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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On this week's peppermint-scented weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World talks to the conservative on all those Sunday morning news shows; Jen Sorensen tries to get into the festive holiday spirit; The K Chronicles rejoices in the innocence of kids; Red Meat deals with illnesses from the kids; and Apoca Clips is redacted.

Published in Comics

Here’s my list of some of the better DVD/Blu-Ray gift options for 2014.

A warning: If you give one of these as a gift, and the person who gets it has actually read this article, he or she will know you cheated and aren’t at all original in your gift giving. But that’s OK … we all have our shortcomings.

The prices listed here are from Amazon.com as of the time of this writing (and for some reason, Amazon.com prices change ALL THE TIME, so consider yourself warned).


BLOCKBUSTER GOODNESS

Guardians of the Galaxy (Blu-ray) $19.99: One of the year’s better blockbusters is out on Blu-ray just in time for stocking-stuffing. Giving this one also provides a nice excuse for you to make somebody a mix tape.

Godzilla (Blu-ray) $14.99: At the beginning of the year, I said this was the film I most anxiously anticipated, and that if it were a bad movie, I would spiral into severe depression. As things turned out, I enjoyed it immensely, and I have a distinct spring in my step. The Blu-ray is cool, with some fun mock documentary stuff about Godzilla and behind-the-scenes items.

Edge of Tomorrow (Blu-Ray) $24.99: This was a blockbuster wannabe that fell a little flat at the box office. Tom Cruise’s character gets caught in a death loop and must die thousands of times—and the film is amazing. Give this one to that science-fiction-loving person who refused to plunk down the dough at the IMAX theater. They will love it, for sure.


FOR THOSE WHO ESCHEW CABLE AND MISS COOL STUFF ON TV

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Blu-ray) $83.81: Far and away, this is the best Blu-ray of the year. If somebody you know loves Peaks, get them this. When they open it, just throw your hands up like you scored a touchdown and start dancing.

One of the greatest TV shows ever made gets a spectacular treatment, full of archived features. You also get Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and the movie’s long-rumored deleted scenes. Yes, the movie would’ve been a little more fun had director David Lynch kept some of these in.

The show is coming back for season three in 2016, so this works as a nice primer for more things to come.

Family Ties: The Complete Series (DVD) $55.29: Alas, this classic series will probably never have a date with Blu-ray, meaning you will never see Justine Bateman’s Mallory Keaton in HD glory.

Batman: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) $174.96: Adam West and Burt Ward finally get their due on Blu-ray. I would suggest boycotting this, because the two fools skipped out on Reno Comic Con this year, but that would be unprofessional. If you feel like springing for another $400, get them the cool collectible dolls available over at sideshowtoys.com. There are some people on your list worth $700, right?

Fargo: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray): $29.96: I had my doubts about this one, but the Coen brothers movie’s TV-show offshoot, which stars Billy Bob Thornton, proved to be a worthwhile endeavor. The Blu-ray comes with audio commentaries, deleted scenes and making-of docs.


CULT GREATNESS

UHF (Blu-ray) $18.38: Shout Factory has grown into one of the cooler purveyors of cult-cinema home-viewing. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one and only foray into being a movie headliner was great satire in its day, and it’s still funny. Michael Richards kicked ass as Stanley the Janitor, and the “We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!” moment still kills me. You get a Weird Al commentary, his 2014 Comic Con panel, deleted scenes and more.

Eraserhead (Blu-ray) $26.49: What can bring on the holiday cheer quicker than an embalmed cow fetus crying for its mommy? Nothing whatsoever, I say! Gift this one along with the aforementioned Twin Peaks box set to give that special someone a joyous David Lynch geekgasm. It’s a Criterion Collection release, so that means it costs a little more than the average Blu-ray—but it’s totally worth it.

Snowpiercer (Blu-ray) $9.99: This came out this year, and it’s an instant cult classic. Yes, it’s an apocalypse film, but there’s lots of snow in it, so that qualifies it as a holiday movie, sort of. Even though this one is about the survival of the planet and contains some gross stuff, it’s no scarier than that freaking creepy The Polar Express animated movie.

Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go (Blu-ray) $18.74: The alleged last Python show ever was a little sloppy, but everybody still alive in the troupe is like 139 years old now, so we’ll cut them some slack. The five remaining Pythons were fun during this stretch of live performances in London, with big musical numbers and a surprisingly nimble Terry Gilliam, who jumped 10 feet off the ground during the Spanish Inquisition sketch.

Frank (Blu-ray) $12.99: Here’s another movie from 2014 that next to nobody saw, although it’s already garnered that instant-cult-classic badge. Michael Fassbender wears a big mask on his head the whole time, and the result is one of the year’s funniest movies. Give this to the music-lover who idolizes Syd Barrett.


GIVE THE GIFT OF GARBAGE TO SOMEONE YOU DESPISE

Blended (Blu-ray) $22.99: Remember when we used to gather ’round the TV in the living room around holiday time, ready for a good laugh? We’d have the fireplace going, and we’d pop in the latest Adam Sandler flick for chuckles. We’d roast candy canes, and smoke marshmallows, safe in the knowledge that Sandler would provide a couple of good gut-busters. Those days are so gone. Long gone. This movie is a crime against movies, people, dogs and various insects. Give it to somebody you can’t stand, and then run out of the house as soon as they unwrap it.


