Every year, as we pack the malls and stores looking for gifts, we all hope to find that perfect one for whomever we may be shopping for. Even DVDs, given the sheer number of releases out there now, can be very tricky to sift through. So, in an effort to help a little bit, included below are my top ten picks for this holiday seasons. Welcome one and all to the 1st Annual WF DVD Report Holiday Gift Guide. The selections you’ll see below are just a handful of some of my favorite DVDs that were released this year, DVDs which I believe deserve a spot in anyone’s collection.
The DVDs listed below are placed in random order, and cover any DVDs released in the 2007 calendar year. The Gift Guide will, essentially, highlight my favorite releases of the year, releases that I believe every DVD collection should include. Also note that while this list will include ten selections, it is far from complete, and, given the time of year and the fact that not all of the 2007 releases have hit shelves, this list may be a shade incomplete. Please note that the list was published on Dec. 14th, 2007., and, therefore, does not include any releases released after that date, since said product is currently unavailable to review. So, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get this list underway! And, as I imagine you’ve already seen the It’s A Wonderful Life DVD art, you know where I’m going to begin.
For the classic movie lover . . .
It’s A Wonderful Life (review) – Well, let’s kick this list off right with the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life. Much like my review, I could really go on about how great this movie is, but, if you haven’t seen it, there’s no better time than now to do so. Paramount has released an excellent new edition of the movie, featuring both the original Black & White version and a newly Colorized version, as well as a nice assortment or extras to tide you over. It really is a great movie to watch over the holidays, and one that belongs in every DVD collection. A beautiful movie, no holidays would be complete without it.
For the cinema lover . . .
The Fountain (review) – Without a doubt, my favorite movie of the year. Released to DVD in May 2007, this movie slid under the radar to many. Even the theatrical release was barely noticed by the movie-going public, but, based on the complicated nature of the film and the immense difficulty Warner Bros. had in marketing the film, it’s no surprise. However, this is one film that truly deserves to be seen, no question about it, and would make a great gift for the movie-lover in your life. With a powerhouse performance by Hugh Jackman, playing three roles, The Fountain is simply one of those films that, years from now, will finally be appreciated for the piece or art it is. This is a movie that everyone should see, at least once, to take it all in. It’s absorbing, mesmerizing, and simply spellbinding.
For the comic book lover . . .
Justice League Unlimited: Season Two (review) – Capping off one of the most cherished and brilliant animated universes ever created, Justice League Unlimited: Season Two gave fans one last look at their favorite comic-based heroes before sending them off into the sunset, making room for new interpretations to come down the pipeline. What started so many years ago with Batman: The Animated Series so many years ago, and continuing through a host of others (check out The World’s Finest for more information on these characters), this collections gives us a final send-off (possibly) to the Bruce Timm-created universe. Taking the best of the DC Comics Universe, and leaving behind the bad, Timm created what many consider the best interpretations of these classic characters, including Batman and Superman. If you’re new to this universe, this set may be a bit confusing, but it will act a great primer as to what this DC Animated Universe has to offer. And, believe me, there’s so much more out there that is ready to discover for all the newbies. But, given that this is my personal favorite DCAU-themed release this year, this is the one I have to recommend, and so easily so. Definitely a great gift to find under the tree.
For the action film lover . . .
Spider-Man 3 (review) -. It’s safe to say that no comic book fan’s collection is complete without the latest movie starring everyone’s favorite web-slinger. Sure, there’s a good chance that the vast majority of comic book fans already own this flick, but for the few who don’t, this gift is a no-brainer. 2007’s biggest movie would make an excellent gift for comic book fans looking to see their favorite character brought to life on the big screen. Now, while the movie is easily the weakest installment of the franchise, it still has a host of redeeming values. Not only are the action scenes incredibly well done, but it introduced the popular character Venom into the franchise. And, granted, while even that wasn’t handled all that well in the movie, the visuals for the symbiotic villain are quite amazing. And, most importantly, it’s a flat-out fun movie that’s brimming with energy. It’s a movie that also appeals to both the kids and adults, and I’m sure many of them would be glad to find Spider-Man 3 under the tree this season.
