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December 21st, 2013 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

Rather than doing a list just for kids, or just for action freaks, this ‘tries’ to give a good grab of ALL DVDs that people should buy for friends and family of all ages:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy follows Bilbo Baggins, an upstanding member of the “little people,” on the hazardous journey with Gandalf the Grey. Together with 13 fortune-seeking dwarves, Bilbo Baggins will be swept out his door and into a dangerous but grand adventure through the Lonely Mountains, where he must contend against all manner of enemies, from dragons, to giant spiders, hostile elves, ravenous wolves, and – perhaps the most perilous of all – a subterranean creature named Gollum from whom Bilbo wins a magical ring (the ring that rules them all) in a riddling contest!

The Lord of the Rings, way back in the dark annals of history (2001 to be exact), started the legacy of Tolkein riding high in three charts: book, cinema, and home release (DVD/Blu-ray). A decade later and it is happening again with the Hobbit. Many fans (me included) weren’t sure that the Hobbit could, or should, be adapted into three parts; material lifted from elsewhere has been used to make the new trilogy and that just didn’t’ seem right. Then the first movie came out and, while it certainly wasn’t perfect, it was a joy to watch. The DVD is no different and considering that a lot of people will be going to see the second part (Desolation of Smaug) around Christmas, it makes perfect sense to rewatch the beginning!

Star Trek: Into Darkness

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organisation has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving the world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

The twelfth film in the Star Trek franchise, and the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek,returns us to J. J. Abrams’ vision of the future of mankind and Starfleet. In many ways this is a better made film than Abrams original; you can tell that he, and the superb cast, have a much better grip on things but while it is more polished than the original it also didn’t have the same ‘zing’ about it. That said, the action scenes were amazing, the cast superb, and the storyline very deftly handled. Sure, it may have divided Trekkies around a certain character but you will have to watch it to find out why.

For me? I think that it was a WONDERFUL homage and reboot, and a great continuation of the new franchise.

The Wolverine

A little controversial this one, but, hey, I loved it. Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern-day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world, he will face a host of unexpected and deadly opponents in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality.

Loosely based on one of the greatest Wolverine stories ever told (possibly one of the greatest comic book stories too), Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Marvel miniseries from the 1980s, The Wolverine easily showcases why Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has become the cornerstone for all of the X-Men / Mutant movies.

The Wolverine is one of the few superhero movies that actually manages to stay true to the comic version while keeping casual viewers entertained.

This movie has it all: stunning cinematography and scenery, a strong story that, literally spans generations, realistic love interest, action all the way, ninjas, samurai, Yakuza, mad scientists, an over the top climatic end scene and, of course, an amazing end credit teaser for what comes next …that alone was worth the price of admission in the cinema, and the price of the DVD.

This is THE comic book movie of the year and deserves to either be a great stocking filler for the comic book family/friend, or a sneaky self-gift. Buy it now, bub!

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph longs to be as beloved as his game’s perfect Good Guy, Fix-It Felix. Problem is, nobody loves a Bad Guy. But they do love heroes… so when a modern, first-person shooter game arrives featuring tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun, Ralph sees it as his ticket to heroism and happiness. He sneaks into the game with a simple plan—win a medal—but soon wrecks everything, and accidently unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens every game in the arcade. Ralph’s only hope? Vanellope von Schweetz , a young troublemaking “glitch” from a candy-coated cart racing game who might just be the one to teach Ralph what it means to be a Good Guy. But will he realise he is good enough to become a hero before it’s “Game Over” for the entire arcade?

While obviously aimed at kids, this movie showcased arcade games that people of all ages recognised, making it one of the most all inclusive, all ages, movies released in 2013. In a house of two young kids I can vouch for the high watchability factor of this film too.


Based on John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip, Dredd takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot – if necessary!

This was a stunning visual treat in the cinema and it holds its own on the small screen too. A faithful, violent, unrelenting, adaptation of the comic.

We’re The Millers

David Burke is a small-time pot dealer whose clientele includes chefs and soccer moms, but no kids—after all, he has his scruples. So what could go wrong? Plenty. Preferring to keep a low profile for obvious reasons, he learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished when he tries to help out some local teens and winds up getting jumped by a trio of gutter punks. Stealing his stash and his cash, they leave him in major debt to his supplier, Brad.

