Best of the Month, Special Features: The Extras You Must See on 'Mission: Impossible,' 'Chinatown,' Shame' and More

Best of the Month, Special Features: The Extras You Must See on 'Mission: Impossible,' 'Chinatown,' Shame' and More

Apr 24, 2012

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.

Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol: This fourth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise has secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) dangling off the side of the world's tallest building in Dubai. How much of the dizzying action is real as opposed to being augmented digitally? Find out in the excellent making-of featurette "Mission Accepted" on the DVD and Blu-ray that can be viewed in three parts: "Suiting Up in Prague," "Heating Up in Dubai" and "Vancouver Fisticuffs."

Shame: Michael Fassbender got a lot of attention for wagging his penis on-screen in this NC-17 drama, but he is also chillingly convincing as an emotionally detached sex addict that cannot connect with people on any meaningful level. There are several featurettes on the DVD and Blu-ray that explore the psychology behind someone with this kind of addiction, including "Focus on Michael Fassbender," "The Story of Shame" and "Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Michael Fassbender."

The Darkest Hour: This sci-fi thriller follows five young survivors stranded in Moscow following a devastating global attack by aliens that are mostly invisible to the human eye except for flashes of electricity. While the movie keeps the action in Russia, the short film The Darkest Hour: Survivors on the DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D shows short vignettes of how people are handling the invasion in other cities and is actually more interesting than the characters in the main feature.

A Streetcar Named Desire: The 60th anniversary Blu-ray edition of this classic Tennessee Williams film adaptation starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh comes packaged in a digibook with 44 pages of pictures, mini bios, movie trivia and more. The BD itself is packed with exhaustive extras for film buffs, including a feature-length documentary on director Elia Kazan, "A Streetcar on Broadway," "A Streetcar in Hollywood," Marlon Brando's screen test, a look at the censorship issues that the production faced and much more.

The Poseidon Adventure: The Blu-ray debut of this seminal 1972 disaster flick about a cruise ship that goes belly up has an all-star cast that includes Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and unlikely underwater-swimming sensation Shelley Winters. The BD is officially a Wal-Mart exclusive but can be found other places online such as Amazon. A boatload of bonus features is included, such as more recent interviews with the all-star cast, a Hollywood Backstories episode, "Falling Up with Ernie," marketing and publicity galleries, an original 1972 featurette and much more.

War Horse: This World War I epic drama by Steven Spielberg follows the journey of a horse named Joey and the people that come in contact with him. The hour-plus Blu-ray exclusive "A Filmmaking Journey" covers every aspect of the making of the film, including character arcs, locations, special effects and the various horses used during the production.

Chinatown: Roman Polanski's 1974 film noir classic starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway is one of the controversial director's greatest achievements. This Blu-ray debut ports over all the comprehensive supplements from the 2007 and 2009 DVD editions. All of them are worth watching, including the documentary "Water and Power" about the historical events that shape Chinatown, interviews with other creative types about the film's influence on their work, and a look at Chinatown's enduring legacy.

We Bought a Zoo: This Cameron Crowe-directed drama based on a true story stars Matt Damon as Benjamin Mee—a recent widower who buys a house with a whole lot of animals for himself and his two children. The 29-minute featurette "The Real Mee" is an interview with the actual Mee as he walks you through his zoo in Dartmoor, England, introduces his two children and opens up about his late wife.

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