<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/trafficbd.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Penned by Stephan Gaghan, <i>Traffic</i> tackles the war on drugs from three different angles. In Washington, D.C. newly appointed drug czar, Judge Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas), spends all of his time focusing on the drug war and doesn’t realize his own daughter is a prolific user. Javier Rodriguez (Benito Del Toro), a Tijuana police officer, fights his own battle against the drug trade but corruption in his department may be his biggest obstacle. Then there's Helena Ayala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose life is turned upside down when her husband is accused of being the head of a drug cartel while two DEA agents (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman) attempt to turn one of one of his employees against him.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/transformers.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Two competing factions from Cybertron—the Autobots and Decepticons—arrive on Earth seeking the Allspark, a device with enough power to save their planet. A human teenager (Shia LaBeouf) holds the key to where the Allspark is hidden, and unbeknownst to him, his recently purchased Camaro is an Autobot serving as his protector from the evil Decepticons until help can arrive.
In 1959, a UFO crash-landed on the moon and it was the true catalyst for space race between the US and Russia as they hurried to investigate the incident. In present day, the Autobots become aware of the crash and race to the moon to do their own investigation. Onboard the spacecraft they discover a deactivated Sentinel Prime who can only be reactivated by Optimus Prime, who is curious what happened so many years ago.
I wasn't a big fan of the original Transformers movie and skipped the critically panned sequel, but had heard good things about this one and was willing to give it a chance. The premise actually had some promise, but everything I disliked about the first movie is repeated hereshallow plot, poor acting, senseless characters, and a never-ending third act that repeats many of the action scenes witnessed in the first two acts. Granted, Michael Bay doesn't make these films to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, but he'll certainly never win a Best Editor award because the bloated run time clocks in at 154 fatiguing minutes.
First with the just-released Diamond Edition of its 1942 classic, Bambi, and now with Tron: Legacy, Disney is including a Blu-ray bonus called Disney Second Screen. After downloading an app to your iPad or laptop computer, you enable the program in the disc's menu. The iPad/laptop now plays special features to coincide with your viewing of the Blu-ray on TV.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/tropicthunder.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>On the set of a Vietnam War movie, action-superstar Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), Academy Award-winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), and fart-king Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) find themselves in a pickle when the hare-brained scheme of misguided director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) goes awry. Along with two other actors, they are thrust into real-life danger and must band together to survive.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/trueblood.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>I didn't connect with this HBO original series based on the books by Charlaine Harris, but the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is to die for. The score features a full-bodied sound, the dynamic range is impressive, and the creative sound design utilizes every speaker in the room. Quiet passages reveal crickets chirping, and dialog is never strained. The video is solid, but I'm focusing on the audio for this Ultimate Demo.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/trueblood.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is a sweet and innocent waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana, who has the ability to read minds. When we first meet her, she has difficulty tuning out her various customers and their crude thoughts, but when Bill Compton enters the restaurant one night, she's instantly attracted to him for one reason—she can't hear his thoughts because he's a vampire, and for once in her life, she can get through a date without knowing how badly the guy wants to sleep with her.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/trueblood2.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>For its sophomore season, <i>True Blood</i> returns to Bon Temps and its dark secrets. Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill (Stephan Moyer) get closer, although as their relationship grows so does the danger to their lives. Tara (Rutina Wesley) falls in love, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) hooks up with the Fellowship of the Sun, and Maryann (Michelle Forbes) has a very persuasive power.
Season three finds Bill (Stephan Moyer) kidnapped and Sookie Anna Paquin) heading to Mississippi to find him. There she becomes entangled in a world ruled by a powerful Vampire King and the werewolves who do his bidding. Meanwhile, back in Bon Temps, new threats emerge that make previous problems seem tame by comparison.
Am I the only guy that's sick of vampires? I've never been a huge fan of this series but have stuck with it for the sake of our readers, but I'm not sure I can handle another season of it. Sure, through its 12 episodes there is the occasional winner, but overall it's an up-and-down affair and isn't one of HBO's greatest hits.
Matty Ross (Kim Darby) is the apple of her father's eye and when he's murdered by Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) she wants justice. Headstrong to the nth-degree, the teenager hires U.S. Marshall "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne) and insists she's part of the posse. Cogburn grudgingly approves but Matty isn't happy when he allows an inexperienced Texas Ranger (Glan Cambell) into the group who's in search of the same man for a murder in Texas.
John Wayne was one of Hollywood's most beloved stars and appeared in over 150 films between 1926 and 1976 and won his only Academy award for his portrayal of the cantankerous "Rooster." While his performance is quite good, I think he was better in The Searchers and Sands of Iwo Jima, but I'm glad he won it. The film is very entertaining and the chemistry between Wayne and Darby is outstanding and it was fun to see Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall as the bad guys.
Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) wants justice when her father is killed by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Headstrong to the nth-degree, the teenager hires U.S. Marshall "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and insists she's part of the posse. Cogburn grudgingly approves but Matty isn't happy when he allows a Texas Ranger (Matt Damon) into the group who's in search of the same man for a murder in Texas.
Filling the shoes of John Wayne is an impossible task, but Bridges did the best he could do and still doesn't measure up to Wayne's Oscar-winning portrayal of the gruff Cogburn. Having watched the original less than six months ago I couldn't help compare each of the respective roles and other than Bridges impossible undertaking, the other two main characters (Damon and Steinfeld) more than make up the difference.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/truerom.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT><i>Runaway lovers Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) play a dangerous game when they come to possess a suitcase of mob contraband. They head for Los Angeles, where they'll sell the goods and begin a new life. But both sides of the law have other ideas.</i>