Apr 102009

Extras, included with DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have seriously
lost their luster, at least for me. In the early days of DVD, I would wade
through the extras, including the commentaries as if the movie itself simply
didn’t justify the purchase without them. I eagerly purchased the multiple disc
versions and watched in astonishment when others selected the single disc
version, geez, anyone can see that 2 discs are better than one.

More than a decade later I simply don’t care, I watch the
movie and remove the disc from the player with very few exceptions. The
exceptions are when I know there is a great gag reel or short movie, like the
squirrel in the Ice Age movies or the penguins from Madagascar. I admit, I
can’t get enough of the penguins, or the squirrel, or any number of Shrek sing
along shorts. These my friends are the rare exception to the rule.

Blu-Ray (and once upon a time HD-DVD) promised to provide a
huge leap forward in the extras department, BD Live removed the limitations
that disc space once  enforced, so why
then am I still so severely underwhelmed by the extras? Easy, they suck, they
have no imagination and outside of the rare exception, they, oh I already said

There are commentaries I must have, all of which are found
on the excellent Criterion versions, these guys know how to spruce up a movie.
Kevin Smith commentaries are also worth a listen just for the laughs. The vast
majority of commentaries however are worthless, they might as well mike up one
of my dogs, the sloppy licking sounds would be far more entertaining and
provide more information.

Gag reels should give us a few laughs, hence the term gag
reel. Somewhere along the line the need to include extras lost focus and the
gag reel is now more likely to make us gag than laugh. While not a great piece
of cinematic art, Marley & Me should have been able to piece together a
good or even great reel. I was saddened by its complete lack of funny however.

There is one gag reel I must mention as excelling, once
again, not a great cinematic treasure but one of my biggest guilty pleasures. Armageddon’s
criterion 2 disc set has the funniest reel I have ever seen. Bruce Willis and
Billy Bob Thornton  are a couple of very
funny guys, give this one a chance, you won’t regret it.

Blu-Ray is a huge improvement in picture and audio, so why
is it failing so miserably at delivering the interactive extras it promised us?
Lack of creativity is the best I have been able to come up with but I am sure
there is an accountant behind the scenes who hasn’t laughed in 20 years and
would prefer to keep the rest of us from doing so as well.

Studios, are you listening? Give us something to smile
about, show us the awe and wonder you promised. We love the improved picture
and sound but for the extra bucks to get the Blu-Ray disc, well, give us something
that really blows our socks off.

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