THE BOX SET I WANT THE MOST

Halloween: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray) $79.99: Hey, I’m not shy. This is probably my only chance to let folks know what I really want under the Christmas tree (over at their place, because I don’t have a Christmas tree). This puppy comes with all of the Halloween movies—even the ones Rob Zombie did—and a big load of extras. So … now you know. Would somebody buy this for me, please?

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

1. Neighbors (Universal)

2. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past* (20th Century Fox)

4. Edge of Tomorrow* (Warner Bros.)

5. Godzilla (Warner Bros.)

6. Mr. Peabody and Sherman* (20th Century Fox)

7. Blended (Warner Bros.)

8. A Million Ways to Die in the West* (Universal)

9. Chef* (Universal)

10. Brick Mansions (20th Century Fox)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)

2. Neighbors* (Universal)

3. Godzilla (Warner Bros.)

4. Edge of Tomorrow* (Warner Bros.)

5. Million Dollar Arm (Disney)

6. Chef* (Universal)

7. A Million Ways to Die in the West* (Universal)

8. Blended (Warner Bros.)

9. The Fault in Our Stars (20th Century Fox)

10. Brick Mansions (20th Century Fox)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)

2. Neighbors* (Universal)

3. Chef* (Universal)

4. Godzilla* (Warner Bros.)

5. Blended (Warner Bros.)

6. The Fault in Our Stars* (20th Century Fox)

7. Third Person (Sony)

8. Brick Mansions (20th Century Fox)

9. Think Like a Man Too (Sony)

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Godzilla* (Warner Bros.)

2. Neighbors* (Universal)

3. Blended (Warner Bros.)

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

5. Brick Mansions* (20th Century Fox)

6. The Fault in Our Stars* (20th Century Fox)

7. Think Like a Man Too (Sony)

8. The Signal* (Universal)

9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

10. Moms' Night Out (Sony)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Godzilla* (Warner Bros.)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

3. Blended* (Warner Bros.)

4. Brick Mansions* (20th Century Fox)

5. The Fault in Our Stars* (20th Century Fox)

6. Think Like a Man Too (Sony)

7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

8. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox)

9. Moms' Night Out (Sony)

10. Draft Day (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

Godzilla movies, with the exception of the decent 1954 original, have never been good movies, right?

Instead, they are movies some of us enjoy watching because they deliver a fun dose of camp. Godzilla movies offer the brain a chance to relax and watch something unintentionally laughable.

That said, I’m a Godzilla fan—to a certain extent. I used to watch the Thanksgiving Day marathons on TV back in Long Island, N.Y., when I was a kid. I had a special place in my heart for King Kong vs. Godzilla, and appreciate the fodder that Godzilla and Gamera movies provided for Joel Hodgson on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Well, the new, Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla is, by millions and trillions and billions of miles, the best Godzilla movie ever made. It’s no contest: This movie tramples the other Godzilla movies underfoot like Godzilla trampling a water tower with cheesy dolls meant to be humans hanging on to it.

Edwards (whose lone other feature directorial credit is the amusing, low-budget Monsters) captures that summer-blockbuster vibe of yesteryear, back when suspense and perhaps just a touch of human drama took precedent over wall-to-wall CGI fireworks. He also manages to capture some of that old-school Toho Godzilla goofiness to go with the film’s mostly serious tone. Even though the film’s monsters are CGI, there are some monster gestures in which the moves have a nice, man-in-suit quality to them.

It’s pretty obvious that Edwards is saluting the all-time blockbuster king, Mr. Steven Spielberg, with this movie. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play a father-and-son team with a last name of Brody; Roy Scheider’s name in Jaws was Brody. Many of the initial Godzilla shots include overhead, swimming glimpses and those jagged Godzilla back points cutting through the surface like a shark’s dorsal fin. Cranston’s slightly crazed, obsessed, gloriously overacting scientist dad rings of Richard Dreyfuss’ mashed-potato-sculpting kook in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

In a way, Edwards is hamstrung by the limitations of his reported $160 million budget, but he certainly makes the most of it. Big special-effects extravaganzas usually cost a lot more than that these days, so just as Spielberg was forced to show less of the shark due to the thing being broken, Edwards only shows the right amount of Godzilla—because that’s probably all he could afford. It turns out to be a blessing, because it makes the final chunk of the film, in which Godzilla is featured prominently, all the more rewarding.

That’s not to say the buildup to Godzilla’s entrance is at all boring or lacking in action. Edwards and his team have come up with a nice Godzilla enemy in the MUTOs, creatures that are trying to mate and snacking on nuclear missiles and waste. The first hour also features impressive tsunamis, nuclear-plant destructions and enough hints of Godzilla to make the buildup impressive.

When Godzilla does make his big appearance, we are greeted with his wonderful, primordial scream that is super-sweet inside a big IMAX theater. The sheer majestic power of this sound had me leaning back in my chair and smiling.

Ken Watanabe plays what is essentially the Raymond Burr role from the original Americanized version of Godzilla—that of a big star inserted into the action whose main purpose is to look really, really concerned. Taylor-Johnson is the film’s hero, and he’s OK, if perhaps a little dull. Playing his character’s wife is Elizabeth Olsen, who might not have much to do in the movie, but she does perform the best running-away-while-looking-over-the-shoulder move in the film.

The final sequence, in which Godzilla goes head-to-head with the MUTOs and levels San Francisco, gets my vote for Best Monster Mash ever.

If I’m Warner Bros., I’m on the phone right now with Universal to see if I can borrow Peter Jackson’s King Kong for the inevitable sequel.

Godzilla is playing at theaters across the valley in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews