When DVD’s first came out, the new medium needed a gimmick that would help sell the idea of movies with better audio and visual quality. And then a genous hit on the idea of dropping an additional audio track into a film, that would consist of cast and crew sitting down and talking about the film while it ran. Genius. Since then, DVD commentaries have become a standard part of the package. But the following five are worth listening to, even if the novelty has worn off.
- Tropic Thunder – Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black and Ben Stiller
On one hand, you’ve got director Ben Stiller explaining how certain shots were achieved, technical limitations overcome and how Tropic Thunder would piss off the mentally handicapped. Then you had Jack Black throwing some jokes into the mix, providing a steady stream of humour. Sounds like your average DVD commentary then? Not quite. You still have Robert Downey Jr, who true to his word in the film itself, still happens to be in character as he records his lines for the DVD.
It’s a ridiculous idea, as Downey Jr returns to his role as Australian actor Kirk Lazarus playing Sergeant Lincoln Osiris, going beyond the meta as he switches between accents. It’s a fantastic nod to a throwaway scene in the film, and something that few commentaries can equal.
- Shaun of the Dead – Everyone, simply everyone
Let it never be said that director Edgar Wright doesn’t know how to give back to fans. Shaun of the Dead isn’t just a great film on its own and the first chapter in the legendary Cornetto trilogy. It’s a movie that becomes even better when you hear what Wright and co have to say about the film, divulging constant tidbits and Easter eggs. Not keen on that then? How about listening to Dylan Moran shoot the idea of DVD commentaries down, while doing it himself? Hell, there’s even a commentary from a few of the actors who were wandering around as zombies in the film. Shaun of the Dead, it’s the film that keeps on giving.
- Watchmen – Zack Snyder
Say what you like about director Zack Snyder, but you have to give his movies credit for always pushing the visual envelope. Watchmen was no exception, as Snyder not only reworked the idea of director’s commentary, he imrpoved on it. From the very beginning, it’s Snyder walking out to greet viewers, then throwing factoids, crew comments, sound bytes and comparisons between the comic book and film on the screen. But that’s just technical stuff at the end of the day.
What really sells the commentary, is the fact that Snyder genuinely loved and cared for the film, which was a dream project for him. There’s a genuine note of love and respect for the medium, and while the mainstream release may not have been a smash hit, the film more than made up for that lackluster performance in the director’s cut Blu-Ray edition that included this exciting commentary.
- Batman and Robin – Joel Schumacher
And on the other side of superhero movies, we have Batman and Robin. It’s no secret that the fourth Batman movie is considered so bad, that George Clooney owes you your money back every time you spot him in public. And you know who else acknowledges that the film was beyond terrible? Director Joel Schumacher himself, who practically spends the running time of the film apologising for, well, everything. From nipples to bad scripting, Schumacher shoulders most of the blame. Unless it involves actors. Because screw those guys.
- Conan The Barbarian – Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Milius
What happens when you combine an actor who is most likely on several drugs with a director who is hellbent on dishing out some philosophy? One of the most inadvertently hilarious duos on a DVD commentary, that’s what. Between Schwarzenegger reminiscing about the fact that he was getting constantly laid throughout the movie, to director John Milius’ attempting to lend the riddle of steel some thoughtful discussion, it’s over two hours of hedonistic memories and Conan’s pectoral muscles having their own school of thought.
And if you happen to own the “hyp-motizing” collector’s edition DVD that you can find this commentary on, it’s also a solid foundation for a drinking game that will leave you paralytic.
Last Updated: June 5, 2014