Asterix in Britain
I received a check disc of Optimum’s recent UK DVD release of Asterix and the Vikings for review this morning (expect a review at DVD Times at noon tomorrow - one of the fastest turnarounds I’ve ever given a review disc, although the fact that the review of the film itself was already written helps).
Unfortunately, Optimum clearly felt the need to ensure that this disc fit in with their DVDs of the first six Asterix films, which means that it’s not a particularly impressive release at all. The transfer is a slight improvement on its French counterpart, which looked overly harsh and with some oddly jagged outlines. The lines in this new release are still slightly too jaggy for my liking, and there are a few visible compression artefacts here and there, not to mention the fact that the whole image has a rather filtered appearance to it, but the rampant edge enhancement has been tamed, resulting in a smoother and overall more eye-pleasing images.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. The French DVD featured English and French audio tracks (both 2.0 and 5.1) and subtitles, but all Optimum provides is a 2.0 English track - not even any subtitles (take that, disability anti-discrimination enforcers!). Okay, so the film was made in English, but the French dub was, in my opinion, the better of the two, and, in any event, I don’t understand the justification for leaving out the 5.1 mix. It’s not as if the film was made in stereo!
Oh, and there are no extras.
I really don’t understand Optimum. They put out some amazing discs, including what it probably the best all-round version of Howl’s Moving Castle in the world, not to mention what seems to be a fully-loaded special edition of Pan’s Labyrinth (a film I really want to see, by the way, although I’m holding out for an HD DVD release), but they’re also capable of putting out some absolute junk. Okay, so Asterix and the Vikings hardly fits under the category of “junk”, but it’s decidedly underwhelming nonetheless, particularly when a much better version can be had in France… oh, and supposedly an HD DVD is being released in Spain at some point within the next couple of months from DeAPlaneta. Now I sincerely hope they get that right.