The 25 Greatest DVD Special Features of All Time
By BRETT MICHEL  |  April 25, 2006

As much as I lament the continuing decline of attendance at the cineplex, it’s also easy to understand. While I hope the day never comes when I have no choice but to view the latest movie offerings on a television screen (however big or hi-def), I can appreciate the wealth of features that the DVD format has to offer. Three months after I catch the latest release on the big screen, I can plop down on my couch with a remote in my hand. But to watch the film all over again? Oh, no.

Instead, I immediately check out the bonus treats — those “special features” that, when they’re good, can only enhance your appreciation of a film. Below is a list of the 25 best DVD special features currently (or, in some cases, not) available.

Matrix25) The Matrix
The first DVD to crack a million in sales (driving early adopters to the then-new format) came housed in one of those since-abandoned Warner Bros. cardboard snap-lock cases that time should forget. But it’s what’s on the disc that will always be remembered. Beyond the obligatory commentary track — which doesn’t feature Keanu Reeves (I’m not complaining) — the disc contains some of the earliest hidden features (including “What Is Bullet Time?”), now commonly referred to as “Easter Eggs.” The sequels may have been lacking, but the original still holds surprises within its rabbit hole. Go on: take the red pill.

Pulp Fiction24) Pulp Fiction — Collector’s Edition
As DVDs go, this two-disc re-release supplies probably only a Quarter Pounder with cheese worth of extra features. Who knows if that “le Big Mac” edition will ever be served up, so enjoy this tasty treat for what it is: a reference-standard transfer of the (for better or worse) most influential film of the ’90s. Quentin Tarantino has yet to record commentary for any of his films (strange for a man who can’t seem to stop talking), so we’ll have to make do with an onscreen trivia track. Still want more? How about five deleted and alternate scenes and an entire episode of Siskel (R.I.P.) and Ebert devoted to Tarantino?
Special Mention: Kill Bill, Vol. 1 — Limited Japanese Box
A long-out-of-print collectible (I’ve got one) that sheathed a full-bloody-color transfer of the film; anyone who tries to take it from me will face my scale-model replica of The Bride’s Hattori Hanzo sword.

Akira23) Akira — The Special Edition
When Akira opened back in 1987, it connected like a hard fist to the disaffected youth who had grown tired of the antiseptic offerings from a floundering Disney. The era of cyberpunk was upon us. Twenty years later, it’s dead, killed off in two quick shots by the Matrix sequels. Well, fuck the Matrix! (After you watch its extra features, of course.) You can bring back Akira (without all the punching) within the comfort of your own living room. Navigation is a bit archaic, but the Production Report, Director Interview, and more than 4500 stills are obsessively thorough.

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