2008review-dvd

Editor’s Note: As part of our Year in Review, we’ve asked our resident DVDologist Brian Gibson to lay down his 15 favorite releases from 2008. For more of Brian’s DVD picks be sure to check out his DVDs I Bought This Week column every Tuesday.

It’s that time of year again, the time for our year in review coverage. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t put together the best DVD’s of 2008. These DVD’s have earned their stripes for things like packaging, presentation, special features and overall worth to a collection. Last year we saw some sleepers and some obvious contenders. This year, you can expect much of the same. My only hope, that we can bring some great DVD’s to your attention and that maybe you can do the same for us in the comment section below.

Click on any of the names to view more info about the DVD, courtesy of Amazon.

Band of Brothers (Blu-ray)

Well who didn’t own “Band of Brothers” in the first place? This was one of the best HBO series’ ever. If you haven’t seen it, which means you are my grandma, it is basically like a 12 hour World War 2 film, care of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Did you like Saving Private Ryan? Well while that may not be on Blu-ray yet, you can get the next best thing. An incredible transfer encased in an awesome tin that just cries for everyone to buy it. This is one of those TV series that Blu-Ray is made for.

Baraka

After Ron Fricke gave us a revolutionary look at time lapse photography with 1985’s Chronos. Then he took his camera skills to the most beautiful places in the world for Baraka. Shot in 24 countries, this is easily one of the greatest pieces of eye candy that any film would ever have to offer. I believe in balance, and in order to lower my adrenaline from flicks like The Incredible Hulk, I buy one like this. I promise you, this is one of the most visually arresting films you will ever see. Here is the money quote though – The best Blu-ray transfer, ever.

Cloverfield

Cloverfield was without a doubt one of my favorite studio releases of the year. It was just one of those reasons to run out to the theater. It was like an amusement park ride. The film had been shrouded in mystery since the teaser trailer, and there was still a sense of mystery even after seeing the film in theaters. This is definitely one of those “you need the DVD” films, because it can help to revisit things you may have missed. Multiple viewings and special features alone make this one a best of the year contender.

The Dark Knight

For starters, this was reason number three to buy a Blu-ray player this year. Even after I have bought and watched The Dark Knight, I think back on my multiple viewings and I’m still just amazed. The film is just layer upon layer of drama, action and suspense. The film is a masterpiece from the ground up. The meticulous and brilliant viral marketing campaign just gave us a taste of what to expect when the film actually hit audiences. Now the film is in an Oscar push, and also ready to overtake the number one spot as the highest grossing film of all time. So why buy this one? Because any responsible movie fan would.

Dexter Season 2

I would easily call “Dexter” one of the most pleasant surprises on television. Since the series is on Showtime, it doesn’t receive a lot of exposure. It should, or darkly dreaming Dexter will have to pay you a visit. Once I heard the premise, that it is basically like CSI except that the expert is a serial killer, I was hooked. With a tag line like “Takes life. Seriously”, it’s no wonder that Michael C. Hall is America’s favorite serial killer. Season two does not disappoint, but if you have not seen season one…don’t trek into the title without viewing Dexter’s dark beginnings. If you pay alot of attention to the show, there are alot of really cool homages paid to other genre bending serial killer characters/authors. The show frequently references Bret Easton Ellis, of ‘American Psycho’ fame. Season one was on last year’s list, so here is yet another reason to get your hands dirty.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

So what could be better than Neil Patrick Harris playing himself in the Harold and Kumar films? Maybe, Neil Parick Harris playing an evil scientist in a musical. Opposite Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer, NPH’s Dr. Horrible sings of his love for a woman and his lust for power. The three part web-series was awesome enough, and to own it on DVD is a must. The commentary alone makes this one of the best DVD purchases of the year.

The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration

Why should this be on the list? I don’t have to tell you why…do you know why? Because the first two films are two of the highest rated and most critically acclaimed films of all time. The third, with the quasi-incestuous story-line, was a bit of a stinker…but this is cinematic royalty here folks. Don’t mess with this one or you will wake up in a pool of blood, cozying up to a dead horse’s head. Not literally of course, but you know what I mean. I digress, if you would like to see two of the greatest films ever committed to celluloid receive a royal restoration treatment…then here you go.

How the West Was Won: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

To begin with, How the West Was Won is easily one of the most revolutionary films of its time. Considering its filming process, cast, size of production and running time…this was one of the most ambitious projects of all time. The film never received a very good DVD treatment, but better late than never. The DVD features a really awesome Cinerama documentary and one of the best restorations I have ever seen. It’s pretty awesome to watch this in Blu-ray and catch the seams of the three reels coming together. This one is awesome, even if the film itself is mildly mediocre.

Iron Man

To paraphrase my little brother, “This was like the best, superhero movie ever. It was like funny, and like had some awesome effects.” I have to agree. It was like one of the best superhero movies ever made. Favreau really took a character that most people knew nothing of, and made him cool, lovable and marketable. This was one of my most eagerly awaited DVD releases of the year. This was reason number one of three to buy a Blu-Ray player this year.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

One of the best, if not my favorite, DVD’s of the year would have to be King of Kong. This was one of my favorite movies of 2007, and one of my most highly awaited DVD’s. The epic battle between Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell is highly documented throughout this gem. If you aren’t schooled in the geek arts, you may not have heard of KoK yet. It is the story about the reigning world record holder in Donkey Kong (and douchebaggery), named Billy Mitchell. All-around nice guy, and family man, Steve Wiebe tries to take on the thrown as the world’s best. The DVD packs a punch with some awesome special features for gamers and non-gamers alike.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Collector’s Edition)

I am one of those people who still have a sealed copy of the out of print special edition of the original DVD. It was one of those must own DVD’s for me, as it contained the rare and amazing DTS audio track. Well for the die-hard fans, it looks like the studio has heard your cry and created a magnificent special edition set that even includes a bust of Jack Skellington. A rare Burton short film, an awesome narration of the original poem done by Christopher Lee and some other amazing special features makes this an easy one for the list.

Short Circuit

Talk about a movie that I absolutely loved as a child, but despise in some ways as an adult. Short Circuit was an amazing movie to watch as a child of the 80’s, but it also created a misguided depiction of Arab people. C’mon, seriously what was more amazing? Fisher Stevens’ accent or Johnny Number 5? Either way, just like Monster Squad last year, some 80′s cheese needed to make my list.

Spaced

I guess that if you would like to see the origins of the men behind Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), go no further. This is one of the most highly rated shows to come from across the pond in a long time. Unless you are one of those “Doctor Who” fans. With some really cool artwork and some commentaries thrown onto the discs, this is the best thing to hit our shore since the bootleg versions.

Tropic Thunder

This was one of my favorite movies of the year and Ben Stiller and company did not skimp on making a great DVD. How about Downey Jr. playing Kirk Lazarus playing Lincoln Osirus for the DVD commentary? How about the Rain of Madness mockumentary? This DVD is filled to the brim with features that true movie fans can enjoy. I am still trying to decide though if I like the director’s cut or theatrical cut better. Either way, the DC is what is on this list because of the special features.

Wall-E

Why is it that Pixar can churn out film after film, and not lose a step along the way? I have bought every single film that Pixar has released. I’m sure that many movie fans have done the same. So other than the fact that every single other Pixar DVD has been fantastic, what makes this one of the years best DVD releases? Let’s talk eye candy here, this computer generated piece of awesome was the second reason to buy a Blu-ray player this year. Now as for supplements, much like Iron Man and Tropic Thunder…this one has more special features than you could truly absorb in a weekend.

What were your most coveted DVD purchases in 2008?


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