BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 24, 2011 0 comments
Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is trying to leave his poker playing days behind him while he attempts to earn his law degree and prove to his girlfriend that he can hold a "real job." Bu when his best friend, "Worm" Murphy (Edward Norton), is released from prison, he coaxes Mike back to the tables. "Worm" gets himself into serious trouble with a local mobster/poker legend, Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), and Mike's rear-end ends up on the hook since he mistakenly vouched for his friend and he needs to come up with a boatload of cash in short order. Look out poker world, here he comes.

For the record, I love playing poker—specifically Texas Hold'em—so it's only natural that this is one of my favorite movies. While I limit my gaming to tournaments and avoid cash games like the plague, I've witness many people who constantly chase the big score and get in way over their head and lose their entire bankroll. One of the biggest thrills of my life was winning a seat to the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event, but sadly my dream of winning the title went down in flames when my set of queens was beat when an ace hit on the river giving my competitor a higher set—that's poker!

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Joshua Zyber Posted: Aug 23, 2011 1 comments
Is it OK to sympathize with Nazis? That’s a thorny question, and not just for American viewers who’ve been raised on a diet of rah-rah patriotic war films about freedom-loving Yanks kicking the butts of dastardly Nazi scum. Germany itself has a very complicated and uncomfortable relationship with its past and rarely broaches the topic on film. Wolfgang Petersen’s superlative submarine thriller Das Boot takes us inside a World War II U-boat patrolling the Atlantic in 1941. Technically, its crew members are Nazis. Yet few are ideologues, and none are jackbooted villains. Mostly, they’re young boys who know nothing of politics but hunger for the adventure of war and believe themselves to be serving their country.

The film depicts the camaraderie of these men, their conflicts, their boredom, their excitement, their terror, and their growing disillusionment. In its most profound scene, the crew cheers at having destroyed a British cargo ship and then watches in horror as the sailors from that ship leap off its flaming deck and desperately try to swim to the submarine for help they will not get. It’s a sobering moment, both beautiful and haunting.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Aug 15, 2011 0 comments

You don’t watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High for any home theater glories. More likely, it’s a favorite movie to get stoned to — er, a series of memorable vignettes of high-school teenagers attempting to lose their virginity while surviving soul-destroying service-industry jobs.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 14, 2011 0 comments
Nine-year-old Milo (motion-capture performer Seth Green and voice actor Seth Dusky) stows away on a Mars-bound alien spaceship as it races away with his mom (Joan Cusack), who has been abducted so the Martians can steal her mom-ness in order to raise their young. Once he arrives on the Red Planet, he's befriended by Gribbler (Dan Fogler), an immature young adult whose mother was also stolen by the Martians when he was a boy. It's a race against time as Milo struggles to save his mother from imminent doom at the hands of the aliens.

This is a decent family film that starts off pretty slow but picks up steam in the second act as you get to know the main characters. The motion-capture techniques developed by producer Robert Zemeckis in The Polar Express have improved over the years, especially with adult faces, but the children come across a little creepy. Despite the shortcomings in the story, both the 3D and 2D presentations are outstanding, and the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack is definitely demo-worthy.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 11, 2011 1 comments
The Dude (Jeff Bridges) gets involved in a case of mistaken identity when some thugs show up at his place to collect a debt owed by another man who shares his last name—Lebowski. To add insult to injury, the goons pee on his favorite rug and he seeks out compensation from the other Lebowski, a well-healed wheelchair-bound millionaire who's willing to help The Due as long as he does one little favor.

The Coen Brother's have a unique perspective on the world and they definitely don't "go with the flow." While I don't consider this to be one of their best films, it does contain their most interesting character—The Dude. At the time of its release in 1998, it wasn't as critically acclaimed as Fargo or O Brother, Where Art Thou? but over the years it has obtained cult-like status with its fans and Bridge's portrayal of the iconic character set his career on an upward path.

