With the HD format war heating up this year, it was a great opportunity to start viewing some new and old VFX eye candy on Blu-ray, HD DVD or just plain DVD. Here are some of our favorites to keep in mind for your last minute holiday gift giving:
1. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (Warner Home Video)Stanley Kubrick's landmark, mind-blowing sci-fi epic from 1968 looks as great as you would imagine in HD, and now you can finally appreciate those Oscar-winning vfx at home. The two-disc set is available on Blu-ray and HD DVD ($28.99) as well as DVD ($26.99) and is also part of a Stanley Kubrick collection ($79.99).
2. BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT (Warner Home Video)Speaking of multiple versions, we finally have Ridley Scott's visually stunning BLADE RUNNER in all its iterations on Blu-ray and HD DVD in five-disc Digi Packs ($39.99). The highlight is the digitally remastered FINAL CUT (with new vfx tweaks by Sony Pictures Imageworks, Illusion Arts, Lola Visual Effects and The Orphanage). Also included are the original theatrical version, the international version, the director's cut and the rare work print. Charles de Lauzirika's DANGEROUS DAYS doc is an invaluable inclusion. DVD versions include two-disc Special Edition ($20.97), four-disc Collector's Edition ($34.99) and five-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition ($78.92).
3. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND: 30th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE EDITION (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) Steven Spielberg comes to Blu-ray ($49.95) looking pretty spiffy as well with his sci-fi opus. For the first time, all three versions are available: the '77 theatrical cut, the '80 special edition and the definitive director's cut. The Blu-ray packs all three versions on one 50GB disc thanks to seamless branching. Also available on DVD ($39.95).
4. SPIDER-MAN (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)The SPIDER-MAN HIGH DEFINITION TRILOGY also came to Blu-ray ($98.95), stunningly showing off the great evolution of vfx from Sony Pictures Imageworks. You can also purchase SPIDER-MAN 3 as a standalone on Blu-ray ($49.95). The bonus features include the making of Sandman, Venom and New Goblin. There's also a Special Edition DVD ($36.95).
5. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.)Disney has embraced 75GB Blu-ray in a big way this year, including the release of all three PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, DEAD MAN'S CHEST and AT WORLD'S END ($35.99 each). Again, it's an opportunity to especially view the bar-raising work of ILM. The latter film includes "Enter the Maelstrom." Also available on DVD ($34.99).
6. HARRY POTTER (Warner Home Video)The HARRY POTTER franchise was released on both Blu-ray and HD DVD. All five films are available in the Limited Edition Gift Set ($149.99). What better way to better appreciate the maturing vfx work displayed by Soho's Double Negative, MPC, Framestore CFC and Cinesite, However, you can also purchase THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (with Double Negative taking on lead vfx duties for the first time) as a standalone HD ($35.99) or Special Edition DVD ($34.99).
7. TRANSFORMERS (Paramount Home Ent.)Michael Bay's blockbuster gave HD DVD ($39.99) the biggest jolt of the year, and what better way to view ILM's innovations in hard body surfaces. Bonus features include the making of the CG robot stars. Also available in a Special Edition DVD ($39.99).
8. 300 (Warner Home Video)Zack Snyder's next-gen blockbuster adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel captured the first-ever High-Def Disc Awards for Best High-Def Title (Blu-ray, $34.99) and Best Bonus Feature (HD DVD, $39.99 for combo disc) for Bluscreen Picture-in Picture. The innovative stylized look was made for HD scrutiny. Also available on DVD ($34.98).
9. CASINO ROYALE (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)Daniel Craig's blockbuster intro to 007 provided an early boost this year to Blu-ray ($38.96), and also showed off Peerless Camera's seamless vfx. The Blu-ray even impressed director Martin Campbell. Also available on DVD ($28.96).
10. CHILDREN OF MEN (Universal Studios Home Ent.)Alfonso Cuaron's riveting futuristic thriller also elicits superb seamless vfx from Double Negative and Framestore CFC that benefits from HD DVD or DVD viewing ($29.98).