Fight Club, 1999
Despite (or maybe because of) its harsh outlook on life and anti-consumerism, Fight Club has entered the ranks of a cult classic. The special edition DVD, which actually came out two months before the stripped version, is full of perks to get any fan excited. The commentary section isn’t just any commentary. There are five tracks with the director, the main stars and composers. In the still galleries, the pictures, sketches, oil paintings and story boards give a well-composed overview of the film’s pre-production. Also included are over a dozen behind-the-scenes featurettes and a making-of special. Even the double disc edition’s box looks fancy — it looks like a gift wrapped in brown paper — a perfect style for the mood of the film. — Olga Robak
Nightmare on Elm Street Collection, 1984-1994
This set includes all seven classic Nightmare films and an additional DVD with a maze of features and enough clever one-liners to hold the viewer over until the burnt murderer returns to Elm Street. Wes Craven created a three dimensional character with an undying lust for revenge unlike that of any other horror villain. The bonus disc is a collection of interviews, clips and music videos. Although every box set has a special bonus disc, The Nightmare Encyclopedia is one journey that viewers must navigate through and collect keys to earn the right to see exclusive features. The bonus material ranges from interviews with actor Robert Englund, Wes Craven and Clive Barker to promotional material to music videos that, in retrospective, are unintentionally hilarious. For casual viewers the original nightmare, Dream Warriors and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare are a must, which have some A-listers in these pictures. — Pablo Saldana
Moulin Rouge, 2001
This is the double disc all other double discs strive to be. There are so many special features, so many featurettes, so many behind-the-scenes looks that there seems to be nothing left off. Even the first disc isn’t skimping when it comes to features. It includes two different commentaries, eight behind the scenes looks at the filmmaking process and an audio track for the visually impaired. Disc two is where the extravaganza continues. There are interviews with writer/director Baz Luhrmann and other writers; costume design pictures paired up with movie stills for comparison; even each dance number has its own featurette; deleted scenes (with the jazzed-up name of “Unseen footage and abandoned edits”) are introduced by yet another interview. This special edition leaves nothing out, and gives not just the movie but also an understanding of everything that led up to the release of the film. — O.R.
LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, 2001
An epic DVD set for those not satisfied with the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’s three hour runtime and a regular two-disc version. The extended edition adds another 45 minutes and a gaggle of special features. While The Two Towers extended edition was very well packaged, the extras matched those of the Fellowship with clips of the second film substituted in place for those in the first film. The four-disc version includes documentaries on the long process of creating this epic, cast interviews and, of course, the usual promotional materials. It may never be settled as to which film is the best, but in terms of an essential DVD, the original is the clear victor. — P.S.
Boogie Nights, 1997
Marky Mark makes the transition from crappy musician to an acclaimed actor … compared to his music, that is. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights has a quasi-porn appeal that may turn off viewers, but, beyond the surface, Boogie Nights is a stunning film. The Platinum Series DVD is remarkably packaged with a cartoon-ish box cover and a horde of extras. The DVD has something for everyone, including an intriguing commentary with Anderson and another commentary with all the film’s stars such as Heather Graham, Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore and John C. Reilly. The two-disc set is crammed with music from the film, 10 deleted scenes (that come with short commentaries from P.T. Anderson) and “Try” by Michael Penn. Boogie Nights is another New Line must have, with four titles on this list, the studio knows how to put together a great DVD. — P.S.
Reservoir Dogs, 1992
Quentin Tarantino’s first stab at directing was the foul-mouthed and blood filled caper, Reservoir Dogs. The DVD was released with five limited edition photo covers, including Mr. Pink, Mr. Blond and the rest of the gang. Reservoir Dogs blazed its own path among other capers by relentlessly focusing on the process leading to the heist rather than the act itself. The 10th anniversary DVD gives viewers bang for their buck, including a fun commentary with the cast and the film’s reclusive director. The anniversary edition has it all: “Reservoir Dogs director tribute” (Tarantino speaks of the filmmakers that influence this crime masterpiece), “Real-life Dogs” (real criminals discuss their heist attempts) and “Small Dogs” (documentary on the development of Reservoir Dogs’ action figures). Artisan has turned a simple anniversary into one of the best DVDs of the last five years. — P.S.
Sure, subtitles turn away some part of a viewing audience, but a movie as stylistically beautiful as AmÃ©lie doesn’t need words — the pictures speak for themselves. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the Frenchman responsible for Delicatessen and City of Lost Children, comes a lighthearted tale of love and destiny. Fortunately for fans of the film, the DVD’s array of extras is as gratifying as the film. The second disc of the special edition is jam packed with interviews, audition tapes, featurettes and scrapbooks. The disc also includes an explanation of AmÃ©lie’s look and the way she was envisioned by everyone starting with Jeunet and ending with the French sweetheart Audrey Tautou who rose to relative fame after her portrayal of the titular character. — O.R.
The Emperor’s New Groove, 2000
The movie is a cartoon version of a buddy comedy, but it’s not just a kiddie film. Voiced by such comedians as David Spade and John Goodman, the film fits well with the style of characters these guys play in real life, not just lend their voice to. The movie borrows from previous stories and fairy tales told by Disney, but it’s humor and execution are unlike any other Disney release. But no matter how low anyone’s opinion of the film may be, there is no argument that the special edition DVD is probably the best packaged cartoon ever released. The additional disc has everything from desktop games to in-depth explanations of how a movie such as this is created. It covers the development of characters, the design of the layouts and story, the entire process of animation and voicing and how everything comes together in the end to produce a feature length animated film. Great for kids, adults, or for anyone who wants to witness the inner workings of an animation studio. — O.R.
Once Upon a Time in Mexico, 2003
Robert Rodriguez is not just a great filmmaker, he’s also a great producer and his DVDs are prepared with as much care as his feature films. All the discs that leave Troublemaker Studios — Rodriguez’s home enterprise where he edits and scores his films — are guaranteed to please fans of Rodriguez and aspiring filmmakers. Each DVD comes equipped with “Ten Minute Film School,” which explains basic aspects of filming. This one also comes with a “Ten Minute Cooking School” that lets the viewer enjoy the movie’s signature dish — pork wrapped in banana leaves. Standard features, such as commentary and deleted scenes, are never omitted, but Rodriguez always throws in surprises such as a filmed lecture he led about making cheap movies or “The Anti-Hero’s Journey,” which explains the plight of the Mariachi. — O.R.
The film is dark and haunting, capturing the drama of a serial killer bent on making a name for himself. Se7en: Platinum Series is a welcomed addition to any collection, with two discs chocked-full of features and a special notebook design. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star in the quintessential suspense/crime drama, the formula of which has been copied by every suspense thriller of the last decade. The two-disc set is what most studios hope for: From the interesting animated storyboards to the deleted scenes, nothing is just a filler. The DVD explores the opening title sequence from three different angles and with several alternative audio tracks. Se7en is the perfectly packaged cop thriller. While not nearly as psychological as The Silence of the Lambs, the DVD comes equipped with enough quality features to edge out the competition. — P.S.