Holiday Recommendations: Movies

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Holiday shopping is painful enough without the added worry of sorting through thousands of fantasy, scifi, and horror movie titles to gift out over the holiday season. The staff at Lytherus want to make your holiday shopping just a tad bit easier; whether shopping for yourself or for a friend, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of ten fantasy, scifi, and horror movies that are a must-gift over the holiday season!

Kick-Ass

This movie is charming in a sardonic, bloody sort of way. Based on the comic book by Mark Miller and John Romita Jr., this is movie is packed with both violence and wit. Kick Ass is about normal (sorta) people who throw out the convention that super heroes are supposed to have super powers. Follow Dave Lizewski aka Kick Ass (Aaron Johnson) as he inadvertently goes from an untalented street-justice vigilante to a real super hero caught up in the dealings of crime lord Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). As if that wasn’t enough for a teenager to deal with, the girl of his dreams happens to think he’s gay.

The best part of this movie is certainly the role of actress Cloë Moretz who plays Hit Girl. This pint-sized superhero is a seriously scarred preteen whose mouth would make a sailor blush and whose killing technique is truly a refined art form; and she learned it all from her crazed, crime-fighting father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). This movie is not meant for the squeamish but is spectacular for anyone who has asked themselves the question “how come nobody’s ever tried to be a superhero?” (Note: this movie is meant for more mature audiences)

How To Train Your Dragon

Although this animated fantasy Viking-era film was aimed at a younger audience, the movie succeeded at capturing the attention of movie-goers from all age groups. The quirky tale of a misfit Viking youngster named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his aspirations of becoming a feared dragon-hunting Viking warrior like his father (voiced by Gerard Butler) takes a turn for the worst when Hiccup discovers an injured Night Fury dragon, downed by his own inventions, which he cannot bring himself to kill. The story follows Hiccup as he befriends the young dragon, becoming somewhat of a dragon rider himself, and the adventures the pair face as they attempt to ease the Viking/dragon tensions having arisen over the past century.

The humor, brilliant animation, and stellar voice cast (featuring Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler and more) of How To Train Your Dragon makes this a must-watch movie for fans of all ages.

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 is the action-packed follow-up to 2008’s wildly successful Iron Man, based on Marvel Comics’ Iron Man comic series. The movie picks up six months after Tony Stark’s (played by Robert Downey Jr.) public revelation that he is, in fact, the man behind Iron Man. Hilariously-arrogant and eccentric as ever, Stark’s public image and company’s success have skyrocketed, propelling him into superstar-levels of public recognition and reliance. The businessman’s tech alter-ego, the priceless Iron Man, has thrown himself in the middle of a battle for world peace. Unbeknownst to him, a new enemy has arisen with a vengeance and endless appetite for revenge, setting the stage for a battle that even Iron Man may be out-gunned in.

Although we enjoyed the original Iron Man slightly more, Iron Man 2 still delivers through its compelling storyline, interesting heroes and villains, and never-ending supply of ego and humor. Robert Downey Jr. does a fantastic job of combining the wit and arrogance of his character with the raw power of his Iron Man alter-ego.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was one of the most underrated films of 2010. After enjoying a substantial amount of hype at make-or-break conventions such as SXSW and San Diego Comic-Con, the movie went on to enjoy an unimpressive run at the box office. However, this is hardly a representation of what to expect from the brilliant comic-to-movie port, which pushed the boundary of comic and graphic novel adaptations with its unique comic-esque visuals, sound effects, and moves.

Scott Pilgrim follows the story of 23-year-old indie rocker Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a bassist in a local band, as he struggles to move past a recent break-up with the “love of his life”. Pilgrim manages to set his eyes the new girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but is instantly thwarted by the revelation of the long road ahead: the key to Ramona’s heart leads through her seven evil exes. The story takes viewers on a wild ride as Pilgrim attempts to battle through his infatuation’s seemingly-endless legion of former interests, offering unique and surprising twists and turns along the way. The love story is unique, the villains are quirky, and the action is guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve witnessed in an action adventure. And don’t underestimate this movie due to its love-related plot: it’s far from a romance movie.

Harry Potter Ultimate Edition DVDs

Warner Brothers has slowly been re-releasing the Harry Potter films as ultimate edition collector DVD sets. WB has so far released The Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire as Ultimate Editions, available on both Blu-ray and DVD. Each of the Ultimate Editions include an exclusive one-hour featurette highlighting a unique aspect of the filmmaking process. After all eight movies have been released as Ultimate Editions, the set will complete an eight-hour documentary, Creating the World of Harry Potter. Ultimate Editions include a total of five hours of special features (one hour of which is the new featurette); theatrical and extended versions of the film; 48-page collectible photo book and other “magical collectibles”.

The Ultimate Editions come in a unique movie box and will make welcome editions to any Harry Potter fan’s DVD shelf! Whether you’re looking to enter Harry’s theatrical world for the first or thousandth time, the new and exclusive content offered in the Ultimate Editions make these a must-have Christmas gift for every movie fan.

Elf

Despite its age of only eight years, many would argue that Elf, starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel, is already a holiday classic. Us here at Lytherus certainly don’t disagree! Elf puts a hilarious spin on the old tale of Santa and his Christmas workshop elves, leaving both kids and adults in stitches with every viewing. Buddy the Elf doesn’t quite fit in; after sneaking into Santa’s toy bag on Christmas morning, Buddy is taken to the North Pole, where he is adopted and raised by a caring family of elves. However, Buddy’s size and true origins cannot be ignored when he grows up to be larger and less-skilled than the elves around him. The misfit elf soon discovers that he no longer truly belongs on the North Pole and ventures to the real world in hopes of discovering his birth family.

