Tagged: dvd

Lost: Unraveling the Mystery DVD

Unraveling the Mystery is the first professional, fan-made, feature-length documentary (now on DVD) about the Lost phenomenon. Written and directed by Dean Shull, the film features a large group of Lost fans ruminating about their memories of watching the show and theories of what it all means.

If the film’s title makes you think you’re going to get some big, cohesive theory of what Lost is about, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Instead, most of the film is filled with talking heads who tell the documentarians pretty much everything they think about the show. Their likes, their dislikes, the stuff they’re most passionate about, the stuff they’re most curious about.

The biggest draw of the documentary has to be these colorful everyday joes, who run the gamut of personality types, many who’ve done a tremendous amount of thinking about Lost (one even mentions having written about the show) — and others who you’re left questioning their mental capacities at all. (The most memorable of these is a woman who sits on a couch with a bald, tattooed man, and does nothing but smile at him while he does all the talking. Her boobs are in danger of falling out of her dress the entire time, and the one instance when she speaks comes in response to something he says. She says, “like, yahh…” with eyes bulging and face blankly intense. She’s such a cliché, I can’t decide if it’s funny or sad.)

There’s the male chauvinist who thinks he’s funny, who seems to get more screen time than anybody else. There’s the geek. The brainy female scientist (one of the most reputable of the bunch). The rock star who clearly wants to be Charlie Pace. The party girl who’s only in it for shirtless Sawyer. The hairy guy who makes me think of a lumberjack. The funny girl who says “like” between every other word. And many more.

There offer tons of crackpot theories, but just as many intelligent ones. A few are so bizarre that they call into question the mental faculties of the individuals stating them. (More than once I was left wondering if these people have been watching the same show that I have.)

Aside from all the talking, the scientist woman also offers a nice demonstration of energy build-up and discharge using a Van de Graff generator, making it easy to understand the science behind the Swan station’s button. And there are a few scenes taken from a Lost fan party in progress, capturing the participants’ reactions to the Season 5 finale. And a few shots from San Diego Comic-Con of individual fans talking about the show — including a couple of scenes featuring the infamous “Hurley Fan” who always shows up during the Lost Panel. Frankly, the docu could have used a lot more of these kinds of scenes that show us Lost fandom instead of endless cuts between people merely talking about it.

But regardless of any drawbacks, ultimately Unraveling the Mystery stands as a testament to the obsessiveness Lost engenders among its fans. Rejoice, diehard fans! We are not alone in our mania.

Find out more about Lost: Unraveling the Mystery or purchase your own copy on DVD at pushingthebutton.com.

Image: Catchphrase Entertainment.

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Lost: Season 5 Blu-ray

Season 5, on the off chance you haven’t seen it (and don’t worry, there are no major spoilers in this review), is a season full of unexpected turns, character payoffs, and major island mythology. There are so many major developments per episode, with endless shocks and astounding jaw-droppers, that it can’t help but be the best series of the show (so far). It’s a testament to the confidence of Lost’s cast and crew in the story they’re telling that the whole thing didn’t devolve into confusing madness.

The Season 5 DVD and Blu-ray collection brings together all 17 hours in glorious digital transfers that look great in either format. The best is of course the Blu-ray version, which has vibrant colors and incredible sharpness that add up to brilliant, drop-dead gorgeous on-screen imagery that’s among the finest that Blu-ray owners will ever see. Likewise, the audio is as good as it gets, promising surround sound owners the best sound quality possible.

Past Lost season sets have included multiple episodes that feature audio commentaries from the cast and crew, but Season 5 has only two. Maybe the producers didn’t want to risk anyone letting any secrets out prematurely, so they put a gag order on the usual tell-all commentaries? Or maybe they just couldn’t corral the cast and crew to record many commentaries. I don’t know. But in any case, this is the one and only area where diehard Losties will feel gypped. In every other way, the Season 5 collection is outstanding.

There are tons of great extras that eager fans will joyfully lap up. The best of them is “Lost On Location,” which provides behind-the-scenes peeks at the filming of several episodes. The on-set antics of the cast and crew, and how hard they work to produce Lost, may sound like dry stuff, but it’s surprisingly entertaining. You’ll find out how complicated it is to stage a car crash (like the one in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”), you’ll learn about how important wires are whenever fire is involved in a scene, and you’ll witness how much fun the actors have on the set in between takes.

“Building 23 & Beyond” follows Michael Emerson as he visits the Lost Writers Offices in Los Angeles for the first time. He takes us on a tour of the building and meets nearly every major creative person behind the show, including the entire writing staff, the show’s editors, continuity experts, assistants, and more. While it’s fun to see where the show is conceived, the thing that jumped out at me most about this feature was the amusing way that each of the staff members becomes a deer-in-headlights when Emerson sudden walks into their office. As they welcome him and show him around, their thought bubbles are plainly written on their faces, with half of them are thinking, “Holy cow, how cool is it that Michael Emerson is here!” and the other half, “Benjamin Linus is in my office and he could totally kill me.”

