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2014 Holiday Geek Gift Guide: Blu-Ray & DVD Part 1

2014 Holiday Geek Gift Guide: Blu-Ray & DVD Part 1


Well it’s that time of the year where the holidays are in full swing and you want to buy something for that special geek boy or geek girl and you may not know what to get or have no idea what they may like. Well I will be putting together some ideas based on things like movies, comics, books, toys, games and gadgets. Some lists might me longer than others and may be spread out over multiple posts.

Today we start with Blu-Ray and DVD. While my preference of choice is definitely Blu-Ray to watch there are going to be some titles that are only going to be available on DVD because of source material for the project or limited sales potential. The list is not going to be in any particular order but there might be groups of titles that might fit together for one reason or another.

Batman The Complete Television Series ($269.97)


While the price for the box set is high you are getting a really good deal on it. First and foremost there are 120 episodes that have been fully remastered and they look incredible. They probably look better than when they were broadcast back in 1966. Both the audio and the picture are first-rate and the color timing on the Blu-Ray is simply stunning. The only minor gripe is that while there is some decent extras on the set, they are really not what the set truly deserves. Fans have been waiting for this show to come out on home video for years and while for the most part is worth the wait, I just would have wished for a more comprehensive special features for the “deluxe edition”. Minor quibbles aside this is a set that I thought I would never see in my lifetime and let alone on Blu-Ray. Pricy but well worth every penny.

Nightbreed The Director’s Cut Limited Edition ($79.97)


You are going to see a lot of discs from Shout Factory on this list because they are really doing some great work that the major studios could care less about doing. Clive Barker’s Nightbreed has a very long and sordid history of the production company Morgan Creek demanding that he re-cut and re-shoot the film. The original release version was not Barker’s vision but did the best he could with the situation. Over the years there has been a desire by Barker to try to put his version of the film back together. There was a Cabal Cut that was put together from a VHS work print a few years back but Shout Factory came to the films rescue and worked with Barker, Warner Bros. and Morgan Creek to find the cut footage and restore Barker’s director’s cut of the film. The limited edition is the one to get. The 3 disc set includes the Director’s Cut, The theatrical cut and a disc of special features. The theatrical and the extras disc are exclusive to this set. This is a very comprehensive set for the film and the new cut looks really impressive considering the lost footage was only recently found. The chance to have both versions of the film and all of the extras is a real triumph for Shout Factory and their commitment to the project. While the set is a bit on the high side but when you consider all of the time and effort that Shout put into the film including the licensing from Warner Bros. it’s a fantastic. I have been a fan of this film for a long time and to see it get this truly deserving special edition is a real treat.

Lord Of Illusions ($29.93 December 16th release date)


While this edition of the film is not out yet, Shout Factory give this followup Barker directed the film the special treatment also. This two disc edition will have both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut of the film and both new and reused special features from the previously released DVD. While Barker only directed three feature films (Hellraiser being his first) it’s really great that Shout Factory has be able to give both Lord Of Illusions and Nighbreed the long needed remastering that both film truly deserved.

The Wind Rises ($36.99)


This is the film that should have taken the oscar for Best Animated Feature over the incredibly overrated Frozen. The film From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Best Animated Feature, SPIRITED AWAY, 2002) comes a spellbinding movie beyond compare. Experience “perhaps the greatest animated film the cinema has ever seen” (David Ehrlich, on Blu-ray. Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted and unable to be a pilot, he becomes one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers, experiencing key historical events in an epic tale of love, perseverance and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world. Bring home the film that has dazzled fans and critics around the globe. Bursting off the screen with spectacular picture and sound and featuring fascinating bonus material, Miyazaki’s final masterpiece. Saying that the film is breathtaking is an understatement. The film is an emotional ride that few film let alone animated dare to go to. Miyazaki is a master storyteller and for his last film he really ends on a high note. THe Blu-Ray is simply stunning and the really amazing thing was that Miyazaki mixed the audio in mono to fit the period of the film. Rarely do you see details like that in film and unprecedented in animated features. There are very strong themes to the film and will leave you amazed and emotional after watching the film.

Princess Mononoke ($36.99)


Miyazaki’s first film to get a real release in the United States and paved the way for more anime films to get released theatrically here. Witness the majesty of celebrated animated film director Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, PRINCESS MONONOKE, for the first time ever on Blu-ray High Definition. This exquisitely animated, critically acclaimed adventure from one of the most illustrious filmmakers of all time is now even more spectacular with dazzling HD picture and sound! Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior named Ashitaka sets out to the forests of the west in search of the cure that will save his life. Once there, he becomes inextricably entangled in a bitter battle that matches Lady Eboshi and a proud clan of humans against the forest’s animal gods… who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves. This monumental struggle between man and nature will have you transfixed as stunning artistry blends with epic storytelling to create a uniquely entertaining motion picture. The English dub was adapted by Sandman writer Neal Gaiman and is probably one of the better dubs that I have ever heard. While I always watch the original Japanese language with English subtitles this is one that I will occasionally listen to. This film is a great extension of the themes from other Miyazaki films like Naussica and Totoro that run through most of Miyazaki’s film that is a view of how important nature is and how we should take care of our planet. Combines both adventure and drama proving that Miyazaki is a modern master storyteller. The Blu-Ray is a big improvement over the DVD and the only issue with the release is the missing Japanese dialog translated into English subtitles. There are only English subtitles of the English dub. Rumor is that Disney is hopefully fixing the issue. Still a great release.