Buddy’s adventure of self-discovery takes him to the heart of New York City, where he realizes that his new family and all of New York City are in desperate need of Christmas cheer. Inspired to re-spawn the true meanings and values of Christmas within the hearts of those around him, Buddy gets to work. Buying ridiculous gifts. Eating chocolate-and-spaghetti dinners. Tackling an “imposter Santa” at a holiday display in NYC’s busy retail stores. Falling in love. But Buddy is in for quite a tough battle and takes viewers along for the ride. Between his “Scrooge-like” father, non-believing step-brother, and a world filled with people who believe the true meaning of Christmas resides in the amount of money spent on Christmas gifts, where does Santa fit in?

Zombieland

Zombie apocalypse. Brains, guts, and gore. Sawed off shotguns. It all sounds pretty cliché, right? Not for Zombieland! Released in 2009, Zombieland was a welcome addition to the zombie-fans’ favorite movie lists, garnering rave reviews and succeeding in the box office. Although the movie does feature all of the above mentioned clichés, its ability to expand upon those clichés with brilliant humor, hilarious levels of gore, and amazing “zombie kill” sequences sets Zombieland apart from those other movies.

Zombieland follows four main characters – the nerdy and anxiety-prone “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg); “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson), the gun-toting badass; “Wichita” (Emma Stone), the “big sister” and Columbus’s crush; and “Little Rock”, the mouthy pre-teen with a flair for drama – as they travel the country in search of their post-apocalypse zombie-free paradise. The four zombie killers follow Columbus’s specific set of rules, known as “The Rules”, which ensure survival against their zombies, acting as a running gag throughout the film. Plenty of action, treason, comedy, and brilliant cameos (Bill Murray, anyone?) are sprinkled throughout, marking Zombieland as one of our favorite zombie action comedies. And any movie that inspired Woody Harrelson to use “getting into character” as a reason for attacking paparazzi must be worth watching, right?

Inception

Our brains are still recovering from this year’s big blockbuster brainteaser, Inception. Written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan (of Batman fame). Inception follows the story of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), former spy turned inception specialist. The term inception comes from the practice of inserting ones consciousness into another’s dreams to plant or still information. Now living in exile for a crime he didn’t commit – the murder of his wife, who continues to haunt his own dreams – Cobb is offered the chance at a clean slate, enabling him to return to America to live with his children. However, the task presented to him is a feat few have ever accomplished: entering the sixth dream level, or six dreams within dreams, to plant a false idea within the mind of a commercial oil target. Does the danger of dying within the dreams, left trapped within a never-ending limbo, outweigh the possibility of returning to his old life? Is it worth the last heist?

Inception was hailed as one of the most creative and compelling stories of the past several years and was met with rave reviews and phenomenal success both in the domestic and international box offices. Its plot has left people speechless, confused (in a good way), and theorizing over the ending. Inception would make a great gift for any fan of scifi, action, heist-films, or storylines that send your brain into overdrive.

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko tells the story of our title character, Donnie Darko, after a near-death experience following the destruction of his house via falling plane engine. Donnie is plagued with depression, suicidal thoughts, nightmares and visions of a life-sized humanoid rabbit named Frank. Following his near-death experience, and having been saved via manipulation by his dream-haunting “friend” Frank, Donnie works to solve the meaning of Frank’s countdown.

Donnie’s medication is unable to help rid the troubled teen of his dream haunted, who continues to manipulate and pressure Donnie into committing a number of attention-seeking and destructive crimes. The trouble continues to boil as the countdown nears its completion, and viewers are left following intertwining timelines, the villain’s latest moves, and Donnie’s fate in a brain-warping psychological fantasy/scifi thriller. Why does Frank continue to appear? What does the countdown lead to? Why did Donnie escape death?

Donie Darko is another scifi film that will drive you crazy. No matter how many times you sit down to watch the movie, you’ll never completely figure it out. In fact, most viewers will tell you that with each sitting comes a new piece of discovered information. It’s movies like this that are truly enjoyable to the hardcore scifi fan.

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta, an adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel series of the same name, was released in 2006 and enjoyed modest success in the box office. The story follows V, the masked and mysterious anti-government anarchist, and his struggle against the futuristic British totalitarian government. V encounters Evey, a production assistant at the nation’s official television station, while she is fleeing the government’s fingermen. The pair is soon forced together when V rescues Evey from a government raid… or does he?

Anti-government messages are strewn throughout this film, which takes place in a world where the government controls nearly every aspect of its citizens’ lives. Freedom of speech is now history, and the freedom of self-thought may soon join. What the government underestimates the most the very people it attempts to rule with an iron fist, who have grown restless and weary of a government that seems to put its own interests before its people. V sees the destruction of the government as an opportunity to free Britain from the government’s oppression, empowering a new generation of free-thinking citizens to reclaim their government. But can V, with the aid of Evey, hope to overthrow the most powerful government in the world? Would it make V, who hopes to fight for freedom, a terrorist of the type he fights against?

This emotionally charged movie forces you to think of a world where the freedoms we take for granted are no longer existent. It forces you to relate to a character you never truly see, and to love a character thrust into the middle of a situation she never wished for.

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About Author

Mike Macauley

Mike Macauley is the founder and editor in chief of Lytherus.com. He also founded and runs Shurtugal.com, the official Inheritance Cycle community, and published his book, The Inheritance Almanac, in 2011. Mike can be found on Twitter at @mikemacauley.

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