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Marcus and Leigh took a winter wonderland trip to Santa’s Grotto and asked the bearded one what the cool kids want for Christmas this year, and uncannily it turned out to be much the same as what Marcus and Leigh were going to recommend to all of you DVDactive readers. Who knew?

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We’ve been spoilt for choice this year, with a wide selection of great movies hitting our screens. Now Blu-ray has begun to take a hold, many of us are really beginning to feel the benefits of HD and DVD is still managing to impress. With an already impressive movie selection making up the big hitters for the festive period, we thought movies was the best place to start.

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The Dark Knight DVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - 8th December 2008; US - 9th December 2008
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



I know that recommending The Dark Knight at this stage, is about as cutting edge as suggesting you try out turkey on Christmas Day, but that doesn’t make either any less good. It may not be my favourite Batman movie (that’d be Returns) and Bale may not be my favourite Batman (that’d be Keaton or Conroy), but there is no denying just how much Nolan has achieved with this Bat-epic. For all of the well orchestrated action, the genuine sense of realism in a comic book world and across the board fine performances, Nolan got one thing right above all else—Batman and the Joker are bang on the money and the scene in the integration room is probably the Batman franchises finest moment on film to date.

Backed up with what looks to be a healthy set of extras and even a Limited Edition Blu-ray box set with a Bat Pod display for those of you who fancy treating yourself, this release is probably the biggest no- brainier of the year. After all, nothing says Christmas like a mourning orphan dressed as a bat going toe-to-toe with a psychopath dressed up as a clown.

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Hellboy 2: The Golden Army DVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - 8th Dec 2008; US - Out Now
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



The sequel to visionary director Guillermo del Toro's own 2004 film Hellboy, this instalment is bigger, better, and far more imaginative than what came before. Delving deeper into the monster's world than the last film, del Toro creates a vast array of weird and wonderful creatures that are as much Pan's Labyrinth as they are Hellboy, with a rogue's gallery of beasts that resemble the Star Wars cantina on a jolly boy's outing.

Of course, as before the centrepiece of the story is Ron Perlman as Hellboy, who delivers sarcasm and heart in equal measures that yet again shines through the prosthetics. With expansive sets and far more action than the first film, Hellboy II will be a visual feast for the viewer, and I know my family will be welcoming a red demon into the house on Christmas Day... but then again, we're weird like that.

Gabes review:
Hellboy II

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DVDactive Recommends...
It's a good Christmas to pick up some comedy despite not all of the 2008's offering hitting our shelves until the new year ( Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and in the UK's case, Tropic Thunder), but what is out there is still plenty funny to warm up those cold winter nights.

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Family Guy Season SevenDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD



The Griffins return for another bout of outrageously un-PC animated comedy. Generally described as the anti- Simpsons, Family Guy is lewder, cruder and arguably funnier than that yellow clan. With its mixture of hundred-miles-per-hour jokes and occasional surreal flights of fancy, season seven (actually season six, but let's not get into that here...) is possibly the best season yet. With the now customary bonus disc brimming with features, it's a must for fans of the series.

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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story DVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



I have a feeling that I'm in the minority here but I really loved Walk Hard. There's just something about John C. Reilly's performance as Dewey Cox and the world of Walk Hard that I found absolutely hilarious. The alternative takes on classic music history, the countless cameos and just how good the movie looks all makes it one of my comedies of the year.

The two disc edition is crammed full of even more greatness including a fantastic extended edition, rare music recordings and even a fake documentary from genuine musical stars telling of how Dewey Cox influenced their lives. I can and have watched this one a hell of a lot and it's totally one of my comedies of year.

Scott's review: Walk Hard

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DVDactive Recommends...
Okay, so horror isn't the first thing you think of when snuggling up in the sparkle of the Christmas lights, but here at DVDactive we like a bit of horror no matter the season, so heres what's on offer.

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[REC]DVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK – Out Now; US - 20th January 2009 (TBC)
Format: DVD



Horror, when done effectively, demands your complete attention and [REC] is one of the most effective horrors I’ve seen in quite a while. From the opening scenes there is something very genuine about it. It could be the cultural divide of it being a Spanish movie, or that it feels like a documentary you could have stumbled across late at night on TV, but whatever the reason, [REC] manages to capture a mood and tension that it holds onto throughout.

I rarely get sucked into horror quite as much as I did here and for someone that hardly ever gets the jumps whilst watching a scary movie, [REC] managed to make me leave my seat a good handful of times and was finally a movie that made use of the hand held camera approach à la Cloverfield and The Blair With Project to full effect. [REC] is a solid horror movie that leads up to an ending that’s handled with just enough smarts not to undo all of its good work in the build up.

