Doug’s Best DVD Picks of 2009

You know, 2009 was a strange year, there were some real lulls. This has been a real year of deep valleys and very high peaks. I thought we had some amazing movies out there, but we also had some gaps that were a little troubling.

Overall, I would give this year a ‘B.’ I thought it was a ‘B’ for Hollywood. That said, here are my top ten favorite DVD releases of 2009.

#1: UP

I think not only the best movie of the year, but certainly my favorite DVD release of the year has to be UP. 5When I saw the trailers on this about this old man whose house is floating off with balloon, I thought “Are you kidding me?” Maybe Pixar has pushed it too far. But they absolutely nailed it again. I loved the movie UP.

#2: Star Trek

Star Trek is right up there in the top three of my list. 53:32 I thought this was charming and even the hard core “Trekkers” or “Trekkies” were satisfied with this too because of the time factor. Where you could go back and change history and everything didn’t absolutely have to mesh. The fact that they brought in Leonard Nimoy introduced us to a whole new genre of Star Trek. I thought it was done masterfully and the fact that they could please the “Trekkers” or the “Trekkies” was no small feat. I really liked this movie a lot.

#3: Public Enemies

You know, there is a movie I liked a lot that didn’t fare well at the box office. I love movies where you have a major actor that is playing and you forget that actor is playing the role. And that is what we had with Johnny Depp playing Public Enemy. He was so immersed in that role, you forgot it was Johnny Depp, it was John Dillinger you were watching and the way they portrayed, I love the feel of the 1920’s and 1930’s anyway. And I thought it was just brilliant on the screen and that just came out on DVD

#4: Julie and Julia

Here’s one if I don’t include, my wife will really be down on this list and I liked it too, I have to admit: Julie and Julia. This was, I thought, just a charming story about a young woman who was searching where to go, her identity, and she decided she was going to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s book and blog about it. And the way they intermingled her story with Julia Child’s story. And Meryl Streep’s performance as Julia Child and Stanley Tucci as her husband – I thought it was brilliant. I loved Julie and Julie and that’s on my very shortlist, too

#5: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I’m including this one not only because I loved the movie but it, too, recently came out and boy it would be a great gift for Christmas time: Harry Potter. The latest Harry Potter movie is just amazing. Some people have said, “It’s getting dark.” Yeah, well if you’ve read the books, the books start taking you into this darker mode, as well. Of course, the next Harry Potter movie on the big screen will come out next summer but to have this one just in time for Christmas, The Half-Blood Prince, I really loved the Harry Potter movie

#6: Forever Strong

#7: Earth

Drawing from the documentary TV series, “Planet Earth,” we are first introduced to our amazing world’s uniqueness in the known Universe. The incredible voice of James Earl Jones explains that our distance from the sun, the Earth’s axis tilt an dmore all combine to sustain an incredible array of life. Then, with spectacular cinematography, we follow various animal families in their very different life odysseys. From polar bears and a mother elephant with her calf, to the almost unimaginable migration of a whale and her calf navigating from one end of the globe to the other, “Earth” is replete with the beauties, diversity, complexity and the struggles of nature.

It’s hard to watch this film without wondering, “How in the world did they get that shot?” Well, if you stay through the credits some of the secrets and behind the scenes activities are revealed. By the way, this is the first time we see humans. One warning here, even though this is only rated G, there are some moments of peril and while graphic images are avoided, the food chain and the circle of life has to be portrayed.
For those of us who grew up with the great Disney Nature Films, this is a welcome addition to the playbill at the local Cineplex.

#8: Angels & Demons

Based on the Dan Brown novel, Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon whose expertise in symbolism has put him at odds with the Catholic Church. So, when an envoy arrives from the Vatican imploring him to fly immediately to Rome to help the Swiss Guard find four Cardinals who are being held hostage in the wake of the recent death of the Pope. Add to the missing Cardinals, a missing batch of recently created anti-matter capable of leveling Vatican City and it’s easy to understand the desperation that has lead the authorities to turn to Langdon, a less than favorite son of the Church. Teamed with the beautiful and brilliant pysicicist who helped created the anti-matter, Vittoria Vetra-played by Ayelet Zurer-Langdon is reluctantly given access to the archives and vaults to search for clues and direction. Could it be that the Church’s old enemy, the illuminati, has resurfaced bent on destruction?

Along with Hanks and Zurer, “Angels and Demons” features a great supporting cast including Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo, Patrick McKenna; Stellan Skarsgard who is great at Commander Reichter or the Swiss Guard and Armin Mueller-Stahl delivers an intriguing Cardinal Strauss who could, perhaps, become the Pope himself.

“Angels and Demons” is compelling, entertaining and fairly true to the book, but I was surprised how far Director Ron Howard pushed the envelope on graphic and disturbing violence in light of the PG-13 rating.
“Angels and Demons” is a better book than the “Da Vinci Code” and it’s also a better movie!

#9: Gran Torino

#10: Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens is one of the most anticipated movies so far this year and I’m glad to say, it really delivers. The film kicks off with a meteor striking a young woman on the verge of her nuptials. But just as the, “I dos” are being said, she starts to glow and she starts to grow. Susan Murphy, with the voice of Reece Witherspoon, is sedated and shuttled off to a mysterious, secret site. When she wakes, she’s in a terrifying prison where, we find, the government keeps monsters. Dr. Cockroach PHD, a mad scientist with Hugh Lauries voice, whose experiments tend to run amuck explaining why hes now, well….a cockroach. Then, there’s the amphibious, Missing Link and he sounds a lot like Will Arnett. The most endearing prisoner is B.O.B.; he’s a cycloptic gelatinous blob without a brain with Seth Rogan giving him a voice. As the story unfolds, we find that a dictatorial space alien named Gallaxhar is searching for the meteor that hit our heroine because of its incredible power. Well, when the Aliens invade Earth, the President, voiced by Stephen Colbert, gives approval for the release of the monster prisoners so they can fight the aliens.

Thoroughly entertaining with compelling characters and terrific animation, Monsters vs. Aliens is great family fun. Now, there are a few sketchy moments with potty humor and for the really young movie-goers, there are some scary scenes…..but overall, DreamWorks has really delivered.

For more of Doug’s movie reviews and recommendations, listen into The Movie Show every Friday from 10:00 – 12:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio.

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