as there were some scart issues. The old TV had only one Scart Plug, so over the years when I got more items requiring a socket, I would have to switch from one to the other, which weakened the connection, so it was hard for it to sit in the socket properly, which was even harder when the TV would get shoved aside, which would cause colour issues. At one point I bought a multi scart from Comet which I was assured by a store clerk would work well, but did not, and it was covered by those ridiculous small prints that once the package was opened could not be returned; I wasted some good money on that thing. Eventually however, I received the old downstairs TV (a JVC), which was bigger and had multiple scart sockets, so problem solved in the long-term.

The TV

What followed was many more entertaining and wonderful years of watching DVD’s, until just a few weeks ago. I had begun to re-watch the first season of Arrow on DVD. After playing the episodes, the DVD Player would struggle to reload the menu screen. I just thought that may be due to the disc being a previously used copy, but it just got worse. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch Hellboy, but the machine really struggled to load the DVD, it took forever. I cleaned the disc best I could, but once again struggled. I was able to watch it in the end, but I decided to run a test, if it was the DVD, or the player. I took out my DVD copy of Pacific Rim, something I had only run in the machine twice, meaning the disc was still relatively new. I put into the machine, and it did not load. The player was really good for loading a disc in less than about 12 seconds, after 30+, it did not load. I tried to empty the machine, but it even struggled with opening the tray. Luckily I was able to get it out. I then took the DVD downstairs and put it into one of the Players down stairs, and the disc loaded in seconds without a hitch (once I put it in the right way). I tried one more time a week or so later, and it was the same result for the Philips. I did not bother trying it down stairs; it was obvious the machine was dying.

Philips DVD Player Controller

In the end, I decided to buy a new machine. The Philips I had for all that time was a very good machine and had served me well, but even I knew it was time to say goodbye. I did some pre-checking in PC World and Currys, before then deciding that this past Saturday would be the day I would buy a new machine. It was quite handy too as I had been in town before purchasing it to get some books, and watch Princess Mononoke at The Dukes. I went into Currys and had a look. It was nerve-wracking as for one I did not want to spend too much, but two, because the TV was old, it would need some form of old connection as standard in order for me to be able to use it (and three, having previously bought a terrible Matsui from Currys many years ago, was hoping to buy something not so terrible). While I was in Currys I did ponder whether it would be best to get a new TV too, but given my current employment status (desperately looking for work) I knew I would have to raid my savings to buy a new one. So for now it was just the DVD Player. In the end and with some help, it came down to 2 machines, a Sony and a LOGIK. Knowing it would be better to get a more trusted brand, or at least one I had heard of, I went originally for the Sony as it had the Yellow White Red connections in the back, but when someone in the shop said that strangely the box might not contain those cables, I thought in that case I would buy the LOGIK as it had a Scart Connection too (although did not come with the cables, but I could still use the one from the Phillips) plus the coloured connectors and USB (and HDMI I think). After purchasing it plus buying some other bits and bobs quickly, I brought the machine home, and soon after set to work plugging it in.

Philips and LOGIK DVD Player Controller's

It was relatively straight forward in the end, just swap out the Philips, plug-in the LOGIK and then test it. Yeah, pretty simple. When it came to testing it which was simple enough, I knew I needed something good and clear to test it with. The TV is not HD, and frankly I do not care about HD, but I still wanted a clear enough picture. So, I chose the film AKIRA. AKIRA is of course the animated Japanese film from the late eighties, and knowing due to the film’s high sophisticated choice of colouring, knew it would be ideal to test it with. And it worked absolutely fine. It loaded very quickly, and it was a clear picture.

Neo-Tokyo

The controller is a lot thinner than the old one, but still easy to use, and unlike the Philips, does have an open/close button. Once I watched a little Akira, I tried it again a couple of times later, watching an episode of The Detectives, and the video diary of Tim Vine (from one of his DVD’s). Altogether, I like my new DVD player. It’s thin and black and fits nicely where the old one used to be. It’s black so fits in with the Virgin Media box sitting comfortably on top (both are very light, but did not fancy placing the player on top the box, as it’s wider), is quick, and very easy to use. So turns out I did not have to worry so much. So, so far so good. Will it last another 11 years, I don’t know, but as long as it lasts a good comfortably long period, I won’t need to worry about buying another one for some considerable time. So, all in all: good.

LOGIK DVD Player

GENEPOOL (Pop Quiz Hot Shot: What is the above title a line reference too that most people get wrong)?

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This Is Just Ridiculous!