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The MistDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



Based on a novella by horror icon Stephen King, The Mist is a horror film like they used to make. As a mist descends upon a small town in Maine, a group of local townsfolk including David Drayton (Thomas Jane) become stranded in a supermarket and are besieged by mysterious creatures that dwell within the murk. Whilst fighting off the creatures outside, alliances form on the inside and Drayton and his faction realise they are trapped inside with an enemy just as dangerous as whatever is lurking outside. With shades of films like The Thing, which are horror movies that work on far more levels that one expects from the genre, The Mist delivers scares and thoughtfulness in equal measure.

Going into too much detail will spoil some of the routes the plot takes, but it has to be said that the human conflict becomes just as white knuckle as the monster attacks by the third act and the film delivers a gut punch of an ending that I'm still surprised made its way through the Hollywood system. With strong performances from the whole ensemble cast (even the normally Ikea-like Thomas Jane impresses), the film will stay in the memory long after the credits roll. Released with a second disc containing, amongst other features, the fan-friendly black & white version of the film, The Mist is essential horror.

Marcus's review:  The Mist

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DVDactive Recommends...
Music and Christmas, go together like crackers and crappy plastic toys. So what better way to enjoy Christmas time than catching up with your favourite bands. Though it has to be said that our recommendations might not go down so well over Christmas dinner.

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Roadrunner United: The ConcertDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - 9th Dec 2008
Format: DVD



One for the 15 year old in the family (and the 30ish year old writing this review who should be old enough to know better by now, but doesn't), Roadrunner United: The Concert documents the coming together of some of the biggest names in American metal from the last 15 years. All residing within the Roadrunner record label, members of bands such as Anthrax, Slipknot, Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Fear Factory, Stone Sour and Trivium come together to form a 'one night only' kind of supergroup, running through live renditions of some of the essential tracks from the label's impressive back catalogue.

Also featuring a bonus disc containing a 70 minute documentary with all the main players, this is one for the boys (and, again, me).

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Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks Vol. 2DVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK – Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



I rarely pick up music on DVD and hadn't experienced any on Blu-ray, but with the release of The D's Complete Masterworks Vol. 2, I had to get involved.

Like the first volume, this includes a full ‘D’ gig and if you've ever seen one, you know they rock! This show was recorded at Moore Theatre and what’s more, includes many of the tracks off of the recent Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny movie soundtrack, of which the highlight for me has to be ‘Beelzeboss’. With immortal lines like ‘I’m the Devil, I love metal’, as well as all of the other classic ‘D’ tracks, performed by Rage Kage and Jables in ways only they can muster whislt being fueled by Satan - you just can’t go wrong.

DVDactive Recommends...
DVDactive Recommends...
For those of you who don’t get time to watch long running TV series for whatever reason, what better occasion is there than Christmas to catch up with big batches of TV box set goodness? Add to that a nice mince pies and some tinned chocolate and you have yourself the perfect viewing experience.

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Lost Season FourDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now;  US - 9th December 2008
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



Frankly I consider Lost the best show on TV, so this recommendation is an easy one. Anyone who watches the show will tell you just how exciting this latest season got with its new approach of telling us what happened in the future whilst letting events that affected it unravel in the present.

For anyone that lost track, it’s well worth picking up the previous seasons too and catching up because now Lost has an official end in sight (the end of it’s sixth season) you really don’t want to miss out on what will no doubt continue to be one of the finest examples of television that the rectangular box that sits in our living rooms has ever provided.

Marcus' review:  Lost: Season 4

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24: Redemption 2 disc Special EditionDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD



Filling in the gap between season six and the long awaited season seven, Keifer Sutherland dons the curly earpiece once again as Jack Bauer for this feature length movie. Packed with action both on the field and within the corridors of power and with the trademark real time concept still intact, the film bodes well for the proposed movie outing.

Expect the same quality and white knuckle tension we've come to expect from this seminal series and fans of the film should be pleased to hear that this DVD comes in an extended form and packed with features. This should be essential for fans of the franchise.

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DVDactive Recommends...
A clear sign that Christmas is fast approaching, is that those family movies that were all over the cinema and Happy Meals through the summer are now popping up on DVD & Blu-ray. This Christmas there's plenty on offer for those festive family get togethers.

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Journey to the Center of the EarthDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



As I have always been a self confessed movie geek, my childhood Christmases were not gauged by Brussels sprouts and the Queen's speech, but by Doug McClure and Bubo the Mechanical Owl. Journey to the Center of the Earth is an all singing, all dancing update of seventies and eighties fantasy adventures and all of the elements are there—slim story, action heroes, dinosaurs and uncharted lands.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray, the first version is old school family entertainment, with Brendan Fraser agreeably channelling the spirit of Rick O'Connell again, fun action sequences (including a great mine cart sequence) and even a little heart. But the real treat is the 3D version of the film. Using the two sets of special glasses that come with the DVD, the movie really comes into its own and the enjoyment factor is raised a great deal. Ideal family entertainment of the kind they just don't make any more.

