Posted Fri Jun 6, 2014 at 06:30 AM PDT by Steven Cohen
Father's Day is just around the corner again, and buying the perfect gift for any movie-loving dad can be quite a challenge. But fret not! We're here to help make your HD shopping experience a little easier with our Father's Day Gift Guide.
This past year saw the release of many worthy titles and lots of cool gear items that dads will love. Filled with contemporary blockbusters, classic flicks, several must own TV boxsets, and plenty of home theater gadgets, this list offers Blu-ray and gear suggestions for fathers of all ages and tastes.
So, without further ado, here are our Blu-ray disc and HD gear suggestions for Father's Day 2014:
'Lone Survivor' – War movies are usually a staple of any dad's film collection, and Peter Berg's latest effort is a strong addition to the genre. A respectful and gripping true life tale of brotherhood and survival, the movie offers visceral action without ever losing sight of a strong emotional center. Marked by one of the most assaulting gun fights to ever hit the screen, this is a stirring testament to our soldier's brave sacrifices and a very worthy contender for a spot on any dad's shelf.
'Star Trek into Darkness' - Serving as a kind of reboot remix on the Khan storylines from the original series and 'Wrath of Khan,' JJ Abrams' 'Star Trek' sequel has just enough nostalgia and originality to make it work. Yes, there are some notable flaws, but the flick still offers exciting action, fun characters, and striking visuals. And really, what dad doesn't like 'Star Trek?' Speaking of which, you can also currently pick up the 'Star Trek: Stardate Collection' with all ten original 'Star Trek' films for just $48!
'Iron Man 3' – With celebrated 90s action writer Shane Black at the helm, 'Iron Man 3' is a decidedly unique entry in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Led by a certain old school sensibility, the flick is full of throwbacks to many of the trademark storytelling quirks that helped make movies like 'Lethal Weapon' so much fun -- but this time all that wise-cracking is bolstered by Robert Downy Jr. and a badass suit of armor!
'The Wolverine' – Under James Mangold's direction, Hugh Jackman finally gets to cut loose as Wolverine, taking on an army of ninjas and the still lingering stink of his previous solo flick. With just enough adamantium-laced action to reinvigorate the character, the movie has helped set the franchise back on track -- a fact that any comic book loving dad will surely be grateful for.
'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' - There's something about Tom Clancy adaptations that automatically make them dad approved -- and this latest franchise reboot is no different. Featuring an original origin tale that chronicles the famed CIA agent's recruitment, the flick sees Chris Pine stepping into the shoes previously occupied by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. And adding a little extra splash of class and intensity to all of the political thriller action and intrigue, is direction from Sir Kenneth Branagh, who also pulls double duty as the film's villain. Fans should also consider picking up 'The Jack Ryan Collection,' which includes all four previous Ryan movies for just $30!
'Pacific Rim' – Most Dads like a little bit of mindless action every now and then, and if you're going to watch a bunch of giant robots smashing things, it might as well be under the direction of Guillermo del Toro. Though just as loud and ridiculous as any over-bloated Michael Bay spectacle, del Toro hones in all of the explosions through some impressive filmmaking craft and a cohesive vision -- one characterized by interdimensional monsters and the great Ron Perlman!
'Non-Stop' – While I still can't quite believe that Oskar Schindler is now an action star, Liam Neeson certainly does make for a convincing silver screen hero. Following his badass turn in 'Taken' (we'll just forget about the sequel), the actor has once again been asked to use his "very particular set of skills" -- and this time on a plane! Despite the potentially ridiculous premise, there's actually a solid amount of intelligence in this high-flying thriller, making for an entertaining ride that won't have dad banging his head in disbelief… too much.
'The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy' – Zombies? Check. Shootouts? Check. Replacement alien robots who really don't like being called robots? Check! Anything a dad could every want is right here in this trilogy box set, bringing together all three of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost's hilarious love letters to genre moviemaking. With 'Shaun of the Dead,' 'Hot Fuzz,' and 'World's End,' you really can't go wrong. That is, unless your dad is really a passive alien robot replacement…
'Double Indemnity' – No self-respecting father's Blu-ray collection is complete without a few classic film noirs, and 'Double Indemnity' is one of the genres' essential masterpieces. Through this twisting tale of murder and insurance fraud, director Billy Wilder helps establish many of the narrative and visual conventions that define silver screen crime flicks. With its hardboiled voice over narration, dangerous femme fatale, and shadowy black and white cinematography, the film remains just as biting and involving as ever, becoming instant proof that there might be some truth to your dad's constant complaints that "they don't make them like they used to."
'Touch of Evil' – You say you father is a true film fan, huh? Well then, look no further than 'Touch of Evil.' Directed by the great Orson Welles, this noir milestone is a powerful tale of corruption and deceit. Kicked off by one of cinema's most impressive extended tracking shots and led by a striking performance from the director himself, the movie simply oozes style. And what Father's Day is complete without a little style?
