It’s that time of year… when you get together with family and friends and watch films you love. You know what I love? The Nightmare Before Christmas. I have it on VHS, DVD, BluRay, digital, I have the soundtrack, and I have a few little collectables from the movie.
Most everyone knows the story, but the quick outline is that, in this universe, the world is divided by Holidays. Each holiday lives in their own town. In this one, the biggest celebrity in Halloween Town gets bored doing his job, finds Christmas Town, and tries to do Christmas in Santa’s place. It’s a bit strange being explained, but everybody knows that The Nightmare Before Christmas really pulls it off. They got it right, they tell a great story, with lovable characters and memorable music.
The stop-frame Claymation movie took a lot of work, but the new hi-def BluRay release is beautiful. The shimmering snow in the backdrops and so many little details are beautiful. There are a few things that show up in the BluRay version, for example wires here and there that were used to hold up flying objects things afloat. I’ve said enough, you know what this is, go watch it already!
I don’t know what’s taken me so long to write about this one, maybe it’s just the sentimental time of year that got me on this. But one of my all time favorite movies is the early English dub of My Neighbor Totoro. That’s right, the 1994 20th Century Fox version of the Miyazaki original. In 2010, a re-dub was released starring some bigger name celebrities – but it’s the amature, yet perfect acting of the 1994 release that I connect with so well.
In this anime children’s film, two young girls and their father move out to the country to prepare a new home. Their mother is in the hospital with an un-named illness, but when she is well enough to return home, she will still need the peace and quiet of the countryside to rest. The young girls have a hard time coping with their mother in the hospital, and turn to the mystical spirits of the forest to watch over them while she is away. Enter characters like Totoro, Catbus, and Dust Bunnies / Soot.
When I was growing up, my sister and I went to the video store on a Saturday night and rented this on VHS. Upon our first watching, my sister commented on how the main Totoro character was similar to a friend of mine who was also somewhat tall and quiet. We laughed every time the Totoro would open his mouth and let out a roar. But apart from our own in-jokes, the movie really had a great balance of moments that made you smile and others that made you really feel for those characters. A year later I would own it on VHS, and now on DVD. Other Miyazaki films are memorable and enjoyable, but there’s something special about Totoro.
I haven’t brought myself to watch the Disney Presents version of the film, because the annoying yet bold voices of the 1994 English dub just seem too perfect. I never want them to change. When young Mei is crying her eyes out with her face stuffed in to her sisters dress, I never want to hear another upset child. It’s acted so perfectly, I don’t want to hear another performance! I absolutely love My Neighbor Totoro, but only one version, so far.
In 1994, electronics, gadgets, toy, and games were my entire world. I was 10. I remember stumbling on to a movie on the Sci-Fi channel around the same time (ya’know, SyFy now?). Evolver. Evolver is a B-Movie about a kid who wins a prize by getting a high score in an arcade game contest. Kind of. Anyway, he gets the prize robot, and then the robot starts killing people.
Alright, so it’s pretty straight forward and B-Movie style. But there were some stars in there! Ethan Embry was the main character, and William H. Macy was the voice of the Evolver robot. Evolver is the name of the film and the murderous robot because of how, every time you “beat” it in a game, it “evolves” and learns from the environment and experiences. It’s a basic plot with a little thriller horror and not very many unexpected twists. But man is it fun. It takes place in the same universe as the movie Arcade and has a few recurring characters, but you do not need anything at all from the others to sit down and enjoy Evolver.
During their “Black Friday deals week” deals, Amazon had the BluRay Alien Anthology on sale. I couldn’t resist.
I haven’t sat down and watched an Alien movie since I was much younger. In fact, most of the time, I saw them on TV, and don’t know if I ever saw the full version. Now I have all four movies, directors cuts, audio commentaries, deleted scenes… just so many options, all packaged in an attractive book of DVDs. The quality of the BluRay videos is excellent. The designs that made Alien bridge the gap between cult-classic and cinematic masterpiece stand out in this beautiful hi-definition collection.
I kept eyeballing the “Alien Quadrilogy” when it first came out – but I’m glad I found this glorious Anthology collection. Each movie has one BluRay disc which contains the original, and a director’s edition, as well as BD-Live features and deleted scenes. Then there are two additional discs, one is a making of the anthology, and one is basically a media archive – fan service to the highest degree. Pictures, pieces of scripts, history, backstory, set design, sketches… just a true collection of everything that makes the Alien saga great. Whether you’re a huge fan, or just someone who wants to see all of the movies, the value of the Alien Anthology is hard to ignore.