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—especially if it is a first-time purchase of a movie you like—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.
Donnie Darko: 10th Anniversary Edition:
Delusional high school student Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) meets a giant metallic rabbit with eerie visions of the future that pulls Donnie down the rabbit hole—or, perhaps, wormhole—in this mind-bending cult classic about time travel and destiny. Alongside Gyllenhaal are some familiar faces in strong supporting roles, including Drew Barrymare, Noah Wyle, Jena Malone and the late Patrick Swayze. Set in the late 1980s, the soundtrack features haunting songs of that era by bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and The Church.
What's New?: Both the theatrical and director's cut of Richard Kelly's outrageously original movie have already been released together on Blu-ray back in February 2009 with three different audio commentaries, a production diary, "#1 Fan: A Darkomentary," a storyboard-to-screen featurette and "They Made Me Do It Too—The Cult of Donnie Darko" featurette. This three-disc (one BD, two DVDs) anniversary edition has both versions of the movie and all the previously mentioned extras. A third DVD has some additional standard-def bonus features, including deleted/extended scenes, "Cunning Visions" Infomercials, The Philosophy of Time Travel Book, a website gallery, "Mad World" music video, an art gallery with production stills and biographical info on the cast and crew.
Skip or Double Dip?: Donnie Darko is a fan favorite, but if you already have the previous Blu-ray edition, do you really want to buy it again just to have a DVD of a few more extras? Skip it.
Battle Beyond the Stars:
Roger Corman's answer to the Star Wars craze is this 1980 cult classic in which a tyrannical dictator named Sador (John Saxon) threatens to subjugate a peaceful planet. Leave it to innocent farm boy Shad (Richard Thomas) to pull a Luke Skywalker and leave his desert planet to search for alien mercenaries who might be sympathetic to his people's plight. Although this shoestring-budget sci-fi flick features some laughable special effects that seem even sillier today, the cast wins you over with their spirited—although sometimes campy—performances.
What's New?: Battle Beyond the Stars was released in 2001 on a dirty, non-anamorphic DVD that, until recently, fetched a high price on eBay due to its rarity. This superior 30th Anniversary Special Edition is available on DVD and makes its debut on Blu-ray, this time both with a cleaner anamorphic transfer. Special features on both versions include audio commentaries, an interview with Thomas, the 33-minute "Space Opera on a Shoestring" featurette and a still gallery.
Skip or Double Dip?: If you're onboard for this shaky sci-fi outing, you need to have it look as good as it possibly can. Double dip.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin:
Universal went Blu-ray double dip crazy within the past month, re-releasing a slew of titles already available on Blu-ray in new "combo packs." One of them, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, had us chortling way back in 2008 when it was released on DVD and Blu-ray with both a theatrical and unrated cut. The laughs keep coming in director/co-writer Judd Apatow's raunchy comedy about Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) and his pals' efforts to help him score thanks to Carell's hilarious man-boy performance.
What's New?: Both the previous DVD and Blu-ray versions were loaded with extras, including commentaries, over 30 minutes of deleted scenes, auditions, raw footage, rehearsals, a 1970s sex-ed film and many more fun featurettes like "You Know How I Know You're Gay?" and "Judd's Video Diaries." This new combo pack has a Blu-ray with all of these extras, plus a DVD and a digital copy for portable devices.
Skip or Double Dip?: Is it not enough to watch Carell pop his cherry in high definition? Do you need to be "doing it" on your bedroom DVD player and your iPhone as well? If so, double dipping into this combo pack will be orgasmic to you.
Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Series:
Who knew the relatively modest 1994 sci-fi adventure Stargate would be so seminal on television? In Stargate Atlantis, itself a spinoff of Stargate SG-1, Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) finds a portal in Antarctica to the Lost City of Atlantis in the Pegasus galaxy. In August 2009, MGM released Stargate Atlantis: Fans' Choice, an anemic pilot/finale combo that skips over the 97 episodes in between and comes with no extras. Is this what a fan would choose? Really?
What's New?: The great news for fans is that all of the episodes are finally available on Blu-ray in one package with actual extras, including episode commentaries, deleted scenes, mission directives, featurettes, bloopers, profiles and more. The bad news is that, now that you can finally see the entire series in revealing 1080p resolution, a lot of the props look like blue-light specials and the special effects look less than special.
Skip or Double Dip?: If you're a fan and forgiving of limited production budgets, the previous Fans' Choice compilation is not going to satisfy. Throw it through a Stargate and double dip with the complete series.