Year in Review: Best DVD Releases of 2009

GI Joe A Real American Hero: Complete Collector’s Set

Practicality be damned, this is yet another very cool case holding an entire series… Shout Factory may have missed an opportunity by not packaging the show in a busty Scarlett or Lady Jaye bust, but a military-themed foot locker is pretty sweet too. All 95 episodes of the show are included along with old-school PSA’s, Hasbro toy commercials, additional featurettes, a book documenting the series, a dog tag flash drive, and more. Any one of these episodes is at least as entertaining as the recent big budget movie, and the two-part ‘Dusty is a traitor’ story arc is some of the most dramatic TV ever made (not really, but I remember being moved by his predicament while watching this as a child so that’s still pretty impressive).

Harry Potter: Ultimate Editions

Attention all studios, this is how you make a special edition dvd for a worthwhile movie. (This is how you make two of them in fact…) Warner Bros has started releasing Ultimate Editions of the Harry Potter films starting with Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. The goal is to release the entire series of movies leading up to the two-part conclusion next year with Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. These editions are fantastic as stand-alone releases… they each feature four discs and include the theatrical cut, the extended cut, multiple featurettes, a beautiful little hardcover book filled with behind the scenes photos and production drawings, and two collectible character cards. The 4th disc of each set includes additional extras with the highlight being a brand new hour-long documentary, Creating the World of Harry Potter. When all of the segments are eventually completed and combined they’ll form an impressive eight hour doc on one of the best film franchises in history. Lastly, and this is a small detail but one that impresses someone like myself, the cases for these Ultimate Editions are designed to look like hardcover books beneath the outer graphic sleeve. Like I said, a small detail, but one that shows the kind of care and concern WB put into the design.

Red vs Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles – The Complete Series Boxset

This one may be a head-scratcher for some… if you’re wondering what the hell it is the odds are you never played Halo on the Xbox. If you did play and enjoy Halo but haven’t seen this hilarious series of shorts made with Halo’s in-game engine, then browse your ass over to redvsblue.com and start watching the first season. (And if you haven’t played any of the Halo games then the show and the jokes will mean absolutely nothing to you, so just move on down the list buddy.) The episodes take place inside the world of multiplayer Halo with opposing “players” represented by the different armor colors. But it’s not about combat… it’s about the personalities of these heretofore unnamed soldiers, their curiosity about what they’re fighting for and where exactly they are, and the sexual preferences of the soldier in pink. Very funny stuff here and the set includes five seasons of the show as well as numerous extras on the making-of, deleted scenes, outtakes, and more. A fantastic and fun collection for you or the gamer in your life.

The Sopranos: The Complete Series

And now for my second bit of heresy in this post… I’m not a huge fan of The Sopranos. Before you suggest I get whacked you should know that I’m a casual fan who wishes he had more time to catch up on the trials and tribulations of the lovably rotund mobster and his family and friends. But I don’t. So let’s move on to the set itself… this is actually the second “Complete Series” release for the show and comes roughly a year after the first. So why is it on this year’s list? It includes everything that initial set had except for two things: cds with the show’s music, and a $400 price tag. HBO has changed up the packaging and removed the soundtrack cds, and the entire show plus all the original extras can now be yours for $120 on Amazon. That’s a great deal for six seasons of what many people consider to be one of the greatest shows ever… and while it’s no “Andy Barker P.I.”, it’s still a pretty good show that you’ll be proud to own and display on your dvd shelf.

Inglourious Basterds

Yup, I admit it. I’m a sneaky bastard with no respect for the rules… even rules that I myself  created. The Inglourious Basterds two-disc dvd only has a handful of special features, the packaging is straight-forward, and I would wager that a legitimate special edition of the movie will see release sometime in the next few years with some truly cool extras. So why is it on my list this year? Because it’s my favorite movie of the year and therefore my favorite dvd of the year. Bam said the lady!

Honorable Mentions: Black Adder: Remastered, Justice League: The Complete Series, Monty Python: Almost the Truth, North By Northwest: 50th Anniversary Edition, The Sopranos: The Complete Series, The State: The Complete Series, The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Special Edition

What was your favorite DVD release this year?

Read More: Year in Review

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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