Kiki’s Delivery Service ($36.99)


The second kid crack film from Hayao Miyazaki (the first being My Neighbor Totoro) and you show this to kids and they go nuts for the film. Kiki is an enterprising young girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. Venturing out with only her black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime. Landing in a far-off city, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world. This is a great film for the whole family and is not only a great adventure but continues the strong female leads in almost all Miyazaki’s films. The film really captures that we all feel different when we were growing up and how we have to cope with all of the things that life throws at us. This film looks stunning on Blu-Ray and if you have the previous DVD release buy this and give your DVD to someone who has kids. You both will be very happy.

Hannibal Season 1 & 2 ( $24.99/$39.97)


I have been a Fannibal from day one and you can read my reviews on both Season 1 and Season 2 Blu-Ray to find out what is on each of the discs. With season 3 starting early next year this is a great time to catch up in the previous two seasons. Series creator Bryan Fuller has crafted one of the best dramas on either network or cable and the series just keeps getting better. Not only is this one of the best shows on television now, they make great gifts too. Lionsgate Home Video has done a great job with this show on Blu-Ray and the quality in the video, audio and special features are top-notch. If you know someone who likes great dramatic television then look no further. Just make sure that they can handle the more bloody parts of the show. This is a must see show and season 1 has been on sale lately so you can pick them up quite reasonably now.

Empire of the Sun ($24.98)


Steven Spielberg’s second stab at an Oscar bait film and while it was at the time not as well received as the previous Color Purple, I find it to be one of Spielberg’s finest films that was overlooked and misunderstood at the time. People are finally discovering this film and the new Blu-Ray edition is wonderful. Based on J. G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel, tells the story of a boy, James Graham, whose privileged life is upturned by the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, December 8, 1941. Separated from his parents, he is eventually captured, and taken to Soo Chow confinement camp, next to a captured Chinese airfield. Amidst the sickness and food shortages in the camp, Jim attempts to reconstruct his former life, all the while bringing spirit and dignity to those around him. The film marks Christian Bale’s film debut as an actor and for those of us who saw the film when it was first released we knew then what most people know now. He was going to be someone special. The Blu-Ray looks beautiful and captures the stunning cinematography of Allen Daviau. The Blu-Ray is a visual feast and now you are able to see what I saw back in 1987 in the theaters. The other thing that I loved about the film was John Williams great score and the audio captures all of the luscious music and the great sound design that the film had. If you have never seen the film I highly recommend it.

Used Cars ($29.95) Available Here at Twilight Time 


Robert Zemeckis’s exceptionally underrated comedy from 1980 before he hit the big time with Romancing the Stone and Back to the Future he made one of the funniest films of all time. Used car salesman Rudy Russo needs money to run for State Senate, so he approaches his boss Luke. Luke agrees to front him the $10,000 he needs, but then encounters an “accident” orchestrated by his brother Roy, who runs the car lot across the street. Roy is hoping to claim title to his brother’s property because Roy’s paying off the mayor to put the new interstate through the area. After Luke disappears, it’s all out war between the competing car shops, and no nasty trick is off-limits as Rudy and his gang fight to keep Roy from taking Luke’s property. Then Luke’s daughter shows up. Kurt Russell was still trying to shake his Disney child star image and he went out on a limb with this role and nailed it. With a great supporting cast if you don’t laugh during this film then you are in a coma or dead. I have seen this film a lot and still laugh my ass off when I watch it. The Blu-Ray is a limited edition so if you want to get it click the above link because when they sell out that’s it. The disc is a bit pricy but it does include all of the special features ported over from the DVD.

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World ($49.95)


Continuing our funniest movies of all time, it doesn’t get better than this one. With a cast that has never be rivaled (but often poorly imitated) I reviewed this disc earlier this year (SEE REVIEW HERE)  This is probably one of the best titles that Criterion has ever done, and they have done some really great titles. This is a truly a definitive edition of the film and worth every penny that it cost. Packed with great extras this is a disc that will take you a long time to go through it all.

WKRP In Cincinnati ($139.99)


After a disastrous first season release from FOX Home Entertainment that stripped all of the original music because of the cost to re-license the songs that were one of the keys to the show working so well, Shout Factory comes to the rescue again and was able to get almost all of the original music. There were a few band that were too cost prohibitive or flat-out refused to re-license their music (most notably Pink Floyd to no ones surprise). They got the job done where the studio didn’t care about doing it. There are still people who are complaining about this release and the music and some very minor edits. The video is source from the master and with the show being shot on video there is only so much that can be done. Apparently Shout used the source masters from FOX and the discs look as good as the masters. This was a really funny show and for a network sitcom at the time was pretty outrageous for its time. They have also done some new special features for the set. If you grew up when the show was on it still stands up pretty well today. While not the greatest sitcom ever made for those who remember the show this is a great stroll down memory lane.

That’s it for part 1. I’m not sure if the next post will be part 2 or another category so stay tuned.