BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 22, 2013 0 comments
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Steven Spielberg’s long-rumored dream project—bring- ing the factual, Holocaust-set book Schindler’s Ark to the screen—finally arrived to great acclaim in 1993, culminating in Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and more. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is a clever civilian businessman and a bit of a cad who achieves a fortune by manufactur- ing pots and pans for the German army during World War II. His secrets? World-class schmoozing and an unpaid legion of Jewish laborers. He has no love of the Nazis or their agenda, but as he bears witness to their escalating atrocities, he is reluctantly moved to become a champion of his ill-fated workforce. His steps are small at first, ultimately leading to the creation of a list of more than 1,000 names of people to be kept at his factory instead of sent to concentration camps or gas chambers. This decision winds up costing Schindler all of his vast wealth, but his selfless act made history. It’s a profound tale told with great passion and indelible images.
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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 19, 2013 0 comments
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Kicked out of his band and desperate for work, Dewey Finn intercepts a call meant for his roommate and lands an extended gig as a substitute teacher at Horace Green Elementary, a $15,000-per-year private school in the Northeast. The school’s uptight principal suspects something is amiss when the new teacher is less concerned about the students and is more interested in when the school day ends, but he gets the gig anyway. Dewey’s attitude changes when he hears the kids in their music class and realizes they have some serious potential if he can take them under his wing. He forms his own “classroom band” and involves the entire class with a costume designer, backup singers, security, and even a band manager with two goals in mind—to not get caught by the principal and to win the local Battle of the Bands contest.
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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 14, 2010 0 comments
The Mystery Inc. gang reunites in Scooby Doo to find out what's behind the jinky-jittery goings-on at Spooky Island, the spring break hot spot run by Emile Mandavarious (Rowan Atkinson). Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed finds our heroes with their hands and paws full trying to find out why Coolsville is overrun with monsters the pals thought they'd defeated years earlier.

While Scooby-Doo is no Casablanca, these live-action recreations of the popular cartoon are harmless family entertainment. When my kids were younger the spooky monsters made them cringe, but now that they've matured a few years they laugh along with Mom and Dad.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 12, 2010 0 comments
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) falls for the girl of his dreams—literally. In order to win her heart he must battle her seven evil exes or die trying. Does he have the power to defeat them?

I'm a big fan of Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead), but this one is a little too quirky for my tastes. I liked how the sounds and graphics from video games were integrated into the picture, but I couldn't relate to any of the characters. Maybe I'm getting too old?

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Corey Gunnestad Posted: May 13, 2016 0 comments
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I sometimes wonder if the filmmakers behind those cheesy science-fiction/horror B films of the 1950s ever believed that they were creating high art. Certainly films like Creature with the Atom Brain, Invasion of the Saucer Men, and I Married a Monster from Outer Space must have seemed pretty ridiculous to the moviegoers of the time too, don’t you think? And yet since then, those films have been elevated to a near-mythic cult status.
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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 13, 2010 0 comments
With one week until retirement the last thing detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) needs is a serial killer on the loose in his city, but life isn't fair. Teamed with a young detective (Brad Pitt), the pair discover the killer is out to murder people he feels are guilty of committing one of the seven deadly sins—gluttony, lust, envy, pride, sloth, greed, and wrath. Can they get their man before Somerset turns in his badge?

David Fincher's resume includes many notable films like Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but Se7en may be his best. His villain feels justified to mete out his vengeance as he sees fit given the sad state of society and Freeman's character shares many of his views but doesn't agree with his methods.

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David Vaughn Posted: May 29, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/seabiscuit.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>The little horse that could debuts on Blu-ray with a fantastic VC-1 encode and an encompassing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. It was difficult to pick only three scenes to highlight here, since virtually the entire film is filled with worthy scenes. For example, any of the racing sequences will give you the illusion of riding a horse in the middle of a high-stakes race with the animals' labored breathing and pounding hooves. The same can be said of the video and its impeccable attention to detail. Each of the three scenes below will give you a general idea of why this disc deserves the title of "Ultimate Demo."

