DVDActive Gift Guide 2010
We brave the crowds and jingle up some Christmas gifts ideas for 2010...
Well it’s that time of year again. The shops are filling up with gift ideas, the postmen are struggling to deliver all the online orders and general Christmas merriment has begun to trickle in.
Here at DVDactive we’ve braved the crowds, fought off terrorist-inclined postmen and an army of con-men Santa Claus to put together a list of Christmas gifts that’ll be like you got ten Turbomen under your tree on the 25th and you’re not stuck with a bunch of his faithful sidekick, Booster. Nobody wants that right?
Now without further ado, let’s start rummaging through the picks and getting Christmas underway...
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Release: UK December 27th / US Out Now
Well what better place to start than with the movie I think we should all want for Christmas. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Not only is this my movie of the year so far (and if I’m honest I can’t see anything on the horizon that’ll knock it off its perch, unless Tron Legacy really ends up being as good as it looks) but it's my disc of the year too.
This movie just has it all: great characters, great story, insane levels of re-watchability and Edgar Wright not only delivers another great movie but one that is a superb adaptation of the already fantastic Scott Pilgrim comic books (which if you ain’t read them already should be on your Christmas lists too!)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the perfect movie to get for Christmas—with cinema ticket sales indicating no one went to see it on the big screen, now’s the time for movie to find its audience. I can’t think of a better movie gift for Christmas.
The Disc: Well the video and audio on this disc just blows me away. The mix of bright comic book whizz-bangery and natural day to day look to the scenes between Scott and his friends is glorious and when those musical/fight numbers kick in, your surround speakers get a Christmas present of their own. On top of that the extras are plentiful. The documentaries are a blast, the extended music videos are great, the four, yes FOUR commentaries are worth the price of admission alone and that’s just scraping the surface. There’s heaps on this disc and none of it’s dud. The downside is the UK release isn’t until the 27th December, but with the US disc region free and ready to buy now, we can all be having a Pilgrim induced Christmas with just a few clicks of a mouse.
Back to the Future Trilogy
Release: UK & US: Out Now
Well choosing between the two big boxsets of the year was a tough one. The Alien Anthology and Back to the Future Trilogy were both released on the same day and are both packed with nostalgic delights but for me, the boxset that I’d pick for Christmas this year is Back to the Future. Not only is it one of my favourite movie sagas of all time but the Blu-ray release is the best it's ever looked.
Who doesn’t want to sit down at Christmas and re-watch the adventures of Marty and Doc. Every line so familiar, every perfect use of the score like being wrapped up in good old 1985 and other than the fact you’ll be back to yearning for a hover board for Christmas, the feel good factor of this trilogy is off the charts.
I spent a great weekend re-watching Back to the Future and introducing my youngest daughter to the much loved trilogy. It really is a trilogy that has never lost its charm and getting this set to unwrap on Christmas morning would be a blast.
The Disc: Well its Back to the Future in HD and other than the odd DNR hint here and there it looks fantastic. It's packed full of great detail, great colours and all those little details dotted around the eras have never been clearer. The sound is a real step up in itself is a massive feel good factor to the trilogy for me. The sound of the Deloreon has never been so clear and Marty and Doc’s dialogue finally gets the HD presentation it deserves. As for the extras, there’s all the archival stuff from the DVDs as well as a new batch of documentaries and commentaries. There’s nothing massively new in them but we do get the infamous Eric Stoltz scenes to look over and finally see what might have been.
Also, if you’re feeling a little more extravagant Universal has put together a couple of collector’s sets. You open the cool tin box it comes in and it’s like a treasure trove of awesome. The lenticular McFly family photo (seriously how cool is that), the Outatime number plate, the Sports Almanac (with no Ooh La La interior—boo!), the 1885 clock tower picture, replica newspaper covers from various eras, posters, Deloreon blueprints, postcards and even an optional model Deloreon in the higher prices set. Yes, the price difference between just the discs and the box sets is pretty big, but honestly any Back to the Future fans out there who want a treat for Christmas can’t go too far wrong with these sets and hey it’s Christmas... treat yourself.
Youth In Revolt
Release: Uk & US - Out Now
Maybe not as much as a balls out comedy as something like Get Him to the Greek, but Youth In Revolt is as slick as they come dialogue wise and shows off a deliciously dark twist on the usual Michael Cera performance. With Cera playing nice boy trying to find love, Nick Twisp and his twisted alter ego Francois, there’s barely a moment that goes by that doesn’t make me chuckle especially when Francois takes control of situations.
The supporting cast also provide plenty of laughs with a small but great Zach Galifianakis performance and Ray Liota rolling out his sleazy bad guy persona for more golden moments. Admittedly Youth In Revolt won’t be for everyone, in the same way Napoleon Dynamite wasn't, but my Michael Cera appreciation came in spades this year and between this and Scott Pilgrim the guy just keeps getting better in my book.
