BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 31, 2011 0 comments
Straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream with a good job, nice house, and a seemingly happy marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when his wife drops the bomb that she's been having an affair and wants a divorce, he becomes a fish out of water when he enters the dating game again. Enter young Jacob (Ryan Goling), a guy Cal meets at a local bar who takes the older man under his wing in order to teach him how to be a ladies' man and to forget his ex-wife.

As far as romantic comedies go, they rarely break from the script, but that isn't the case here. In many ways, this film pokes fun at the clichéd moments found in the genre and the stars do a good job portraying their characters. I especially liked the young actor, Jonah Bobo, as he swoons over his babysitter (Jessica Tipton).

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 28, 2011 0 comments
Steve Rogers, a frail and patriotic young man, wants nothing more than to serve his country by joining the Army in order to fight the evil Nazis. On multiple occasions, he's been deemed unfit for service and is rejected, but he refuses to give up trying. On his latest attempt, he catches the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine, a scientist working for the Army who has developed a serum that enhances one's muscles, brain power, reflexes, and mental abilities in order to create a "super soldier."

Thus far, the movie studios haven't had a lot of success in converting 2D films into 3D in post-production and delivering satisfying results. Fortunately, the 2D-3D conversion here is one of the best I've seen. Separation between objects is exemplary, and the added depth enhances the texture and intimacy of the cinematography. Even more impressive is the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack that features reference-quality dynamic range, an engaging score from Alan Silvestri, and plenty of window-rattling explosions.

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Eric Alt Posted: Oct 28, 2011 0 comments

We know. . . Halloween movie rentals can be as tired and well-worn as the costumes. How many Draculas do you think you're going to see? How many Freddy Kruegers? How many Jason Vorheeses? If you're tired of seeing them hogging the punchbowl, why are you still cramming them into your DVD and Blu-ray player every year? This All Hallow's Eve, get creative and infuse some fresh blood into your horror viewing routine. Read on for some ideas.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 26, 2011 0 comments
On a remote tropical island, an amazing living theme park becomes a game of survival for humans foolhardy enough to set foot on it. Meticulously recreated dinosaurs spring to astonishing life as a multimillionaire (Richard Attenborough) bankrolls an effort to use advanced DNA technology to bring dinosaurs back to life. When an employee shuts down the security system for personal monetary gain all hell breaks loose when the dinosaurs escape forcing the visitors to play a game of cat and mouse with the deadly prehistoric creatures.

Throughout movie history there are certain films that change the way movies are made and Jurassic Park certainly qualifies due to its cutting-edge use of CGI effects. Even to this day, the dinosaurs depicted in the film look so lifelike it's kind of creepy. When it hit theaters in 1993, it blew audiences away and became an instant classic.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 23, 2011 1 comments
Captain Jack Sparrow is back with a new adventure on the high seas as he's on the hunt for the Fountain of Youth. After a daring escape from the King of England, Jack becomes enslaved on Blackbeard's ship and learns that a woman from his past has some hidden daddy issues that could cost him dearly. In pursuit are Sparrow's nemesis Barbossa and a separate Spanish armada, who have their own nefarious plans for Ponce De Leon's legendary spring.

3D conversions are all the rage in Hollywood, but thankfully this isn't one of them and it shows from the outset while Jack is loose on the streets of London. Detail is excellent in both foregrounds and backgrounds and separation between objects adds a lot of depth to the image. But as good as the 3D is, it's the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack that's the star of the show. It features plenty of discrete effects, strong bass response, and virtually unlimited dynamic range.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 14, 2011 0 comments
Deep in the heart of the African savanna, a rivalry between two lion prides takes place while a cheetah family tries to stick together. Mara is an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother's strength, spirit, and wisdom, but an accident threatens to make her an orphan. Then there's Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five newborns who must try and keep her cubs alive until they can fend for themselves. Finally, there's Fang, the leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion clan that is looking to take over his land.

This is the first Disneynature production I've had a chance to see, and while the narrative is geared toward younger audiences, I still enjoyed it. The young cheetah and lion cubs are adorable, and I kept wondering how the filmmakers were able to get such close-up images. The story can turn a tad dark at times, but Disney provides a great vehicle to introduce kids to the African savanna.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 12, 2011 0 comments
Three friends, Nick (Jason Bateman, Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dales (Charlie Day), are slaving away at their jobs in Los Angeles and have one thing in common; they each have horrible bosses. One night they hatch a foolproof plan to murder them and hire an ex-con (Jamie Foxx) as an adviser. Well, he isn't what they expected and their foolproof plan has a very likely chance to get them thrown behind bars for the rest of their lives.

At some point in your life, you're going to end up with a horrible boss. In fact, I've been unfortunate enough to have a few of them over the years. But as bad as things were, I never once contemplated murder (torture, maybe, but never murder!). Anyway, I found this movie to be mostly entertaining for the first two acts and I actually felt a little something for the characters. Sadly, the third act falls apart with childish antics and plenty of foul language.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 10, 2011 1 comments
Roald Dahl's classic story tells the tale of five kids who find a golden ticket that entitles them to visit the secretive Wonka Chocolate factory, where one worthy child will win a lifetime supply of chocolate. Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), a poor kid who lives with his mother and two sets of grandparents in the shadow of the factory, is one of the lucky five. The others—well, let's just say they are the result of bad parenting and poor choices.

As a child, I never really connected with this film, but I've have grown to enjoy it as a parent. The behavior of the four "bad" kids provides extreme examples of what we often see in children today, and watching the film with my kids was a great way to teach them how not to behave. Charlie is a model child, and his virtuous behavior is a parent's dream. I think we all wish our children could be so respectful.

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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 07, 2011 0 comments

We've been following the progress of 7.1 audio pretty closely, and this week saw the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon on Blu-ray, complete with a new, home theater-specific Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix.

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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 07, 2011 0 comments

Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction are both out this week in brand-new Blu-ray releases, approved by the director, and we've gotten some copies to give away, courtesy of Lionsgate/Miramax.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 07, 2011 0 comments
Former cop Brian O'Copnner (Paul Walker) and his girlfriend Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) hookup with her fugitive brother Dom (Vin Diesel) and head to South America to elude the authorities. Tired of running, they assemble an elite team of top racers to help pull off one last job in order to secure enough cash for retirement, but when a hard-nosed federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) shows up in Rio de Janeiro, their job goes from hard to nearly impossible to complete.

Generally speaking, sequels tend to pale in comparison to the original, but here's a case where the fifth film in the series is actually the best. It all boils down to the screenplay, which has more of an Ocean's 11 tone than a racing-centric plot found in the previous films. Regardless, it's a lot of fun to watch and the spectacular audio and video help keep you on the edge of your seat.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 05, 2011 0 comments
Forced into exile by his evil Uncle Scar after the death of his father, young Simba hooks up with a meerkat named Timon and his warthog chum Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle, Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realizes his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to stake his claim to the throne.

When The Lion King hit theaters in 1994, Disney had its third animation success in a row and solidified the fact that the studio had regained its hit-creating mojo. The voice cast is outstanding, the story is inspiring, and the soundtrack is just as fun today as it was last century. Looking to capitalize on the 3D craze hitting Hollywood, Disney converted the hand-drawn animated film into the new format with surprisingly good results. While it doesn't look quite as good as Beauty and the Beast, it fares much better than some live-action conversions I've seen.

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