Written PostThe Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2013!

The Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2013!

And so, at last, we arrive at my final Best of 2013 list!  I hope you all enjoyed the rest of my lists.  Click here for part one of The Top 15 Movies of 2013, and here for part two and here for part three.  Click here for part one of The Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2013, and here for part two.  Click here for part one of The Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2013, and here for part two.

And now, without any further delay, let’s dive into my list of the Top Ten DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2013:

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower Had I seen this film in 2012 when it was released, it surely would have made it onto my Best Movies of 2012 list.  Since I missed including this touching, heartbreaking film on that list last year, I sort of had to find a way to cheat and include it on one of my Best of 2013 lists!  This film has stuck with me deeply since I saw it.  It’s surely one of the greatest coming-of-age stories I have ever seen, masterfully adapted for the screen by Steven Chbosky, based on his own novel of the same name (which I now desperately need to read).  Each one of the kids in the film is portrayed by a phenomenal actor/actress: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Mae Whitman, and a score of others, not to mention some great adults in supporting roles such as Paul Rudd, Joan Cusack, Dylan McDermott, and Kate Walsh.  No child should have to go through what Charlie has to go through in this story, but should god forbid that happen, I hope he/she is blessed with friends as wonderful as Sam, Patrick, and their gang.  And while I referred to “cheating” a moment ago by including this film on this DVD list, the blu-ray is in fact phenomenal, with some great behind-the-scenes stuff and two magnificent commentaries, one by Mr. Chbosky alone and one by Chbosky and all the kids.  (Click here for my original review.)

9. The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 & The Flashpoint Paradox These two direct-to-DVD animated DCU projects were both very strong.  At the start of the year we got the second half of the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.  Published in 1986, this dark, psychological tale is the seminal “Last Batman Story,” in which an aged Bruce Wayne once again dons the cape and cowl in an attempt to reclaim a Gotham City without hope.  Mr. Miller’s work has been heavily mined for inspiration by many, in particular the look of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film and many of the story-beats of Christopher Nolan’s similarly-titled The Dark Knight Rises (click here for my review).  I wish Mr. Nolan had decided to do a more direct adaptation — something the end of The Dark Knight had beautifully set him up to do — but, failing that, I was delighted that the DC Animation team decided to take on the challenge.  This animated adaptation isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot of fun and I admire the DC Animation team’s ambition in taking on one of the greatest Batman stories ever told.  Later in 2013 we got an adaptation of a far less significant story, but one that is far more modern: Geoff Johns’ Flashpoint mini-series that served as the catalyst for the DCU rebooting their entire comic book universe two years ago.  The animated adaptation is a hoot, a fast-paced, fun alternate-universe story in which Flash finds himself in a nightmare alternate version of the world he knows.  The Flashpoint Batman, in particular, is phenomenal.  (Click here for my original review of The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, and here for my original review of The Flashpoint Paradox.)

8. Jay and Silent Bob Get Irish The second in a series of DVD releases of recordings of Kevin Smith & Jason Mewes’ Jay and Silent Bob Get Old smodcasts (Kevin Smith’s brand of podcasting), this DVD contains recording of three shows all recorded when Mr. Smith & Mr. Mewes visited Ireland.  Though I have to go back more than a decade, to 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, to find a Kevin Smith movie that I unabashedly love, I still love Mr. Smith as a story-teller and raconteur, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the periodic DVD releases (begun back in 2002 with the release of An Evening with Kevin Smith) of the lengthy Q & A sessions he holds around the US (and, apparently, sometimes beyond!).  Mr. Smith is a very funny dude and he can tell a hell of a great story.  I am less amused by Jason Mewes, who is adequate but without Mr. Smith’s comfort in front of a crowd.  Still, these three shows are fun, and I would gladly purchase many more of these DVDs should Mr. Smith choose to continue releasing them.

7. The Heat This was a fine movie, though not as strong as writer/director Paul Feig’s previous effort, the brilliant Bridesmaids (click here for my review).  Still, it’s a funny film.  The DVD is phenomenal, with loads of special features and very funny deleted scenes and outtakes, along with a jaw-dropping FIVE commentary tracks.  But what lands it on this list is the genius MST3K-style commentary track, in which original Mystery Science Theatre 3000 cast-members Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and Elvis Weinstein reunite to make fun of the movie.  Amazing.  (Click here for my original review of The Heat.)

6.  This is The End A fantastic film in which a variety of phenomenal comic actors — including Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and James Robinson, along with a host of their friends — all play themselves and attempt to survive the end of the world.  I love this movie, and it’s one that is well-suited for repeated viewings (during which you can catch all the jokes you might have missed the first time because you were laughing so hard at the joke that came right before).  But the reason this movie is on this list is, as with The Heat, because of the terrific special features.  There are a series of great, in-depth behind-the-scenes featurettes, some great deleted scenes, and a terrific commentary track in which co-writers & co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg chat about all aspects of the making of the film.  Good stuff.  (Click here for my original review of This is The End.)

