Streaming or downloading movies is a convenient way to rent a flick even though the picture and sound quality are not as good as Blu-ray, but those fun behind-the-scenes extras are not usually available digitally. To keep you spinning physical discs for years to come, studios are including innovative and often immersive bonus features on the DVDs and Blu-rays of your favorite movies and TV shows. Read all about this month's best extras served up on shiny silver platters that take you beyond the feature presentations.
Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Collection
This handsome set packages together 15 of the Master of Suspense's best movies, 13 of which make their Blu-ray debuts here. Included are Psycho and North by Northwest—both released previously on Blu-ray—as well as the high-def debuts of Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy and Family Plot.
Best Extras: The set is packaged as a hefty Digibook with cardboard sleeves for the movies. The box houses a 58-page booklet filled with color pictures, trivia and information about each production.
Extra Extras: Each movie in the Masterpiece Collection ports over all the extras from the previous DVD releases for a total of over 15 hours of making-of and behind-the-scenes features.
Blu-ray Bonuses: Although there are no new documentaries or features produced exclusive for this HD box set, Universal has added "My Scenes" functionality to each movie so you can bookmark your favorite Hitchcock moments, as well as the Pocket Blu app on The Birds, Rear Window and Vertigo.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 30th Anniversary Edition
If you didn't fall in love with Steven Spielberg's classic sci-fi story about a little boy who helps a lost alien "phone home," you just don't have a heart. Spielberg went back and tinkered with the film for a rerelease much like George Lucas did for Star Wars but, unlike Lucas, realized the error of his ways and authorized the release of the original theatrical version of the film for this Blu-ray debut.
Best Extras: If you really want an out-of-this-world collectible, Amazon sells a version of the 30th Anniversary Edition housed in a replica of E.T.'s spaceship. The best extra ported over from previous DVD versions is the 50-minute documentary "The Evolution and Creation of E.T.," in which Spielberg follows the story's origins to the end result.
Extra Extras: Other previous extras included on this Blu-ray debut are a short making-of doc, a cast reunion, "The Music of E.T.," "The 20th Anniversary Premiere," deleted scenes and "Designs, Photography and Marketing."
Blu-ray Bonuses: There are two new special features included for E.T.'s Blu-ray debut: a short new interview with Spielberg and the 54-minute "The E.T. Journals," which features some never-before-seen footage from the set that is a sweeter treat than a mouthful of Reese's Pieces.
Prometheus 4-Disc Collector's Edition
Ridley Scott's prequel to his own Alien is an ambitious sci-fi masterpiece about the crew of the titular spaceship that heads out to remote world to find answers about man's origins and, inadvertently, sets into motion humanity's destruction. There are several editions of Prometheus available for purchase, but this one contains the stunning Blu-ray 3D version, the 2D Blu-ray, and some essential extras you won't find anywhere else. Read on.
Best Extras: Each edition of Prometheus out there has deleted scenes and an alternative ending and opening, the latter of which shows a longer version of the Engineer's ritual self-sacrifice that brings life to the Earth. There is also the Weyland Corp. Archive—a massive collection of preproduction and production material to peruse—along with marketing and promotional material.
Extras Extras: Commentary by Ridley Scott, writer Jon Spaihts and writer/executive producer Damon Lindelof as well as a Weyland Corp. Archive Second Screen app.
Blu-ray Bonuses: Here is the reason why this 4-Disc Collector's Edition is in a class by itself. Included is the extraordinary 221-minute documentary The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus, which walks you through every step of the film's production in exhaustive detail. The way the documentary is laid out for interactive use is brilliant, which allows users to click on little icons that appear during the doc to access additional "enhancement pods" (galleries, screen tests, videos and more) about the topic being discussed. The massive doc is also broken into 10 segments so you can focus on the areas of most interest instead of sitting through it all at once. You don't have to sift through the entire Furious Gods doc to watch the enhancement pods either—the 71 minutes of supplements can be played all at once or watched individually.
When you have this much bonus material available, the key is organization so the viewer doesn't get overwhelmed. In this case, Furious Gods is a triumph of design in much the way Prometheus itself is masterful science fiction.