If you are a reader of this site you are no doubt a massive fan of film. However, what does separate the casual fans from the mega-nerds is whether or not you are the kind of person to watch a film again with the commentary track on. Audio commentaries on movies and TV shows feature people who had a hand in the creation of the product, they are usually the director and/or members of the cast. So whether you are new to this past time or have listened to many director's commentaries before, here is a list (in no particular order) of seven DVD and blu-ray releases that include enjoyable cinema ramblings.
1. Shaun of the Dead
The works of the amazing genre-comedy trio that is Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright have always had brilliant commentary tracks on their DVD releases. The Cornetto Trilogy is one of the strongest series of films I have ever seen. Purely because it is a meeting of sharp cinema minds and genuinely very close friends to create something that everyone involved is passionate about. This love for film and what they have created certainly comes across in the commentary tracks for Shaun of the Dead. There are quite a few different audio commentaries on the DVD, they exhausted all of the possible combinations, even having the extras that played some of the most recognisable zombies from the film chatting about how great the experience was. But it is the core cast commentary that is the most fun. It is absolutely hilarious and involves the cast of the film just messing around and telling funny stories about being on the set of the film that started it all.
2. The World's End
The final part of the three flavours Cornetto Trilogy includes a commentary track that features the main cast, with the exceptions of Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike. It involves Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan watching the film they made and generally being hilarious. They even do voices and impressions, including a really accurate impressions of Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen. The cast joking about Martin Freeman's dynamic with Jackson on the set of The Hobbit was absolute gold.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was a visual and storytelling masterpiece, this makes the commentary that can be found on the blu-ray featuring the brilliant James Gunn, absolutely fascinating. Hearing just how he achieved the immersive experience, plunging the viewer into believable science fiction environments is incredibly engaging. He even teases what may be covered in future films. Gunn is a really involving orator on the subject of film.
4. The Incredible Hulk
Of the myriad of superhero movies available this Hulk movie released in 2008 is an underrated gem. Louis Leterrier's version of the Hulk didn't get the recognition it deserved despite being full of some really cool scenes and quite a compelling storyline. There is a fantastic commentary track on the blu-ray featuring Letterrier and actor Tim Roth who plays the villain. There are some really interesting insights on the film-making process and what happened on set during complex scenes. The conversation between the two is particularly interesting during the final battle between Abomination and Hulk.
5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
This one is kind of cheating, I didn't want to have a list that was overly long but I didn't want to single out just one of the movies. There isn't really any one of the films that has a particularly strong commentary on its own, it is more the series in general in which Peter Jackson and Philipa Boyens provide invaluable insights. For any fan of film and the world of J.R.R. Tolkein's Middle Earth the commentary tracks for Lord of the Rings are a must listen. Director Peter Jackson and writer Philipa Boyens have an insane knowledge of the source material making the commentary tracks on the DVDs a really interesting listen. As well as being steeped in lore from the books these movies are a triumph in film making. It is amazing to hear how the genius, Jackson achieved some of the incredibly difficult scenes.
6. Army of Darkness
This is such a bizarre and quirky movie that it is interesting just to hear why Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell made the decisions that they did. They have a great dynamic making it really listenable. Raimi is both a genius and really witty, Campbell is a great presence. It is almost like he actually is Ash so it is really fun to listen to them go back and forth as you watch the shots they both created in this weird and fun movie.
7. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
With the DVD extras of Tinker Tailor' is an audio commentary featuring the director, Tomas Alfredson and the man behind George Smiley himself, Gary Oldman. Tinker Tailor' is a complex but engaging movie some things in the script do not make a lot of sense even if like me you have watched it a million times. The commentary track actually provides an insight into what some of the nuances and unexplained parts of the script mean. It is also great having Gary Oldman on the commentary. He is an amazing actor, one of the few that seems to shape-shift into the character he is portraying. That being said, it is almost as if George Smiley is actually narrating the events of the movie. Plunging the viewer even deeper into that world.