* Prices may differ from that shown
My interest in films caused me to subscribe to Empire magazine a couple of years ago. I then found my interests had developed specifically towards DVD and home cinema. The steady deterioration of Empire and the poor coverage they afforded to home cinema meant that I cancelled my subscription and started to look elsewhere. I tried Total DVD magazine and Hot Dog but have now settled on DVD Monthly. Cost is the same as Total DVD, namely £3.99 per month, but it has featured VCD cover discs since October 2000 which was some months before we saw Total DVD do the same. The current subscription offer of 25% off over 12 months would bring the cost down to £36, just £3 per issue. The content of the magazine is largely spread across British and American DVD releases, film reviews, hardware reviews and competitions. Each edition is 130 pages long with many colourful photographs and illustrations. Thankfully most of the advertising is neatly tucked away towards the back of the magazine. You can expect to see up to thirty British DVDs reviewed, ten American (Region 1) releases and a handful of speciality discs which would include music DVDs and also those with mainstream adult content eg. Playboy, Penthouse etc. (Not the XXX stuff!). An average of six hardware reviews appear each month and a complete six page summary of hardware specifications is included in a format similar to that found in What Hi-Fi. There are as many as eight or nine competitions each month and the prizes range from single DVDs to complete home cinema systems. The front of the magazine is far too busy and cluttered but the index immediately inside is very well structured and spread over three entire pages. Details relating to the cover disc are included in the index and it appears the cover disc is normally just a lift of the extra features due to appear on one of the months major region 2 releases. In this respect I think it is fair to say Total DVD normally has a superior co
ver disc with features taken from a number of different DVDs. The DVDs under review appear to be newer than the titles in Total DVD which I found were often on the shelves before the magazine. The region 1 titles in particular are reviewed well in advance of their release date and the magazine often has exclusive first looks at some significant titles. The most prominent releases of the month are reviewed in depth with other titles being reviewed more briefly. All reviews contain a brief synopsis of the film and a detailed opinion on the sound and audio presentation of the disc. Good quality extras will also be covered if they are out of the ordinary in any way but there is always a quick ‘at-a-glance’ summary at the end of each review which lists the extras, stars, director, year of theatrical release, audio details, visual ratio, running time and price. Why they don’t include the certificate given to a film is a mystery to me. Surely it is quite an important guide to the content of a film! Not a fan of DVD? Well then I can’t recommend you to buy it. However, if you do have an interest in DVD and you are trying to justify the yearly subscription to your sceptical partner who doesn’t, then point out to them the stuff anyone can enjoy; in-depth star profiles and interviews (One star a month), light hearted views of the film industry (‘Which is the hardest spaceship ever?’ is one that caught my eye) and my favourite, the systematic ridicule of one film a month whereby all continuity errors, historical inaccuracies and acting blunders are displayed for all to see. I was pleased to see that even in a film such as Mel Gibson’s Patriot ‘dead’ extras were starting to sit up just as one shot was fading out! Well spotted DVD Monthly. I still enjoy Hot Dog for it’s reviews of forthcoming cinematic releases but DVD Monthly is more than that. If you retain your back issues it soon becom
es a valuable resource when considering your next DVD purchase or the next upgrade to you’re A/V system. If only it was a little cheaper!