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The DVD box set is often the last refuge of the underprepared gift-giver. But how to separate the best of Tinseltown from the turkeys? With that in mind, we round up the best of the box-sets this season.

While other superheroes have sunk into saturnine self-pity, Iron Man bucked the trend this year, returning to form in a winning third instalment that saw Robert Downey Jr putting the comic back into comic book franchises, supercharged direction from new helmer Shane Black and a showstopping turn from Ben Kingsley as a Croydon Bin Laden. Iron Man – 3 Movie Collection (Disney) unites it with Jon Favreau’s nimble first effort as well as its so-so sequel.

For classic movie lovers, the suitably handsome Blu-ray set James Dean – Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner) bulks out restored versions of his tragically compact output – East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant – with oodles of commentaries, documentaries, screen test footage and deleted scenes. Time hasn’t been flattering to all of the films – Giant in particular seems soapy today – but Dean’s performances still stand out as fresh and daring, a potential pretender to Brando’s crown.

For the younger cinephile, Madagascar – The Complete Collection (Paramount) may help stave off the Boxing Day blues. Not quite a Jungle Book for our millennium but Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted turned out to be the series’ best yet thanks to loveably antic animation and the considerable vocal talents of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen.

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