There is a chain of buzzwords—collector's edition, anniversary set, director's cut, unrated cut, extended version, digitally remastered, Digibook, etc.—that studios slap on DVD and Blu-ray cases to tempt you to buy the same movies over and over again. Some are worth the upgrade, but many of those double dips are just the studio returning to the well one too many times. Read on and decide if you want to skip or double dip this month.
The Expendables: Extended Director's Cut
Sylvester Stallone muscled together cinema's favorite action stars of the past few decades for this explosive ensemble picture, including Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews and even a cameo by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie debuted on DVD and Blu-ray in November 2010, and now we have a cut that is 11 minutes longer that Stallone says that he prefers.
What's New?: If you're hoping for more action with the extra footage, fuggedaboutit. The opening sequence is longer, some music is changed and more scenes focusing on the women in the guys' lives pad out the extra runtime, but there's nothing to get excited about. What's more concerning is that some of the extras from the original release aren't ported over here, including an audio commentary and an excellent post-production featurette. Instead, the Extended Director's Cut BD includes a new intro by Stallone, a Spike TV special about the movie, "A Sinner's Prayer" music video by Sully Erna and "Sylvester Stallone: A Director in Action."
Skip or Double Dip?: Stallone might like his new cut better, but the additional material doesn't warrant a double dip if you already own the original release. Skip it.
Underworld: The Essential Collection
All three movies—Underworld, Underworld: Evolution and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans—in this gothic action series about the ongoing war between vampires and werewolves have been released individually on DVD and Blu-ray as well as bundled together. Kate Beckinsale, who plays vampire warrior woman Selene in the first two movies, reprises her role in the upcoming Underworld Awakening, which is why Sony has repackaged the trilogy together here for this new Blu-ray release .
What's New?: The three BDs of the movies are identical to the ones you can purchase individually or in the bundle. Instead, there is a bonus disc with instructions on how to obtain Ultraviolet copies of the films as well as a 17-minute anime short that leads up to Underworld Awakening. The Rise of the Lycans BD also has a bit more functionality, including a picture-in-picture production feature and an interactive map of Lycanthropes around the world.
Skip or Double Dip?: If you held out on buying the Blu-rays of this trilogy and want to sink your teeth into them before the new film opens in theaters, this set is the way to go. If you already own the movies individually on BD, you'll only be draining your wallet to buy the same movies again with only a few more added features. Skip it.
Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Editions
Based on Stieg Larsson's popular crime thrillers, the three Swedish films starring Noomi Rapace as gothic computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy—The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest—are available individually on DVD and Blu-ray or bundled together on both formats. David Fincher recently made a riveting English-language version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that is still in theaters and a compelling reason for Music Box Films to double dip with a new collection featuring extended cuts.
What's New?: If you're looking to uncover more bonus material in this new collection, not even Mikael Blomkvist with Lisbeth's help could find any here—the extras on the bonus disc are identical to the previous collection. What's new is that the movies are now split into six chapters, each one clocking in at about an hour and a half. There's nearly 30 minutes added to the first film, a whopping 50 minutes to the second, and the third movie adds a lot of material about government overreaching and interfering with the lives of private citizens.
Skip or Double Dip?: Although there are no new supplements, these extended versions of The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy offer a considerable amount of new footage for fans that feels more satisfying than the truncated theatrical films. Double dip.
Mission: Impossible: Extreme Collection
There are three films in the Mission: Impossible series starring Tom Cruise that are available on DVD and Blu-ray, and this Extreme collection is the third time Paramount has released the film on both formats. Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III are all available individually, bundled together in 2006's Ultimate Missions Collection, or now in this new Extreme Collection—just in time to cash in on the success of Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol at the box office. You don’t need to be a super spy to sniff out a pattern here.
What's New?: This Extreme Collection contains the exact same features as the previous editions except it is missing the second disc of Mission: Impossible III, leaving an audio commentary as the only extra for third film. The movies seem to have the same video quality as the earlier releases, which is disappointing because the first two films are showing their age and a need to be refreshed.
Skip or Double Dip?: What was Paramount thinking by putting out a new Mission: Impossible collection that actually has less bonus material than the individual releases and old Ultimate Missions Collection thanks to the glaring omission of the second disc of Mission: Impossible III? Skip it and pick these up separately or in the 2006 set.