Whether you're building a Blu-ray library or just looking for something cool to watch, here are our top 10 picks for December 2011.
1 December, Paramount, AU$49.95
There was a larger-than-average number of superhero films released this year: The Green Hornet, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern and ... Captain America: The First Avenger, which really stood above all of them. Although it dragged a little long in places, it's nevertheless an exciting film, not least because the action varies, the villain is really quite grotesque, and the character of Steve Rogers is really well written: a good and fundamentally decent man, without getting boring. Well worth at least a DVD look-in, but the special effects and extra features will make the Blu-ray purchase worth it.
Coming in at the price it does, this box set is a bargain — especially if you're looking for a gift for the Tarantino fan. It contains six of the best films from the director's oeuvre (well, seven if you count Kill Bill as two films): Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill 1 and 2, Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds. No word on what special features, if any, are included, though.
If you want to make a film about a little girl raised to be a killin' machine, this is the way to do it: Hanna is what Kick-Ass could have been were it written with a modicum of depth or intelligence. Hanna has been raised in seclusion in Finland, trained by her father in the ways of combat for a very specific mission against the CIA. As an action thriller, it's stylish and sleek, with a tense plotline you could cut with a knife.
If you're looking for films with that "Big bada-boom" factor for Blu-ray HD, Kevin Smith's Clerks (and Chasing Amy, out the same day for AU$19.95) is probably not going to cut it, but if you're a fan, this release is a must-have for your Blu-ray library.
Green Lantern, on the other hand, has plenty of special effects to ooh over. Not only are vast swathes of it set in space, the power of the Lantern Corps involves forming weapons out of green light, and its enemy, Parallax, is a giant glowy yellow thing. It charts the beginnings of Hal Jordan's career as Green Lantern, the defection of Sinestro and Jordan's first defeat of Parallax with the Corps at his back. It's not particularly deep story-wise, but there's plenty of kaboom. If you're into that sort of thing, there's also a 3D/2D version for AU$49.95.
Here's one for the F1 fans. A rising star and considered one of the best F1 drivers of all time, Ayrton Senna's life was cut short in 1994 when the steering column of the car he was driving failed during the San Marino Grand Prix. This documentary tells of his life, who he was, his driving ambition to win; narrated by Senna himself from archival video, as well as members of his family and other people in his life, the film is a thought-provoking tribute. For die-hard fans, JB Hi-Fi also has an exclusive collectors' edition available for pre-order.
This has just the right cast for something really cool and sexy and action-packed: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. And it has cowboys. And aliens. And the most ridiculous plot played straight. (No, we're serious: this is neither comedy nor satire. Wut.) Plus, look at these guys, standing around looking all heroic and staring broodingly into the distance and stuff. You just know that means there's going to be a few KABOOMS lighting up your HDTV.
Fans of cinéma vérité and monsters should definitely check out TrollHunter: a Norwegian (English subtitles) film about a small group of students who discover that the government secretly employs hunters to kill trolls, which are a threat to Christians (which are delicious!) and electricity pylons. One thing, though: aren't we over shaky-cam yet? It's starting to feel like an over-used ploy not to show us anything interesting. (I'm looking at you, The Tunnel.)
The original Charlton Heston film has collected six more remakes, prequels and sequels since its 1968 release, making it a bona-fide franchise. With the release of the new prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which turned out better than expected), Fox has collected all seven films in one epic box set for the completionist. Since the films are a bit hit-or-miss themselves, it's probably one only for hardcore collectors and people who enjoy bad films just as much as they enjoy the good.
Odd-couple cop buddy movies reach a whole new level when you pair Brendan Gleeson with Don Cheadle. When you put them under director John Michael McDonagh (who also penned the Heath Ledger film Ned Kelly), what you get is an intensely charismatic on-screen relationship between a scruffy, slapdash Irish Garda and a strait-laced FBI agent attempting to take down a drug ring in Ireland. It pokes sly fun at the sub-genre, at racism, at itself and is possibly the most intelligently hilarious film of 2011.