In order to wipe the slate clean—and maintain a clean bill of health—David must now become a big-time drug smuggler by bringing Brad’s latest shipment in from Mexico. Twisting the arms of his neighbors, cynical stripper Rose and wannabe customer Kenny), and the tatted-and-pierced streetwise teen Casey), he devises a foolproof plan. One fake wife, two pretend kids and a huge, shiny RV later, the “Millers” are headed south of the border for a Fourth of July weekend that is sure to end with a bang.

This is crude, crass, cringe-inducing slapstick nonsense. For the British readers this is the 21st Century version of a Carry On movie, if said Carry On movie was on speed and needed tested for mental issues.

This is a fine collection of cheap and sleazy jokes, with all of the key players holding their own in gross-out and laugh out loud moments, and Jennifer Aniston especially showing a finely honed sense of comedic timing and definitely not afraid to play out portions of her life on screen.

American Mary

The story of a medical student named Mary who is growing increasingly broke and disenchanted with medical school and the established doctors she once idolised. The allure of easy money sends a desperate Mary through the messy world of underground surgeries which leaves more marks on her than the so-called freakish clientele.

This is an amazing movie for a few reasons. Jen and Sylvia Soska, collectively known just as the Soska Sisters, who wrote and directed this, are independent film makers, young, and female …that makes them extremely unusual in the business. They also have a habit of making great things with little to no money (Dead Hooker In The Trunk for instance) and this is another movie that transcends its budgetary roots.

There were no visual effects; everything is either practical or members of the real-life body modification community. The role of Mary was written specifically for Katharine Isabelle (the Canadian actress, best known for her portrayal of Ginger in the Ginger Snaps trilogy, as Gibb in Freddy vs. Jason).

This isn’t for everyone, and definitely not for the faint of heart. If, however, you like to support independent movie makers, and are a fan of low budget, shlock horror, then this is the best of 2013.

Don’t take my word for it, here’s what horror icon, Clive Barker, though of it: “Fu**ing amazing. Extraordinary. A really superb picture. Katharine Isabelle is awesome. She gives a wonderfully modulated performance. It’s disgusting and distressing and the makeup is brilliant. It made me think about the effects of horror. Why is has done what it does to us and why it continues to move us.”

Evil Dead

In the much anticipated remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult-hit horror film, five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.

Every top ten movie list needs a good horror movie on it and this one has two. I have to be honest and say that I was …and am… in mixed emotions about this movie. The original is still such an amazing movie, despite (because) of the relatively low budget for it, inexperience of all involved and of course because of the lead actor, Bruce Campbell. This remake isn’t the original …and, I suppose that is a good thing. So, if we accept the fact that it is ‘based’ on the concept of the original, and is a horror movie in its own right, then this is a very good one indeed.

Come on, all I need to say is that not only does it not use CGI for the scenes, but that over 50,000 gallons of fake blood was used during the filming and any horror fan should simply nod sagely and buy this. Also, because: ‘groovy!’

Wizard Of Oz (75th Anniversary Edition)

Released in 1939, The Wizard of Oz is considered to be one of the most iconic films of all time. The film was adapted from L. Frank Baum’s timeless children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow.

What better way to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of this seminal movie than by buying it as a gift for someone? Each and every generation discovers this movie and falls in love with it; more than any other movie in existence this one sums up what it is like to become enamoured by something on the screen and be so enthralled that, for a short time, you are there with them.

I have seen the Wizard of Oz MANY times over but I know that, when I watch it with my children this Christmas, it will be like the first time all over again.

There’s no place like home so having the DVD/Blu-ray of this just makes perfect sense!

Les Miserables

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

This is the film adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe; a star studded cast which includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. I wasn’t sure if this would live up to see Les Mis live, especially with a cast that were not exactly known for their musical theatre backgrounds but this one caught me by surprise. It is a great blend of action and music, making a great gift for those that have seen the musical live, and those that haven’t, both.

Just missed the top ten: Pacific Rim, The Croods, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Fast and Furious 6, The World’s End, Kick-Ass 2, and Django Unchained

I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.