Gift Guide: Blockbuster Movies

Give a gift straight from the big screen. This year's blockbuster movies - from "World War Z" to "The World's End" - make great stocking stuffers.

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Jaap Buitendijk/ Paramount pictures
Brad Pitt in "World War Z"
World War Z If you’re thinking that at this point in the current zombie zeitgeist the shambling, shuffling masses’ fear factor has lost a step, wait until you see the very scary Sprinting Dead trying to run down Brad Pitt. Blending high-octane action, mammoth crowds of zombie masses, a hint of procedural drama and flavored with its most important ingredient – Pitt – the film re-energizes its undying genre, as detailed in the four-part documentary in the extras.
This Is the End Seth Rogen’s meta send-up of the End of Days somehow seamlessly melds a hilarious self-referential spoof of Hollywood-sized egos (including his on- and off-screen celebrity pals James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson), convincing bromantic complications between Rogen and Jay Baruchel and a twisted, genuinely engaging take on the apocalypse. Topping the equally offbeat extras: a feature titled ‘The Making of ‘The Making of Pineapple Express 2.’”
The Conjuring Easily the scariest film of the year, and maybe any year, director James Wan (“Saw”) graduates from horror wunderkind to full on master of suspense with this taken-from-true-life tale about a two paranormal investigators trying to save a family from the threat of possession. Among the intriguing special features are remembrances from the real-life Perron clan and psychic Lorraine Warren, and Wan’s tricks of the trade in a feature appropriately titled “Scaring the @$*% Out of You.”
Star Trek Into Darkness Expanding the final frontier that director J.J. Abrams and his able cohorts deftly re-envisioned in the 2009 reboot of Gene Roddenberry’s futuristic tale, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise face down a myriad of fresh wonders at warp speed, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Klingons and new crew-member Alice Eve. Special features vary depending on where you by the disc: the Target exclusive edition contains the most complete assembly.
The World’s End A decidedly twisted take on apocalyptic adventure, as filtered through an epic pub crawl among old-but-now-estranged friends – just the thing audiences have come to crave from “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” team of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright. The pals close out their Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy and bring it to Blu Ray with the now-expected bender of nerd-friendly special features that explore every aspect of micro-brewing the movie.
Pacific Rim Only creature-obsessed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) could deliver a film so dazzlingly crafted out of such a simple premise: human-driven giant robots duking it out with colossal monsters. More than just a loving homage to films starring Godzilla and his towering ilk – which it certainly is – it’s also visual feast full of visceral thrills. In the plethora of special features, de Toro brings his audience fathoms deep into the painstaking efforts to create hyper-real kaiju and jaegers.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition By now fans of the film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth epics are familiar with director Peter Jackson’s “more is more” ethos, which achieves its fullest expression in the lavish, luxurious and lengthy extended home video editions. The first installment of the “Hobbit” trilogy, already weighty in its 169 minute theatrical running time, adds nearly 15 more minutes of new scenes, added character beats and extended nuances for fans who enjoy devouring every detail of Bilbo Baggins’ journey.
Man of Steel The original superhero who soared from comic books to the big screen returns: Superman gets an angst-ier reimagining for a new generation, with Clark Kent concerned about Earth’s reaction to his alien origins. It's headlined by director Zack Snyder and star Henry Cavill, who ably brings a forthright gravitas as well as a chiseled physique. The film’s multiple home video formats include a straightforward Blu Ray, a 3D edition and a deluxe 3D Limited Collector’s Edition thoroughly covering everything from translating Superman’s mythology to creating a cinematic Krypton.
Iron Man 3 Though still a bit PTSD-plagued from his extra-dimensional battles, Tony Stark proves he doesn’t need a full complement of Avengers to save the day as he returns to solo action for the wildly entertaining sequel built off star Robert Downey, Jr.’s mastery of snarky repartee and director Shane Black’s explosive pop-action sensibility. The sparking gem among the extras: The Marvel short film “Agent Carter,” depicting the postwar fate of Captain America’s WWII paramour, played with verve by Hayley Atwell.
The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition The filmmakers pulled back the editing claws for a longer cut: this four-disc edition features director James Mangold’s extended Japanese adventure for Marvel’s most popular mutant, played for the fifth time by Hugh Jackman. This razor-sharp collection include the standard, HD and 3D versions, plus extras like an alternate ending, an interactive Second Screen feature and a visual tour of the set of Wolvie’s next outing, the upcoming “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” - Scott Huver
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