Over time, my personal collection of movies has increased from respectable to impressive. Many people have asked why I continue purchasing DVDs and Blu-rays. They say it's a dying medium as well as a waste of money, since everything is #streaming online nowadays.
While I love the freedom of streaming and still watch things on #Netflix, #Hulu, and #Amazon, there is something lost when you only watch the final product. Am I occasionally guilty of streaming something, even though I own it and don't want to get off the couch? Of course. I'm not a Luddite, just occasionally lazy.
So why is it that I continue to collect movie DVDs and Blu-rays? For the special features and commentaries.
The Missing Ingredient When You Only Stream
The first commentary I listened to was The Usual Suspects. It was on a separate VHS tape that you could check out from #Blockbuster. It was a big deal. I had attended a writers' conference in Chicago, where Christopher McQuarrie had spoke. Afterward, I wanted to know as much as I could about this film that he'd penned. I listened to the commentary and watched all the extras on the tape. I now own it on Blu-ray and watch it whenever the mood strikes. It remains one of my favorite movies.
There is one #DVD I own for the sole purpose of enjoying the extras, and that film is Daredevil. I hated the movie and had to be physically restrained from cursing at the screen when first I watched it. Yet the sheer terribleness didn't outweigh the extras including "Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil," a collection of interviews include that of #StanLee and Frank Miller.
Even if you're not an aspiring filmmaker or actor, learning more about the moving parts of moviemaking can be interesting. This knowledge could potentially roll over to the next film you see. An excellent example of this is explained on a #YouTube series by Tony Zhou called “Every Frame A Painting.” In a short video, he breaks down a scene from The Silence of the Lambs that conveys the power struggle without relying solely on the dialog.
When you go beyond simply watching the movie, you learn more about decisions that went into creating it. Something that you might have had mediocre feelings about could change with info that puts a new spin on it.
As with all things, not all extra or special features were created equal. #StarTrek has recently stepped up its game by adding a lot more to its movies and TV shows on Blu-ray. There are some filmmakers, like David Fincher, Joss Whedon, and Edgar Wright, who are known for giving insightful commentaries. There are commentaries by critics and historians that add new information from people removed from the process, including for the likes of such classics as Gone With the Wind and Sunset Boulevard. Even the TV series Justified boasts some special features that add a new flavor to the characters and teach a great TV 101.
Moulin Rouge! has a second disc filled with fun extras, including various camera angles for four different dances. There is an extended cut as well as the ability to choose which angle to watch, as if you were editing the scene yourself. Monty Python and the Holy Grail gives you the option of subtitles from Henry IV, Part II if you don't like the original movie, an educational film How to Use Your Coconuts, as well as several scenes recreated using #Legos.
Then there's Weird Al Yankovic telling stories as well as dishing the addresses of all the locations where UHF was filmed. This is Spinal Tap has a commentary track by the actors — in character, natch — commenting as if it were a real documentary. Tim Burton’s commentary on Sleepy Hollow is unintentionally scary. He stops talking long enough that you forget you have the commentary on. Then he suddenly speaks and you leap five feet off the couch, accidentally scaring your cat. So I've heard.
There are websites that give reviews on the extras and rank the best ones, such as Screenrant.com or Sound & Vision. They help you decide which ones are worth watching beyond some of the ones I've mentioned. If you're still leery of spending any money on them, you can always check them out for free from your local library.
Do you have any DVD extras you recommend to check out, or ones to avoid? Please list them in the comments section.