2001: A DVD Odyssey Video to Die For

Video to Die For

Men of Honor
Sound A Picture A+ Film A
This true story of the Navy's first African-American diver is perhaps a little clichéd and sentimental, but it works just fine as an old-fashioned, feel-good drama. The video transfer is pristine, and the sound, while mostly subdued, has one exceptional sequence that will have you hanging on to your subwoofer.

102 Dalmatians
Sound A- Picture A+ Film B
If you saw the first live-action Dalmatians movie from Disney (101 Dalmatians—get it?), you know what to expect from this one, which is essentially a remake. But not all is black and white here. This version has a more appealing supporting cast, and the story is even amusing in spots, inducing cringes from adults only in the Cruella ending. The kids, though, will love its live-action cartoonishness, and it's fun to watch Glenn Close mercilessly chewing the scenery. The astonishingly crisp, vividly colorful video transfer balances the solid audio. In fact, if you must own only one live-action version of this series, this is the one to have (the first wasn't even anamorphic).

The 6th Day
(Columbia TriStar)
Sound A Picture A+ Film B+
While The 6th Day was less than a mega-hit in theaters, it should have a solid run on video. The main weakness of this story about cloning (I can hear the high-concept meeting now: "Two Schwarzeneggers—how can it miss?") is its too-heavy emphasis on action. But then, given the star, how could it be otherwise? The video transfer is impeccable almost without exception—there's an occasional trace of edge enhancement, but only just—and the sound is solid action-movie stuff.

Stuart Little
(Columbia TriStar)
Sound A Picture A+ Film B+
The premise is a bit of a stretch even for a fantasy: son needs brother, parents adopt . . . mouse. But as it's based on a famous children's book by E.B. White, I can't complain. Not as diverting for adults as for children, but it's easy to sit through and doesn't slather everything in a heavy coat of sugar. The special effects are amazing, the photography intensely colorful, and the video transfer one of the best you'll see. The sound is fine, if just a bit bright.

Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Sound A (both) Picture A+ (both) Film Toy Story A
Toy Story 2 A+
What can I say? Both films are amazing, and this is one of those rare cases in which a sequel surpasses the original. Apart from slightly bright soundtracks (Toy Story 2 sounds marginally better), there's simply nothing in the technical department to complain about. The 3-DVD Ultimate Toy Box special edition is the one to have, though the films are also available as separate DVDs.

Trial and Error
(New Line)
Sound B+ Picture A+ Film A-
This is a guilty pleasure—a surprisingly funny courtroom comedy that will appeal mainly to those who prefer physical comedy and wit to gross-out humor—there's none of the latter here. The sound is satisfactory and does the job cleanly, though it's nothing special. The video transfer is one of those rare gems that you find in unexpected places, and one of the best recent efforts from New Line.