5) Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe – Gladiator
I should start off by letting you know Gladiator is my favorite film of all time. Regardless of that, the commentary here is profoundly informative and instructive. On the extended DVD release and the Sapphire Series Blu-ray, Ridley Scott explores his creative process while Russell Crowe plays the comedic relief. But instead of just being funny, Crowe does most of the talking. He shares on-set stories and points out mistakes for the public to know.
You hear a lot about Crowe being a terror on film sets, but from all the outtakes and documentaries and commentaries I’ve heard him on, the man seems like a cool guy. The commentary is laid back, but gets into the grit of filming on location and in the heat of Europe. There are plenty of memorable snippets and the comedic aspect keeps it well-rounded and lively.
The two teamed up again for Robin Hood, which releases May 14, 2010.
4) Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Milius – Conan the Barbarian
“I was getting laid a lot in this movie, ah? It was amazing.”
You may be wondering how Conan the Barbarian made this list. Well, you’re just going to have to trust me. This is the second funniest commentary you’ll ever hear. And it’s hardly on purpose. Not only does Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice always evoke laughter from me, but he may very well be on some drugs. The first lines of this commentary provide reason enough to give this DVD a chance. There’s even a drinking game to enjoy throughout. I actually bought it solely for the director and actor audio track. If buying it isn’t part of your idea of a good time, simply watch this collection of moments:
3) Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens – Lord of the Rings trilogy
The director and two producer/writers keep the energy bearable and the information fascinating over 683 minutes of the trilogy discussing the incredible five-year production. From selling the scripts to casting decisions, a 15-month shoot to revolutionizing the art of motion capture, and a handful of visual effects discussions, these three know everything you need to know about the fantasy tale. And I mean everything.
While The Matrix provides the most comprehensive special features in a box set to date, this commentary is the most all-inclusive in its own right. And it would make sense for one of the most cherished and important film franchises ever.
2) Quentin Tarantino – True Romance
Some people like to give Quentin Tarantino a tough time for his eccentricity and hyperactive nerd personality. Personally, I think he is the most entertaining and knowledgeable person in the entire entertainment industry. When you listen to him talk movies, there is no way to get distracted. He requires complete focus and intent to learn when he speaks. Naturally, when Tarantino talks throughout a film he wrote, you’re going to get a lot of good stuff.
Not only is he one of the most proud filmmakers out there, but this is (at the time of recording) his own best work. During the famous Christopher Walken/Dennis Hopper conversation scene, he goes off about how that story came about and why it is so great. he then proceeds to stop talking and watch the scene.
According to Tarantino, this is the most personal script he wrote. There is more of him in it than any other he wrote and he would have sold it for the lowest possible amount just to prove to himself he was a real writer. It’s fascinating to listen to one of the most impressive and enjoyable filmmakers gush about himself only moments after bashing his ability.
1) Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Ben Stiller- Tropic Thunder
There is just no question about it, this is the greatest commentary track ever recorded. Not only does director/actor Ben Stiller provide a heavy amount of detailed information on the production, but Jack Black acts as the ball bouncing back and forth between informative and comedic.
Most importantly, Robert Downey Jr. provides a second act to his performance as Sgt. Lincoln Osiris that puts the This Is Spinal Tap commentary in the gutter. Downey constantly refers to situations on set as the actor playing the dude disguised as the other dude, staying true to that acting dude’s in-movie remark that he doesn’t drop character until after the DVD commentary.
I laughed quite a lot in the actual movie, but the laughter was almost non-stop in the commentary, ultimately leading to watery eyes and a confused neighbor who knocked on my door asking what’s so funny. If you still need a reason to rent or buy Tropic Thunder, the commentary is absolutely it.
Well, that’s it. Hopefully one of these will get you to the store and buying a new DVD or maybe searching through some you already own. Have you got any favorite DVD commentaries? Disagree with the list above? Let us know in the comments section below.