With the release of The Bourne Trilogy, an extras-packed set of the Bourne films, that makes approximately 375 times that a Bourne film or set has been released. Okay, so that's an exaggeration, but only slight. The folks behind the Bourne films have been unbelievably clever in milking fans with more and more releases. That all said, if you like slimmed-down packaging and don't want to waste time with any but the very best extras, this is the set for you. It's three slim cases inside a cardboard sleeve that's no wider than two standard DVD cases, and it features all three films, with the top-notch extras from the previous sets included. It's unfortunate they couldn't come up with anything new, though, to at least make it seem like there was a reason other than more money for releasing this set.
The Bourne Identity: First, to address the menus: They're weak. It's always a little bit annoying when a DVD menu plays music, because if you leave it on and leave the room, you get this repetitive music that will make you never want to put the disc in again. But that's easy enough to get past if the menus are easy to use and set up well. These are not. First off, there are two pages of bonus features, even though there aren't enough features to be broken up into two pages. And when you go into a submenu, such as "Deleted Scenes," you have to know that "BONUS" takes you back to the main menu. Don't be fooled into thinking you have bonus deleted scenes. It's just terrible labeling on the part of the DVD makers.
The best special feature here is the commentary with director/producer Doug Liman. Liman's commentary is exceptional from the moment he begins talking and jumps right into why they chose not to use the Universal music at the opening. Liman quite literally never lets up, and almost everything he lets us in on is a real highlight -- from the effects in the film to not even trying to pronounce Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's name (can you blame him?). I tend to prefer commentaries with more than one person so that there's a real conversation going on, but Liman is excellent at talking to himself, so this works better than it could have with anyone else involved.
The same featurettes are included here that have been in the past, for the most part (though some have been left out, mostly because they were repeating information or weren't as good as these). What's included: "The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum" is an abbreviated look at the novelist who created this character; "Access Granted: An Interview With Tony Gilroy" is exactly what it sounds like: an interview with the screenwriter; "From Identity to Supremacy: Jason and Marie" is a basic, bare-bones look at the characters through short, short, short interviews with the actors who play them; "The Bourne Diagnosis" answers whether Bourne's level of amnesia is possible (it's not); "Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops" is about the history of the CIA (in five minutes, of course); "The Speed of Sound" is a rather boring roundup of interviews with the sound folks; "Inside a Fight Sequence," on the other hand, is an interesting look at how a fight scene was filmed -- more interesting than the sound featurette mainly in that it's specific to scenes instead of generalized blatherings; and Moby's "Extreme Ways" music video. These featurettes are great for people who love pushing buttons every five minutes (gamers and 10-year-olds, primarily), but if you'd rather sit and watch something for a good half-hour, you might wish these had all been put into one longer documentary.
Also included are four deleted scenes amounting to less than 10 minutes, plus an alternate opening and ending (with an introduction from the filmmakers). Nothing earth-shattering, but fans will be glad this is all here.
The Bourne Supremacy: The menus and music here aren't any less clunky than on Identity. There are no confusing "BONUS" labels, but there are three screens of bonus features this time, when it all could have fit on one -- most likely an attempt to make the set seem better than it is.
This disc continues the other big problem that Identity had: too many small featurettes (all are around five minutes) that were just begging to be one larger, better, deeper, more complex (need I go on?) featurette. Here we have: "Matching Identities: Casting," which should really be called "The Cast" rather than "Casting," as it's about the actors in this film who were in the first film, too, and is more about the actors and how they work than about how they were cast; "Keeping It Real" talks about the controversial, critically loathed handheld shaky cams -- basically, director Paul Greengrass tries to justify that decision (good luck with that); "Blowing Things Up" is about how the movie stuck to the real thing instead of using CGI to blow things up (among other effects), which is always fun to see in modern movies; "On the Move With Jason Bourne" hops, skips, and jumps from one film location to the next (should have been longer); "Bourne to Be Wild: Fight Training" is another fight scene breakdown; "Crash Cam: Racing Through the Streets of Moscow" is about that car chase (you know the one); "The Go-Mobile Revs Up the Action" (what?) is more about the car chase, particularly the machine that helped them film it; "Anatomy of a Scene: The Explosive Bridge Chase Scene" is an action scene breakdown that explains that they had to up the action after raising the bar in the first film -- and this scene, where Matt Damon actually jumps over the bridge railing, certainly intensified the action; and "Scoring With John Powell" is about the film score (go figure!) and is not that interesting or exciting (shocking!).
