Iain Boulton's Top Five of 2002
I've only been apart of the DVD Times team for a few months now and I've only got a few reviews up. But regardless of this, I keep watching my DVDs. It's been hard for me to select five of my favourite titles from this year; a mixture of what has hit the anime world, the animated cinema and the odd bits of television. While I haven't reviewed these titles, these were some of the best discs I purchased on DVD this year in my own opinion based on its content and presentation on the format. So let's begin shall we:
Manga's Release of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (R1) is the first on my lists. This is a great release from Manga serving up their most technical disc to date until they'd release End of Evangelion. To those familiar with the show at the moment on the Sci-Fi channel, this release is generally two movies. The first is a one-hour recap of the whole series looking at various characters view of the events of the show and the other film is the first twenty minutes of End of Evangelion (Released in the U.K in February 2003). For all Evangelion fans, it serves nicely as a starter to what will come.
As for extras, a stand out commentary track by the English dub director Amanda Winn Lee, her husband who also is producer of the dub Jason C. Lee and voice actor/Evangelion technical buff Taslin Jaffe. Plus for all those new to Evangelion, there is a whole index of information in the MAGI archives that will help fill all those questions during the proceedings of the film. This helpfully describes the crippled state Earth is in as it faces its very destruction in this film and it's up to the engineered life forms known as the Evangelions to help mankind.
The presentation of the film is wonderfully followed by an active 5.1 Dolby digital track that fans will love.
Strange as it may be, '24' is next on my favourites list. Now, I'm going to be honest. I still have my copy that has all those pesky cuts in the show. I'm not a '24' nut case and the missing 90secs is no concern to me. It maybe for some of you but it doesn't affect me. What counts is the real story and this is why it's on my list. The story of CTU agent, Jack Bauer absolutely got me gripped from the first episode. Putting the fraudulent 'real-time' aspect aside. This was a gem on television. Plus I managed to watch all the episodes within 24 hours with this set; however sad you think that is! Looking for to the next series.
Though extras are short and skimpy for this release. The forever emotionless (except for 24) and here bewildered Kiefer Sutherland announcing what to expect what happens in season 2 and a dull alternate 'happy' ending. But the value of this box is incredible to add to an equally original and superb story. At least £30-£35 for a six disc box set. That's real value unlike the £80 you have to churn out for Angel or Buffy.
Speaking of Angel, Angel series two is another disc on my list. Series two gets even more darker from series one with Angel running around frantically looking for his ex 'Darla' while trying to get revenge on the law firm 'Wolfham and Hart'.
At last! WIDESCREEN!!!!! Fox finally listened to us and decided to let us have this season of Angel in widescreen. The series is accompanied by commentaries for several episodes, a look into the season itself, and how the show was done in the areas of staging and stunt work. This is a nice package, if you can survive the price, Season 3 is in spring 2003 and I'll be definitely picking that one up.
Disney's Atlantis forms the next selection for my discs of the year segment. The under-rated film that Disney released was given a great treatment on 2 disc DVD. While the story of Milo and his Atlantis seeking friends weren't well responded to at the cinemas, it got its reward on the DVD.
To go along with a brilliant animated film that finally removes the bursting into songs idea that Disney kept putting in (most adults must cringe when a story is stopped to hear a song), the two disc included a feature length documentary that looked over the process of the film's creation. Add to that an alternate beginning, commentary tracks and superb audio/visual presentation. This is my favourite Disney film since the Emperor's New Groove came out. As long as they try to keep the singing down to a minimum, Disney might be my favourite animated company once more. If Treasure Planet doesn't screw up.
While its doing well in the U.S Anime circuit, I must give the final place on my top five to the absolutely gut busting funny Excel Saga from ADV Films. It's due to be released over in the U.K in the course of 2003 but for those who have multi-region machines and are avid anime fans, this is a series that you really should be collecting. It has a simple premise of a secret organization known as Across (Total membership 2) attempting to take over the city of F. In charge of trying to make her beloved Lord Illpalazzo proud, the insane girl known as Excel continues to fail in many of the episodes. Partner her with a Martian princess who continues to die each episode. Throw in a couple pointless background characters such as a Spanish Immigrate called Pedro, an Afro wearing bad ass called Nabeshin and a funny looking dog and you set. It can't be understood by anyone but the show was never going to be in its countless shifts between the genres including female only episodes. It is really really funny, anime fans should not miss out.
As for the DVDs themselves, they've got a great ADV Pop-video feature that helpfully points out all the cultural references of the show itself. Put some extras such as 'find the mint' game, a series of commercials for eating a dog, and such other great features, Excel Saga is one of ADV anime gems at the moment.
Though not in the lists, mentions of superbly audio and visually presented Dvds must go to Minority Report, Blade 2 and not forgetting one of the best visual transfers I've seen for a DVD – Star Wars Episode 2. And I really should mention The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition, it's a fantastic package and I'm hoping The Two Towers will have the same treatment.
And that about wraps things up for me for 2002, looking at the DVD line up for 2003 there are some great anime and films that are coming to DVD. Along with getting the next instalments of Angle, 24 (Hopefully), I'm looking forward to the DVD releases of Die Another Day in the UK and if it ever happens with Columbia Tri-Star the long awaited release of Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door (Or Bebop the movie) in the Region 1 area.
Apart from me saying what I'm looking forward to in 2003, may I take this time to wish everyone a great and happy new year.