Sunday, January 15, 2006

Top DVD's of 2005

I just got through all the special features of the '05 DVD's, so I can finally post this list! Our criteria for selecting the top DVD's of the year is very similar to our Xbox Games of the Year found here. In addition, we also look at not just the film itself, but the special features and quality of the menus and packaging. So, the top 3:

3) Alien vs. Predator: The Unrated Edition. What can I say, I've got a soft spot in my heart for giant bugs that bleed acid. Not that this was an amazing film by any means, but it certainly is entertaining, and it also marks the Predator's return to the silver screen after a decade. Alien vs. Predator has a rather hokey plot, but the monster battles and special effects are well done.

The Unrated Edition is also the version that should have been released first. In addition to over 8 minutes of additional footage that enhances the character's motivations, there are comprehensive featurettes and supplimental material that take you through pre-production to release, including docs on the comics that first brought these to movie monsters together as well as many of the action figures made by McFarlane Toys. There's even a little mini-comic thrown in for everyone's reading pleasure. If you're a fan of the franchise, so long as you don't sit down with it expecting Aliens, you'll enjoy yourself just fine.

2) Gladiator: Extended Edition. Gladiator is simply an amazing film, a great journey with real focus on a single man. It has beautiful plot and character development which is enhanced nicely with this Extended Edition. Several of the added scenes were seen before as deleted scenes in other DVD releases of the film, however a few are new and they all fit in very well.

The bonus materials are simply amazing. This is a 3 disc set, with the Extended and theatrical films on disc 1, and a 3 hour 20 minute documentary covering just about anything you could ever ask about Gladiator on disc 2. The final disc sports some featurettes, concept art, costume designs, storyboards, trailers, etc. The packaging is a beautiful fold out case with excellent art work, and there also a small booklet with comments from Ridley Scott. Truly an amazing DVD to add to your collection.

1) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. The Star Wars saga is now complete (until Lucas feels like milking it some more), and the final Star Wars DVD is Arbiter's Judgement's DVD of the year. The film itself is a Star Wars film that is actually good, entertaining, and what's more, showing off a pleasantly dark story as Anakin journeys along the final steps to becoming cinema's most famous villian. Certainly one of the best Star Wars films ever, and boasting some of series' best special effects period.

For extras, the DVD comes with a second disc with some documentaries on the making of, deleted scenes, trailers, web docs, and an Xbox demo for Star Wars: Battlefront II that lets you kill things; generally standard fair, but all interesting and informative enough to hold your interest if you watch suplimentals to begin with.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith beats out Gladiator: Extended Edition on one important point and one point alone: It is a new film. Gladiator: Extended Edition is a re-release of a film from 2000, so really the main attraction to it is the added scenes and bonus materials. While the quality of Gladiator and its suplimentals beats out Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, it has bene seen before, so the nod does go to Lucas' recent effects masterpiece.

The force is strong with this DVD of the Year.

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