So, after pushing a thousand buttons to watch about 30 minutes of extras, who's ready for a nice, long director's commentary? And while this one isn't quite as good as Liman's with the first film, that might just be because it starts to feel repetitive. I mean, I know the second movie was still good, but it's not original like the first one was, so the commentary wasn't as exciting either -- at least for me. He does have interesting things to say about why the film is nothing like the book, specific scene breakdowns, and more. Greengrass is a much slower talker than Liman, and he pauses more often, so part of the difference is just that you get far less information packed into the length of a movie.
There are five deleted scenes -- again, not all that groundbreaking but still worth a peek, especially since they run about another ten minutes. This is the one place that the disc was set up worse than Identity, because you can only choose to watch all of the scenes at once; there's no deleted scenes menu that lets you pick and choose. Although, after having to pick and choose through nearly ten featurettes, you might enjoy sitting back and watching for ten minutes straight.
There are finally text bios of each of the cast and crew members, which are a waste of disc space, since we get all of this information in video form through the other stuff -- or we can get it online. Oh, and there are DVD-ROM features that I couldn't access on a Mac.
The Bourne Ultimatum: It's clear the cast, crew, studio, or someone got tired of making DVD extras by the time this one was released, because they've seriously scaled back. I'm not sure this is a bad thing, though, since instead of a dozen tiny featurettes, we got a few bigger, meatier ones. That, plus the commentary and deleted scenes, and we have ourselves a top-shelf DVD release here. First, the featurettes: "Man on the Move: Jason Bourne" is a much better look at the film's traveling than Supremacy's "On the Move" was. This can be viewed by location (divided into Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Tangier) or all at once for close to 25 minutes of viewing pleasure. And it really is a pleasure. Even at 24 minutes, it doesn't feel quite long enough to explore what it was like to film in all of these places -- although, if filming the movie was as fast-paced as this featurette felt, it might not have been as much fun as visiting these beautiful places might seem. Although, come on, they were making a fun, well-regarded action movie in some of the world's greatest cities (and Tangier); what's not to like? What's really cool about this that you don't get on a lot of DVDs is that the bulk of it is behind-the-scenes footage instead of being heavy on interviews and scenes from the film. As a movie fan, it's always fun to take a look at what goes on behind the scenes, even if it is a little bit illusion-shattering.
The other three featurettes, "Rooftop Pursuit," "Planning the Punches" and "Driving School" are exactly what short featurettes should be (and they're not even as short as those on the previous two movies): They focus on one specific scene or tactic. "Driving School" is especially enjoyable, because it shows how much Matt Damon enjoys and excels at the car chase and car stunt scenes. If you didn't already love Matt Damon (and if you're reading this, it's likely you did), you will after this. Turns out if his career as an actor doesn't work out and he can't get back into writing, he can always be a stunt driver. And he's downright giddy about how fun it is, saying he'd love to do a whole movie of just car chases. Um, Matt? I think they'd make yet another Fast and the Furious movie if they knew you were interested.
The final extra is the commentary with Greengrass, which is on par with his Supremacy commentary. A lot of it will feel a little like a rehash of that previous commentary and of the extensive featurettes on this disc. But anyone who enjoyed his Supremacy commentary should give this one a listen, too. The guy has a lot of interesting things to say.
One final frustration about this three-movie set is that every disc has previews on it that you can't skip past. That's fine and dandy if you're renting them, but if you purchase discs, you should be able to skip past anything you want to. That's a huge problem with these discs that didn't exist on some of the previous versions. I mean, I love Friday Night Lights, but how many times can a person watch the same preview before they never again want to watch a disc that requires them to? And with Ultimatum, it's especially frustrating because after finishing the previews, it stays on a screen promoting the videogame and you have to push the menu or play button to get past it.
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