To continue in our quest in helping you find your next Steelbook must-have, we asked an expert in deluxe Blu-rays to list their top 10.
Guest Post from Paul at www.superdeluxebluray.com
Here are my top 10 Steelbooks available at Zavvi in no particular order.
Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” is defined by a couple of visuals. The classic shot is De Niro walking along the pavement (sidewalk, to be accurate), tired after a night shift, hands in pockets, eyes down, with the sleaze of the city in the background. That image was used on many theatrical posters back in early 1976 when the film was first released. Recent DVD and blu-ray editions have preferred the more extreme character that De Niro’s Travis Bickle mutates into – the man with a mission and a mohican. This steelbook chooses the shaven-headed Bickle from near the end of the movie as its cover image, and boasts clean and attractive typography.
“No women, no kids. That’s the rules.” So says Leone “Léon” Montana (Jean Reno) to Natalie Portman’s Mathilda, in Luc Besson’s 1994 action thriller. Those words are to be found on the back of this steelbook, with the front depicting the classic image of the solitary hit man with a love of house plants, looking up from out of the shadows. As many of you will know, Léon is forced to take in Mathilda and break his own rule, making his life rather more complicated but ultimately offering enrichment too.
I have a real problem with movie trailers that giveaway too much of a film’s plot. Even worse is a DVD cover that gives away a film’s ending. For years now, the 1968 film adaptation of Pierre Boule’s novel has had a photo of the final scene with The Statue of Liberty and a man on the sand, on his knees. This steelbook is partially guilty of the same issue, although that image is inside the box, in widescreen form when you open the case. Still, it’s a superb film, that hasn’t lost the power to make you think.
THE GAME (1997) – Zavvi Exclusive
Not exactly a ‘forgotten’ movie, but David Fincher’s “The Game” didn’t quite ride the zeitgeist in the way that “Seven” or “Fight Club” did, and its box office takings reflected this. Despite this, the film is a lot of fun. A roller coaster ride of red herrings and rugs been pulled out from under feet. Michael Douglas excels as the wealthy banker Nicholas Van Orton who apparently fails the test to be part of a “game” – an experience bought for him by brother Conrad (Sean Penn) for his 48th birthday. Fincher directs with aplomb. This minimal front cover of this steelbook is very attractive, with the appropriate image of a puppet hanging from a string.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is not his most subtle work. Jack Nicholson’s character Jack Torrance arrives with wife and child to be the winter caretaker of The Overlook Hotel, but his decent into madness is rather undermined by the fact that he looks bonkers from the start. Also, Shelly Duvall’s Wendy isn’t as sympathetic as she should be largely because she spends virtually the whole film crying and moaning. The star of the show is the set design and the amazing performance of six year old Danny Lloyd, who played the couple’s son. His cycling around the hallways of the hotel on his tricycle – being filmed low and close from behind – is one of cinema’s memorable images. This black steelbook has the door to mysterious room 237 on the front with ‘Redrum’ scribbled on the front (use a mirror!).
“Toy Story”, like “The Godfather”, is one of very few movie ‘franchises’ where the sequel is genuinely better than the original film. Not only had animation technology improved in the four years since the 1995 original, the storytelling was much better too. It turned out that Woody was a highly collectible figure from 1950’s show ‘Woody’s Roundup’ and was going to be sold to a collector in Japan. New characters Jessie (Joan Cusack) and Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer) add to the fun and there are plenty of in-gags for the grown-ups to enjoy (Evil Emperor Zorg tells Buzz “I am your father!”).
THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) – Zavvi Exclusive
This movie introduced the world to the work of director M. Night Shyamalan and finished the 1990s strongly for lead Bruce Willis, who’d also enjoyed acclaim in “Pulp Fiction”, “Twelve Monkeys” and “The Fifth Element” in the preceding years. It was a massive success due to strong word-of-mouth and a very eerie trailer (“I see dead people”). The famous twist ending (no spoilers) became something of a trademark for the director. This steelbook has an embossed front cover with further images inside.
“Brazil” is Ex-Python Terry Gilliams’ dystopian masterpiece about everyman Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) trapped in a bureaucratic world as he tries to search for the woman of his dreams (Kim Griest). The totalitarian 1984-like government and a domineering mother make his life a misery and he daydreams of a better future. Gilliam famously took out a full-page ad in trade magazine Variety to pressure Universal Pictures into releasing his film as he intended it to be seen (they’d butchered it into something quite different). This steelbook is due out next year with a front cover depicting Sam with his wings from one the many dream sequences.
Quentin Tarantino’s debut lacks the cinematic flair of follow-up “Pulp Fiction” but makes the most of its low budget and slightly theatrical setting (the warehouse). A heist movie that gets away without showing the actual heist, “Reservoir Dogs” benefits from the star quality of Harvey Keitel and fine performances by a relatively young cast including Tim Roth (Mr Orange) and Chris Penn (‘Nice Guy Eddie’). Many memorable scenes are now part of film folklore and Quentin went on to prove to the world that he wasn’t a one hit wonder. Not the best front cover design for the steelbook, but a film worthy of the deluxe packaging.
The rather under-appreciated “Carlito’s Way” from 1995 is actually one of director Brian De Palma and Al Pacino’s very best films. Having been released from prison early (on a technicality), Pacino’s Carlito Brigante is determined to leave his past behind and retire. Of course, fate leads him down another path, and he feels obliged to help out his lawyer Dave Kleinfeld (he’d got him out of jail) on an ill-advised boat trip. We feel every ounce of Carlito’s frustration in the final act, desperately hoping that him, and girlfriend Gail, can escape to a new life. This Universal 100th Anniversary Steelbook puts the classic silhouette image of Pacino centre stage. A shot of the perm-headed Sean Penn and with Al adorns the rear.