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1. Gone Girl (20th Century Fox)

2. A Walk Among the Tombstones (Universal)

3. The Equalizer (Sony)

4. No Good Deed (Sony)

5. The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox)

6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)

7. Left Behind (Entertainment One)

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney)

9. Get On Up* (Universal)

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. The Equalizer (Sony)

2. No Good Deed (Sony)

3. The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox)

4. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney)

5. Left Behind (Entertainment One)

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)

7. Get On Up* (Universal)

8. This Is Where I Leave You (Warner Bros.)

9. Cantinflas (Lionsgate)

10. Let's Be Cops (20th Century Fox)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. The Equalizer (Sony)

2. The Maze Runner* (20th Century Fox)

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney)

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)

6. This Is Where I Leave You* (Warner Bros.)

7. Let's Be Cops (20th Century Fox)

8. Reach Me (Millennium)

9. Into the Storm (Warner Bros.)

10. As Above, So Below (Universal)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. The Maze Runner* (20th Century Fox)

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)

4. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney)

5. This Is Where I Leave You* (Warner Bros.)

6. Let's Be Cops (20th Century Fox)

7. As Above, So Below (Universal)

8. Into the Storm (Warner Bros.)

8. If I Stay (MGM)

10. Catinflas (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

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 as of the time of this writing (and for some reason, prices change ALL THE TIME, so consider yourself warned).


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)

2. The Maze Runner* (20th Century Fox)

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney)

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes* (20th Century Fox)

5. Into the Storm (Warner Bros.)

6. Catinflas (Lionsgate)

7. When the Game Stands Tall (Sony)

8. Let's Be Cops (20th Century Fox)

9. As Above, So Below* (Universal)

10. This Is Where I Leave You* (Warner Bros.)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney)

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes* (20th Century Fox)

3. Let's Be Cops (20th Century Fox)

4. The Expendables 3 (Lionsgate)

5. Dolphin Tale 2* (Warner Bros.)

6. Into the Storm (Warner Bros.)

7. When the Game Stands Tall (Sony)

8. As Above, So Below* (Universal)

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (20th Century Fox)

10. 22 Jump Street (Sony)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

Peter Pan Live! (Thursday, Dec. 4, NBC), special: Last year, it was The Sound of Music; in January, it’ll be The Music Man; tonight, Peter Pan—NBC can’t launch a TV series anymore, but at least they have the high-school musical market locked down. As with The Sound of Music, the hook (ha!) of Peter Pan Live! is the possibility that stars Allison Williams (as Peter Pan) and/or Christopher Walken (as Johnny Depp, er, Captain Hook) will blow a line or fall to their deaths In Real Time, because we are a nation of horrible, horrible people (or musical theater aficionados—same diff). Is it just me, or does Williams in boy drag eerily resemble Jason Schwartzman? Probably could have gotten him waaay cheaper.

The Librarians (Sunday, Dec. 7, TNT), series debut: Noah Wyle’s TV-movie adventure trilogy never topped the first outing, 2004’s The Librarian: Quest for the Spear; follow-ups Return to King Solomon’s Mines (serviceable) and Curse of the Judas Chalice (turrible) proved that Wyle and producer Dean Devlin couldn’t just repeat the same quasi-Indiana Jones formula every two years and expect it to stick. Ten-episode series The Librarians wisely changes things up by relegating Wyle (as well as returning co-stars Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain) to the background and introducing a new team of magical-artifact hunters: Rebecca Romijn (as the military-trained muscle), Christian Kane (who usually plays the muscle; here, he’s the brain), Lindy Booth (as a genius with heightened senses) and John Kim (as the obligatory tech-hacker). The Librarians retains the action and clever twists of the movie franchise, and adds the humorous ensemble friction/camaraderie of Devlin’s previous series, the late, great Leverage. It’s a splashy year-end capper to TNT’s solid year of new originals (like The Last Ship and Murder in the First) and jettisoned dead weight (see ya, Franklin and Bash).

Mike and Molly (Monday, Dec. 8, CBS), season premiere: It’s fitting that the worst comedy season ever (R.I.P. Manhattan Love Story, Selfie, Bad Judge, A to Z, Mulaney, Red Band Society and The Millers) is forcing CBS to call up one of the worst comedies ever to pinch-hit on Monday nights: Mike and Molly. Why CBS’ audience rejects one laugh-tracked hackfest (in this case, The Millers) but embraces another year after year (Mike and Molly is now entering Season 5) is a mystery right up there with The Big Bang Theory (the TV series and the cosmological model). Fun fact: If you freeze-frame certain scenes, you can see notes Melissa McCarthy has placed around the set reading “GET ME OFF OF THIS SHOW!”

Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday, Dec. 9, FX), series finale: The #FinalRide nears the end, and as much as I want it to happen, I doubt Sons of Anarchy will grant my long-held TV wish of concluding a series by killing off the entire cast. The Sopranos, The Shield, Rescue Me, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire—none of these greats dared to pull the final trigger, though Six Feet Under kinda-sorta did it with a fatal fast-forward in 2005. No, I predict that Jax (Charlie Hunnam, who finally learned how to act sometime around Season 2 or 3) and most of SAMCRO will live to ride another day in Charming, the most erroneously-named town in America. I also predict that series closer “Papa’s Goods” will run three hours, 70 minutes of it strictly musical montages, followed by a two-hour Anarchy Afterword discussion with a bottom-screen crawl of every “Hamlet on Harleys,” “Sopranos on scooters” and “Charles in Charge on choppers” reference ever made by TV critics about SOA. But seriously: Thanks for a fantastic, flawed, exciting and maddening series, Kurt Sutter.