27 04 2016

Gorgo (King Brothers Productions - 1961)

I like Monster Movies, that is a pretty well-known piece of information about me, and one I have discussed many a time here on this blog. I absolutely adore Giant Monster movies from works such as the obvious Godzilla, to the lesser known Gamera, and a whole host (pun not intended) of independent and mainstream Movie Monsters, I have a great passion for the subject. I will happily admit however, that I have not seen every Monster Movie; in fact I bet there are still some I have yet to hear of…..I think.

The Host (Showbox - 2006)

Of the films I know I have not seen include classic films like The Giant Claw, Reptilicus, Garuda, Yonggary and Gorgo to name but a few. It’s the case that some of these are not shown on TV all that much and some are hard to get on Home Media. Some of the time; such films do require a relative amount of interest and reminding myself about them when looking into what films to get for my collection, but on occasion, you will also get instances such as the Godzilla films not being readily available in the UK due to DVD region codes and International movie distributors. It is really annoying, especially when you are such a fan of these films, and it makes you wonder whether or not you’ll actually ever get to see them. One of the above mentioned films however I have discovered is similarly hard to get in a UK home media format, but saying that alone is just the chip of ridiculous.

Gorgo Monster

Released in 1961, Gorgo is a Giant Monster movie originally created to be a homage to the original Godzilla film. It was originally set in Japan, but eventually just got set in Britain. It features the storyline ideas of Sea Monster gets discovered and is put on display, only for that creature’s Mother to show up and cause a significant amount of damage. The film was produced using similar techniques to the Godzilla series including the use of Monster suits and miniature buildings. It is something of an icon to the Monster Movie genre as it is something very different, but also very standout, as the film’s effects and setting suggest a very realistic setting and monster (but that is about as far as my knowledge on the film goes). Even when you look at pictures of the Monster or even in the trailer, you see similarities to the Original Godzilla in the creature’s arrival, bobbing out of the water and rampaging through a yet to be polluted skyscraper skyline. Plus it’s also interesting to see a city other than one in Japan or America get trampled on for a change.

For the most part, my knowledge on this film only comes to the point of things I have seen and read. My first real attention came a few years ago when it was suggested that Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright was considering doing a remake. While anything has yet to come out, it did sound interesting enough to take a deeper look into the film. I still don’t know much, but that is likely to change once I have actually seen it, which is also why I am writing this post; because well, you’d think that a film made and set in Britain would be ready available in Britain wouldn’t you? Well, it’s not!

Godzilla 1954 DVD

When I looked on Amazon.co.uk a couple of weeks ago for a copy, all I could find were a bunch of American imported DVD and Blu-ray copies. While this may not be an immediate issue for me as I am capable of watching such formats; I just found it absolutely ridiculous that a film set and made in this country, is somehow not readily available in this country. I was expecting this film to live up to a classical form, live up to being something you’d maybe find a rare copy of in HMV, something that you could find in nearly all major DVD shops in the UK of some size. I thought it would be a in a classic section with copies of the original Godzilla and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms nearby. You know what I mean? I just thought that all being well, such a film that is considered a classic Monster Movie, would have a status big enough for copies to exist in the country it was made in…..but it turns out that the answer to that is NO (or at least unknown)! And then there is the language issue. Despite once again being made in Britain, for some reason, the DVD copy of the film only comes in French Dubbing. It has English Subtitles, but in order to experience the English Dubbing (which I thought would have come as standard for a British Film), you have to buy the Blu-Ray copy. Why can’t it be the case with both, that both languages are available in both options? How bad must a DVD copy be that only one language is dubbed? Not saying there is anything wrong with the French language, I just don’t understand why the DVD copy does not come with English as well, if Amazon is to be believed!

Mini Rant over (I was originally writing this really tired at 2am in the morning after a celebratory night after being a runner-up in a story competition I entered), so, what to do? If I was really desperate to watch this film, I would probably just allow this one to slide, but due to how ridiculous this feels, I thought that as a British Monster Movie Fan, that it was something of a duty of mine to point out this near if not completely stupid situation…..then end up buying it in its current form eventually under the knowledge that my words are highly unlikely to change a thing, and just suck it up and give up! Why this film does not receive simple air-time in its own country is beyond me, surely this thing must’ve been shown on Film 4 or something at least once since it was made? Well, you can’t blame me for trying. In the end, I may like it when I get round to it, in the meantime though, it’s just a sad situation that when Britain does get its own Giant Monster, it has to live a life mostly outside his own country of birth, and speak a language not his own, it’s presence and existence relatively unknown to that country’s residents.

