Back again with part 2 of the Blu-Ray and DVD gift guide. So lets dig into more stuff. If you missed part 1 the click HERE
I missed this one in the short time that it played in theaters over the summer due to the Weinstein Companies fighting with the director over the cut of the film for the US release and dumped it the same day as Transformers 4 opened. This is one of those films that if you just read the plot, it sounds like one of the stupidest sounding films that you could see. I also get worried when a lot of geek websites rave about a niche film only to find out that it didn’t work for you. In this case this film is really impressive. I went into it with no expectations and was really blown away by it. The thing that makes it interesting is that writer/director Joon-ho Bong from South Korea make a very mainstream film, and yet at the same time it keeps its Asian Cinema feel to it. It could be that the story is based on a French graphic novel so it fuses the East and West together and end up with one of the best films that I have seen this year. The thing that make the film that much more impressive is that the budget was about 40 million dollars and looks better than films that cost twice as much. Not only is the story really good the multi cultural cast raise the film that could have otherwise really fallen apart. This is one of those films that really fires on all cylinders perfectly.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ($39.99)
While it’s not a perfect film it’s a different take on the James Thurber source material compared to the 1947 version starring Danny Kay. While this is a vanity project for Ben Stiller for FOX (no doubt to get him to star in the third installment of Night at the Museum) it really doesn’t come off as one. The key to this version working so well is the really snappy script by Steve Conrad that finds a neat twist to the story. I really have to give it to Stiller because this is one of his better performances of late. There are two really great things about this film first the location visuals are simply gorgeous and because it was shot on film (a big plot point in the movie) it really captures the scope of the story. The other impressive thing is the visual effects for Walter’s dream sequences that while they certainly look like visual effects they don’t necessarily feel like visual effects. The film may not knock your socks off but you are left with a really good feeling in your soul after watching the film.
Ghostbusters 1 & 2 30th Anniversary ($26.99)
This is one of those sets that you buy for the fist film and don’t bother with the sequel. While the package touts that it’s a 4K transfer which really doesn’t mean much because most films released on Blu-Ray are mastered in 2K or 4K anyways. This is an improvement over the previous two Blu-Ray releases the first had all of the special features from the DVD and the new master of the bare bones 4K release about a year ago. This edition has all of the previous special features and some new ones for this release. There are also some new special features for the second film. The really interesting thing is that there is a letter from director Ivan Reitman all but apologizes for the second film. Lets be honest the second film is a train wreck and the only reason to watch the disc is for the special features for it. In the end this is the best version of Ghostbusters on Blu-Ray and well worth picking up.
Mickey Mouse Season 1 (DVD $15.99)
This title was released earlier this year as a Wal-Mart exclusive but now is available at all retailers. I reviewed the title a few month back (CLICK HERE FOR THE REVIEW) and was really impressed with the shorts and how Disney was willing to make a much edgier Mickey Mouse. This disc is a real bargain and is great for both kids and adults. This is a highly recommended gift idea for lovers of animation or as a family gift.
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse ($149.99)
This set has been a long time coming. Announced from Image Entertainment over 10 years ago but never materialized. Now Shout Factory has done what seemed the impossible dream. Remastering the show in HD and it looks better than when it was originally aired. The picture looks amazing and the visual effects have been re-composited to not look like they were done on VHS. It includes every episode of the show including the Christmas special. There are over 4 hours of new bonus material that has interviews with both cast and crew. This is one of the best Saturday morning shows every produced and now you can relive every secret word. This is a great gift for fans of the show or families that have kids. Well worth every penny!
Ernest & Celestine ($34.95)
While the overrated Frozen sadly took the Oscar for best animated film, Ernest & Celestine is a beautifully hand drawn animated film from France that tells the forbidden friendship of a mouse and a bear. Deep below snowy, cobblestone streets, tucked away in networks of winding tunnels, lives a tiny mouse named Celestine. Unlike her fellow mice, Celestine is an artist and a dreamer, and has a hard time fitting in. When she nearly ends up as breakfast for a grumpy bear named Ernest, the two become fast friends and embark on an adventure that will put a smile on your face and make your heart glow. This is a film that not only will delight the kids but enthrall adults also. The Blu-Ray includes both the original French audio and the English dub. This is a highly entertaining film and a great gift for the animation fan.
