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Bootlet Bandits Deliver Sub-Par Downloads

This week notorious internet news nanny Matt Drudge reported the presence of advanced bootleg prints of The Two Towers floating about online available for download. While the validity of this story is actually quite questionable and completely unconfirmed, for me it raises the question why?

Why would anyone want to download bootlegs to begin with? Sure, I'm not a total innocent; I've dabbled in it once or twice and know what I'm doing well enough to find the same things all you hardcore bootleggers find. But I simply don't see the point. Presumably hardcore downloaders are doing this for the love of film. It takes a real movie lover to put that kind of time and effort into hunting down something just to have the chance to see it first. As a movie lover, how could you watch something so totally inferior?

Put aside questions of legality or morality involved with such things, this isn't a rant about breaking the law or the unjust behavior of fat cat studios that makes them richer and screws the rest of us over. I'm talking about loving movies. Bootlegs are an inferior product. Generally they are grainy, fuzzy, and of poor sound quality. Most of them are taken by some guy with a camcorder in a movie theater, recording what's up on the screen. There are a few high quality prints out there, most of these from stolen press screening copies, featuring the type of quality you'd expect from a purchased dvd but these are rare and still not perfect.

So you download and if you're lucky you manage to find a quality bootleg that's actually watchable, instead of the aforementioned camcorder mess. You download and you sit, hunched over a tiny computer screen. Alone. Isolated. Squinting to make out pictures compressed onto your 17-inch monitor. Listening intently to the tinny sound coming out of your outdated Altec-Lansing computer speakers. Imagine this is the way you see The Two Towers or the next Star Wars installment for the first time. Not in a theater, not on opening night, not surrounded by other movie lovers basking in the glow of a crystal clear 75ft screen enraptured by pure digital surround sound that pumps out every click, boom, and ping from Howard Shore's magnificent soundtrack. No not like that. Instead you get it early, you get it at home, and you watch it alone in the dark squinting for clarity.

That's not a movie experience that's a disappointment. If you REALLY love movies, why would you CHOOSE to watch any film much less one you care about, in such a sub-par, low-tech environment? You're doing yourself and the film an injustice.

So why do we bother with bootlegs? Are people so set on one upping their friends by seeing things first that they don't care HOW they see it? Maybe. As a critic it would do wonders for my career to see things further ahead of time. I won't tell you that I don't receive such things occasionally from a few folks I know trying to help snag The Film Hobbit an exclusive sneak peak. And I'm grateful. I watch. I'm happy. But to do so on a regular basis, or to watch a film you really CARE about, a film like Lord of the Rings... that's a shame.

I'd rather wait in line outside the UA MacArthur Marketplace 16 here in Dallas for days rather than spend 3 hours in a hardbacked chair at home glaring at my computer. There's magic in the movies. If you lose that, and reduce films to just a bunch of pixels on your screen, you've lost what movie making is all about. The first time you see something should be the best time.

You only get one opportunity to experience each movie as something totally new. Don't waste it on some slacker's attempt at underground bootleg fame. Your movie health depends on it.

About the Author
Joshua Tyler is the Owner and Creator of, a movie news and review resource updated daily and available for paid syndication.