“An Epic Day with Richard Alpert” follows Nestor Carbonell through his paces on the final day of shooting for Season 5. It’s a fun little diversion — which includes a surprising revelation about Carbonell’s infamous eyelashes — but not a feature anyone but Carbonell groupies will return to again and again. “Making Up for Lost Time” finds the cast and crew talking about all the time travel in Season 5, attempting to sort it out and keep it straight. And Blu-ray viewers get a feature called “Lost 100,” which celebrates the 100th episode of the show with a look back at the first 99, along with an on-set celebration that took place during the 100th episode’s filming, with a special cake delivery from Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes (of Ace of Cakes fame).

“Mysteries of the Universe: The Dharma Initiative” is a fake documentary based on a television show from the 80s that digs into the darker side of the “secret society” we know as the Dharma Initiative. It’s a very well done feature, though frustratingly short on new information. Only a few nuggets of intel are revealed — including the fate of Horace Goodspeed’s original companion on the island, Olivia, and the exact relationship between Alvar Hanso and Gerald DeGroot — but all of our unanswered questions about the Initiative and its role in island history remain exactly that: unanswered.

The bloopers are, as always, hysterically entertaining, while the deleted scenes aren’t bad, but give us nothing terribly interesting to ruminate on. The menus are a little more interactive than usual, and just wait until you see what happens on the menu for the Extras disc.

One of the most hyped features of the Blu-ray set is “Lost University,” a very cool feature which a ton of thought and planning has gone into, and I highly recommend taking part in it if you can. For the first time ever, homework might just be enjoyable.

The Season 5 set is worth the price for quality of the episodes alone, but the fact that it comes with so much added content, and the care with which the package has been crafted, sends it way over the top. A must-have.

Image: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

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Lost: Season 1 & Season 2 Blu-ray

Let’s dispense with the obvious stuff. If you’re reading this website and this review, then you already know what Lost is and what it’s about.

And what you really want to know is, why should I upgrade my perfectly good Lost DVDs to the new Blu-ray collections? The answer: because it’s just so doggone pretty!

Seriously, Lost is one of the most ideal made-for-Blu-ray TV shows of all time. Filmed to take advantage of countless gorgeous vistas in Hawaii, Lost is simply stunning at full 1080p resolution. The crisp, lush jungles, the warm, inviting beaches, the beautiful blue ocean. Lost on Blu-ray is as much an advertisement for Hawaii as it is the best format for watching the best show on TV.

I have to admit, though, I was skeptical at first. Having recently begun rewatching Lost all the way back from Season 1, I’ve been deeply impressed with just how sharp the transfer is on my old DVDs. Usually watching DVD-quality picture on a high-def TV screen results in annoying pixelization or fuzzy, low-res eyesores. But the Lost DVDs somehow transcend this, with some of the highest quality and highest resolution image transfers I’ve ever seen on DVD.

So it was going to take a lot to convince me that the Blu-ray experience would not only exceed the DVDs, but prove worthy of handing over another wad of cash to own a bunch of TV episodes I already have. After all, the Season 1 and Season 2 Blu-ray collections contain all of the same bonus features that the DVD collections contain (which we Lostaholics have already watched more than once), with just a couple of added niceties.

As for those new bits, you’ll find the best-possible picture quality, completely digitally remastered just for this release, and uncompressed 5.1 surround sound. There are “enhanced menus” which aren’t really all that different than the DVD menus, and one truly worthwhile addition called “SeasonPlay,” which lets you watch through the entire season, without stopping, and with no credits or other distractions. It’s perfect for those who want to enjoy an entire “volume” of the show from start to finish, with no credits or anything else to get in the way. One episode simply flows right into the next, seamlessly, and once you see it, it becomes the ultimate way of watch the show. It also “bookmarks” your place on the disc when you eject it, and then continues from that point when you put it back in.

Both collections do include a bevy of fantastic extra features, and if you don’t already own the DVDs, the bonuses are worth the price of the collections alone. Go behind the scenes of the making of the show, dig into the thoughts and motivations of the major characters, and listen to the creators and writers explain how the show is conceived week to week. It’s endlessly fascinating, and it’s like crack for making-of junkies like me.

Bottom line: no true Lost fan’s collection will be complete without the Blu-ray collections, which showcase the show in the most authentic, most stunningly beautiful way. Just don’t expect any genuine exclusives to the format.

Images: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

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