Michael Berk Posted: Aug 10, 2011 0 comments

VUDU debuts on the iPad today, though not quite in the way you'd expect. You won't find a VUDU app in the App Store - and for good reason.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 25, 2011 0 comments
When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's part of an experimental government program called the "Source Code" that enables him to assume another man's identify in the last eight minutes of his life. Armed with the task of identifying the bomber of a Chicago-bound commuter train, Colter must re-live the incident over and over until he can solve the mystery and prevent an even deadlier second terrorist attack.

I was eagerly looking forward to giving this one a spin, and it more than met my expectations. It's nonstop action from start to finish, and Gyllenhaal has great screen presence as the troubled hero. Not only was I wildly entertained, but the DTS-HD MA audio track is outstanding and worth the price of admission all by itself. But don't get your hopes too high for the video encode, which isn't anything to write home about.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 24, 2011 0 comments

South central Los Angeles wasn't an ideal neighborhood to come of age in the early 1990s given the rampant drug problems and gang violence. John Singleton's debut as a director captures the scene perfectly, following the lives of Doughboy (Ice Cube), Chris (Redge Green), Ricky (Morris Chestnut), and Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) as they try and navigate the mean streets of the 'hood.

Even 20 years after its powerful debut, Boyz n The Hood is one of the most realistic depictions of urban life in America. It portrays the hazards that inner-city youth constantly battle—poverty, rampant drug and alcohol use, broken families, and gang violence. Each of the main characters face their own personal struggles, and Lawrence Fishburne delivers a career-defining performance as Furious, Tre's wise father who dishes out advice on life and survival.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 22, 2011 0 comments

La Belle et la Bête, Jean Cocteau’s modernist and poetic interpretation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s story, is full of symbol and metaphor but uses the simplest cinematic tricks to enchant and deceive. And now, it continues to work its magic on Blu-ray.

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Rad Bennett Posted: Jul 15, 2011 0 comments

The first animated movie by Pirates of the Caribbean auteur Gore Verbinski, Rango isn’t your average cartoon. Above all else, it’s a western, having so many references, tributes, and in-jokes about the old American frontier that you expect Frankie Laine to come in on the soundtrack, singing his theme song from Tim Conway’s 1967 sitcom of the same name.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 15, 2011 0 comments
It's the classic fish out of water tale of Rango, a family pet lost in the desert who must learn to survive on his own in the desolate environment. The hapless chameleon travels to the dusty town of Dirt, where water is in short supply and the townsfolk are desperate for a hero. The aspiring thespian puts on the show of his life until the local thugs show up to make trouble he soon realizes he's in over his head.

Although the first act seems to drag on forever, the story picks up steam in the second and builds up to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion. Johnny Depp voices the main character, but it's the absolutely incredible animation that steals the show and ILM deserves massive kudos for delivering the best looking presentation I've seen on Blu-ray. Yes folks, it's that good.

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Marc Horowitz Posted: Jul 15, 2011 0 comments

Led Zeppelin epitomized testosterone-fueled rock & roll — heavy metal at its finest. But that didn’t mean the band couldn’t go mellow once in a while (as in “Going to California”). 

It’s like that in the horror world, too.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 14, 2011 0 comments

Who would’ve thought in 1985 that Brazil would predict the state of both Britain and America in 2011?

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Kevin James Posted: Jul 12, 2011 0 comments

If you were around during the launch of high-def TV, you may remember an interesting phenomenon: People with HDTVs became oddly knowledgeable about esoteric topics, such as the migratory patterns of North American birds or the concept of Dark Matter.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 11, 2011 0 comments
As a defense attorney, your job isn't to decide who's guilty or innocent, it's to make sure your client gets a fair trial and to present the facts of the case in a way to provide the jury with reasonable doubt in order to gain an acquittal. Hotshot Los Angeles lawyer Mickey Hailer (Matthew McConaughey) is hired to defend a wealthy young man (Ryan Phillippe) who's accused of rape and suddenly finds himself embroiled in a game of deception that threatens not only his career, but his own life.

Based on the book by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer is one of the best thrillers I've seen in a while. The pacing and acting are both topnotch and l loved the twists and turns in the story. Furthermore, the video encode is picture perfect with razor-sharp detail, striking contrast, and inviting shadows.

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