Friday, January 9, 2004

DVD Extras

As a die-hard Netflix user, I frequently only order the first disc of a two-disc set, so I miss out on the DVD extras. I only get to enjoy all the bells and whistles on the few discs I actually own. And it seems to me that in this relatively new art form of the DVD Extra, there are wildly different ideas of how it should work.

Last week, I watched the extended edition of "The Two Towers." Peter Jackson's commentary was extraordinary -- it was commentary by someone who knew EXACTLY what he was doing, meant every shot, and was really excited to tell us how he got everything done. He conceded that one or two of the scenes that didn't make it into the theatrical release didn't really work -- but, for the most part, everything that he shot DID, and was just cut from the theatrical release for time considerations. And since this was the "extended edition," all the cut scenes were restored to their proper places. Watching it, I got the distinct impression that THIS was the REAL movie -- what I'd seen in the theater was just a three-hour trailer.

And now for something completely different. Last night I watched "Pirates of the Caribbean" -- accompanied by the wholly useless commentary of director Gore Verbinski (with Johnny Depp on the assist). Besides the usual "everyone on the set really got along" business, the commentary was full of Verbinski and Depp talking about members of the crew by name without identifying them, and talking about how much they kept rewriting the movie on the fly. Verbinski certainly didn't take the kind of pride in his work that Jackson did. Every now and then, Depp would say, "That's a nice shot; how'd you do it?" and Verbinski would answer with some sort of dismissive comment about how it was all fake. By the time the commentary was over, I felt like this movie was as good as it was by dumb luck -- Verbinski didn't seem to have a clue as to how the movie ended up looking the way it did.

But then I watched the deleted scenes -- and was amazed to discover several of them would have destroyed the movie. While the vast majority of stuff cut from "Two Towers" was cut because the film was too long, most of the stuff cut from "Pirates" was cut because it would have been a really bad idea to keep it in the movie. I can't say the DVD gave me a really favorable impression of Verbinski as a director, but the man sure knows what to cut.


grodygeek said...

Please tell me NZ, why do you prefer Netflix versus your local video rental joint or pay per view? Knowing you are a smart person, I'm just curious in your opinion. If you have a journal entry about it, please point the way. Gordy

pegluh said...

I'd give more credit to the editor than Verbinski.