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Why Ridley Scott is the master of DVD/Blu-Ray

Some say the Blu-Ray/DVD market is dead. The rise of streaming services seems to be shooting it down, folks wanting easier ways to watch movies online rather than buy or rent a disc. But to me, it will still be great as long as studios and filmmakers care enough to pack Blu-Rays with stuff that make them worth buying. And to me, no one does that better than Ridley Scott.

I am dead serious on this. Say what you will about the guy personally (God knows, many do) or his work. But better than guys half his age, Scott has used the DVD and Blu-Ray market to offer versions of his movies that come loaded with stuff that not only enhances the featured film but in a lot of ways are even better. The latest release to prove that is Exodus: Gods and Kings. The 2014 release wasn't exactly a success with audiences or critics, grossing $263 million globally against a $150 million budget. But the new 3-D Blu-Ray continues the trend established of great stuff for a Scott release:

*Gladiator: The 2001 two-disc DVD had some good extras but the 2005 three-disc version (adapted to a 2-disc Blu-Ray) is even better. It integrates deleted scenes (like Christians fed to the lions) into the movie for some good stuff. Better is the great audio commentary by Scott and Russell Crowe, each acknowledging their conflicts on set but feeling they made themselves better. There's also a trivia track with stuff about both the film and the period (even mentioning how this release could be seen as "double-dipping") and fun to watch. Better is a three hour documentary on the film, including a focus on using CGI to finish Oliver Reed's performance when he died.


*Blade Runner: The Ultimate Cut: It's fitting Scott's best movie gets the most lavish release: The original theatrical cut, the international cut, the 1992 Director's Cut, a workprint and an "Ultimate Cut" which Scott does commentary for. "Dangerous Days" is a three-hour documentary on the making of the film with new interviews with all involved and slews of features on the movie, the sets, special effects, music and how it became such an icon for sci-fi.

*Alien: The entire "Alien Anthology" set is worth getting with the first film boasting original and extended cuts with commentary by Scott, joined by the writers, Sigourney Weaver and more. Then nearly three hours of extras on the making of it, delving deep into how this classic came to be and even when you know a lot of the stories, you're enthralled.


Kingdom of Heaven: You know how some "Director's Cuts" only add ten minutes or something? This isn't one of them. You get nearly an hour of new footage that deepens this Crusades epic, restoring subplots, making characters more likeable and more. It's astounding how a so-so movie is turned into a true epic, one of Scott's best and not just an action piece but a great showcase of the politics of the region that remain today. Besides another great Scott commentary (with secondary ones by cast and crew), you get great extras on how this came from another planned epic, shooting and a nice bit of history professors noting that, while mistakes, Scott nailed the time period better than most movies about the Crusades do. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, do so, brilliant film.

Prometheus: The Scott commentary is great on this but better are the dueling ones by original screenwriter John Spaihts and follow-up Damon Lindelof as it's clear Spaihts script was going to be straight-up and such before Damon added "mystery" that just confused audiences. We get another nearly four-hour "making of" doc and other extras that explain a lot that seemed off about the movie (Guy Pearce's makeup was because he was going to play a younger version of Weyland but that was dropped in filming) and really redeems the movie more. Notable if only to see the truly great film that could have been but still impressive how Scott works.


That's not to mention Blackhawk Down (another three hour doc) as well as Robin Hood, Thelma & Louise and even The Counselor which becomes more entertaining with its mix of "making of" commentary and side-pods that show how this flawed film had promise. That continues now with Exodus as the 3D Blu-Ray offers a Scott commentary (seriously, this guy is an amazing talker) and then a two and a half hour "making of" doc but 40 minutes of "enhancement pod" stuff and then various half-hour things on design work and more.

You can argue results but you cannot deny that Scott pours his all into the making of the film to the smallest detail. And dammit, that's why even a poor entry from him is worth checking out on home video as you have to admire a man who does a "making of" that's longer (and often better) than the actual movie itself. The man is truly a master of the craft (a running theme is how he drives studios crazy by insisting on doing so many sets and effects for real, not CGI) and a key reason why so many DVD/Blu-Ray sets still make having movies at home worth buying.

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