'The Man with No Name Trilogy' – Dads love westerns. I don't know why, but it's a rule. As soon as you become a father, all things cowboy instantly become irresistible. This goes for John Wayne, John Ford and, of course, Sergio Leone too. The Italian director helped define the spaghetti western, creating a series of cynical, violent, and operatic films that brought a new edge to the myth of the west. This set includes all three of his 'Man with No Name' films that made Clint Eastwood a star, including a brand new 4K restoration for his masterpiece 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly.'
'Shane' – And for those looking for a less cynical take on the western, George Stevens' classic, 'Shane,' is also an essential milestone of the genre. Marked by a more innocent and inspiring message, the movie even features a decidedly thoughtful depiction of guns, revealing the weight and impact of their deadly violence. A true "dad" flick through and through, I actually have many memories of my own father watching the movie on cable, and that must mean it's good, right?
'The Fugitive' – One of the most infinitely re-watchable thrillers ever made, Hollywood entertainment doesn't get much better than 'The Fugitive.' With high-stakes action, a twisting plot, and great performances from Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, this 90s action flick manages to stand the test of time. Another Sunday afternoon staple for my dad in our house, this disc belongs in every father's collection.
'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' – While the escapist thrills of James Bond are undeniably entertaining, the espionage genre isn't always just fun and games. Based on John le Carre's 1963 novel of the same name, this tense thriller offers a decidedly less romanticized depiction of spies. Fueled by a powerful performance from Richard Burton and striking black and white photography, this is a twisting and absorbing drama that should have dads glued to the screen.
'Fantastic Voyage' - A dying communist defector, a super-secret government facility, a shrinking ray, a miniaturized submarine, and Raquel Welch in a tight wetsuit -- what more could a dad want? A defining example of high concept science fiction and an imaginative demonstration of old school special effects, 'Fantastic Voyage' really does remain fantastic!
'The Right Stuff' – If your dad is anything like mine, then he can't help but get a little wide-eyed whenever he talks about the birth of our space program, making this movie a no-brainer. An entertaining and inspiring chronicle of the Mercury Seven and their pioneering work to reach the final frontier, the film is a testament to bravery, drive, and exploration. As a Father's Day gift this release certainly has the right stuff! Yeah, I went there.
'Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season' – As recent ratings numbers have proven, this is now one of the most watched shows on TV, and really how it could it not be? It's got dragons, undead warriors, brutal action, educational sex scenes, British accents, weird names, and lots of manly beards. I mean, what's not to love? Well, other than the constant threat of death for all of your favorite characters. Still, if nothing else, the show's portrayal of Westeros' infamous father of the year, Tywin Lannister, is sure to show every new dad exactly what not to do. Be sure to pick up Season One and Season Two as well!
'The Americans: The Complete First Season' – Brilliantly blurring the line between protagonists and antagonists, FX's 'The Americans' often gets its audience to actively root for the "bad guys." After all, the series' central heroes are two Cold War Russian spies posing as an American couple raising two American kids. But just where does the facade end and begin? Throughout the first season, loyalties are tested and emotions are strained -- both for the characters and the audience, showing viewers that Elizabeth and Phillip are just like us… only they're not… or are they? With edge-of-your-seat tension and slick espionage action, this is a series that no dad will want to miss.
'True Detective: The Complete First Season' – Is your dad a fan of 'Law and Order?' Did he ever wish that the detectives would suddenly burst out into nihilistic philosophical rants about the futility of existence whenever they hear a "dun dun?" Yes? Well then, 'True Detective' is right up his alley! A metaphysical excursion into the murky waters that separate good and evil, the show is an utterly absorbing twist on standard procedural dramas, making it a perfect gift for any mystery loving dad. And while binge watching is recommended, if your father starts spouting pessimistic diatribes like Rust, it might be time to take a break.
'Hannibal: Season One' – Like 'True Detective,' NBC's 'Hannibal' also offers a gripping and often gruesome spin on traditional procedurals -- but this time it comes with the added benefit of cannibalism! Starring everyone's favorite man-eating villain, the series is a dark and visually arresting murder mystery, pushing the boundaries for what can be done on network TV. Though I haven't seen season two yet, word is it's even more mind-blowing than this first batch of episodes, so grab this set to make sure that Dad is all caught up!
'Breaking Bad: The Complete Series' – Easily ranking among television's most acclaimed series, 'Breaking Bad' stands tall as one of the small screen's greatest accomplishments -- and now you can buy all five seasons together. A gift worth more than a bag of blue meth, a barrel full of money, or even a bucket of chicken at your local Los Pollos Hermanos, hours of incredible storytelling, peerless acting, and countless scenes featuring Walt Jr. eating breakfast!
While nothing can beat a great home theater, sometimes it's fun to take your HD entertainment on the go, and tablets offer Dad all the multimedia mobility he could ever want. There's several solid options here with sizes ranging from 7-inches to 10-inches and resolutions as high as 2560 x 1600. Here's a rundown of some quality models that should suit Dad's media needs just fine, along with specs and current prices:
Apple iPad Air - 9.7-inch Retina display with 2048 x 1536 resolution and 264ppi. Powered by an A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor. Features a 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front camera. Currently starts at $468 on Amazon.