The Disc: There’s a few little nuggets of goodness in rehearsal footage but really this is all about the commentary with Cera and director Miguel Arteta which is a great companion to the movie and the Blu-ray comes with a very pretty looking HD transfer as well. Read Gabe's Full Review
Toy Story 3
Release UK & US - Out Now
Well the biggest no brainer pick of the list is Toy Story 3. This recommendation may be pointless because let’s face it everyone is going to buy it anyway, but that still don’t make it any less great.
Pixar managed to pull off the impossible and deliver a third movie in the Toy Story franchise that not kept the spirit of the first two but brought an emotional round up of the trilogy that put most live action movies to shame. The initial small mentions of the where some of the other toys went (Woody’s sadness about Bo Peep was subtle brilliance) and the big finale with that lump in throat holding of hands moment gives this third outing an emotional core that the previous movies only really brushed up against in comparison and just makes Toy Story 3 a movie that may as well already get given the Oscar.
The Disc: The transfer or audio tracks on this disc are a triumph; in fact in that area Toy Story 3 is probably disc of the year. The features are also pretty good (though I was left feeling that there needed to be a grand old retrospective documentary to celebrate the trilogy). In any case, you know you want this one as soon as possible and it makes the perfect family Christmas choice.
Release: UK & US - Out Now
The first of the new section for this year’s gift guide, because after all not all animation is just for the family and in my choice's case, not all animation gets seen as much as it should have done.
Being released at the start of the year it’s easy to forget about Fantastic Mr Fox, but this one seems to be unappreciated and deserves a moment in the spotlight. Telling the classic Roald Dahl tale in stop motion with the unique film sensibilities of Wes Anderson doesn’t really sound like the obvious combination for an adaptation to some but for me its absolute perfection. I’ve watched this movie countless times this year and every single time it gets better. Clooney delivers a fantastic (pun intended) Mr. Fox and almost every line of dialogue out of his mouth is instantly quotable. Backed up with another great supporting role from Bill Murray as Badger and the show stealing Jason Schwartzman as Ash as well as small roles from Meryl Streep and a great Willem Dafoe and Fantastic Mr Fox ends up not only as a great movie but as strong (if not stronger) than Wes Anderson’s other movies.
Yes, this one works for all the family, but for a Wes Anderson fan or fans of beautifully hand crafted animation having a cheeky bit of fun with the technique, this one is a true animated delight with a flavour all its own.
The Disc: Whilst not as loaded as the usual Wes Anderson releases, Fantastic Mr Fox still has the goods. There’s a great look at the evolution of the project and a great tour of the set by Bill Murray and the look into how some of the voices were recorded adds a great feel to the approach to the project. On top of that the incredible soundtrack sounds brilliant and the visuals are just... well... fantastic (I couldn’t resist) Read my full review here
In the second of the new selections we take a brief glance outside the movie box and a quick glance into the toy box. We all love movies and what’s better than getting an awesome bit of movie merchandise under the Christmas tree? There's no Turboman doll to unwrap, but there's more to life than deluxe action figures.
Colonial Marine M41A Pulse Rifle Replica
Release: Out Now
Well after surviving the Alien franchise again recently due to the release of the Anthology on Blu-ray my teenage self was reminded of the giddy love I had for the pulse rifles from James Cameron's Aliens.
What better movie replica could there be to find wrapped up under the tree than a Pulse Rifle? Just holding one would be awesome and displaying that baby to look at every day would certainly put a smile on my face. It don’t come cheap at prices over £1,000 but maybe if you’ve been good little boys and girls Santa might bring you this awesome bit of kit and you’ll get to run around the house Colonial Marine style. At the very least it’d be the best/most expensive loft opening device you’d ever own. Using the rifle to prop up the loft cover and peering up Hicks style could very well be worth forking out the high price for this replica... or is that just me? Read Chris's review of the Alien Anthology here
Release: UK - Out Now / US - N/A
With both [REC]and [REC] 2 now out on Blu-ray, this recommendation is really for both if you’ve not seen these Spanish horrors. In the ever growing sub-genre of hand held camcorder style horrors, for me [REC] is the one that’s used the technique with the best results.
Taking a zombie set up and adding a religious twist in a fairly unique location, the unfolding story in both [REC] movies is one of the few horror stories that has me intrigued. The scares are high, the jumps are even higher and the unease of the ‘penthouse suite’ is proper creepy.
The second movie hits the ground running and takes off where the first left us hanging and really doesn’t hang about. With guns and soldiers this time as well as priests and possession higher on the agenda, we’re thrown creepy kids and zombie tenants-a-mungus and frankly [REC] 2 is just the sort of horror rollercoaster that will make you crave the safety of Home Alone or National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and rethink sitting in a Christmas tree lit room.
