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2010 - Holiday Gift Guide - Part IV

December 17th, 2010

The final installment of our Holiday Gift Guide is here. Part I dealt with first run releases, Part II dealt with box sets and TV on DVD releases, while Part III dealt with limited releases, foreign releases, and classics. This week we look at everything else, including a few that I missed before. This will be far less organized than previous installments, which is saying something. However, at this point, with just a week until Christmas, we are getting close to panic levels when it comes to shopping.

For those who want directions in life...
Daria: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Description: Daria Morgendorffer was introduced to the world in Beavis and Butt-head as a smart, sarcastic character to counter-balance the two morons who were the stars. As the original show was coming to an end, Daria was spun-off onto her own show, which became a big hit in its own right. This eight-disc set includes all 65 episodes, both TV movies, and a good selection of extras.
Pros: One of the best shows MTV has ever produced, and possibly the last show MTV made that I would actually want to see. (I have not yet seen Warren the Ape, the Greg the Bunny spin-off, which could be good.) Also, there are better extras that I was expecting, including a number of interviews with the cast and creators.
Cons: Music replacement. The bane of so many great shows.

For those who just want road directions...
Daria NavTones - Buy Direct
Description: NavTones allows you to download a program to change the voice of your GPS system. Some of these voices include David Hasselhoff, Mr. T, KITT from Knight Rider, and... Daria Morgendorffer.
Pros: It's Daria Morgendorffer giving you directions. That's so awesome.
Cons: I'm not sure getting directions from a sarcastic teenager is without unintended side effects. Will you trust directions given sarcastically? Something to think about.

For those who want a mix of old and new...
Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy - Buy from Amazon: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!
Description: After getting his start in theater, Baz Luhrmann turned his attention to cinema, first adapting his own play in Strictly Ballroom, later turning his style toward Shakespeare with Romeo + Juliet, and finally Giuseppe Verdi's opera with Moulin Rouge!.
Pros: The reviews for these films range from very strong to outstanding, while the recent Blu-ray releases really shine.
Cons: Strictly Ballroom only came out on DVD and didn't get a Blu-ray release. Also, his visual style mixed with classic stories divided some critics and his films are not for everyone.

For those who just want the old, shown in a new way...
True Grit - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Description: I reviewed this film when it came out on a Special Edition DVD back in 2007 and the plot can be summed up in one word. Revenge. Specifically, a young girl, Mattie Ross, hires a drunken former U.S. Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, to hunt down the man that killed her father. They are joined by a bounty hunter who is after the same quarry and looking to cash in on the $2,000 bounty.
Pros: I can imagine there are more than a few John Wayne fans who are fuming over the upcoming remake and for many of them, this is the only true version of True Grit. Additionally, the Blu-ray looks amazing, especially for a film that's 40 years old.
Cons: It's basically shovelware when compared to the Special Edition DVD. But it looks so good that it is worth $18 for the upgrade.

For someone ranting about a different remake...
Hawaii Five-O: Season Ten - Buy from Amazon
Description: "Book 'em, Dano." If you don't recognize that quote, you probably don't own a TV. Hawaii Five-O started in 1968 and ran for 12 seasons. Throughout most of those seasons, Jack Lord and James MacArthur starred side-by-side as Det. Steve McGarrett and Dan Williams. With exotic locales, and a touch of military intrigue (Steve McGarrett was ex-Navy and was called in on a number of cases) this police procedural show stood out from the competition and was the standard for the 1970s.
Pros: With the remake earning good reviews and good ratings, you likely know someone who is a fan of the new show but is too young to remember the original. Now's a good time to introduce them to the show. You could start with Season One, but Season Ten is the most recent release and watching them in order is not a huge concern.
Cons: For such a long-running show, the DVDs don't do the show justice.

For those who want their largest digitally animated franchise of all time...
Shrek: The Complete Story - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Description: Shrek took the typical fairytale story and told it from the point of view of a character that would normally be a one-dimensional villain. The titular Shrek is an ogre who wants nothing more than to be left alone. However, when an evil lord throws all of the fairytale characters out of his kingdom, they have nowhere to go except Shrek's swamp. Willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of these intruders, he agrees to rescue a cursed princess. Throw in a wise-cracking sidekick, or two, and you have all the ingredients for a great story.
Pros: This franchise built Dreamworks Animation and the first two films are classics of the medium. Plus, the four-disc set is loaded with extras and like most digital animation, it looks simply incredible on Blu-ray.
Cons: They are a little heavy on pop-culture references, so they haven't aged as well as I suspect How to Train Your Dragon will. Also, the last two movies suffer from a serious drop in quality. They are still very good for kids movies, but they are not classics.