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Wall-E and Kung Fu PandaDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US – Out Now
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that I’d have a problem choosing between a Pixar movie and a Dreamworks Animation movie, I’d have laughed in your face, yet here I am with that very dilemma. On one hand Kung Fu Panda is a family movie full of heart, celebrating everything there is to celebrate about being a fan of something you love. Jack Black’s performance is probably his best to date, even though he’s not actually on screen, and I just came out of seeing this movie really loving every second of it. Wall-E on the other hand, is Pixar delivering yet another masterpiece. I may not have warmed to much to the human element of the story, but for me Wall-E as a character is Pixar’s finest creation in a back catalogue of already fantastic characters.

Having only seen both of these movies once and waiting to watch them again on Blu-ray over the Christmas period, I am still divided over which I prefer. Is it the black and white bear that delivered Dreamworks most heartfelt fluke since the original Shrek or is it that awesome little litter-picking robot, who despite being let down by his human counterparts was still an absolute joy to watch. I’ll tell you what, I’ll just stay on the fence until after my second viewings and recommend both of these great animated gems.

Gabe's reviews:  Wall-E & Kung-Fu Panda

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DVDactive Recommends...
Box sets, Box sets, Box sets. Is there a better item to unwrap on Christmas morning? This year there's quite a nice selection and some of them are really pushing the sleigh out for your collections.

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Batman: The Complete Animated SeriesDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - N/A; US - Out Now
Format: DVD Only



What better to round up the year of the Bat than with The Dark Knight at his finest. The Batman Animated Series is a masterpiece, pure and simple, and to have it all in this deluxe box set is enough to make even me, already an owner of the entire series in individual series sets, want to get it again.

It's a shame they didn't have the foresight to include all of the animated movies and make this a completist's love-fest but with the entire run in one place with that pretty book and that gorgeous box—man alive this would make a great Christmas gift for any Bat-fan. Oh, and on a side note, Christmas 2009 request to Warner Bros, make a Justice League one to sit next to this on the shelf.

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The Mummy Trilogy 3 disc SteelbookDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - 1st December; US - N/A
Format: DVD and Blu-ray



Let's face it, nobody's going to want to sit down after Christmas dinner and watch their brand new copy of Schindler's List. The Mummy franchise is, in my opinion, the new equivalent of the holiday family favourites I grew up with. Unpretentious, exuberant and quite simply fun, a good time is guaranteed for all but the most cynical movie critic on the big day.

The first film is by far the most successful, channelling the spirit of adventure that the Indiana Jones films revel in, while at the same time giving the extra zip in pace expected by the newer audiences. The second offering is slightly more frenetic in its storytelling but at the same time upping the pace and action skilfully. The initially maligned third film is far more entertaining on repeated viewings than most bloggers would have you believe and on the whole, the box set is guaranteed to entertain you, your little brother and your grandparents all at once—and there aren't too many franchises you can say that about, are there? Presented in a three disc steelbook and presumably with all the features intact, this is a nice little set and a great present.

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DVDactive Recommends...
What would a Christmas recommendation article be without a genuine Christmas recommendation? So, here they are, the ones that should be a staple for everyone's festive viewings and make you get that proper Christmas feeling.

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ScroogedDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format DVD



Bill Murray is on fine cynical form in this great update of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Relocating the classic story to modern-day America, we meet Frank Cross (Murray), a network TV President and self-confessed Scrooge.

But he is about to get a rude awakening when he is visited by three ghosts, who force him to re-examine his life and the error of his ways. Mixing genuinely funny comedy of the blacker, meaner variety with real heart and soul in the climax, all delivered by Murray on fine deadpan form (including the funniest Richard Pryor joke I've ever heard), this is classic stuff. Highly recommended.

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GremlinsDVDactive Recommends...
Release: UK - Out Now; US - Out Now
Format: DVD



By far my favourite movie to watch at Christmas. That opening Phil Spector/Darlene Love Christmas track, the snow covered small town, Billy's frost covered VW Beetle. It's pure Christmas joy and that's even before the Gremlins turn up.

There's something incredibly Christmassy about a present that causes bedlam. A present so damn good the entire town finds out about it. Of course Billy's gift is a Mogwai and when you get one wet, it spawns a batch of nasty ones and when you feed them after midnight they turn into Gremlins and go on the rampage. However when a rampage involves singing Christmas carols, watching Snow White with your buddies and winding up causing havoc in a department store you can't help but get that Christmas spirit. Okay maybe not, but Gremlins is a Christmas classic and you just can't beat it.

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So there you have it, a batch of recommendations that might help you along with your Christmas lists. Just remember, Santa only brings the cool stuff to the girls and boys who have been good all year not just in the big release season.

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