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David Vaughn Posted: May 29, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/seabiscuit.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, <i>Seabiscuit</i> tells the true story of the horse that could and the three men who made him a winner&#151;owner Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), and jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire). With the nation suffering from the effects of the Great Depression, the undersized racehorse gives America something to cheer for.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 24, 2011 0 comments
Behind every legend lies and impossible dream. Witness the spectacular journey of an incredible horse named Secretariat and the moving story of his unlikely owner (Diane Lane), a housewife who risked everything to make him a champion.

Disney is never one to shy away from an inspirational sports story and while this doesn't live up to the magic of Miracle, it has a lot of heart and explains the struggles Penny Chenery had to endure to be a woman in a male dominate world. I'm sure there were some liberties taken with some of the facts to liven-up the story, but that's not uncommon in Hollywood. Regardless, the performances are very good, especially by Lane and John Malkovich, who plays the eccentric Canadian horse trainer.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 01, 2016 0 comments
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Damian Hale, an extremely wealthy and self-centered businessman (is there any other kind in the movies?), is in his late sixties and dying of cancer. But he’s found an escape in a secretive company that has developed a way to transfer the contents of someone’s brain into a younger, healthy human body. They call the process shedding. It succeeds on Damian, but with complications he didn’t anticipate.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Jul 31, 2015 0 comments
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Among the most anticipated and admired films of 2014, Selma depicts the epochal series of marches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) in Selma, Alabama, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Brought to the screen with power and sensitivity by director Ava DuVernay, this Oscar-nominated docudrama features a host of inspired and often intimate acting and noteworthy musical selections, which include the Oscar-winning song “Glory.”
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 26, 2009 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/sevenpounds.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is an unremarkable IRS agent who has the power to change seven strangers' lives. But when he meets Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), everything changes as he realizes he's in love with the beautiful woman. Should he alter his plan and seek personal happiness or continue the quest for his own redemption?

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Joel Brinkley Posted: Jun 12, 2007 0 comments

Who can forget <I>Seven Years in Tibet</I>? In the early days of DVD, almost ten years ago, it was one of the first great releases. It offered stunning picture quality with video imagery that took full advantage of the top-of-the-line production values. The move is "panoramic." It shows vast Tibetan vistas, as well as exotic and colorful religious dress of the era – the late 1930s and early 1940s. Eventually, Sony even put out a "SuperBit" version, which was said to have even better picture quality.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 29, 2010 0 comments
What happens after you say "I do"? With three of the quartet married, how do they get out on the town and have a good time? They don't. Instead, the girls get together for a trip to Abu Dhabi when a wealthy sheik asks Samantha (Kim Cattrall) to visit his luxury hotel, hoping she will promote it in America. With her three best pals in tow, they jet off on a first-class trip to paradise away from the stresses of marriage, kids, and careers.

As a fan of the TV show and the first movie I thought I would enjoy spending more time with the characters I'd gotten to know over the years. Boy was I wrong. The script is pathetically weak and bloated and characters have lost their appeal as they've aged. Not their sex appeal, which is perfectly fine—it's their vomit-inducing narcissistic behavior that wears you out over the 146 minutes and the far-fetched storytelling doesn't help matters.

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 29, 2008 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/sexandthecity.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Four years after the end of the hit TV series <I>Sex and the City</I>, life continues for Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York (Kristen Davis), and Miranda Hobbs (Cynthia Nixon). Carrie and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) are taking their relationship to the next level; Samantha has moved from New York to Hollywood with her boyfriend of five years, Smith Jarrod (Jason Lewis); Charlotte is happily married to Harry (Evan Handler) with their three-year-old daughter; and Miranda is struggling through a less-than-happy marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg) in hell (aka Brooklyn).

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