Movie News & Reviews

Film fans: Thanks for the memories

Nine years ago - Dec. 15, 2000, to be exact – I created The Video Guy column with the simple premise of a regular guy reviewing movies.

I thought the paper’s Weekend section could use a local voice to help people figure out what they wanted to watch, plus, I always secretly wanted to be a movie critic.

The first three films I reviewed were “Gladiator,” “Mission: Impossible 2” and “X-Men”, of which the latter would be the only one I’d be interested in seeing today despite me giving it a mere two stars at the time.

At the time of that publication, I was a single 24-year-old sportswriter living in Olympia renting tapes for my VCR from the local video store.

Nine years, one marriage, two kids, two houses, two jobs and about 1,100 movies later (now mailed to me from an online service in Blu-ray form), The Video Guy column is coming to an end. It’s been a great ride.

I have a lot of good memories about writing the column, from finding diamonds in the rough to seeing the column grow to interacting with readers.

The film and newspaper industries always have had a symbiotic relationship, one that is being tested as both go through a transition period.

Despite outward appearances, the movie business is hurting. Small studios are falling by the wayside or are unable to get their films out to the masses, leaving only the heavyweights to push their increasingly homogenized product.

At the same time, the newspaper biz is in crisis, part of which has to do with the fact that the film studios – once a major advertiser – have cut back on print marketing. Trying to think about the best and worst films I’ve reviewed during the column’s run would give me a headache, so instead I thought we’d look back at some important topics during the nine-year run.

THE RISE OF NETFLIX

Perhaps the biggest advancement in the video market was the arrival of home-based subscription services, which made renting a movie as easy as clicking your mouse and spelled the end of the independent video store, although I’m always surprised by the amount of people who still like to browse their local Blockbuster.

HOME THEATER

I went from renting videotapes to buying Blu-rays in a relatively short period of time, and the difference in quality is vast. Consider me a snob, but even watching a movie on DVD these days is difficult given the near-perfect audio and video quality available in your own home with the right setup. It almost makes going to the movies obsolete.

THE DEATH OF ORIGINAL IDEAS

It feels like people have complained about this every decade, but it seemed like the studios really stopped trying in the new millennium, focusing their efforts on remakes, sequels and adaptations of cheesy TV shows. It’s easy money, but it isn’t very challenging to filmmakers or audiences.

DIRECT-TO-DVD

Be it through budget, quality or marketing issues, movies that once got lost in the release shuffle now found themselves going straight to home video. Once considered a mark of shame, it became a viable market that studios used as another revenue source once they realized viewers were always in search of new product.

Before I go, I want to thank everyone who had a hand in helping me get this column started way back when and all of the readers who took time to drop me a line or suggest a film to review.

I plan on keeping The Video Guy going somewhere out there, so hopefully you’ll stumble upon me in cyberspace. Thanks for reading.

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