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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 12, 2016 0 comments
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Author Walter Farley’s sweet, timeless tale of a young boy and his special bond with a spirited horse was brought to cinematic life with irresistible visual and sonic beauty, more appreciable than ever on Criterion’s fantastic new Blu-ray. Our boy, Alec (Kelly Reno, what a find), is washed ashore on a remote island after a shipwreck, and the only other survivor is a magnificent Arabian stallion. Their time alone together is a prolonged marvel of wordless storytelling, while the post-rescue second half is quite a different animal, as a grizzled old trainer (a wonderfully cast Mickey Rooney) agrees to prepare the horse to race. It’s a thrilling adventure for kids, but without the sap that might otherwise send the adults fleeing.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 05, 2013 0 comments
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I knew Jason Bourne. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), you’re no Jason Bourne.

The first Bourne movie not based on an actual Robert Ludlum novel, Legacy gets quite a lot wrong, frankly. The story brings us back to the era of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, when extreme measures were being taken to maintain the secrecy of the covert, overly ambitious super-soldier program that created Jason. A whole new crop of men has become the subject of some risky new behavior/performance-enhancing experiments, and as one of these lethal lab rats, Aaron is desperate for answers—and the necessary meds to keep his edge—despite the nasty opponents pursuing him at every turn.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 05, 2007 Published: Jan 05, 2007 0 comments
Super Hero
Christopher Reeve flies again.
Perhaps never before in the history of home video has a studio crafted months of releases upon a single theme, as Warner has in 2006, “the year Superman returns.” No doubt tying into that new feature film, all manner of Super movies and TV shows have been issued on DVD, some for the first time—new seasons of Smallville, the classic Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark, Superboy, The Animated Series, and even the cartoon adventures of the Dog of Steel, Krypto. But we can never give enough credit to Christopher Reeve and his dual role as the impossibly awkward Clark Kent and a gentlemanly savior in a red cape. Reeve’s electric screen presence was born of classical acting training, an understanding of how to fly under his own power—from his experience as a glider pilot—and a willingness to bulk up his lean frame under the tutelage of Darth Vader himself, trainer David Prowse. The later of Reeve’s four franchise films were not an ideal stage for his inspired thespian stylings, but his characterization was a high-water mark for the timeless hero, as celebrated in Warner’s new boxed set, The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 21, 2013 1 comments
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Eight years have passed since the complicated events of The Dark Knight. The Batman (Christian Bale) has taken the blame for the death of district attorney Harvey Dent in an attempt to inspire the people of Gotham City to stand strong against crime. With the subsequent passage of the Dent Act, Gotham is tougher on criminals than ever, even while The Bat has disappeared, his alter ego Bruce Wayne living in self-imposed exile.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 08, 2008 0 comments
Far from the madding convention center, Dolby provided A-B comparisons of their new Dolby Contrast technology, part of their HDR ("High Dynamic Range") tech family. The interesting part is that it is a video technology, for adjusting the range of dark to light in the LED backlighting of LCD TVs. By precisely dimming the right area of the screen at the right time, contrast can be heightened as never before, for a very film-like effect. (As the exciting screen image suggests, Blu-ray and DVD playback will both benefit.)
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 13, 2006 0 comments
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Finally available in their 1977, 1980, and 1983 versions, the new Limited Edition Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi DVD sets contain minimally tweaked re-releases of the laserdisc masters created in 1993. Disc one in each case is essentially the same as the first disc inside the four- and three-disc Trilogy sets that came out two years ago; the second disc for each movie contains the original theatrical version. So, this review pertains to those second discs, the supplemental inclusions of the “unaltered” films.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 01, 2016 0 comments
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Ever wonder what would happen if the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs missed Earth instead, enabling our prehistoric pals to evolve into the dominant animals on the planet, rather than man? Regardless of your answer, here’s The Good Dinosaur, a rare misfire from the esteemed Pixar gang. While we on the sofa are still wrestling with the ramifications of this bizarre setup, we’re introduced to a family of dino farmers: no, seriously, a pack of apatosauruses that harvests corn and plows the field with their blunt heads.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 05, 2013 1 comments
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Peter Jackson gave the world a beloved, wildly successful film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, culminating in a record-breaking Oscar sweep, so of course, he was the obvious choice to helm the Hobbit prequels. But whereas the Rings trilogy made a newbie like me love it with its epic thrills and fascinating characters, An Unexpected Journey seems to be in love with its own familiar world and everyone in it. We meet a younger Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit happily minding his own business when the wizard Gandalf drafts him for a dangerous quest.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 13, 2014 0 comments
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Thorin, heir to the dwarf throne, is on a quest to reclaim his homeland and unite his people. But to do so, he’ll need to survive an onslaught of murderous Orcs, steal a vital stone back from an insanely powerful talking dragon, and overcome all manner of treachery along the way. Fortunately, he makes new allies in his travels, but while there’s certainly no shortage of characters in this middle chapter of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth epic, it dawned on me that none of them are especially compelling. With their numbers growing, we don’t really have the chance to get to know any of them.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 05, 2007 0 comments
Five-Star 007
A new Bond benchmark has been set.
James Bond has saved the world time and again, but where has the appreciation gone? True, MGM Home Entertainment released those three comprehensive boxed sets a few years ago. They worked from the best possible masters available at the time and added a host of special features. But even those discs went on moratorium, relegated to big price hikes on eBay. But, now, as the culmination of two-and-a-half years of audio and video restoration by DTS, the 20 Bond films from 1962 to 2002 are available again as part of The James Bond Ultimate Edition. The four volumes include Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, The World Is Not Enough, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill, Licence to Kill (sic), Die Another Day, GoldenEye, Live and Let Die, From Russia with Love, For Your Eyes Only, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Tomorrow Never Dies, You Only Live Twice, Dr. No, Octopussy, and Moonraker. Working from the original camera negatives, John Lowry’s process has reduced the grain and generally removed dirt, in addition to digitally repairing scratches and other incidents of damage. The color has also been retimed under expert supervision. The goal was to remain authentic while making the films as visually appealing as possible to the modern eye. The discs include new DTS tracks, along with Dolby Digital 5.1, plus the original audio in most cases, although Spy is missing its theatrical mix.

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