2011-11-30

Movie Holiday Shopping Guide – Only The Best For Under The Tree

by Yo Snyder

One of the most popular presents each and every year for Christmas is of course movies. After all, who doesn’t enjoy sitting down with friends and family in the comfort of your own home to watch a good movie? Of course, the question is which movies are good enough to put under the Christmas tree? Well my friends, that’s why you come here to The Guide, to get questions like that answered. It was a pretty good year for movies, so here are some of our favorites that we think are entirely “tree-worthy”.

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy (Blu-Ray) — Steven Spielberg’s
popcorn blockbuster roars onto Blu-Ray with this Ultimate Trilogy collection.
Picture quality varies among the three movies, but they all look their best in
this set. The audio, however, is outstanding. Plus, there are some really good
new special features and a new documentary that explores the history of the
films and the impact they’ve had. All good stuff. Get the collector’s edition
and enjoy the added bonus of a really cool T-Rex statue. This set is pretty
much a must for any movie fan.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Blu-Ray) — This is the set
fans have been waiting to see with their fancy HD TVs and high-tech Blu-Ray
players; does it live up to the hype. Mostly yes. Keep in mind that some of
these movies are pretty old, but this is definitely the best they’ve looked.
Toss in one of the best sound-mixes ever for these movies, and it’s a solid
set. New special features are also a huge bonus as fans get to see deleted
footage, alternate scenes, and a bunch of the funniest Star Wars spoofs from
through the year. Yes, Lucas has made a few more tweaks for this set (Vader has
100% more scenes saying, “Nooooooooooo!”), but if you can live with that, this
is the best the classics and even the prequels have ever looked.

Captain America: The First Avenger — This prequel to the
upcoming comic book epic The Avengers was probably the best super hero flick of
the Summer (X-Men: First Class was pretty good, too). Channeling the
light-hearted, adventurous spirit of Indiana Jones and infusing it with the fun
one of comic’s great icons makes for a really enjoyable time at the movies.
Some solid special features including some behind the scenes peeks at The
Avengers makes this a truly worthwhile gift for any comic book or movie fan.

X-Men First Class — This was the other surprisingly good
super hero movie of the year (yeah, Thor was good too, but I liked this one
better). Fusing a classic James Bond feel with the mutant action of the X-Men
gave this franchise the fresh start it needed. Seeing how the friendship
between the future Professor X and Magneto was formed and then ultimately
crumbled provides some hefty emotional resonance for what would otherwise be
just another summer action flick. Some fun special features, like the Cerebro:
Mutant Tracker and some extended scenes rounds out a great movie.

Lion King Blu-Ray — The king returns with this “Platinum”
edition of an animated classic. Everyone was surprised when The Lion King
returned to theaters, now converted for stunning 3D, and dominated the box
office yet again. If you don’t have 3D at home, don’t worry, because the film
looks amazing in HD on Blu-Ray as well. Some great new special features,
including some truly hilarious outtakes with new animation and some in-depth
making-of features make this set a must-have for any family.

Winnie The Pooh — Alright, I confess that I have a soft-spot
for Pooh Bear. Not just the books, but also what Disney did with them back in
the day. This new “rebooted” version perfectly captures the spirit of those
classic. In a world where “reboots” generally amount to being edgier and
trendier, Winnie The Pooh remains charmingly quaint, gentle and almost old-fashioned.
If you’re looking for something your family can enjoy with a lot of charm and
class, this is it.

Larry Crowne — My favorite romantic comedy of the year, and
it stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s heartfelt,
but deftly avoids becoming overly cheesy or too saccharine. It also deals with
some pretty serious topics, like the economy and the serious consequence of
pornography. Despite these darker subjects, the film still retains a hopeful,
bright outlook. Best of all, it’s one of the few comedies this year to not have
a “R” rating.

Super 8 — Probably one of the most divisive movies of the
year. No one really argues that it’s made well, but people usually divide into “love
it” or “hate it” camps. J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg team-up and perfectly recapture
the feeling of those classic kid/adventure films that Spielberg was once so
well-known for. This movie is like Goonies or E.T.; that kind of feel and
pacing and so forth. Is it good? I thought so. Is it great for the whole
family? Well, the kids swear a lot in the movie, but for older kids, I think it’s
a fun, nostalgic ride that recaptures an era that’s lost in today’s movies.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2 — The series
comes to a rousing conclusion with this film. Fans have already decided if they
want it under the Christmas tree, and if you aren’t a fan, well, this isn’t the
movie to start with. Though not without its flaws, this is probably the best
film in the series and a fitting conclusion to one of the most successful film
franchises of all time. (For collectors, there’s also Harry Potter: Complete
Collection Years 1-7 on Blu-Ray, but it may be a bit scarce this time of year.)

Dolphin Tale — Don’t confuse this for a great movie; it’s
not winning any Oscars any time soon. However, it is a heartfelt one with a
charm that’s hard to resist. It’s also a fascinating story that the whole
family can enjoy.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes — One of the biggest
surprises of the year. A prequel/reboot of a sci-fi franchise that had one,
possibly two good movie in it and was horribly redone by Tim Burton? And it
turned out good? Yup, surprisingly so. The humans in the story are pretty weak,
but Andy Serkis’ turn as Ceasar, the ape that would eventually spark the monkey
uprising delivers an amazing, powerful performance that has some calling for an
Oscar nomination.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon — Is this the best of the
franchise? Mmm, no, I still like the first movie better. Is it the most
action-packed, over-the-top, epic film of the three? Absolutely. Does it make
up for the crapfest that was Revenge of the Fallen? Pretty much. Am I happy
that the only version available has no – that’s none, nil, zip — special features?
No, no I’m not.

Rio — It wasn’t a great movie, but it wasn’t terrible
either. If you’re looking for some light-hearted fun for the whole family, this
isn’t a bad choice.

Cars 2 — A sequel to what’s arguably Pixar’s least popular
film. Why? Merchandising (at least, that’s my theory). What happens when you
make Mater the star and make a Bond movie with a bunch of cars? Well, you get a
fairly entertaining film that’s visually quite stunning. Not Pixar’s best
effort, but even their average is still far and above the best of others.

Fast Five — I had never seen a Fast and Furious film before
this one, and you know what? I loved it. It’s just good, mindless fun at the
movies. It doesn’t have nearly as much booty in it as the trailer lead you to
believe, has some amazing car chases and cool action sequences, and the Rock
and Vin Diesel fight (are you kidding me, that’s epic!). Yeah some of the
characters and acting is pretty vapid, but man if this movie isn’t fun. It’s
still one of my favorites from the past year, and for action junkies, it’s one
you shouldn’t miss.