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2017 - Holiday Gift Guide - Part I - First-Run Releases and Franchise Box Sets

November 23rd, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

It's Thanksgiving weekend, which means Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course the first installment of our Holiday Gift Guide. This week we will tackle first run releases, and normally franchise box sets as well, but this year none jump out as essential additions to the Holiday Gift guide. Worse still, 2017 has been awful at the box office with potential blockbuster after potential blockbuster getting savaged by critics and struggling at the box office. Additionally, some of the biggest and some of the best have been on the home market for nearly half a year, meaning nearly everyone who would want them, already own them. That doesn’t mean there are no films worth adding to this list, but the list is a little shorter than usual. On a side note, two of the films on this year’s list are from the MCU and it would have been three, but Thor: Ragnarok is still in theaters. If you know someone who loves the MCU, but has all of the movies, then check out this site, which has some more unique gift ideas. I specifically like the Spider-man Drone.

For those who didn’t expect to cry at a movie co-starring a talking raccoon...
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack
Description: The first of three installments in the MCU that came out this year. The plot has the members of the Guardians split up, with three main story lines. Starlord finds his biological father, but as you can probably guess, it isn’t an entirely happy reunion. Additionally, Thanos’s adoptive sisters, Gamora and Nebula, reunite, but as you can probably guess, it isn’t a happy reunion. Finally, Rocket and Yondu get stuck together after a Ravager mutiny. There’s a lot of plot to deal with, but all have one thing in common: Family.
Pros: This is my favorite comic book movie of the year. It’s gotten better the more I think about it. It deals with abusive familial relationships and the difference between those that you need to work through and those you need to abandon entirely. That’s a lot deeper and more mature than most comic book movies are. Additionally, there are plenty of extras on the DVD / Blu-ray.
Cons: It hit the home market in late August, so a lot of fans of the MCU will already own the movie.

For those who are glad Peter Parker has joined the MCU...
Spider-Man: Homecoming - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 3D Combo Pack, HD Ultra HD Combo Pack
Description: Peter Parker made his MCU debut with a brief appearance in Civil War, but got his own solo film here. It’s part high school comedy and part super hero action film.
Pros: There have been a huge number of super hero movies, so a film needs to do something different to stand out and this one accomplishes that by utilizing the high school setting well. The extras are also impressive, with pop-up track, deleted scenes, several making of featurettes, etc.
Cons: There have been six super hero movies that have come out this year. This one might be the second worse. It is still a great movie, one that I’ve watched a couple of times after writing my review and usually I don’t have time to do that.

For those who were waiting for the the DCEU to shine...
Wonder Woman - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 3D Combo Pack. Or 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack
Description: This is Wonder Woman’s origin story, which takes place about 100 years before the events of Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman has to leave her paradise when an American pilot, Steve Trevor, accidentally guides the Germans to her island. She learns of World War I and concludes it is the work of Ares and she believes it is her job to kill him.
Pros: This movie is great fun and the two leads have fantastic chemistry together. It is the only film in the DCEU that had an optimistic tone. Additionally, the extras are solid for a blockbuster release.
Cons: It’s an origin story. It’s great for an origin story, but it still has some of the common tropes in the genre, so it is predictable.

For those who want more than one cinematic universe to do well...
Kong: Skull Island - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 3D Combo Pack, or 4k Combo Pack
Description: A group of military men and scientists travel to a remote Pacific island to study it... In reality, they are working for Monarch, an organization convinced there are giant monsters roaming the Earth. Unfortunately for the people on this expedition, they are correct.
Pros: There have been a lot of attempts to build a cinematic universe since the MCU took off. Most of them have failed, because they forget the key to the MCU’s success. Make movies that are worth checking out on their own and only drop hints of the connections. I’m actually excited to see other films in this franchise.
Cons: The film hit the home market in July, so there’s a good chance the person you want to buy it for already has it. Also, the extras on the DVD / Blu-ray are a little weak for a film that made $500 million worldwide.

For those hoping this franchise isn’t over...
War for the Planet of the Apes - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 3D Combo Pack, or 4k Combo Pack
Description: Planet of the Apes is one of the longest running franchises of all time. I’m not sure if I need to describe the movie.
Pros: The second attempt to reboot the Planet of the Apes franchise went a lot better than the first reboot managed. In fact, this is one of the best-reviewed trilogies of recent years. The extras are solid, with a lot of Blu-ray exclusives.
Cons: There is also a Trilogy Box Set that came out, but I’m not sure the franchise will remain a trilogy. There’s talk of another one to three films being made and I hate buying partial box sets.

For those who want the best comedy already out on the home market...
Girls Trip - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: A group of four friends travel to New Orleans and things get wild. This sounds like any number of other R-rated comedies, but these four friends are African-American women.
Pros: Having a group of under-represented characters in an R-rated comedy helps add freshness to the comedy, so you don’t get the same jokes you’ve seen a hundred times before. Additionally, the film made more than $100 million domestically, so it clearly had crossover appeal. Finally, the extras on the DVD / Blu-ray are solid.
Cons: The average score is only 6.8 out of 10, so while most critics liked the movie, not that many loved it.

For those who are willing to wait...
Logan Lucky - Buy from Amazon: DVD. Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack
Description: The Logan Brothers are cursed, but they think planning and carrying out a heist will help them overcome this curse.
Pros: This dark comedy is one of the best movies of the summer. It bombed in theaters, so it is more likely that your gift recipient will not own it.
Cons: The film struggled in theaters and therefore the DVD and Blu-ray have almost no extras. Also, it doesn’t come out on DVD / Blu-ray till the 28th.
Note: If you are willing to wait, Dunkirk isn’t released till the 19th of December. That’s last minute shopping.

For those who liked the first one...
John Wick: Chapter Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack
Atomic Blonde - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack
Description: It was a good year for stylized action films with both John Wick: Chapter Two and Atomic Blonde.
Pros: John Wick: Chapter Two is arguably better than the original was. Atomic Blonde isn’t as good, but it does benefit from having a female lead, which is rare in Hollywood action films like this.
Cons: John Wick: Chapter Two is the better movie, but it has also been out on DVD / Blu-ray for a longer time.

That's enough of the major releases for the year. Let's look at some franchise box sets, starting, and ending, with...

For those who will also think of Tobey Maguire when it comes to Spider-Man...
Spider-Man Trilogy Collection - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray
Description: The originally Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi.
Pros: These are widely considered the best live-action version of Spider-man, even if the third film was a little weak.
Cons: The films are more than a decade old, so odds are anyone who likes them already has them. That said, getting all three films in one set is a nice gift.

That's it for the first-run releases. Next week is actually the December monthly preview, but the week after that, it is the TV on DVD releases. Hopefully they will be better than the first-run releases. Then we have classics, limited releases, etc., before finishing off with miscellaneous releases and anything I forgot.


Filed under: Holiday Gift Guide, Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, War for the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: Civil War, Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Kong: Skull Island, John Wick, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Beauty and the Beast, John Wick: Chapter Two, Dunkirk, Get Out, Atomic Blonde, Girls Trip, Logan Lucky, Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man, Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe, MonsterVerse, Charlize Theron, Bradley Cooper, Gal Gadot, Tobey Maguire, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Sam Raimi, Michael Rooker, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Tom Holland, Adam Driver, Karen Gillan