Google Nexus 7 - 7-inch display with 1920 x 1200 resolution and 323ppi. Powered by a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4. Features a 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front camera. Currently starts at $195 on Amazon.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 - 7-inch display with 1200 x 800 resolution. Powered by a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S5. Features a 3MP rear camera and 1.3MP front camera. Currently $270 on Amazon. A 10-inch model is also available for $350.
Kindle Fire HDX 7" Tablet - 7-inch display with 1920 x 1200 resolution and 323ppi. Powered by a 2.2GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU. Features a front-facing 720p camera. Currently starts at $229 on Amazon.
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" Tablet - 8.9-inch display with 2560 x 1600 resolution and 339ppi. Powered by a 2.2GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU. Features an 8MP rear camera and a 720p front camera. Currently starts at $379 on Amazon.
With streaming media becoming more and more popular, dad's are going to need a good set-top box or HDMI dongle to get all of the latest HD content. There's several different models available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Currently, the Roku 3 ($95) remains one of the most comprehensive set-top box players, offering support for a wide number of apps (including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, and HBO Go), fast performance, and 1080p playback. The new Amazon Fire TV ($99) is also a solid bet with a growing collection of apps (HBO Go is coming later this year), a nifty voice search feature that is gradually expanding to more services, and a dedicated Game Controller ($40). Meanwhile, if you think your dad will prefer an HDMI dongle to plug directly into his TV, then the Google Chromecast ($30) and Roku Streaming Stick ($49) are both good options. The former lets you stream content from apps on mobile devices and computers, while the latter offers integrated apps directly on the device and a remote control. And if you're going to get a streaming player, you might want to think about adding in an Amazon Prime Membership ($99) as well. The service will give dad a full year of free 2-day shipping and access to Prime Instant Video which offers a growing library of content.
A great 5.1 (or 7.1 plus) system is an essential component of any complete home theater system, but what happens if Dad doesn't have the space for all those speakers, or just wants to watch a quick flick or TV episode without bothering the neighbors? Well, a soundbar is a great solution, offering space saving, quality audio. Though they can't offer the immersion of a full surround sound setup, they sure as hell beat those tiny speakers built into your TV. Here's a few good options for dads:
Sony HT-CT260 2.1 Speaker System - 2.1 channel, 40-inch soundbar with a wireless subwoofer. Currently $230 on Amazon.
VIZIO S4221w-C4 Soundbar -2.1 channel, 42-inch soundbar with a wireless subwoofer. Currently $250 on Amazon.
VIZIO S4251w-B4 5.1 Soundbar - 5.1 channel, 42-inch soundbar with separate rear speakers and a wireless subwoofer. Currently $248 on Amazon.
Pioneer SP-SB23W Andrew Jones Soundbar System - 2.1 channel, 36-inch soundbar with a wireless subwoofer. Currently $397 on Amazon.
With Ultra HD displays gradually hitting the mainstream, many home theater enthusiasts are going to need to upgrade their A/V receivers with new HDMI 2.0 compliant models. Though high-end receivers might be a little out of most people's Father's Day budgets, there are some quality models that come in at affordable prices. Here's a rundown of some new 4K capable receivers that would make great gifts for your dad:
Onkyo TX-NR535 5.2-Channel Receiver - 5.2 channel receiver with support for 4K/60 Hz video. Currently $399 on Amazon.
Pioneer VSX-824 5.2-Channel Receiver - 5.2 channel receiver with support for 4K/60 Hz video. Currently $397 on Amazon.
Yamaha RX-V577 7.2-channel Receiver - 7.2-channel receiver with support for 4K/60 Hz video. Currently $500 on Amazon.
TV are likely not in most buyers' price range for a Father's Day Gift, but if you have the cash to spend on dear old Dad (he deserves it!), then there are a few budget and high-end options that are sure to score you some "favorite child" points. On the more affordable end, Vizio's new E-Series of 1080p displays with local dimming are getting very high marks for their deep blacks and inexpensive prices. You can snag a 50-inch E500i-B1 for just $568! Meanwhile, if you really want to treat your dad to something special, you might consider splurging for a new Ultra HD TV. The 49-inch Sony XBR49X850B ($2,100) features a resolution of 3840 × 2160 and support for HDMI 2.0 and the HEVC/H.265 codec for 4K streaming. Likewise, the 55-inch Samsung UN55HU9000 ($3,298) offers those same features along with a curved screen design. Finally, if the best possible picture quality is your main concern, then the 1080p LG OLED 55EA9800 ($5,000) is still one of the best TVs on the market, offering superior black levels and contrast along with a curved screen.
Well, there you have it. Those are our Father's Day Blu-ray & HD Gear suggestions for 2014. We hope that these recommendations help to give you some ideas in your search for the perfect gift for your dad, and if you want even more Blu-ray choices, be sure to check out last year's Father's Day Gift Guide as well. But remember, whatever movies or gadgets you end up getting, just make sure you try them out together. After all, that's the best part, isn't it?
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