The best Blu-Ray box sets under £40 this Christmas

With Christmas and January sales on the horizon, it’s a great time to be a film buff.  It has never been more affordable to pick up some terrific box sets that will provide hours of cinematic joy for movie lovers of all ages.  Whilst DVD remains a popular choice, the drop in price of Blu-ray players (which can still play that old DVD collection, whilst up-scaling the picture) means that the lure of high definition picture and sound quality should prove irresistible to anyone who loves watching films in the comfort of home.  For either the Blu-ray enthusiast or new-comer, there are heaps of brilliant box sets that offer great value with gorgeous transfers of favourite films both old and new, and plenty of bonus features that enhance the overall experience.Box sets

As part of a collaborative piece with‘s “Most Wanted”, here’s a look at some of the best box sets currently available, broken down by price range.  They’d all make fantastic gifts for loved ones or just some great last minute additions to your own wish list.

Under £20

JPJurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy: Available to buy from several top online retailers for less than £10, the Jurassic Park trilogy is an absolute must have for any collection.  Worth the money for Steven Spielberg’s classic original alone, the imagery and effects are just as awe-inspiring now as they were in the nineties.  The sequels may be a bit ropey, plot-wise, but still provide a plethora of memorable moments that are certain to capture the imagination of dinosaur lovers young and old.  The set also contains a bumper crop of making-of featurettes that offer a comprehensive look at how the magic was made, along with recent interviews with cast and crew, as they reflect back on one of cinema’s most magical franchises.

Toy Story 1-3 Boxset: Another treat for both children and adults alike comes from Pixar, in the form of their classic Toy Story trilogy.  The original may look somewhat dated 17 years later, but it contains the kind of heart and charm that will endure, regardless.  It’s also one of the rare instances where each film in the series is better than the last, with Toy Story 3 often regarded as one of 2010′s best films, leaving a trail of teary-eyed grown-ups in its wake.  With vibrant colours and meticulously designed characters and environments, this is a set of films that demands the best viewing experience possible and might prove to be the best £15-17 parents could spend on their children this holiday season.  The Toy Story trilogy isn’t a series anyone will outgrow, it’s one they’ll grow up with.

Back to the Future Trilogy:  The clever eighties sci-fi trilogy is an absolute steal at £8.99.  Starring Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the Robert Zemeckis films remain some of the best examples of simple, yet effective use of time travel and its consequences on the big screen.  Boasting three distinct pieces to the overarching story, it’s easy to see why the series remains as beloved today as it was in its day, if not even more so.  The extras feature fascinating deleted scenes and documentary-styled pieces that explain how the films came to be and how difficult it was to sell the original concept.  Family-friendly and ironically timeless, there’s no good reason not to pick up this cheap-as-chips box.

BourneThe Ultimate Bourne Collection (Play offers an exclusive steelbook): The original trio (lacking the recently released Jeremy Renner-led Bourne Legacy) of Bourne action flicks that saved Matt Damon from forever being best known for being merciless mocked by South Park’s creators and made shaky-cam a commercially viable shooting option.  These action-packed, spy thrillers are enough to win over most sceptics and the adrenaline rush provided by this excellent set proves a hard act to follow.  For the price of Legacy alone, one can instead get all three superior prequels.  It’s a great espionage-à-trois.

The Ultimate Gangsters Box Set 2011: There have been variations of this set available over the years, but this loaded box comes with five classic gangster films, and for less than £15. With Ryan Gosling taking to the screen in early 2013 in Gangster Squad, it’s the perfect time to get reacquainted with some of the classic films of the genre.  Including Al Pacino’s iconic turn in Scarface, Martin Scorsese’s nearly-as-good-as-Goodfellas Casino, the excellent pairing of Pacino and Sean Penn in Carlito’s Way, and Ridley Scott’s underrated American Gangster.  The fact that Michael Mann’s Public Enemies is the weakest film of the box speaks volumes for what a steal this package is.

Under £30

HP8Harry Potter: The Complete 8 Film Collection: Most everyone will have at least one Harry Potter fan on their shopping list, so the complete film saga would make for a lovely gift that is surprisingly easy on the wallet.  With all eight, increasingly-improving movies and a solid set of bonus features spread over 11 discs; it’s a terrific option for the enthusiastic Hogwarts addict and the unconvinced alike, and all for just £25.

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures: Released only a couple of months ago, this spectacular set of adored adventure classics has drastically dropped in price in attempt to find its way beneath as many Christmas trees as possible.  The five discs includes Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom (available uncut in the UK for the first time ever), The Last Crusade, and the rather unfortunate and unnecessary return to the series The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull along with a bonus feature disc containing over seven hours of making-ofs, interviews and other bits and pieces sure to please Indy fans old and new.  Occasionally dropping to as low as £25, this set is readily available for less than 30 quid, which is astonishing for such a recent, popular release.