Guardians of the Galaxy

Peter “Starlord” Quill (Chris Pratt), along with a tree (Vin Diesel), a raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and a green chick (Zoe Saldana), steals an orb and runs away from an evil supervillain (Lee Pace). Of course it’s the biggest movie of 2014 (below). (Marvel/Disney)

The Cabining

A pair of desperate writers have two weeks to finish a horror-movie screenplay or lose their funding, so they check into a quiet artists’ retreat—no sooner than you can say “Whoa, meta,” the bodies start piling up. Is this that movie? Dude … (Indican)

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

In the follow-up to the 2009 Nazi-zombie classic, Martin (Vegar Hoel) wakes up in a hospital with a new arm—too bad it’s a zombie arm that wants to kill him, which will complicate his vengeance quest. Yet another Obamacare fail. (Well Go USA)

Under the Dome: Season 2

In the second season of the Stephen King adaptation, the townsfolk of Chester’s Mill are still trapped … under the dome. But then they find a way out! Or not! Here’s a mystery girl! Oh, and blood rain! What? Never mind. (Paramount)

You Can’t Kill Stephen King

Unrelated, a group of pals attempt to drop in on the author, only to find unfriendly townies who hate outsiders and questions about their famous resident. The pals start winding up dead, one-by-one, which makes more sense than Under the Dome. (CAV)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Dec. 9)

Age of Ice, Calvary, The Claire Sinclair Show, Cruel Tango, Day of the Mummy, Doctor Who: Season 8, Dolphin Tale 2, Family Guy: Vol. 13, Frank, I Origins, Kroll Show: Seasons 1 and 2, Mork and Mindy: The Complete Series, When the Game Stands Tall.

Published in TV

Guardians of the Galaxy is a goofy, dazzling and often hilarious convergence of inspired nuttiness.

You’ll probably hear comparisons to the original Star Wars, The Fifth Element and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension; all of those comparisons are plausible. Guardians marks a blessedly new and crazy direction for the Marvel universe, and director James Gunn (Super, Slither) has taken a huge step toward the A-list.

Also taking a giant leap toward the upper echelon of Hollywood royalty is Chris Pratt, who mixes great charm, action-hero bravado and premium comic timing as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. After a prologue that shows the Earthly origins of his character, Pratt sets the tone for the movie during the opening credits, grooving to his cassette-playing Sony Walkman on an alien planet and using squirrelly little critters as stand-in microphones.

After unknowingly stealing a relic that could have the power to take down the entire universe, Quill finds himself in serious trouble. Events lead to his joining forces with a genetically enhanced raccoon named Rocket (the voice of Bradley Cooper), a gigantic tree-person thing named Groot (the voice of Vin Diesel), a muscle-bound angry alien named Drax (Dave Bautista) and an ass-kicking green woman named Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Together, they become the Guardians of the Galaxy, an unlikely troupe of mischievous outcasts that plays like the Avengers met the Marx Brothers—if the Marx Brothers had a green sister. It’s a decent comparison. Quill is Groucho; Rocket is Chico; and Groot is Harpo. (He only has one line, “I am Groot!” while Harpo only had the honking horn.) I’d say Gamora is Zeppo, but that would be insulting to Gamora.

The cast, buoyed by a spirited script co-written by Gunn, keeps things zippy and always funny. Visually, the movie is a tremendous feat. If you see it in 3-D, you will be happy with the results, because every shot seems meticulously constructed to benefit the medium. As for the makeup, just as much energy has been put into the practical effects as the digital work.

Michael Rooker, playing bad-guy Yondu, looks especially cool with his blue skin and ragged yellow teeth. Josh Brolin shows up briefly as Thanos, a major villain in the Marvel universe, while John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro are along for the ride.

With her presence here, and her work Star Trek and Avatar, Saldana has officially inherited the Queen of Science Fiction mantle from Sigourney Weaver (and she’s incredibly hot when she’s blue or green). Pratt establishes his leading-man status here, something that could be fully cemented with his turn in the Jurassic Park sequel next year.

While Guardians is a terrific visual spectacle, it also packs an emotional punch. Rocket delivers a speech about alienation that is far more moving than anything you’d expect to see in a movie like this, while Quill’s mommy issues fuel some surprising emotional moments. The cast does some real acting; Cooper’s feat is especially impressive, since we only hear his voice. Heck, even Vin Diesel packs a sentimental punch in the many ways he delivers his “I am Groot!” line.

The use of classic rock on the soundtrack is a brilliant touch. Quill’s old-school Walkman, still working decades after he left Earth, churns out the hits like “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Moonage Daydream” and “Cherry Bomb.” Like Wes Anderson and Martin Scorsese, Gunn is quite adept at using great music in unexpected places.

Guardians of the Galaxy rivals Edge of Tomorrow and Godzilla as this summer’s best blockbusters. As for its place in the Marvel universe, I’ll put it right alongside The Avengers as the franchise’s best.

Good news:  A sequel has already been green-lit for 2017, so this blissfully bizarre story shall continue.

Guardians of the Galaxy opens Thursday night, July 31, at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews