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5 Ultimate Blu-Ray Picks for New Year's

Some sexy sets to ring in the new year.

By Stephen Lackey     December 31, 2010


5 Ultimate Blu-Ray Picks for New Year’s
© Fox/Tim Janson

If you’re on this site, then you probably have a fairly good grasp on what a hardcore fan is. The hardcore fan won’t be waiting in line for that special edition of Wild Hogs or Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The hardcore fan won’t own the Kill Bill movies because they haven’t been put back together in one film, or at least in one set the way Quentin Tarantino first imagined them. This fan also didn’t buy the first version of Avatar because it was so obvious that a super deluxe bonus feature riddled version would come later. Get the picture? If you’re one of those fans and you’re looking for a proper Blu-ray set to ring in the new year with, here are five we guarantee won’t let you down:

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series

Battlestar Galactic was the most unlikely to succeed remake of them all. This new modern show would be a redo of a campy Wagon Train space show that didn’t survive the 70’s very well. We couldn't have known that show creator Ronald Moore would bring us a complex character driven science fiction series full of political commentary, character driven storytelling, and fascinating puzzles. No modern show has been able to comment on our times as successfully as this one and it’s not only set in the future but on a different world. The basic story is a familiar one; humans build robots for slaves, the robots gain artificial intelligence and rebel. Sounds a little like Planet of the Apes right? Well, that simple aspect of the story is but along with that, there are observations on religion and mysticism, politics on both sides of the aisle, terrorism, fame, and so much more. This is the best TV in the last 20 years second only to LOST. This box set includes the entire four season run of the show, the TV movie prequel, and the miniseries that started it all. There are tons of commentaries and featurettes to dig into the making of the show, podcasts that were recorded by Moore while the show was airing, deleted scenes, and tons more. There are two versions of this box set out there. The one with the Cylon toy is horribly packaged and doesn’t have an episode list. So I’m recommending the standard box with the episode listing.

LOST: The Complete Collection

LOST was one of the most groundbreaking television series of all time, no question. Was it perfect? No it wasn’t mostly due to some tinkering from the network. It found its way over the hump the network set it on to deliver an amazing final season and one of the greatest series finale’s of all time. LOST managed to trick the mainstream masses into watching a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid television series. That alone makes the show required viewing. LOST brought appointment viewing back to network TV with its serialized elements and outrageous cliffhangers. The set up is that a plane crashes on a mysterious island that has healing effects on the inhabitants and a very complex history. That doesn’t even begin to describe this complex character driven puzzle that featured one of the best ensemble casts on television. This set may be the most outstanding TV series presentation available. The complete set of blu-rays is packaged in sleeves presented in a plush textured box. In a larger textured box is the blu-ray set, a copy of the game that gets played often in the show, a flashlight, and tons of other little knickknacks sure to appeal to the true LOST fan.

Avatar 3-Disc Extended Collector’s Edition

Avatar was an extremely divisive movie among the hardcore fandom. Some fans saw the wonder of the film and fell in love with the overall experience, while other got bogged down in the film’s flaws (What was that, a bias? Yup, probably). This is the ultimate way to experience this film at home. First of all there are three different versions of the film. The theatrical and extended versions are the way to go. The third version is an offensively censored version of the film for “families”. Even with the extended cut included, the set still features 45 minutes of deleted scenes. There’s an in depth documentary on the making of the film with special focus on the motion capture, there are screen tests, visual fx reels, and voyeur style on set footage. There are 17 scenes examined from every perspective of the production process, there’s a comprehensive guide to Pandora and even a copy of the screenplay.

The set comes packaged in a book reminiscent in its construction and art design to old fantasy library books. The only hiccup in the packaging is that the discs are in envelopes on each page of the book that don’t pull all the way out. They’re meant to just pull out part way and you peel the disc out. The construction is sturdy but it could be torn by an overzealous fan.

Aliens Anthology

There are some installments in this franchise that fans just hate. Alien Resurrection, written by Joss Whedon, is one of them and David Finchers' attempt in the franchise is the other. In retrospect those films, with their flaws are still extremely enjoyable films. Sigourney Weaver is great as Ripley in every one of the films and the Aliens are always badass bitches. If you just truly hate those films, then you can buy the ones you like individually, but then you lose the whole ultimate factor. These films have all been given the full blown HD treatment and they all look phenomenal but the first two obviously got the most attention. Alien got a 4 k frame-by-frame restoration and the outcome is nothing short of stunning. Detail is higher than has ever been seen before and colors, black levels, and contrast are downright perfect. The Aliens restoration was overseen by James Cameron and the result is eye popping. Detail here is also outstanding and all of the white in this movie never once blooms. With all of the tinkering that Cameron did to the film during the restoration, he smartly left us the film grain that we all love. This one is one of the top 2 or 3 restorations to HD of all time.

The Blade Runner Briefcase 5-Disc Ultimate Collection

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. Some would argue that the pace is too slow, but the truth is that the pace is precise and it builds a layer of surrealism on top of the science fiction written by the great Philip K. Dick. Harrison Ford plays a cop in the future responsible for seeking out rogue androids that have slipped away to try and live human lives. The film stars Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Daryl Hannah. Almost 30 years after its initial theatrical run, the film is still cutting edge at its style continues to influence modern science fiction today.  This set is crammed full of special features as well as the penultimate version of the film. The first disc features that version with special fx and a few glitchy scenes repaired. In one scene, Harrison Ford’s son, who was the same age as Ford was when making the film, was brought in to help repair a scene from the film. That disc also features two commentaries; one from the producers, and one from visual fx supervisors. Disc two features a lengthy and highly detailed documentary about the making of the film from the beginnings of the writing to the release of the film to theaters. The third disc features three additional versions of the film including the first director’s cut and the original theatrical cut. The fourth disc features a bevy of short documentaries about Philip K. Dick the writer of the original story, comparisons between the book and the movie, the wardrobe of the film, the graphic design, the poster art, and much more. There are also screen tests, photo galleries, deleted scenes, original featurettes from 1982, trailers and TV spots and many other supplements. The fifth disc features something really special, an early workprint version of the film with commentary from a Blade Runner historian. There’s also a featurette on the evolution of the film from workprint to the final versions. The five disc set is packaged in a numbered replica of Harrison Ford’s character’s briefcase from the film. Inside the briefcase, along with the boxset, are many other little extras for the hardcore fan including film cells, a miniature version of the flying car, additional photos from the movie, a signed letter from the director, and more.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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flyinroo 12/31/2010 6:28:21 AM

Lost was a great series, but the series finale made it the greatest series ever! I'll be checking out this set for sure. With that said, Battlestart Galactica is easily the second best series I have seen and I'll be hard pressed to pass that set up as well.

But before I get either of them, I'll definitely get the Blade Runner set. Absolutely, hands down, the BEST Science Fiction movie ever made. This movie holds up nearly 30 years later. Just as Star Wars set the bar with special effects in Sci-Fi, Blade Runner affected the look, feel, story, and every other element of the genre.

twomcs 12/31/2010 6:41:59 AM

 Received the Alien Anthology for X-mas and watched all of them within 24 hrs. Love the first two. Kinda like the third. The fourth is just terrible!!!!

Wyldstaar 12/31/2010 7:19:29 AM

I picked up the Alien Anthology, and it is indeed awesome.  Amazing picture quality and sound, and bonus features beyond measure.  I haven't been able to bring myself to watch Alien 3 yet.  The heartbreak of that train wreck is just too much.  As for Alien Resurrection, I can forgive this one because of where it led Joss Wheadon to.  The crew of the Betty sure does seem familiar, right down to the tough guy with a girls name.

karas1 12/31/2010 9:40:38 AM

Lost was a great series but the series finale really let us down with the moronic revelation that  the "Flash Sideways" portion took place in the afterlife, long after the story was over. 

I always liked Alien 4 with the clone Ripley.  Alien 3 I felt was very weak.

Blade Runner is one of my favorite films, the original theatrical release.  I liked the voice overs, they gave it a lot of atmosphere and the idea that Dekkard was a replicant ruined the message of the movie and didn't make a lot of sense.

BSG was a great series but I don't have a  great desire to watch it again.  Maybe in 5 or 6 years.

Avatar was a great movie in the theater on 3D but watching it on HBO has confirmed for me that while entertaining enough on my TV, the experience just isn't as awesome.

almostunbiased 12/31/2010 12:57:01 PM

WOW Kara, I read your post and was thinking exactly the same thing about, LOST, Aliens, Blade Runner, and BSG.  I mean exactly.  That said, I have watched Avatar at home and I still enjoy the story.  Of course I always liked dances with wolves, and Battle for Terra, which if you mix together you get Avatar.  I'm serious, I really liked it.  Great world, fun action, simple story, but I think sometimes a simple story can be a great film.  The (digital) acting was actually really good.  Still totally agree on everything else you said.

karas1 12/31/2010 2:31:28 PM

Great minds think alike almostunbiased. 

Avatar was just a movie on my TV.  A reasonably entertaining movie, but just a movie.  In the theater with the large screen and the 3D it was an experience which inspired awe.

6dra6on6 12/31/2010 2:42:30 PM

I'm with Karas too except for the fourth Alien. I hated it. "It thinks your it's mama..." has got to be to corniest line in all of cinema and the baby alien was plain goofy looking. But that's my opinion... Still gonna get the Anthology release, tho.

I only like the theatrical version of Blade Runner too for all the reasons Karas mentioned(did I ever mention that Karas is one of the brightest people here..?) but I'm still getting the briefcase version. It'll be worth every penny.

 

makabriel 12/31/2010 5:26:03 PM

I'm still sticking to my guns about Aliens 3.  The book was good, and the director's cut stuck to the book.  I liked it.

 

Wyldstaar 12/31/2010 7:48:43 PM

I'm going to assume you're refering to the novelization that was based on the screenplay of Alien 3, makabriel.  Personally, I greatly prefer the graphic novels from Dark Horse Comics created years earlier.  After Alien 3 was released, the DHC story was adapted into the novels Aliens: Earth Hive, Aliens: Nightmare Asylum and Aliens: The Female War.  In the novels, the names of Newt and Hicks were changed to Billie and Wilks.  A number of story elements had to be changed to coincide with the movie as well.  In the reprints of the graphic novels the names were changed too.

guateke 12/31/2010 9:45:55 PM

Of all of those I only own the Battlestar Galactica one, (which is set 150,000 years in the PAST, just so you know) and it is awesome! An excellent addition to any video collection.

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