Those DVD ‘Special Features’ Rarely that Special

For some lighter fare today…

When DVDs first began to contain those now ubiquitous special features, those mini documentaries, series of interviews, or behind the scenes shoots, it seemed like such an exciting idea, especially for film buffs (or series fans). But now that they have become fairly common and now that I’ve seen a lot of them, I have to say that they are almost entirely worthless for anything other than time-wasting, disc stuffers.

Did you know that JJ Abrams is a great camera shaker and is “the life” of the new Star Trek movie? Did you know that no one worked harder than Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Isn’t the newest Punisher movie as fun as a real live comic book? Didn’t the actors on Silverado have fun? Wasn’t Patton intense? Aren’t all these films as brilliant as Shakespeare?

Do you care at all?

It is entirely naive, of course, to imagine that the viewer will get any critical analysis of a movie by the same folks that made and are marketing the very DVD that contains the effort and therein lies the total uselessness of these “special” features. Every actor is brilliant, every composer poured his soul into his assembly line-like, quickly churned out accompaniment, every director was singularly intent on creating the most serious-minded art ever conceived on film… and most of it is utter bunkum.

The gauzy, uncritical fluff that comprises all these special features is laughable for the utter sameness of one to the other. How many times can you see nameless, faceless special effects guys tell you that their film has the most up-to-date, brilliant computer effects ever seen before you start to wonder who is telling the truth? How many slobberingly effusive actors can you take telling you that their co-stars were all princes, that their leading ladies were all as gracious as the Queen, and that their director was the most intelligent, dedicated auteur since filmmaking dawned?

Everyone was grand, every script was fantastic, every special effect the height of technology, every note of music heartfelt and stirring, and every film was as important as the invention of the wheel.

Seriously, did no one find their co-star a bore? Was no director a manic pain in the ass? Was no score written with obvious bits and pieces from the ten other scores the composer has drilled out over the last twenty years? Was every film a Citizen Kane instead of the summer’s quickly forgotten popcorn? Does it escape each of these self-congratulatory imps that these are just movies?

There is no reason whatever to watch these less than special features. There just isn’t. In fact, few of the movies that these special features accompany are worth the time invested, so the “special” features most certainly are not.

At the risk of sounding like I am about to chase “those kids” off my lawn, I have some advice for you all. After watching the movie, shut off the DVD player and go read a nice book. In fact, that advice just might preempt the feature presentation itself.

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