Shalom Life | April 20, 2014

Shalom Life's Hanukkah DVD/ Blu-ray Gift Guide 2011

Not sure what to get your friends and family this holiday season? Let us help.

By: Jake Horowitz

Published: November 23rd, 2011 in Culture » Film » Reviews

Shalom Life's Hanukkah DVD/ Blu-ray Gift Guide 2011

What do you get the person who has everything this holiday season? It's an over-asked question, sure, but it really can be challenging to find something for everyone during Hanukkah.

Don't worry though, because Shalom Life is here to help you cross a few people off your shopping list with a breakdown of the best gifts for movie lovers this year. Below we give you the top five DVDs and Blu-rays coming out for the holidays. We’ll let you know which of them are worth wrapping up and which should be left out in the cold.

1) Super 8 – November 22: Directed by J.J. Abrams, the person behind Lost, Cloverfield, Fringe, and most other infuriatingly confusing TV and movie events, comes a great film for all ages. With Steven Spielberg producing, this film is a homage to all of Spielberg’s classic sci-fi films of the 80s, complete with kids riding around on bikes in the summer, small town charm, and of course, aliens. Super 8 has all the glossy and awe-inspiring effects and action you would come to expect from J.J. Abrams, while deftly blending heart and personality with a compelling story. It's a great looking film with tons of visual flair and it deserves to be seen in Blu-ray if you have the technology. From casual fans of cinema, to hardcore cinephiles, you can't go wrong giving this as a gift by the menorah this Hanukkah.

2) 30 Minutes or Less – November 29: Starring Jesse Eisenberg as a less-than ambitious pizza delivery guy who is forced to rob a bank, 30 Minutes or Less is a big departure from his Academy-Award nominated role last year in The Social Network, and more along the lines of a slightly funny yet forgetful comedy. While Eisenberg does nothing wrong here, the film plays off more like a straight-to-DVD feature than a comedy directed by Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer. The jokes are a little obnoxious, thanks in part to Danny McBride, and the plot is a little thin. Unlike Super 8, there’s not much visual eye candy to the film and no real reason to pick it up on Blu-ray. If you can find it on sale or rent it, it’s worth a watch, but it has no real repeat viewing value and wouldn’t make for all that great of a gift.

3) The Hangover Part II - December 6: While the first film certainly had its fans, the sequel to 2009’s The Hangover didn’t fare too well critically. When the film was released to much anticipation it was criticized as being a carbon copy of its predecessor without attempting anything to distinguish itself. While that is still largely the case, being a carbon copy of The Hangover isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Director Todd Philips does a great job taking the same premise, moving its locale from Vegas to Bangkok, and infusing it with new and still funny jokes and gags. Judging the movies separately, I’d say that the sequel is better than the first, and any fans of the original will undoubtedly still love this movie. It’s got a good soundtrack, a great cast, and some nice scenery; it’s worth owning, and would make a great gift.

4) Rise of the Planet of the Apes – December 13: Yes, Hollywood made yet another Planet of the Apes movie…but this time it was good. Rise of the Planet of the Apes essentially serves as a franchise reboot and takes the film back to well before the original film started. Starring James Franco, it tells the story of how the apes came to take over the world, and will most likely be the first in a whole new franchise. The acting is solid, the effects, done by James Cameron’s Avatar team, are amazing, and the story is great. All of these ingredients make for a great film and a great Blu-ray, with tons of extras and a great way to showcase your HDTV and see what it can do.

5) Midnight in Paris – December 20: Woody Allen’s latest film is one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, and for good reason. As yet another film in Allen’s recent “European City Movie Setting Extravaganza,” Paris is as much of a character in the story as Owen Wilson or the countless historical figures from the past that are interspersed throughout the film. Steeped in art, history, and Allen’s patented neurotic undertones, this is a film more for those over 50 who will get references to Cole Porter and Ernest Hemingway than children or teenagers looking to be entertained for two hours. Owen Wilson gives a great performance along with the rest of the cast, and for a time-traveling Woody Allen comedy it’s pretty easy to follow. A great gift for the intellectual that you know that won’t shut up about The Renaissance period, Midnight in Paris is sure to become a classic must-have film for Woody Allen fans, so you might as well pick it up now.

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