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BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 24, 2013 0 comments
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Hannah and Her Sisters is Woody Allen’s most novelistic film: a tale of crisscrossing plotlines, strewn by multiple narrators, each a fully drawn character locked in or out of love with one of the others, and seeking answers to human needs and darker mysteries. It’s also Allen’s most redemptive film. In the end, the strands are resolved, the needs met, the mysteries not solved but set aside for the sake of enjoying life’s pleasures. In this sense, it’s reminiscent of Fanny and Alexander, the similarly titled (and also atypically euphoric) film made four years earlier by Allen’s morose hero Ingmar Bergman. Both films begin and end with lavish holiday dinners, and both chart voyages of infidelity, doubt, and despair, before settling into a celebration of the good life: family, friends, and haute elegance.
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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 11, 2008 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/hannahmontana.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>In 2007, teen sensation Miley Cyrus performed as herself and her alter ego, Hannah Montana, in the sold-out concert tour. Scalpers were selling individual tickets for over $1000 apiece, leaving thousands of kids out in the cold until Disney got the bright idea of filming the concert for an exclusive, limited-run theatrical 3D presentation. To my surprise, the theatrical concert raked in $31 million its first weekend and collected a cool $65 million in total.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 23, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/hmtm.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Being a superstar as well as a normal teenager is getting even more complicated for Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus). Her hectic double life as pop-sensation Hannah Montana is taking its toll on her and her family, so her father, Robby Ray Stewart (Billy Ray Cyrus), decides that a visit to the family farm in Tennessee is just the thing to bring the celebrity teen back down to earth. Away from the spotlight, Miley reconnects with a childhood friend (Lucas Till) and discovers a new perspective on life.

Corey Gunnestad Posted: Oct 24, 2013 0 comments
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In the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel, the titular children are lost in the woods and find a house made of candy. Starving, they devour the architecture with little regard for the occupant inside. The wicked witch who lives there lures them in and tries to eat them for supper. Any homeowner would sympathize. But they overpower the old crone and throw her into her own oven and burn her to death.
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Tom Norton Posted: Apr 09, 2007 2 comments

With its computer animated video and up-to-the-minute audio mix, <I>Happy Feet</I> is far more dazzling technically than <I>March of the Penguins</I>. Here we have the same sort of penguins as before, but with a smaller species thrown into the story as well. The life-cycle/survival situation here is the same, but in this film it's a backdrop for the plot. The penguins here are a lot more communicative. They talk, sing, and dance almost constantly. Or rather, Mumble, our hapless hero, dances. While the other penguins sing, he can't warble a single tuneful note. But he's Gotta Dance.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 06, 2011 0 comments
When a failed hockey player (Adam Sandler) discovers he can hit a golf ball 400 yards, he must check his pride at the door and play the "sissy" sport in order to save his grandmother's home from the IRS. With the help of a retired golfer (Carl Weathers) and a new love interest (Julie Bowen), he must adapt to life on tour in order to win enough prize money to save the day.

I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Sandler, but I have to admit his juvenile humor makes me laugh. His star was brightest in the 1990s and this is probably his biggest hit. The pacing is excellent at 92 minutes and there's enough of a story to keep it interesting.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 17, 2011 0 comments
Things come full circle for Harry Potter in the thrilling conclusion of the popular franchise. At the end of Part 1, Harry, Ron, and Hermione escape from the clutches of the Death Eaters, but their loyal friend Dobby the former house elf perishes. The trio has little time to mourn as they continue to hunt down and destroy the horcruxes that hide tiny pieces of the evil Lord Voldemort's soul. Their quest takes them to Gringots Bank and into the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange and eventually back to Hogwarts, where Harry confronts the new headmaster, Professor Snape.

While Part 1 was a slow build toward a cliffhanger ending, Part 2 is a pure adrenaline action film from the first moments that Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's casket. As a huge fan of the books and the movies, I was more than happy to see Warner split the final book into two films—something that should have been done with every movie starting with The Goblet of Fire. Even with the extended time given to the story, there are quite of few characters who don't receive as much screen time as they deserve.

