BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Shane Buettner Posted: Feb 05, 2014 0 comments
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Widely credited as the first “slasher” movie, 1978’s Halloween is a horror trailblazer and a modern classic. It was a highly successful independent film prior to people knowing the term; and before Jason and Freddy could turn horror schlock into movie franchises (or vice versa), the genre’s way was paved by writer/director John Carpenter’s boogeyman, Michael Myers. The story is deceptively simple with fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, terrorized on two Halloween nights 15 years apart.
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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 17, 2010 Published: Aug 18, 2010 0 comments
Penned over 400 years ago, Hamlet is the tale of a young Prince (Kenneth Branagh) who's approached by his father's ghost describing in intimate detail how he was murdered by Claudius (Derek Jacobi), Hamlet's uncle. Filled with rage, Hamlet vows to avenge his father's death and won't rest until he fulfills his pledge.

Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and actor/director Branagh's adaptation doesn't compromise any of the text. The result is a four hour marathon that virtually flies by, if you're a fan of Shakespeare. I had the pleasure of studying Hamlet three times throughout high school and college and was surprised how much of the text I remembered all these years later. Branagh transports the story from twelfth-century Denmark to the nineteenth, which may raise some eyebrows, but the result is magnificent given the lavish sets and all-star cast.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 23, 2008 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/hancock.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Will Smith stars as Hancock, a sarcastic, hard-living, misunderstood superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public and is in desperate need of an extreme makeover. Enter idealistic publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), who helps Hancock improve his public relations.

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 08, 2011 1 comments
A rogue CIA agent (Eric Bana) lives in a desolate area of Finland training his 16-year-old daughter (Saoirse Ronan) to become the perfect assassin. Every moment of the girl's upbringing has been spent building up her strength, stamina, and survival instincts she needs to prepare for the day when she becomes the target of a revenge seeking intelligence operative (Cate Blanchett).

I love a good action move as much as the next guy and am willing to suspend a certain amount of belief, but director Joe Wright takes things a little too far. For starters, Ronan maybe weighs 105 pounds soaking wet yet has the strength to take down a plethora of Special Forces personnel and latch onto the bottom of a vehicle moving at over 30 mph. Furthermore, despite all of her training, she's like a fish out of water when she encounters electricity in the modern world.

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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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