Dracula (1979) ($19.98)
I am a big fan of this version of the film directed by John Badham. Starring Frank Langella as Dracula brings both the horror and the suave to the character in this version. Also starring Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasence with the screenplay by W.D. Richter of Buckaroo Banzai fame. Badham wanted to shoot the film in black and white but Universal wouldn’t let him so the colors are very muted except for the red and when they appear they are striking. There has been debate about the picture because Badham has re-done the color timing on home video because of the theatrical release was demanded by the studio to be more colorful. No matter what this is the most gorgeous version of Dracula on film. If you are a Dracula fan and have not seen this version then you should really check it out.
The Vincent Price Collection 1 & 2 ($79.97 each)
When it comes to horror films there in one actor that stands above the rest. Vincent Price was the master and these two great collections have some of his best work. Volume 1 contains The Pit & the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Haunted Palace, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Witchfinder General (a.k.a. The Conqueror Worm). Volume 2 contains The Raven, The Comedy of Terrors, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Last Man on Earth, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, The Return of the Fly, and House on Haunted Hill. There is a wealth of supplementary material on both volumes and the films look really good. There are some really great old school horror films here.
This is one of those criminally underrated Disney films that came out during the last days of the Disney musical period and while there are some really great songs the things that really make this film great are the strong characters and the humor in the film. The same directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin make this a must see. It mixes the Greek mythology with a jazzy gospel music to make it a real one of a kind. There is a lot of adventure in there too. It also has the rare female character that is NOT a damsel in distress. The only disappointment with this title has always been the lack of good special features like a commentary and about the making of the film. But the film looks really good on Blu-Ray.
While Disney played fast and loose with this Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptions of Tarzan, it still has some really amazing animation and great song by Phil Collins. There is some really great voice actors in the film like Tony Goldwyn, Brian Blessed, Glenn Close, Minnie Driver and Lance Henriksen. The look of the film is stunning and animator Glen Keene animation on Tarzan is amazing. The film is not perfect but is really enjoyable for the whole family.
The Legend of Billie Jean ($9.99)
This is one of those films that is pure guilty pleasure. The story is basic but has a good cast and the catchy Pat Benatar theme song Invincible. The plot is simple, When local rich kid Hubie Pyatt (Barry Tubb) steals and wrecks Binx Davy’s beloved motor scooter, Binx’s older sister, Billie Jean (Helen Slater), demands the $608 it costs to fix it. Binx (Christian Slater) shoots Mr. Pyatt (Richard Bradford) by accident and he and Billie Jean flee town accompanied by Billie Jean’s girlfriends, Ophelia (Martha Gehman) and Putter (Yeardley Smith). They become fugitives and when they pick up a very willing hostage, Lloyd (Keith Gordon), they become criminals. Billie Jean becomes a legend in her own time, a symbol of freedom to teenagers everywhere! It’s pretty cheesy but still a lot of fun. The disc looks as good as it’s ever going to get and there is at least a commentary track by Helen Slater and Yeardley Smith that is a lot of fun.
Edge of Tomorrow ($35.99)
I along with pretty much everyone else missed this film in the theaters this summer. Poor marketing and a mediocre title didn’t do this film any favors either. It could be that people still have issues with Tom Cruse for whatever reason. While it’s still a loud summer film, I was pleasantly surprised at how smart and snappy the script was. I am also a big fan of Doug Liman who I think is a really underrated director that people tend to forget that he directed the first Bourne film. The film has some really nice twist and never falls into the stupid hole that most summer films end up in.
X-Men Days of Future Past ($39.99)
This is probably one of the best superhero films since Superman The Movie. First it has both of the X-Men cast from the original series and the First Class cast is back. This is one of the rare times that a big budget superhero film actually used an original comic story line to adapt into a series. Based on the 1981 issues #141 & 142 by John Byrne and Chris Claremont the film does change some of the elements of the original story because of the two casts and in the original story it was Kitty Pride that went back in time instead of Wolverine. But overall the whole point and plot elements from the original comic are intact. This is pure comic geek film heaven. Director Bryan Singer brings back the things that made the original two X-Men films (as far as I’m concerned the third film doesn’t exists and this film negates it thankfully) and continues the great groundwork that Matthew Vaughn started in First Class to bring the X-men franchise back to the top. There is going to be a directors cut of the film next year but you can pick up this disc pretty cheap now.
