BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Shane Buettner Posted: Jun 05, 2013 0 comments
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In spring of 1999, while the masses were jacking into The Matrix, braver souls were leaping into the alternate gaming universe of David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ. Ostensibly, über game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is on a promotional tour with her newest game and game pod, which is an electrical organism that creates its virtual reality by plugging directly into the gamer’s nervous system via spinal cord bioport. She and her marketing man, Ted Pikul (Jude Law), come under attack and flee from realists who object to extreme gaming’s impact on humanity and its reliance on endangered mutant amphibians for gaming pods (!).
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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 23, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/extract.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman) is sitting pretty with a beautiful wife, a comfortable home, and the almost finalized acquisition by General Mills of the culinary extracts business he has built with his loyal lieutenant Brian (J.K. Simmons). Joel seems to have it all, but his wife isn't interested in him, his employees want a big payoff, and the new office hottie (Mila Kunis) is really a con artist with ulterior motives.

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 30, 2012 0 comments

September 11, 2001, is a day that I doubt anyone in the world will ever forget. For young Oskar, it was the day he lost his best friend—his dad. Based on the bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is an emotional rollercoaster about a preteen trying to cope with the loss of his father in his own unique way. I enjoyed the film a lot and was especially impressed with the AVC video encode with its outstanding level of detail and rich color saturation. The enveloping DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is no slouch either and features crisp dialog and pinpoint imaging.
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David Vaughn Posted: May 27, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/fallingdown.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>D-FENS (Michael Douglas) is a recently laid-off defense worker who's having a bad day. Stuck in the mother of all traffic jams, he abandons his car and sets out on foot to his daughter's birthday party. When a Korean store owner charges an insane price for a can of Coke, he snaps and trashes the store with a newly confiscated baseball bat. Now armed and dangerous, he sets out toward Venice, California with a severe case of road rage and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 27, 2010 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/fame.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>The High School of Performing Arts in New York City was created in 1947 by Franklin J. Keller offering music and speech programs along with traditional trade skills. Promising seven classes a day and a hot lunch, the school trains teenage musicians, actors, and dancers who have dreams of making it big except some dreams will be shattered along the way.

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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 24, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/famguy.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT><i>May the laughs be with you as (Chris) Skywalker joins forces with (Peter) Solo and Princess (Lois) Leia to battle (Stewie) Vader and his Imperial minions. A host of new characters come along for the wild ride, including Mort Goldman as Lando Calrissian, Chris' boss Carl as Yoda, and the Giant Chicken as the nefarious Boba Fett.</i>

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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 23, 2010 0 comments
The Family Guy alliance is in for one last outer-space adventure, as Han Solo (Peter), Chewbacca (Brian), and Princess Leia (Lois) battle against the Evil Empire. Meanwhile, Darth Vader (Stewie) and the Emperor (Carter) try to recruit Luke (Chris) to the dark side of the Force with free tacos and T-shirts.

Just like its two predecessors, this parody is crude and obnoxious and occasionally funny. I would have preferred to have seen the TV version to eliminate the "F" word, which I don't particularly care for in this context.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 26, 2010 0 comments
Four estranged buddies embark on a road trip across the country in a last ditch effort to reclaim their friendship. Star Wars fans since childhood, their goal is to break into George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in an attempt to see a rough cut of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace before its worldwide theatrical release in 1999.

My name is David Vaughn and I have been a Star Wars fanboy since 1977. Yes, I stood in line for more hours than I would like to admit to see The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi when I was an adolescent. Furthermore, I did the same in 1999 at the ripe young age of 30 in order to be one of the first to see The Phantom Menace.

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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 01, 2010 0 comments
Initially released by Walt Disney in 1940 as a "road show" release, Fantasia has gone on to become one of the most popular movies of all time. Featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, the film has eight musical pieces set to wonderful animation and is narrated by Deems Taylor. (Interestingly, while the music was recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the on-screen musicians seen in silhouette between the musical selections were members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and UAV editor Scott Wilkinson's grandfather was one of them.)

Fulfilling Walt Disney's original vision of continuing to create unique fusions of animation and classical music, Fantasia 2000 picks up where the first one left off with seven completely new segments and the return of the popular "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Roy E. Disney orchestrated a collaboration of more than 1200 artists and technicians to present this tour de force.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 29, 2014 0 comments
In 2009, one of the kings of quirky dramedy, Wes Anderson, managed to surprise us again with a star-studded, fully stop-motion-animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s deliciously absurd Fantastic Mr. Fox. This laid-back bad boy has settled down with his wife and pup, but can a fox ever really change his nature?
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 23, 2013 0 comments
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If you’re a fan of science fiction and haven’t heard of the TV series Farscape (1999-2003) you don’t get out much. If you’re not a sci-fi fan, this series might just make you one. It offers more compelling characters, action, humor, drama, weird plot twists, sudden mood shifts, poignancy, and stunning performances than any other dozen TV shows you might name.

It all begins when astronaut John Crichton encounters a wormhole on an experimental mission. He’s flung to a distant quadrant of the galaxy, encounters a gigantic vessel nearby, and docks with it. It turns out to be a living ship, know to the locals a leviathan, operated by a bonded pilot. The ship’s occupants are alien prisoners escaping from their captors. The latter, the Mr. Bigs in this area of space, call themselves the Peacekeepers, and from all appearances (externally at least) appear indistinguishable from humans.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 29, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/fastfurious.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>When tragedy brings fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) back to Los Angeles, his long-dormant feud with FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) threatens to reignite&#151;until they discover a common enemy. Unfortunately, this film is about six years too late&#151;Vin Diesel should have been in the first sequel rather than skipping to the third&#151;but it's quite the demo showpiece. The video encode has excellent shadow detail with bright colors, and the first-rate DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track exhibits outstanding surround imaging and impressive frequency response.

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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: Feb 25, 2011 0 comments
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and for Driver (Dwayne Johnson), he's been waiting 10 years behind bars to avenge the murder of his brother. Now a free man, he can have his revenge but the hunter is also the hunted with two men trailing him. The first is a cop (Billy Bob Thornton) who's just days from retirement and the other is a young hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who's happy to come across such a worthy adversary.

Maybe I'm getting too old, but I'm really getting tired of gratuitous violence that's so prevalent in today's films. I like an action movie just as much as the next guy, but does the violence need to come along for the ride? That aside, the action is pretty intense and well choreographed, but Johnson and Thornton's characters are hard to root for and I couldn't wait for this one to end.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 05, 2010 Published: Feb 06, 2010 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/fearloathing.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson about a journalist (Johnny Depp) and his lawyer (Benicio Del Toro) in search of the American dream while gallivanting around Las Vegas for 48 hours high on drugs. Along the way they meet a cast of real life characters including Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey,, Christina Ricci, Mark Harmon, Carmon Diaz, and Lyle Lovett.

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