As we wind down the year that became colloquially known as 2013, here on the Shelf, we thought we’d take a look at some of the biggest and best Blu-ray boxed sets that’ve come out since January 1st. And, boy howdy, there’s a lot of them. Film series, special editions, and TV shows aplenty on this Christmas Even wrap-up edition of The Shelf.
X-Men: The Adamantium Collection – A lot of due credit is given to Marvel Studios and the way they’ve managed to weave multiple stories from disparate characters in the same universe, leading to team-ups and cameos and the like, but Fox’s X-Men franchise has been at it since 2000, though with a fair amount of time in between films, and without any kind of real plan. Until now, that is. With X-Men: Days of Future Past coming in the new year, it’s become official that all of the previous installments exist in the same universe and the same timeline, which is pretty cool. This set collects X-Men, X-2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, and this summer’s The Wolverine as well as a bonus seventh disc with a documentary about the legacy of Wolverine. It all comes with a replica clawed hand. It’s a set fit for all mutant kind.
Star Trek Stardate Collection
Space continues to be the final frontier, and as the J.J. Abrams movies illustrate, people still love the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. This super fancy 12-disc set features all ten of the big screen adaptations with the original and Next Generation crews. From V’Ger to the Nexus, from Khan to Shinzon, all of the many adventures are on hand, each with multiple commentary tracks and making-of and retrospective documentaries. There are also two bonus discs with even more material, including the “Captains’ Summit,” in which William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes talk in a roundtable discussion hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. This is worth the price of admission alone.
Die Hard 25th Anniversary Collection
This came out last January, which was right before A Good Day to Die Hard came out. It’s fairly telling that they didn’t re-issue the set with the newest movie in it. So, what you get is the first four of what we can all pretty much agree are excellent action movies. Nothing can touch the first film as far as badassery and thrilling filmmaking goes, but the others are quite good as well. Die Hard 2: Die Harder is maybe the worst of the bunch, relying too heavily on sequel, “here we go again” tropes, but it’s still a good time. Die Hard with a Vengeance is actually a really great cat-and-mouse mad bomber, buddy-cop movie. It’s pretty evident that the original idea wasn’t for it to be a Die Hard movie, but they made it work really well, especially with the shouting majesty of Samuel L. Jackson. And Live Free or Die Hard is so much better than it has any right to be, especially in the unrated (i.e. swearier) version. It’s also got a whole disc of all new special features about our favorite one-man anti-terrorist unit, John McClane. I guess all we can say is “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Muddafugga.”
Doctor Who Series 1-7 Blu-ray Collection
I’ve talked a lot about this one already, but I’m gonna just reiterate how awesome it is. It’s the whole of the new series, from 2005 forward, on Blu-ray. Series 1-4 have never been on Blu-ray before, because they were all shot on SD video, but they’ve managed to clean it up and make it all spiffy for you to have. The set also comes with a whole disc of new extras from BBC America, three exclusive art cards, an IDW comic book, and, the kicker, an Eleventh Doctor Sonic Screwdriver universal remote, perfect for your living room or TARDIS. The thing that I like about it, because I’m a big nerd, is that the Blu-ray boxes line up very nicely with the Classic Series sets and create a cohesion that my pedantic brain enjoys.
Futurama: The Complete Series
Good news, everyone! It’s very sad that this venerable and always hilarious, touching, and mind-blowing cartoon series is finished (if we can believe that), but it’s almost worth it to have this gorgeous set on our shelves. The box contains all 8 volumes plus all four of the feature-length films. Each set also comes in the gorgeous Blu-ray-era art cases, though the complete series only comes in DVD. You know you love the show, you know you want to own them, but if you still aren’t convinced, read my interview with EP/writer David X. Cohen to hear about some cool stuff on the Volume 8 set.
Star Wars: Clone Wars Series 1-5
We thought this was the complete series boxed set, but it was announced that Clone Wars will be coming back for a sixth season. That announcement doesn’t make this set any less awesome, or feel any less complete. The set comes with all 14 discs of the series, a full-color episode guide, and a commemorative book The Art of the Clone Wars which features lots of great concept art and schematics. If you haven’t bought the series yet, or just want to upgrade, this is definitely a great way to do it.
Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Collector’s Set
For many people who watched Dragon Ball Z on American TV in the ’90s, you were used to the Canadian voice cast, however once Cartoon Network started airing it, it was different and not quite as nostalgia-inducing. Before now, all DVD and Blu-ray releases of the series (and there have been many) have featured this newer voice cast. This set collects all of the first 53 episodes of the series with the Canadian voice cast, which makes it all seem that much more real to any old-timer fans. Downside: The video quality hasn’t been very cleaned up, but if you’re looking to relive the glory days, then you’ll give this a Kamehameh-A+