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.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga: The Force is with us more than over now that all six Star Wars films are bundled together in one set on Blu-ray for the first time. The Complete Saga hasn't even been out for two weeks and it is already the bestselling catalog Blu-ray title of all time, so obviously George Lucas's ongoing tinkering of the films hasn't scared away most fans in this galaxy. The set contains bonus discs with a Death Star's worth of extras ported over from the previous DVD releases. One new addition is "A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later," a 25-minute featurette filmed in 2010 before Empire director Irvin Kershner passed away in which he, Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams discuss what many agree is the best movie in the saga.
Mimic: The Director's Cut: This underrated 1997 creature feature by Guillermo Del Toro will make your flesh crawl as entomologist Mira Sorvino crawls around in abandoned subway tunnels under the streets of New York to find out just how big the genetically engineered insects she released into the environment have become. Before the Blu-ray debut of this director's cut, the theatrical version of Mimic was only available on a non-anamorphic DVD with no extras. For fans of Del Toro's fantastical worlds, the only way to view any Mimic bonus features is to pick up this BD, which includes a video prologue and feature commentary by the director; "Reclaiming Mimic," in which Del Toro talks about his original aspirations for the film and how he brought some of those elements back with this new cut; "A Leap in Evolution: The Creatures of Mimic;" a behind-the-scenes featurette on shooting the film; deleted scenes; a gag reel and storyboard animatics.
Thor: One great aspect of buying movies on disc that are part of a franchise is that you often are given a sneak peek of what's to come. Kenneth Branagh's surprisingly engaging superhero movie about the Norse god with the giant hammer was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D. All of the versions contain a short featurette called "Road to The Avengers" that whets the appetite for 2012's superhero flick starring Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Dumbo: For the 70th anniversary celebration of the only elephant that can fly, Disney remastered the animated classic about the big-eared pachyderm and released it on Blu-ray for the first time. The disc is loaded with special features children with all sizes of ears will enjoy, including two interactive games. In "What Do You See?" you must decipher scrambled images to win, and "What Do You Know?" is a trivia game for Dumbo fans of all ages.
Airplane!: You don't have to "speak jive" to appreciate this hilarious spoof of airplane disaster flicks, but we do recommend that you pass on the fish dinner while in flight and stay away from the cockpit if you are a young boy. The 1980 comedy classic just made its debut on Blu-ray this month, and one of the best features is a surprisingly comprehensive pop-up trivia track that points out every flub and obscure detail about the movie that you have never noticed before.
Footloose: Before the remake of Footloose cuts loose on theaters, Paramount has released the 1984 teen classic starring Kevin Bacon on Blu-ray for the first time with lots of Bacon to fry up in the pan. In addition to interviews with Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker, there is a tribute to the late Chris Penn, Bacon's original screen test, a Bacon costume montage and featurettes that explore the film's transition to a Broadway musical.
X-Men: First Class: It's not surprising that the best superhero movie of the year—an origin-story prequel to the original X-Men trilogy—should also contain some of the best special features of the month. "Children of the Atom" is an extensive seven-part documentary that, for 69 minutes, takes you behind the scenes to show the details of bringing X-Men: First Class to the screen. The Blu-ray also contains an interactive game called "Cerebro Mutant Tracker" in which you are tasked with finding mutants as Cerebro whizzes past them. After selecting the featured mutants culled from all of the movies, you get a few clips of the character throughout the films and an information sheet declaring their real name, their allegiances, their powers and a synopsis of their storyline.