Blu-Ray Review: The Kevin Smith Collection

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Clerks, Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back are all wildly different films thematically. And yet writer/director Kevin Smith has such a unique voice they all feel as if they belong together. They’re not just connected by recurring characters, but by his style of filmmaking and ear for dialogue. By releasing all three of these films together on Blu-Ray in the “Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection,” Miramax has given fans the opportunity to revisit the world of these films, enhancing the connection between them while emphasizing the stylistic differences.

Fifteen years ago, Kevin Smith made his introduction into the world of pop-culture with Clerks, an extremely vulgar, low-budget black and white film. This was independent filmmaking at it’s best. Filled with memorable characters and quotable dialogue, Smith began developing a cult following.

As time went on, he became more and more mainstream. He still had the voice of an independent filmmaker, but he was branching out into the mainstream. Chasing Amy was given a huge release (compared to Clerks), and it felt more like a standard romantic comedy. Smith got Ben Affleck to star in this film of a comic-book artist that falls in love with a lesbian. Affleck tends to do some of his best work in Smith’s films, and this is no exception. Unlike Clerks’ tale of a day in the life of slackers, Chasing Amy attempted to push the audience emotionally. There was a heart to the film, and while it wasn’t any less vulgar than his previous work, it felt decidedly more adult.

Going in the opposite direction, he eventually went on to make his silliest film to date, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. While Smith’s films are all rooted in a solid understanding of pop-culture, this film has the highest degree of pop-culture satire. Smith uses these characters to have a lot of fun at Hollywood’s expense. As any Smith fan knows, Jay and Silent Bob are two recurring characters who show up in many of his films. Silent Bob is even played by Smith himself. Unlike Chasing Amy, this film is pure slapstick. It exists strictly to make you laugh, and at this he definitely succeeds. By far the most slapstick of the group, I personally think this is the most entertaining of the three. Featuring a ton of great cameos, including a fantastic turn by Will Ferrell, this movie is ridiculously stupid, but thoroughly entertaining.

This is really a great set for any fan of these films. The transfers look and sound terrific on Blu-Ray, and there are a ton of extras on each disc. While Clerks definitely has the most bonus material, followed by Chasing Amy, the least amount of extras is on Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. All that is included on this disc is a commentary track with Smith, producer/editor Scott Mosier and Jason Mewes (who plays Jay). However, there is a making of this film on the disc for Clerks. I don’t know why they didn’t put it on the actual film itself, but even with the feature on Clerks and the documentary on the actual disc, there still isn’t a lot of material.

On the other hand, Clerks has a lot of extra material. Unfortunately, most of this footage has been available on previous DVD releases of the film; however, if you don’t already own that DVD, it is a great collection of footage. There are various cuts of the film, as well as various commentary tracks. Other features include cut scenes, a Q&A session, short films, a music video, the trailer, original auditions, outtakes, etc. It really is a packed disc.

While the disc for Chasing Amy doesn’t have as much material as Clerks, it has the most new footage of the three. There is a new documentary called “Tracing Amy,” as well as a Q&A session with the cast 10 years after the release. There is also a newly recorded commentary track w/ Smith and producer Scott Mosier. However, some of the other extras have been released previously. These include deleted scenes, outtakes, and the trailer.

Overall, if you are a fan of Kevin Smith, and specifically these movies, than the box set is definitely worth picking up. This collection is the best these films have ever looked, and despite the fact that not all of the extras are new, it’s still a really strong batch of material. Going through all three of these films, you really get a sense of Smith as a filmmaker. While he’s always had a strong voice, it’s really developed since his debut. There are other great Kevin Smith movies out there (Dogma, for example), but this is still a terrific sampling, and a fantastic showcase of his growth over the years.