For the budding movie mogul...
The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV and Video Content in an Online World - Buy from Amazon
Description: If you are a fan of The Numbers, the odds are that, not only are you a fan of movies, but you also like to watch box office results and are interested in the business side of movie-making. "The Business of Media Distribution" talks about the business side and looks at every aspect of financing, distribution, various revenue streams, etc.
Pros: It can best be described as comprehensive and academic, which is perfect if you are looking to learn as much as you can.
Cons: "Comprehensive and academic" can also be code words for "a little dry".

For those who don't want to see a person, ever again...
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Buy from Amazon: Regular Edition or Limited Edition Collector's Edition
Description: World of Warcraft didn't start the MMORPG genre, but it is currently the undisputed champion with 12 million subscribers. At $12 each... per month. That kind of revenue dwarfs the money all but the absolute biggest movie has earned. At the beginning of the month, the third expansion pack, Cataclysm, was released, which probably caused a massive world-wide drop in productivity.
Pros: It's a great game that is very addictive. Very addictive. As in say goodbye to your family addictive.
Cons: Odds are that if you know someone that plays the game, they already have the expansion, so ask first. If so, you can buy them a time card, or other stuff at the Blizzard Store.

For a child of the 80s looking for a classic video games...
Archon: Classic - Buy Direct
Description: In 1982 a video game called Archon was released. It was based on a simple idea: what if when you played chess, the pieces had to fight to win, so that the attacking piece didn't always win. Add in some mythological beasts and a battle between light and dark and you have a classic. Now nearly 30 years later, the game as been remade, and improved upon.
Pros: Not only is this game great for nostalgia value (you can even play with the original sprites) it's a great game on its own terms, earning incredible reviews from a number of critics. Also, it only costs $10 and its hard to top that price, especially with the replay value. (I've spent many hours playing the game when I should have been working.)
Cons: If you've never played the original, you are missing out on some of the coolness. Try to convince kids today of the joy of 4-bit graphics!

What took so long?
Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition - Buy Direct
Description: Blood Bowl was first created as a board game in 1987 as a combination of football and Sword & Sorcery violence. Imagine if instead of the Fellowship marching into Mordor, the two sides decided to have a football game to settle their differences. It's an extremely fun game, except there are a huge number of rules, and an even larger collection of teams. You could spend hundreds of dollars and not collect everything out there.
Pros: The complexity makes it perfect for a video game. This is so perfect for a video game, I'm amazed it took so long for someone to make it. If you know anyone who played the game but stopped because it took too long to get a game going, or it was too expensive to buy all the figures, etc. grab this game for them.
Cons: You are literally playing a board game on the computer, so if you've never played the original, there's a bit of a learning curve.

Again, the list is starting to get out of hand, but there are many other cool gifts I want to mention. So in short form...

  • For the Sci-Fi Geek - Quantum Mechanix
    Quantum Mechanix has licenses for a number of franchises, including Star Trek, Firefly, Stargate, etc. There's plenty of cool things on their site from Star Trek badges, Stargate coasters, to an artisan replica of Serenity. I want that replica, but its $2,500. I settled for the keychain instead.
  • For the more Geek gear - Mezco Toyz
    Mezco's produces many movie toys, including for geekfest films like Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgram, as well as classic horror films, as well as their own original line of Living Dead Dolls. I bought the 12" Kick-Ass Dolls, which are now sold-out. However, the 6" dolls are still available, but likely not for long.
  • For those who want to give the gift of giving -
    Kiva gives out micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them lift themselves out of poverty. You can give gift cards to others so they can help those less fortunate. And as the loans are paid back, you can keep going with new loans. At a certain point, you can have so many active loans, that each month you get enough back to keep going without adding more money to your account.
  • For those who want to decorate their Christmas Tree with diseases - GiantMicrobes
    Plush microbes that come in a huge variety of types and many come in three sizes from a couple inches to a couple feet long in some cases. (The giant Herpes is about the size of a basketball) Also, new this year is a Christmas Tree collection.
  • For those who want to give the gift of a few extra pounds - La Tienda
    This year the family is having Christmas at my place, so I decided to have a Spanish theme and grabbed all the food from La Tienda. The site has a great selection of food in a wide variety of price ranges, from $50 baskets for two, to a leg of ham that costs $1,200. I'm not kidding. It comes from free-range, acorn fed pigs, and it is aged for three years. That sounds awesome, but I'm sticking with the Chorizo and cookies. To hell with my diet. It's Christmas! Besides, I bought extra chocolate figs, and figs are healthy for you.
I'm going to stop there. Hopefully there's something here or on the previous parts for the person you need to find a gift for. And if not, buy them a gift card to the movies and a silly T-shirt and everyone's happy.


Filed under: Shrek, Moulin Rouge, Romeo+Juliet, True Grit, Strictly Ballroom, Shrek Forever After