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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 15, 2011 0 comments
The wizarding world has become a dangerous place. The long-feared war has begun and the Dark Lord has seized control of the ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting all who might oppose him. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are on the run in search of the magical Horcruxes and must discover a way to destroy them in order to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

Having two kids who are part of the Harry Potter generation, I've had the pleasure of reading each of the books and watching every movie with them. I love how Warner finally decided to split the final book into two parts (something they should have done starting with Goblet of Fire), and we finally get to see more of J.K. Rowling's outstanding story grace the silver screen. Be advised, the story is quite dark and may be disturbing for younger audiences.

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David Vaughn Posted: May 22, 2013 1 comments
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The seven Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies and are the best-selling book series in history. With such a rabid and loyal fan base, it was a foregone conclusion that Hollywood would come knocking on author J.K. Rowling’s door. In 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to the first two novels for more than $1 million, and director Chris Columbus had the pleasure— and challenge—of casting all the various characters who would entertain audiences for the next 10 years.

The three main characters, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, were perfectly cast with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, respectively. Audiences got to see these three kids grow up as people and actors over the years, and Warner Bros. executives were able to keep them and the rest of the all-star cast together until the final film in 2011.

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Posted: Dec 21, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/hp6.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Emboldened by the return of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the muggle and wizard worlds, and Hogwart's is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects that new dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. He needs Harry to help him uncover a vital key to unlocking Voldemort's defenses—critical information known only to the school's former Professor of Potions, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent). With that in mind, Dumbledore manipulates his old colleague into returning to his previous post with promises of more money, a bigger office…and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter.

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Tom Norton Posted: Dec 12, 2007 0 comments

Once upon a time witches were acutely schizophrenic old hags who lived alone in the woods, fiddled around with poisoned apples and magic mirrors, and spooked lost little girls from Kansas. Wizards wore pointed hats, looked like a mouse, conjured up armies of brooms, and had major plumbing problems.

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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 07, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/hpue1.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Adapted from J.K. Rowlings bestselling book, <i>Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone</i> is the story of the boy who lived (Daniel Radcliffe). Placed with his unloving Aunt and Uncle as a baby, he grew up in the muggle world until rescued by Professor Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris), headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry will spend the next seven years of his life in order to fulfill his destiny.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 03, 2010 0 comments
Year three at Hogwarts means new challenges for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) as he learns how to approach a Hippogriff, transform Boggarts with hilarity, and turn back time. But there's danger on the horizon as soul-sucking Dementors are on the prowl and a fearsome wizard Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) escapes Azkaban.

In year four, Harry's name emerges from the Goblet of Fire and he becomes the youngest competitor in the famed Triwizard Tournament. Harry must confront a fire breathing dragon, water demons, and a spooky maze in order to claim the top prize. When all is said and done, the young man must face his mortal enemy, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 15, 2011 1 comments
At the end of the Goblet of Fire, Harry witnessed the return of Lord Voldemort and barely escaped with his life. The Ministry of Magic doesn’t believe Harry's tale and is doing everything within their power to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth by orchestrating a smear campaign against the boy who lived and Professor Dumbledore. Furthermore, the ministry is taking an active role in educating of the students at Hogwarts by appointing Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher. When she refuses to teach practical defensive magic, Hermoine convinces Harry to form Dumbledore’s Army with a select group of students in order to give them a fighting chance.

Director David Yates takes over the helm inheriting the legacy of Chris Columbus, Mike Newell, and Alphonso Cuaron. From a pure directorial aspect, I think he did an excellent job, but my biggest complaint with this movie lies in the writer, Michael Goldenberg, who replaced Steven Kloves who penned the first four movies.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 08, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/heat.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>An L.A. cop (Al Pacino) becomes fixated on a deadly thief (Robert De Niro) and his crew (Val Kilmer, Jon Voight) who are wreaking havoc on the streets of the city. When the cops and robbers clash outside a city bank, one of the most spectacular shootouts in film history takes place.

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