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DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
"Fah who for-aze!, Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day."

Chris and Marcus looked down on Whoville from the DVDActive mountain lair and decided that rather than ruining everyone's Christmas and stealing all their presents while they slept, they’d put together another Gift Guide with a few choice Christmas picks.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
With many of the summer big hitters turning out to be turkeys you'd imagine that they'd fit in well over the festive period, but you you'll only find real crackers in our movie selections. These are some of our favourite films of the year lovingly translated to home media.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Moon
Release: UK – Out Now (Region Free Blu-ray); US – 12th January 2010



Frankly after the bloated, over long, disappointments of most of the summer movies, Moon came at a time that just felt like a welcome breath of fresh air. Well plotted, well paced and wonderfully small in scale, Duncan Jones bought back old school Sci-fi greatness with his debut feature and with the always great Sam Rockwell providing one hell of a performance (or is that performances?) Moon has become a movie I can’t get enough of.

The disc itself comes with one of my favourite pieces of cover art of 2009 (mainly for its simplicity) and the HD presentation on the Blu-ray is a great way of experiencing this little gem. In addition to that, the extras provide some great insight from Jones and even feature one of his short films. I can’t recommend this one enough. Check out Chris’ Blu-ray review

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Inglourious Basterds
Release: UK – Out Now (Region Free Blu-ray); US – Out Now



I actually could have chosen a bunch of films for this section. If we’re going for films released in the UK in 2009 then Gran Torino, The Wrestler, Watchmen and Red Cliff were serious contenders. If Momentum hadn’t messed up the first—and as it turns out second—pressings of Let the Right One In that would almost certainly have won, although if District 9 had a pre-Christmas release date it might have snuck in there. If we open it up to films from other years released in 2009 then Fight Club would also have to be a serious contender. However, in the end I decided on Quentin Tarantino’s latest, the ‘glouriously’ wonderful Inglourious Basterds. Apart from the stunning audio-visual presentation, the Blu-ray Disc includes some pretty decent bonus material and the film itself is excellent. In particular, Christoph Waltz’s outstanding performance simply has to be seen to be believed.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
As always comedy releases play a big part in the festive period and with plenty of stand up gigs from your favourites, TV comedy season collections and a few big hit movie blockbusters available, there’s plenty to choose from one again to keep you ho-ho-ho-ing through to the new year.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

The Hangover
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now


Although I think Funny People is a vastly superior movie, The Hangover is more of a thoroughbred comedy and one that I’ve found myself enjoying time and time again. The cast here is the movie’s biggest success, with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis bouncing off of each other with oodles of great one-liners and memorable moments. The support that surrounds them, including the delightful Heather Graham and the fearless Ken Jeong, just make The Hangover one of those movies that if I catch even ten minutes of in passing, I’m in until those end credit photographs role.

Sadly the disc is a little underwhelming here, with pretty basic A/V and woefully disappointing features, but I really enjoyed the video commentary available on the Blu-ray and I think the movie is strong enough get this year’s comedy selection. Check out either Chris’ or my Blu-ray review.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Role Models
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



I’m very difficult to please when it comes to comedy, and I was the guy that didn’t really go much on The Hangover. The fact that I haven’t seen many decent comedies this year makes this a particularly tricky category. 2009 gave us middle of the road fare like Bedtime Stories, Night at the Museum 2 and The Proposal, along with bilge like Lesbian Vampire Killers. Most of the year’s funniest films won’t be available in time for Christmas, so I’m forced to think all the way back to January (in the UK at least) and Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott making a hash of acting like Role Models.  Rudd and Scott are likeable actors and Christopher Mintz-Plasse turns in an amusing performance as a cape-wearing, role-playing nerd. It also features Elizabeth Banks, which is a plus in my book, and it’s a film where Ken Jeong is, you know, actually funny. It’s not the greatest comedy of all time, but it didn’t have a lot of competition this year. Check out Gabe’s Blu-ray review.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
Those dark Christmas nights don’t just have to be filled with twinkling lights and draped tinsel. They could also be filled with slasher’s, demons, serial killers and zombies. What better way is there to make the family feel welcome at Christmas?

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

An American Werewolf in London
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



The 1981 classic is back (again) and it’s as good as it’s always been. Getting a Blu-ray release and a limited theatrical run in the UK, An American Werewolf in London is every bit as sharp, scary and just plain classic as its always been. The HD transfer shows off the wolf better than ever and that little dangling bit of flesh hanging off of Jack’s face has never been so icky.

The main reason this gets my recommendation (beyond the fact I adore the movie) is the inclusion of the all new feature documentary ‘Beware the Moon’, which along with the other upgrades on the disc is exactly what any and all American Werewolf in London fans deserve to get for Christmas. Check out Gabe's Blu-ray review.
 
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Dawn of the Dead
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



I'm not what you'd call a horror aficionado, so my pick for this category was actually pretty easy in that it’s the only horror title I really saw this year. With that said, I’ve always been a fan of George A. Romero’s 1978 classic, and Arrow Films’ excellent three-disc Blu-ray set oozes quality. Not only do you get a great looking version of the film in high definition, but also two further versions of the film in standard-definition and a bunch of interesting and informative bonus material. All of this is wrapped up in some spiffy packaging featuring a selection of interchangeable sleeve artwork. Don’t just take my word for it; check out the Wilson brothers’ Blu-ray review.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
TV shows keep going from strength to strength and with the amount of season box sets that hit our shelves every year we need a Christmas break to actually get around to watching them all.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Lost: Complete Season Five
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



I could have gone for a lot of other shows that I’ve enjoyed in 2009, East Bound and Down, Mad Men or maybe even the latest South Park or Family Guy box sets, but that would be denying the show that continues to blow me away with each and every episode. Lost season five intensified the confirmation that Lost was coming to a conclusion and in this penultimate season it ramped up events, confirmed a good deal of the mysteries and left us on a cliff-hanger that could very well have been the sort of ending that some of us expected the grand finale to consist of. All that and we’re still left with another season to come. Now is the time people—get caught up before the February 2010 return.

