2002 was a great year for DVD. Not only did it celebrate its success with a
five-year anniversary and the appearance of $50 players, but studios also continued
to innovate and release great tiles. The list below is not meant to be an all
inclusive list and I'm sure I'll think of a few to add to it the minute it's
published, but without further ado, here's my pick for the 10 best DVDs of 2002.
They are not numbered, but generally fall in order of 1 to 10. Happy watching,
2002 Top Ten DVD
1 Giant Leap
This title appeared out of nowhere and really took me by surprise. A unique
and innovative blend of information, music and visuals, it's more that a music
video. It's an artistic political statement and an examination of the culture
and the world we live in. Various musicians, artists, scientists, and notable
people look at topics like Love, Sex, Death, Money and other forces that make
the world go round.
Anyone that follows my writing on the site here will see this as no surprise.
I've lamented my love of this film since I saw a sneak preview a few weeks before
its release. Bill Paxton's directorial debut is a polarizing view of religion
and faith that keeps viewers guessing until the final frames. Freshman screenwriter
Brent Hanley joined forces with Paxton to create one of the year's most daring
films that dived audiences in theaters and found wide acceptance on DVD. Packed
with three commentaries, multiple documentaries and other features, it's one
of the most feature laden and well produced single disc sets I've had the pleasure
Director Guilerrmo Del Toro made have become a Hollywood name with his knock-out
rendition of Blade II, but it's this quite Mexican ghost story that shows the
talent that resides in this boisterous and outspoken man. Set against the events
of a civil war, its themes of isolation and desire frame a haunting story of
murder and destruction. This great DVD has Del Toro's first commentary track
and though it is more subdued than his Blade II track, it reveals plenty of
info on the film. Also on the disc is a great documentary.
This disc is on here for many reasons, but the major one is the commentary.
Director Christopher Nolan made a tremendous splash in Hollywood when his second
film Memento became a underground hit. Fueled by it further mainstream success,
Nolan was given his choice of projects at Warner Brothers and decided on this
remake. With powerful performances by Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary
Swank, Nolan's tale of morality and exhaustion is every bit as interesting as
Memento. As I said, this one is one here mainly for the commentary, which sets
it apart from so many others in the field. Noaln's commentary is accompanied
by a reedited version of the film that is cut to match the order in which it
was filmed. A perfect look at the filmmaking process, the commentary shows that
despite DVD being five years old, new and innovative ways to present what has
almost become a standard feature exist.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
I told myself I was not going to include this on my list and wasn't terribly
excited about its release despite the fact I thought it was a good film and
a great addition to the Star Wars mythos. All of those feelings changed the
minute I popped this 2-disc DVD set into the player and was floored by the pixel
perfect digital transfer, color and sound. Lucas has done for live action film
and DVD what Pixar's A Bug's Life did for animation on its original DVD release.
Lucasfilm have crafted what is arguably the best looking and best sounding DVD
on the market today.
Lord of the
Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Peter Jackson's epic film comes to DVD with the double-dip edition a few short
months after the basic edition and it's accompanied by hardly any dissension
by the fans. After watching the contents of this amazing 4 disc set, it's easy
to see why. Sure to appear on almost every best of list this year, this set
is truly a testament to what DVD can do. The extended cut of the film is spread
perfectly over the first two discs with numerous commentaries. Add two more
DVDs filled with hours and hours of making of and behind the scenes content
and it serves as a time capsule look at the making of the film. It's a double
set in one package. It's a documentary and film combined.
Fox Television Boxed Sets (Buffy
the Vampire Slayer and The
Television shows have become big business and big sets on DVD the past year
and no other company does as good a job as Fox. Some may complain on the lack
of features on some of the sets, but you can't complain about the price. When
released, a full season (22 episodes, 1 hour each) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
advertised for approximately $40. Compare that to a season of the Sopranos (13
episodes, 1 hour each) for $70 and you see what I mean. Fox is finally giving
the fans what they want in these full season sets and they are doing it on a
pace that's easy on the budget as well. I feel for the Star Trek fan that's
forced to shell out $100 every two months to pick up the latest Next Generation
set. If you're looking to build your television DVD library, there's no better
place to start than one of these two sets.
War - A Film By Ken Burns
I never thought I'd be adding a 5 disc, 12 hour +, DVD set to my best of list
for the year, but the PBS Civil War series by famed filmmaker Ken Burns is simply
a set any scholar or Civil War buff would be proud to add to their collection.
The video has been re-mastered beautifully and the sound has received the deluxe
treatment as well. Something that instantly struck me as well thought out on
this set was the menu navigation as well. It's perfectly intuitive and any section
can be accessed with only a few clicks of the remote.
As we grow older, we look for things to remind us of our childhood and this
2-disc set from Disney is the epitome of childhood nostalgia and adult coolness.
This could have easily been the Muppet Show sets from Time-Life if they had
only been priced better, but the educational and musical songs from Saturday
morning win out. All the greats (Conjunction Junction, 3 is the Magic Number)
and others are here for your toe-tapping pleasure and enjoyment.
off to Rhino for finally releasing this much requested set and not dropping
the ball in the process. The entire 16 episodes of the first season are available
in this perfectly packaged set. A fourth disc is added as well with several
extra features. A documentary details the work that was done to restore the
set, which look phenomenal considering its age. Fans of the 80s cartoon will
not be disappointed if they pick this up with its sleek, silver package and
numerous extras and pristine transfer.
Last year on the 2001 Top Ten I hoped for the original King Kong on DVD and
it looks like I'll have to make that wish again. I also commented on the Lord
of the Rings eventually being released on DVD and it made onto this list. So,
what is there to look forward to and hope for next year?
Hopefully Raiders of the Lost Ark will make it out next year, but with the
possibility of a new sequel in 2004, it's likely that 2004 will be the year
for a DVD release as well. It's also time for Spielberg's first two films (Amblin'
and Duel) to make their DVD appearance and while we're at it, let's see THX
1138 from George Lucas and Speilberg's critical favorite Schindler's List. 2002
was a great year for classics on DVD, but there are so many that deserve to
be revisited on the format as well. The Day the Earth Stood Still, King Kong,
Mighty Joe Young, and numerous other films are sitting in the vaults of the
studios waiting to be released.
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