The Disc: Sadly this is where the disc stumbles a bit. The A/V is fine but the features are a little lacklustre, only offering deleted scenes. It’s a real shame there isn’t more but I still recommend this title just for the horror awesomeness it delivers. Read my full review here.
Blur: No Distance Left To Run
Release: UK & US - Out Now
Telling the history of Blur and covering the build up to their big reunion gigs, No Distance Left to Run is a must have for any Blur fan. Not only are Damon, Graham, Dave and Alex frank and honest about the band's ups and downs but we’re given a great insight into the band as they rose to fame and how fame turned them into one of the greatest British bands of all time.
The second disc comes with the two-hour Hyde Park concert in London from 2009 which is class and while I usually only watch music documentaries once or twice, I think I’ve watched this one about four times this year already.
The Disc: The good news is the DVD looks and sounds great for both the documentary and the gig but the bad news is that despite being shot in HD there’s no Blu-ray on sale, which is a bit of a shame. Those not too bothered with the lack of HD on offer, this is a great little package and the content is still more than enough for a recommendation (I just sort of wish Santa would bring me an HD version).
Bored To Death: Season One
Release UK - NA - US Out Now
Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) is a failing writer who puts up an ad on Craigslist to become a private detective on the side. With the adventures getting more outrageous and Jonathan’s friends George (Ted Danson) and Ray (Zach Galifianakis) coming along for the ride.
Bored to Death is one of the finest new shows on HBO and with a cast of character this likable, this is an easy recommendation for anyone fancying watching a new sitcom over Christmas (the best time to catch up with TV box sets).
This show just keeps getting better and you won’t find a set of nicer characters on TV. There’s no undercutting sarcasm, no being mean to each other (and if they do there’s always an apology) and a real sense of blossoming friendship between the three leads. Jason Schwartzman really gets a great platform to show off his talents here and Zach Galifianakis does a stellar job as comic book artist Ray but somewhere around mid-season Ted Danson (who I’ve never really been bothered about before) became a legend in my household. His slightly high conversation pieces and his romanticised view of his character past are amazing and like all the characters in this show, I want to be his friend too.
The Disc: There’s a collection of fluffy, yet great HBO promotional featurettes and a nice batch of commentaries on a few episodes so pretty enjoyable stuff for a TV boxset.
Lost: The Complete Boxset (Deluxe Editions)
Release: UK & US - Out Now
We all love special editions and we all love box sets, but in this festive period with sleigh riding fat men and singing snow men we want something a little bit more special to fill us with Christmas cheer. So if you’re feeling extravagant and are after that little bit extra of extra Christmas magic these recommendations might be right up your street.
2010 saw the end of Lost. And with the end of a long running show comes the Complete Collection and Lost delivered big.
With a couple of slightly different options in design in the UK and US, the complete Lost boxset offers up every episode of the show, all the features, the twelve minute epilogue and a whole host of trinkets. For starters the US box set design is glorious with its moulded plastic box and multiple layers. Then between the two regions, there’s the Jacob/Man in Black board game, a black-light torch to uncover more secrets, a book, an ankh with a secret message and a map.
The Disc: The Blu-rays of the show look and sound fantastic in HD, so a complete re-watch of Lost in this format is a must for any fan and the amount of extras accross these discs are full of treats and are going to take you ages to get through. All in all, to have either of these box sets sitting under the tree waiting for you would lead to a great final wrap up of the TV event that was Lost (man, I miss that show already). Read my season six review here.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Release: Out Now
My Christmas selection this year has to be National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. An absolute must watch in the Doidge household over Christmas. I love the other Vacation movies anyway but the Christmas outing is by far my favourite one of the batch. Chevy Chase is at his comedic best as Clark Griswald here, leading his entire family through one of the most manic movie Christmases ever and some of the madcap stuff he gets up to is comedy gold (the cutting down of the Christmas tree, gluing himself to everything and putting Christmas lights everywhere to name but a few).
On top of that there’s the more feel good moments that make Christmas movies great. The lights finally coming on is a great Clark moment, reminiscing past family get-togethers while trapped in the loft ends on a classic Vacation moment and the countdown to Clark losing it as things fall apart is as fun to watch on the millionth time as it was the first.
There are few other movie families that make Christmas movie watching as much fun as the Griswalds and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of the greatest Christmas movies out there, so brighten up your 2010 Christmas and give this classic a re-watch.
So that’s it for another year. Another selection of titles that DVDactive have fought the shoppers for in order to make sure Christmas Day is full of shiny disc joy (as well as a replica pulse rife - how festive, HO HO HO). |Feel free to add your own recommendations below and don't forget to check back with the site regularly for more news and reviews for the new year's releases and with titles like the Star Wars Saga hitting Blu-ray, 2011 looks like it might be a great one for our ever growing collections
Editorial by Marcus Doidge
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