The season five box sets continues the usual Lost trend of great audio and video presentations, and while I felt this latest season held back a little with the special features there’s still plenty to enjoy. Check out Gabe’s Blu-ray review

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – The Complete Second Season
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



This was a difficult decision in that I watch a lot of different TV shows. Like Marcus I enjoy Lost, but I also have a soft spot for Heroes (although season three wasn’t great), Chuck, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the animated antics of American Dad, Family Guy and South Park. However, it is Josh Friedman’s new spin on the Terminator franchise that earns my recommendation. I was genuinely gutted when the show was cancelled, and I still hold out hope for some form of return in the form of TV movies. Although I’m choosing the second season as my pick, you might want to consider buying both seasons together for the complete experience. If you want to know more check out my Blu-ray review.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
2009 was a great year for family movies, especially with the likes of The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Where The Wild Things Are, but with neither of those out yet, what else is out there for that family Christmas get together?

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

The Tale of Despereaux
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



Not having a multi regional Blu-ray player I can’t comment on the US edition of Up, which I’ve heard good things about, and with the release date of ‘9’ not being until the 29th of December and missing Christmas by a whisker, I’ve decided to go for a slightly smaller affair with The Tale of Despereaux.

I actually found this little story about the tiny mouse without fear utterly charming. Not only is Despereaux a character you can’t help but fall in love with, but having him play of characters like Roscuro (who is voiced by Dustin Hoffman , who can seemingly do no wrong with me of late) this tale provides a lot of heart, a great commentary on society and is a great underdog (or is that mouse) holding its own against the animated big guns. Check out Gabe’s Blu-ray review

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Monsters Inc.
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



This was actually a pretty easy choice. While 2009 saw the theatrical release of 3D behemoths like Monsters vs. Aliens and Coraline, it was the Blu-ray release of Pixar’s acclaimed 2001 feature that had everyone drooling in anticipation. Not only is the disc an audio-visual tour de force, it includes a wealth of bonus material to satisfy viewers young and old alike. Check out Gabe’s Blu-ray review.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
Ahhhh, box sets. Whether limited edition, specially packaged or complete collections, good ones can make a collection feel that little bit more special and opening one up that you love on Christmas morning promises plenty of great viewing sessions ahead.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season One
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



Okay, not exactly extraordinary as its just one season but for me this was not only a box set I was excited to get hold of this year but it’s one that looks and sounds bloody great (despite the Lossless Audio missing). This weekly Star Wars show took a little while to find its feet but watching it back in this set really show off just how well it’s developing and with Season 2 currently going down a storm it was a lot of fun to retread over season one’s episodes.

One thing of note for all you potential gift buyers, make sure you pick up the US region free edition of this set. The packaging is far superior to the boringly basic UK version. It comes housed in a very sturdy hardback book, with the extracts from the ‘Art of’ book built within the packaging. The cover is embossed and shiny and for me it’s one of the most impressive designs in my Star Wars collection. Besides all that the show itself look great in HD and while the features are short, I found them to be a pretty good watch. Check out Chris’ Blu-ray review.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



There were a number of contenders in this category (including The Clone Wars), but for me there could only be one winner. Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series on Blu-ray is the Baseship of all boxed sets. Not only is the show one of the best sci-fi series—hell one of the best series full stop—of the last few years, but it looks better than ever in glorious high-definition. The set also includes a wealth of bonus material to keep even the most demanding Battlestar fan occupied well into the new year.

 DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
As with any good Christmas Gift Guide, there has to be a genuine Christmas recommendation, So, here they are. Meerrrrrrry Chrisssstmas!

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (available on Mickey's Magical Christmas - Snowed in at the House of Mouse DVD
UK – Out Now; US Out Now



Mickey’s Christmas Carol is the last thing my family and I watch before the kids go off to bed on Christmas Eve and for me it’s the best adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic out there, even if it’s only a whistle stop tour at twenty six minutes in length. There’s something truly magical about the combination of the great animation, the incredible voice work and the Disney variations on the tale that just captures the Christmas spirit and it’s just perfect to watch in the glow of the Christmas lights with a mince pie while you wait for Santa to bring the pressies.

Found on a couple of Disney collection discs over the years, but sadly not given special treatment on a disc of its own (maybe next year Disney), you can get this ultimate Christmas classic on the pretty good Mickey's Magical Christmas - Snowed in at the House of Mouse DVD, that comes with a few other Disneyfied Christmas stories including another firm favourite of mine Pluto's Christmas Tree.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009DVDActive Gift Guide 2009

Gremlins
Release: UK – Out Now; US – Out Now



I’ve waited a long time for this one to finally arrive on Blu-ray. I’m not really a fan of many of the ‘traditional’ Christmas movies, and as such I’ve always gravitated towards films with a Christmas setting, but not necessarily a Christmas message. The first two Die Hard films are a good example, but I have always had a fondness for Gizmo and his scaly nemeses. The Blu-ray release might not be to everyone's liking due to its grainy look, but it's easily the best looking version of the film and the Blu-ray release marks the first time UK consumers have had access to all of the bonus material from the US Special Edition.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009
So there you have it, another gift guide with a few ideas that might see you through Christmas 2009. Please feel free to leave any of your own suggestions in the comments box below and if you've all been good little boys and girls Santa might bring you that special gift you were after.

DVDActive Gift Guide 2009


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