5. Star Trek: Enterprise Season One blu-ray — I have mixed feelings about the final Trek TV show, the prequel series Enterprise (eventually re-named Star Trek: Enterprise).  The first two seasons were very hit and miss, but I thought the third season was strong, and the fourth season — when the show finally embraced its concept of being a prequel to the Original Series — was fantastic.  I wouldn’t have purchased this season on blu-ray, but for an impossible-to-resist sale on Amazon earlier in the year. But I’m glad I did.  The episodes look great on blu-ray, but what makes this set amazing is the phenomenal array of special features.  In addition to a feature-length, behind-the-scenes look at the inception of the show (an impressively honest, warts-and-all look at the decisions — some of them now acknowledged as bad decisions — made during the process of the show’s creation and launch), as well as a deliciously juicy, candid, over-an-hour-long conversation between the co-creators and showrunners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.  That conversation piece alone, filled with fascinating tidbits and surprisingly honest reflections, makes this set worthy of purchase.  Great stuff, and a colossal improvement over the typically low-quality of special features on previous Star Trek home video/DVD releases.  This set was awesome, and it wasn’t even the best Star Trek blu-ray release of the year.  (Scroll down to number one…)

4. Futurama Volume 8 — This final (at least for now) collection of Futurama is, for me, an object to be cherished.  Cut down in its prime by Fox after only four seasons (though Fox stretched out the four production seasons into five seasons of a sort on the air), this fantastic sci-fi comedy was resurrected years later by Comedy Central for a series of four direct-to-DVD animated films.  That then led to two more full 24-episode seasons of the show (which were each split to air over two years, so fans got in essence four additional twelve-episode seasons) before the show was, for the third time, cancelled.  It truly looks like the end has arrived for Futurama, but you never know.  For now, we have this final collection to relish.  The final episode, “Meanwhile,” made it onto my list of the Best Episodes of TV of 2013, but the whole season is rich with hysterical sci-fi hi-jinks.  And, once again, the Futurama gang show ’em how its done with a wonderfully loaded blu-ray set, highlighted by a hilarious, insightful, honest commentary track by many of the writers/cast/animators for each and every single episode.

3. Eddie Izzard: Live at Madison Square Garden I am not sure why, lately, there has been a many-years delay between the recording and release of Eddie Izzard’s stand-up specials.  But when they arrive, I am excited!  This special, recorded in the enormous venue of Madison Square Garden, is from Eddie’s “Stripped” tour from 2010.  The show’s basic structure is a rambling tour through history as Eddie brings his wit and silly style, including lots of ridiculous mimes, to various different eras of human history and religion.  This special doesn’t rival Mr. Izzard’s classic Dress to Kill, but this is a very solid, very funny stand-up special.  I laughed a LOT.

2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition — Not only does this film look phenomenal on blu-ray, not only did I enjoy the additional twelve minutes added into the film (much more suited for home-viewing, during which the disc can easily be paused for bathroom breaks, a luxury not possible in a movie theatre), but what landed this set on this list — and in the number two spot — is the extraordinary wealth of special features.  Continuing the tradition of “The Appendices,” the voluminously in-depth making-of special features found on the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, this blu-ray set contains two full discs of special features, each with approximately four hours of documentaries.  It’s extraordinary.  And while such a huge amount of material could so easily be boring, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of these documentaries.  They are stuffed-to-overflowing with personal stories, all sorts of recollections that are funny and insightful, incredible “fly on the wall” behind-the-scenes footage, and detailed looks into all aspects of the making of the films, from the casting to the set design to the costumes to the makeup to the music to the CGI effects and on and on and on.  These sorts of fully-loaded DVD/blu-ray sets are becoming extremely rare these days.  Nobody does it better than Peter Jackson and his team.  (Click here for my original review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and here for my in-depth look at the Extended Edition.)

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons 3-5 on blu-ray — Topping this year’s list are the three seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation released on glorious blu-ray this year.  This project of releasing Next Gen in high-def has been an extraordinarily expensive and work-intensive project on the part of Paramount and CBS.  Though the series was originally recorded on film, all of the editing was done on tape, which means the show did not exist in any format that could be upgraded to high-definition.  In a never-been-done-before initiative, every single episode of the series has been re-edited from scratch, with the team at CBS-Digital going back to the original film negatives and special effects elements and rebuilding every episode, scene by scene and shot by shot.  Original animated effects (phasers, photon torpedoes, transporter effects, etc.) have been re-created in CGI, being extraordinarily faithful to the look of the original shots.  With the exception of creating a few mistakes here and there (such as the infamous shot from “Darmok” of the Enterprise firing a phaser out of the ship’s photon torpedo launcher), CGI has not been used to enhance these episodes, but rather to recreate the exact look of the original episodes, just in high definition.  The show has never looked better.  The work done by the CBS-Digital team is nothing short of extraordinary.  That alone would make these blu-rays a must-purchase for a Trek fan like myself.  But the disc’s producers — Robert Meyer Burnett and Roger Lay, Jr. — have also assembled, for every single season, the very best special features that any previous Star Trek product (movie or TV show) has ever seen on home video.  Each season contains an hour to an hour-and-a-half long documentary, delving deeply into the details of the production of that season.  Add to that commentary tracks on some episodes, deleted scenes (deleted scenes have never before been included on any previous Star Trek TV show release), and other amazing special features (a writer’s room reunion, an art department reunion, a look at the never-before released scenes shot for “The Most Toys” with another actor playing the main guest-star role, and on and on), and these discs are chock-full of phenomenal behind-the-scenes material that is a delight even for someone like me who knows quite a lot about the making of this show.  This is an absolutely extraordinary effort, and I can only hope and pray that this team will be allowed to continue and bring us Deep Space Nine on blu-ray in 2015!!

Well, that’s it for my Best of 2013 lists.  Thank you all so much for reading!  Please keep spreading the word about MotionPicturesComics.com to anyone you think would enjoy it.  Thank you all so much for the honor of your visiting this site.  I have lots of exciting things planned for the rest of 2014 — see you all soon!