Out next Tuesday, December 3, is a new, extras-added release of Argo, last year’s best picture Oscar winner. I’ve already reviewed the film, recommending it as “terrific”, so here, I’ll just concentrate on the additions and differences between the two versions.
Argo: The Declassified Extended Edition contains two Blu-ray discs, a small hardcover book, an envelope of premiums, an UltraViolet code, and a Warner Archive coupon code in a solid slipcase box that’s about three-quarters-of-an-inch taller than the usual Blu-ray. The collectible items, contained in a “confidential” resealable envelope, are:
- A small one-sheet poster for the fake Argo movie
- A map of Tehran illustrated with movie photos
- A copy of Tony Mendez’s CIA ID card, with a photo of Ben Affleck in character
Although the movie disc label and menu screen say “Argo Extended Edition”, the contents of that Blu-ray are the same as the previous release, except for the film itself. When it comes to the movie, you can choose between the two-hour theatrical release or a new extended edition, with nine more minutes focusing on Tony Mendez’s relationships with his wife and son. All the new extras are on the second, “Special Features” Blu-ray. Unlike with the previous edition, there is no DVD disc included.
The new special features, in addition to the 2 1/2-minute theatrical trailer, are as follows:
“Argo Declassified” (11 1/2 minutes) — How the true story of this mission came out in 1997, when the CIA records were declassified, with comments by the writers and other behind-the-scenes participants, including the real Tony Mendez.
“Ben Affleck’s Balancing Act” (15 1/2 minutes) — Keeping the mood right for both the dramatic (hostages) and comedic (Hollywood) elements, attempting to capture a portrait of the 1970s with verisimilitude, and the importance of the music score in tying all these elements together.
“Argo F*ck Yourself” (1 1/2 minutes) is simply cuts of people saying the title phrase, in case you’re 12 years old and find repeated profanity funny.
“A Discussion With the Cast of Argo” (10 minutes) comes from a panel appearance at a screening and includes Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Clea Duvall, and Rory Cochrane.
“Tony Mendez on Tony Mendez” (11 1/2 minutes) is self-explanatory; Mendez talks about his CIA career.
“The Istanbul Journey” (8 1/2 minutes) describes their shooting locations in Turkey. I found this the most enlightening of the new extras, since it captures the feeling that they’re in a different part of the world where decisions can have serious consequences. The other featurettes weren’t particularly new information, but this one was eye-opening.
The hardcover is handsome, resembling a scrapbook with lots of photos, both from the film and of the shooting. The 64 pages contain information on the production, cast bios for the actors, script pages, locations, and the film’s awards.
This is a very nice package, and it would make a good gift for someone who really liked the film or that period of history or spy capers or even just movie-making. I’m used to seeing this kind of fan-oriented (particularly when you take into account the card and posters) repacking done for more entertainment-oriented movies, and part of me wonders if the ephemera trivializes a real-world life-or-death situation, but in a way, that’s suitable for a movie about how Hollywood saved people’s lives. (The studio provided a review copy.)
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