Too cold to browse for Christmas presents? Look no further. This is my list of the top ten recent DVD releases (categorised by genre). From children animations to serious drama, there is a choice for every taste in here.
To begin with, the new animation by the Ice Age producers, Despicable Me, will conquer the hearts of both children and adults alike: the story of a cold-hearted “capitalist” thief being slowly converted to compassion and fatherhood, with the voices of Steve Carrell, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews and the irresistible “minions” (tiny, sweet, yellow creatures messing around), is narrated with great humour and an interesting “Marxist” approach to modern society.
Tim Burton’s colourful adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter) will also please the younger audience. In this version, Alice has grown up and has returned one last time to “Underland” to slay the “Jabberwocky”, a giant monster obeying the orders of the terrifying heart-shaped Red Queen. Displaying Burton’s boundless imagination, and balancing humour and nightmarish qualities alike, this feature is a delight to viewers of all age.
Science-Fiction, Thriller, Action & Superhero
Recently released on DVD and Blu-Ray, the next film is one of the greatest cinematographic phenomena of all times: the newly restored and nearly complete version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Only incomplete versions were available until a recent discovery of footage thought to be lost (in a small museum in Argentina). The new version with the original score by Gottfried Huppertz is now available and its result is more stunning than ever.
From Martin Scorsese comes a rather traditional but well-written thriller full of surprises, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley: Shutter Island, a dark film with an unpredictable final twist.
Much expected, Christopher Nolan’s latest Action Thriller Inception (starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard) is now out on Blu-Ray and DVD: a gripping and highly philosophical action film that will keep you guessing until the end (and longer than that), with some wonderful performances (especially by DiCaprio and Page) and one of the most complex and intelligent screenplays of the last decade.
Another evident choice is James Cameron’s acclaimed most grossing film of all time: Avatar. The most ambitious cinema project of the year, this visually stunning CGI-action feature will transport you into the fantastical world of “avatars” (starring Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver).
For all those, who are more into super-cool superheroes, there is Iron Man 2, a film criticised for being very similar to its prequel. But the truth is that Robert Downey Jr.’s performance compensates for any plot deficiencies. Also starring Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke, the film prepares the grounds for the plot of the upcoming Avengers (a 2012 release about the entire team of Marvel superheroes). An action filled, humorous journey that will provide a wonderful evening of superhero entertainment.
Finally, there is always the Years 1-6 edition of Harry Potter: six great films and exciting extras which will please even the most demanding Harry Potter fans.
In the drama section, Remember Me will surprise you positively: for all Robert Pattinson fans, those who think Twilight is not challenging enough and those who doubt him, Remember Me is a fresh and sweet drama about a lost boy, son, brother and friend (also starring Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper). It is a straightforward film that focuses on human psychology and good performances, with an unexpected ending.
On a funnier note, Wild Target is a wonderfully hilarious half-parody hit-man movie, full of comical references to cult films (from Psycho and The Shining to Leon: The Professional) with great performances by Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint.
Finally, in case you have not found anything to your taste yet, an idea which always works: The Complete Series of Friends, a TV Classic which never fails to entertain and can be watched over and over again…