As a DVD/Blu-ray reviewer, I have to be honest, I hate bonus features. Whenever I get a new Blu-ray, I refuse to watch supplements unless I’m reviewing the disc and am professionally obligated to do so. The only possible exception might be if it’s a movie that I absolutely adore and want to learn everything about. But those are few and far between these days. When I am reviewing a disc, I truly dread “Special Editions” that are loaded up with hours and hours of featurettes and promotional interviews. Is there anything in life more tedious than a 15-minute gag reel of actors flubbing their lines and goofing around between takes? No, no there is not.
When you’re an actor who’s just shot 75 takes of a dialogue exchange and is getting loopy with exhaustion, repeatedly mispronouncing the word “scatological” may seem like the most hilarious thing ever. But for a viewer watching that footage out of context months later, it’s pure torture.
Mostly, my antipathy for supplements has to do with the fact that, by and large, they suck. Aside from The Criterion Collection or the rare well-crafted documentary you might find on a Warner Bros. classic title, most of what passes for “added value content” on DVD and Blu-ray these days is annoying promotional fluff straight from the movie’s Electronic Press Kit. I’ve long since lost count of how many discs I’ve reviewed that promised “Over 4 Hours of Extras!”, which wound up being entirely comprised of repetitive 3-minute featurettes with the cast members gushing about what a wonderful experience they had making the movie, and how terrific everybody was to work with. I swear to god, my life would be greatly enriched if I could avoid ever listening to another tedious audio commentary in which the director stammers for two hours trying to think of things to say, while occasionally pointing out how he cast his cousin’s neighbor’s best friend as a background extra. And don’t even get me started on most “interactive” and BD-Live supplements, which are usually a complete waste of time.
It used to be that bonus features were a huge selling point on a DVD or Blu-ray. I still know some people who refuse to buy a disc that doesn’t have a minimum number of checkpoints on the back cover. But do people really watch them? With the massive sales success of ‘Avatar‘, which is completely bare-bones on both DVD and Blu-ray, I suspect that most people are still driven to purchase a title primarily by the movie itself, regardless of whether it comes with any supplements.
So, let’s hear what you think. Do you love or hate bonus features? Do you feel compelled to buy discs loaded with supplements that you’ll never actually watch? Or do you devour every single behind-the-scenes morsel you can find?