My recommendations for some of the best 4K and Blu-Ray titles of 2021 to pick up this holiday season!
by John Larkin
2021 was a tremendous year for 4K UHD Blu-Ray releases of several big titles from major studios like Warner Brothers, Columbia Sony and Paramount Pictures. What follows are some of my favorite releases of the year. All of these would make excellent gifts this holiday season!
All of the below items are available to purchase from Amazon.com and digitally on platforms such as Apple, Amazon and Vudu. Just click the picture to access the Amazon link:
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991) 4K UHD - PARAMOUNT
This new release from Paramount might be one of the best 4K Transfers ever done. Barry Sonnenfeld's directorial debut - after serving as Director of Photography on several great Coen Bros. and Rob Reiner films - holds up extremely well. Sonnenfeld quickly demonstrated his skilled command as a comedic director and would go on to direct the highly successful MEN IN BLACK Franchise. The new 4K version reintegrates some lost footage of the famed "mamushka" dance that Gomez and Fester perform midway through the film and features a fantastic Dolby Atmos track. For fans of THE ADDAMS FAMILY this disc release is a dream come true and for the newcomers it will be a real treat!
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994) 4K UHD + Blu-Ray - WARNER BROTHERS
Widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made and for many their absolute favorite (It's No. 1 on IMDB's user voted Best Films of All Time list beating out THE GODFATHER), Warner Brothers gave it a superb 4K transfer so lifetime fans like me can treasure it in the best possible quality that's ever been available. SHAWSHANK is a stunning film and even more stunning in 4K and this one is an absolute must own! And what a perfect gift to give for the young film fan who hasn't seen it yet.
COLUMBIA CLASSICS VOL. 2 6- FILM COLLECTION 4K UHD + Blu-Ray - COLUMBIA SONY
This one is definitely too big to stuff in a stocking but if you're looking for the ultimate home video gift, look no further. This giant of a set features beautiful new 4K transfers of some of Columbia Sony's best titles over the last 70 years. It includes ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959), OLIVER! (1968), TAXI DRIVER (1976), STRIPES (1981), SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995) and THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010). Columbia is doing some of the best 4K disc release work in the business and the standouts for me in particular here are OLIVER! and TAXI DRIVER. They both look spectacular in 4K, especially TAXI DRIVER whose original DVD release was one of the worst looking back in the day. Each film is loaded with bonus features which is a big deal as many of these new 4K releases are seriously skimping on the extras. There's also a nice bonus disc featuring 20 acclaimed short films from the studio's library. For 4K and movie fans this is truly the box set of the year. I look forward to seeing what's in Volume 3 next year!
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) 50th anniversary 4K UHD + Blu-Ray - WARNER BROTHERS
Kubrick's masterpiece based on Anthony Burgess's classic dystopian novel is unsurprisingly gorgeous in 4K. For years I considered Barry Lyndon my favorite Kubrick film, but after witnessing the film again in this new release it is by and far CLOCKWORK. The film holds up extremely well after 50 years and Warner Brothers did an excellent job with the transfer and audio mix. A must own!
THE KARATE KID: 3-MOVIE COLLECTION 4K UHD + BLU-RAY - COLUMBIA SONY
It's hard not to figure that the success of Cobra-Kai on Netflix gave Columbia Sony the extra push to give the Karate Kid franchise films the proper 4K treatment. The limited edition box set is fantastic, featuring beautiful box artwork and sleek slipcovers for each of the three films. Fans will rejoice witnessing each of the films in glorious 4K with Dolby Atmos sound. If you're looking for bonus features you're in luck as each film is stacked with them. A perfect gift for both the longtime fan and the newbies alike.