For the TV lover . . .
30 Rock: Season One (review) – One of the best new shows in years, 30 Rocks is consistently innovative and hilarious, and the cast is a total knock-out. Led by Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, the show won a well-deserved Emmy for Best Comedy for the first season and, for those who have yet to check out this great show, you should give this season a spin to see what all the praise is about. Arguably NBC’s strongest comedy series, neck to neck with The Office, 30 Rock is consistently well done with sharp writing and impressive work all around from the cast. It’s just a flat-out hilarious show and it would make a great gift for those who have yet to discover quite possibly the best comedy series on television.
For the nature lover . . .
Planet Earth: The Complete Series (review) – I think it goes without saying that this is arguably the best nature documentary out there today. Watching this opens up a whole new world and, quite frankly, it’s exhilarating the watch. Not only were the man hours on the project long and hard, but the danger was just as present. Thankfully, the pay-off, what we see as we watch this series, is spell-binding. Just about everything this planet has to cover is here, plus we get to see how a lot of this was accomplished. It’s simply fascinating and must-see viewing. Even if you’re not a nature lover at all, you really owe it to yourself to watch this series and see what this great planet of ours has to offer. The Blue Planet: Season of Life – The Complete Series, a companion series of sorts to Planet Earth, is also worth checking out, offering a breathtaking exploration of the world’s oceans. If you’re a nature lover, these two series are a must-have.
For the documentary lover . . .
Small Town Gay Bar (review) – One of my favorite documentaries of the year, Small Town Gay Bar takes an intimate look at a host of gay-themed establishments in America’s heartland. Where persecution for sexual orientation is strong, this documentary shows the endearing spirit and resilience in a small-town America setting. It’s really worth watching and is actually pretty inspiring. While not the most in-depth documentary, it does a great job at diving into the topic at hand and exploring the situation that a selection of small town gay bars find themselves in. Additionally, Kevin Smith (Clerks II) gets a bit of a spotlight in the extra features due to his help in getting this program out into the mainstream.
For the comedy lover . . .
Knocked Up (review) – Judd Apatow created another gem with Knocked Up, easily the best comedy of the year. While this year gave us a host of great comedies, to me, this one stands out. It’s real, powerful at times, and incredibly emotional and grounded in realism. Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen truly excel in this movie, selling the premise and the struggle they have to endure after a night of drunken passion goes array. While that might sound more like a Lifetime TV Movie drama than a comedy, don’t fret. Not only is it a hilarious movie, but it’s also heartfelt and poignant. This would be the perfect movie to add to any comedy-lover’s collection. Knocked Up is great in almost every way, and I can guarantee no one would be disappointed to receive it as a gift.
For the animation lover . . .
Ratatouille (review) – You know, there’s so much to like about this movie I don’t even know where to begin. Probably the most mature Pixar movie to date, it’s simply a great animated film that, at the end, will undoubtedly leave you smiling. It has this inexplicable charm, aided with Brad Bird’s deft directing hand, that makes it stand high above the rest of the theatrical animated fare released this year. Sure, the film’s troubled production is evident, though not mentioned on the DVD itself, but the final product, to me, is one of pure delight. There’s a reason why this was the best reviewed film of the year, and it’s one that any young adult or animation lover would love to unwrap over the holidays.
For the sci-fi lover . . .
Serenity: Collector’s Edition (review) – Every year, countless sci-fi movies are released and, for the most part, they stink. And, quite frankly, even some of the more established sci-fr franchises tend to stink, too. But Serenity brought something new, taking the sci-fi genre and giving it a bit of a western twang. Spun off from the cult Firefly series, Serenity picks up where that series left off, but is also accessible to new viewers as well. Led by a remarkably solid and attractive cast and filled with stunning action sequences, including a riveting climactic battle both in space and in closed quarters, this is one of the funnest sci-fi movies you’ll ever watch, and the DVD itself is stacked with an enormous amount of extras that the most die-hard or casual fan will enjoy.
All of these titles are currently available to own. Check your local retailers.