Star Trek The Compendium ($42.99)
Paramount’s attempt to fix the clusterfuck release of Star Trek Into The Darkness release that had the IMAX version of the film and the supplemental features split up over different retailers and left the fans of the film angry and frustrated with the release. This release includes both Into the Darkness and the original 2009 reboot with all of the supplemental material that was made for both films. While there is still a sting from the slap in the face from the double dip in buying both of the films for most of us. The only thing that you could do to ease the pain is to give your previous disc to a friend who is not concerned about the supplemental features and just wants to watch the films. If you don’t already have the two films then this is the version to get.
The Lego Movie (35.99)
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! and just try to get that song out of your head after watching this movie. From the creators of Clone High (if you haven’t seen it then buy the import DVD from Canada HERE) and if you have seen that you will understand why this film is great. While aimed at kids this film is really made for adults but nothing harmful for the kiddies. The movie has razor sharp script and you would be hard pressed to believe that the film is CGI and not shot stop motion with real Lego bricks. This film is super fun and even worth getting the 3-D version if you have a 3-D television.
Time Bandits ($39.95)
The long out of print laserdisc and DVD Criterion title make a great HD comeback just in time for Christmas. This is the definitive version of the film and looks probably better than the original release of the film in theaters. The transfer was supervised by director Terry Gilliam and looks fantastic. All of the previous special features from the laserdisc/DVD release are on the new Blu-Ray with a new feature and the trailer is now in HD. This is one of the best modern fairy tale films and is a must have for any collection.
Another upgrade from the laserdisc era thankfully gets the Blu-Ray upgrade it so richly deserves. The late Sydney Pollack comedy masterpiece is a film that just gets better every time you watch it. All of the previous special features from the laserdisc are on the disc including the commentary by Pollack that is even more important to hear now that he is no longer with us. This is what I love about special editions and capturing things for posterity. There are also some really great new special features for the Blu-Ray including a new interview with Dustin Hoffman. Hats off to Criterion for this great release.
Hard Day’s Night ($39.95)
The first Beatles film is finally restored and looks stunning on Blu-Ray. A sort of documentary and satire all at once make this a true landmark in filmmaking. Not only does the film look great the audio is restored and is available in its original mono or a new 5.1 remix where I prefer the original mono track to the new one. Packed with new and archival special features make this a real treat for both the casual and hard-core Beatles fans. This film really shows how great black and white can look.
Phantom of the Paradise ($29.93)
From director Brian De Palma comes a musical comedy that was far ahead of its time in 1974 and is now being rediscovered thanks to Shout Factory who has done a fantastic job on both the film and the special features for the Blu-Ray. Paul Williams wrote the song and stars in the film that is a modern retelling of Phantom of the Opera with more visceral visual approach by De Palma. The film look and sounds fantastic. The only disappointment is that a lot of the supplements are on the DVD in standard definition and the original source is HD and on the European Blu-Ray release. A rare slight misstep from Shout Factory. The movie is still well worth buying.
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery ($134.99)
If you own the Gold Box version of Twin Peaks on DVD re gift it to someone and run out and buy this bad boy. Fully restored and remastered that was overseen by David Lynch and Mark Frost and includes the supplements from that set (although the Saturday Night Live parody sketch seems to be missing and may have been a rights issue) and tons of new and remastered in HD material from the gold set. But the real stunner was that they were able to get the rights to Fire Walk With Me feature and there are 91 minutes of deleted scenes. A freaking hour and a half of deleted scenes! Tons of new interviews with the cast and crew make this a real slice of pie. This is the new standard of special editions and is a steal at $135!
There are always a ton of great Blu-Ray and DVD that you can give as gifts this season and there are some really great bargains to be had now. So if you are in a bind on what to get someone I hope that these picks can maybe help you choose the right gift for that special geek boy or geek girl on your list.