Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Barb Wire (4½ Stars)

A lot of people have dismissed "Barb Wire" without even watching it "because it stars that blonde bimbo from Baywatch". Give it a try. This is a high quality action film, and it shows that Pamela Anderson can be a good actress.

10 years ago this was one of my favourite films. I don't rate it quite as highly now. I think that I watched it too often. I've bought more copies of this film than any other film. I loved it after I first rented it from Blockbuster, way back in 1998, so it was one of the very few videotapes that I actually bought. I just found a list on my computer, though I gave away most of the tapes years ago. The list is in alphabetical order, which is convenient because it puts "Barb Wire" first.

  • Barb Wire
  • Children of the Korn
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Forrest Gump
  • Hearts in Atlantis
  • It
  • Lord of the Dance
  • Naked Souls
  • Orgazmo
  • Pretty Woman
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Sound of Music
  • Titanic
  • Tommyknockers

Only 14. Not many. But I had hundreds of tapes that I recorded myself from television broadcasts. I never really liked videotapes much. They were so big and clunky. There was also the factor that my home-made tapes recorded from television were better quality than the prerecorded tapes I bought. This might seem strange, but it's logical really. I recorded my tapes lovingly, whereas the prerecorded tapes were mass produced. Videotapes were a poor technology overall. I was glad when DVDs were invented. I didn't buy DVDs straight away because the players were too expensive. I waited until I could find a player under £50 (approx $75), which was in summer 2003. The first few DVDs I bought cost about £10 ($15), and some were as much as £15, but the prices steadily dropped. Last year I was paying £3 or less for DVDs, but the price is closer to £4 this year.

When I got my first DVD player I quickly bought all my favourite films on DVD, with the intention of retiring my VCR as soon as possible. I should have waited longer, I bought them while they were still expensive. The only film that took a long time for me to find on DVD was "The Paperboy". At the time it wasn't available on DVD at all, but in 2009 it was released in Greece. Since then it's also been released in Australia.

"Barb Wire" was also a problem, which is why I bought it more than once. It wasn't available in England, so I bought it from Germany. Unfortunately it was a shortened version of the film, only 94 minutes. So I bought the American release, which was the full 100 minutes. A few years later it was released in England, and since it only cost £3 I picked up a copy. It's 98 minutes long, but I can't see what's different to the American release.

One videotape and three DVDs of the same film should be enough, but last week I saw a copy of "Barb Wire" on Blu-ray for £2.95 and couldn't resist. Now I have five copies of the film, I must be crazy! Is the Blu-ray worth it? Well, the picture is crisp, slightly better quality than the DVD. At 98 minutes it's identical to the English DVD release. But it has no extras at all. The American and German DVDs both contain an extended dance sequence as an extra feature. The German DVD also contains a "Behind the Scenes" feature missing from the other DVDs. The American DVD contains an alternative full screen version as an extra, which I wouldn't normally bother with, but it works well for "Barb Wire" since all the action takes place in the centre of the screen. The Blu-ray has nothing. No extras whatsoever. Even worse, when I was clicking through the option menus I found a place where the Blu-ray got stuck. A faulty menu with no way out, other than ejecting the disc and starting again. I guess the Blu-ray is okay, but if you already have the film on DVD you don't need it.

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