GodfatherThe Godfather Trilogy: The Coppola Restoration – Paramount Centenary Edition:  Modern cinema doesn’t come more acclaimed than Francis Ford Coppola’s epic 70s crime dramas.  Anyone who has seen Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and the late, great John Cazale in action here knows how must-own this collection is.  For the uninitiated, now is as good a time as any to find out why these films are held in such high regard.  Ignore the overpriced 40th Anniversary box and opt for the more sensible Coppola Restoration, which contains identical bonus footage for less dosh.  Steelbook collectors will likely find it worth an extra fiver to pick up Play’s exclusive release of this essential trilogy.

Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection Box Set: For fascinating, challenging and masterful story-telling, look no further than this assortment of Kubrick’s genius.  Offering up Lolita, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and the divisive Eyes Wide Shut, there’s plenty for fans to sink their teeth into and this set provides a true lesson in filmmaking.  With a bonus disc dedicated to a Tom Cruise narrated documentary on Kubrick, this is a can’t-miss gift for any fan of intelligent cinema.

Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection: Going even further back into the history of cinema, Universal Pictures released this amazing set of beautifully restored monster films in October.  This superb package includes postcards and a 48-page booklet dedicated to the fine selection of black and white horror films contained within.  With Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster and The Mummy, and Lon Chaney Jr as The Wolf Man included along with The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon, there’s no shortage of legendary roles and performances on show in the most pristine presentation possible.  It’s a true treat for horror fans and cinephiles.

Under £40

Marvel’s The Avenger’s 6-Disc Boxset: Back into modern blockbuster territory now.  This summer saw Avengers Assemble dominate the UK box office and for good reason; Joss Whedon delivered a delightfully witty display of ambitious, comic-book goodness on grand scale.  Joined here by the Marvel predecessors that paved the way, this box provides excellent excitement and entertainment value.  Along with Whedon’s smashingly successful ensemble piece, Thor and Iron Man are the obvious standouts, but Captain America: The First Avenger and The Incredible Hulk provide a lot of enjoyment, as well.  Inclusive of each film’s set of bonus content, this is worth every penny of it’s more-than reasonable £34.99 price tag.

LOTR ExtLord of the Rings: Extended Trilogy: With Peter Jackson bringing Middle Earth back to the silver screen with his new trilogy of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, there should be no shortage of shoppers on the prowl for his original take on the mysterious world.  Whilst the theatrical edition of the trilogy can be picked up for peanuts, the extra-lengthy extended edition Blu-ray trilogy has only recently become available and is “the precious” of any hardcore LOTR fan.  Containing 15 discs (yes, for three films) and over 26 hours’ worth of bonus content, this box should be enough to keep fans occupied until next Christmas.

The Dark Knight Trilogy: This five disc box features the complete Batman universe as conceived by one of current cinema’s most innovative and influential filmmakers, Christopher Nolan.  With Christian Bale’s brooding Bruce Wayne behind the Bat and Heath Ledger’s unforgettable take on The Joker, there’s plenty of dark, powerful drama to be found over these three feature films that won over audiences around the world.  With his more grounded approach to this fantastic world, Nolan has provided audiences with a Batman fans have long craved, whilst delivering captivating thrillers that even those adverse to comic books can appreciate.  Also included with this box is a 64-page booklet covering Nolan’s three Bat-films.

Christopher Nolan Director’s Collection: Currently a steal over at Amazon, why settle for just the three Batman films, when for a few quid more one can score nearly every film Christopher Nolan has made on Blu-ray?  A master at weaving intelligent, yet easily accessible tales, this box highlights the best of the young, yet accomplished director. With Memento, The Prestige and 2010’s best film, Inception included in this package, there are six very good reasons to ensure this finds a spot beneath your nearest Christmas tree this year.

Tim Burton Collection (HMV exclusive): It’s been a rough year at the box office for Burton, whose reputation has taken an unfair battering over recent years.  This selection of eight of his best films serves as a reminder of what the talented, unique director is capable of.  Containing his two, great Batman films, Beetlejuice, oddball comedy Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, stop-motion animated fave Corpse Bride, gothic musical Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the bizarrely bonkers Mars Attacks! there’s no lack of diversity (or Johnny Depp) in this set.  Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood are glaring omissions, but this is still a terrific array from this visionary’s back catalogue with something here for everyone.

Of course, there are loads more of options out there, including some pricey, but loaded sets, such as the Bond 50 set that includes all 22 films prior to this year’s massive hit, Skyfall.  Should a different set have made the lists here?  Is something not worth the disc it’s encoded on?  Have your say and add any further recommendations in the comments section below.

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