Gorgo Blu-ray

GENEPOOL





The Regional Mothra Mismatch Problem

8 04 2015

Rebirth of Mothra (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1996)

Recently I moved my PS3 back into my bedroom from its home of many years; the front room. I decided to do this because it’s hard to play on it standing up, and I hardly go online with it anymore other than to download the many updates for the machine/games as well as to post my trophy winnings on Facebook. By moving it back upstairs however, I am more able to get into the games I play plus I am now more able to watch my small collection of Blu-ray discs (I still prefer DVD’s). Why am I talking about this, well, the other day I discovered a problem.

PS3 Logo

Back in about 2011 I managed to purchase a copy of the first two Heisei Gamera films on Blu-ray. I already had Gamera 3 on DVD, but had not seen the first 2. The opportunity to watch the first 2 was a big one, but also a very risky one. For a number of years now, I have collected Region 1 Godzilla films. Why region 1 in particular? Well that answer is rather simple: DVD Region Codes. Basically, there are very few Godzilla films released in the United Kingdom (and probably most of Europe), at all. Thanks to the BFI though, I have a copy of the 1954 film on DVD. King Kong vs Godzilla  meanwhile was released in about 2006 to coincide with the home media release of the 2005 King Kong. And of course the 1998 and 2014 films have been released also. But apart from those cases, no other Godzilla films have been released. It was once the case that channels like Channel 4 used to air them, and as such is where most of my fandom of growing up with Godzilla came from. But for some unknown reason, not a single classic nor recent Japanese Godzilla film has really been shown (other than KKvG, 1998 and 2014) on UK television for some time now. It really does surprise me that these films are not shown on channels like Film4 or even more bizarrely; SyFy.

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

When a Japanese Godzilla DVD/Blu-ray does get released, or re-released, The UK (and probably most of Europe) is seemingly ignored from the release, and no plans for a Region 2 release are announced. It is possible to purchase the Region 1 films through places like Amazon UK, but in order to watch them; I need to have access to a machine that can play Region 1 films. The first time I tried I discovered my PC could; so no problem there; but the problem is just escalating. With the approaching dawn of more and more Blu-ray’s being produced, eventually it will become the standard format; much like DVD’s did for VHS. So in order to counter this issue I will need to locate a device to play Region 1 Blu-ray discs. But then; with the likelihood of Internet streaming taking over, I will need to find a way of accessing them from there, but as is the case; many internet sites prevent some countries, from looking at things from other countries (as is the case sometimes with YouTube), so it will either be the case of finding one website that allows the opportunity of watching such films in the UK, or, (more likely) not watch them at all.

YouTube

The only way around this problem really, is to have a UK/European release of these films (which could bring the possibility of a box set, maybe, but not likely at this rate) from companies who have produced Region 1 releases of the films, from Toho themselves or from a UK/Europe based home media company. One other option, is that Japan has the same region code as the UK (and possibly most of Europe) so a UK release or imported copies might not be too much of a problem, however, I don’t know if they will come with  either English Subtitles or an English Dub (or, I suppose I could learn Japanese).

Toho Logo

I am trying really hard not to turn this into a rant.

Biollante

Anyway back to the Mothra problem; my PS3 does act as a multi-regional Blu-ray player, and so I was able to watch that Gamera Heisei box set, plus the recent Godzilla vs Biollante release, as well as region 2 Blu-ray coded films. The other day however, I discovered a problem. Back in October time I managed to get the Rebirth of Mothra Blu-ray set. Finally an opportunity to watch the Rebirth of Mothra films and get to see Desghidorah in movie form. The other day I loaded it into the PS3, and I got a message saying there was a mix-match/miss-match problem involving the region coding. I went back to the PS3 menu. It recognised the disc as the film, but just would not play it. I reloaded the disc, same thing again. I loaded the second disc, same problem. I then decided to load my Blu-ray copy (region A) of Godzilla vs Biollante just to make sure it wasn’t the machine. It loaded fine. I then tried the Gamera disc, fine too. What it meant was that despite being the same region as the two other discs, I am unable to watch my copies of Rebirth of Mothra (at least for the time being). I have no idea what to do, so for now I am just letting it gather dust in the hope that one day I may get to watch it (unless the problem I stated above persists, in which case I may never get to see it).

Aqua Mothra

For now, I don’t know what to do. My hope is that someday, someone may finally release Region 2 copies of the Godzilla, Gamera, and the Mothra films (some Ultraman might be nice too) for people in the UK and Europe to watch in a Region 2 format. Until then it remains a constant struggle of hoping something will work on a machine, and coping when it doesn’t.

Desghidorah

GENEPOOL (This is pretty much the same reason why I am not all that much looking forward to the new Japanese Godzilla film in 2016, as I highly doubt it’s going to get released in the UK, either on DVD/Blu-ray, or in cinemas).








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