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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 02, 2010 4 comments
As Andy prepares to leave for college, his mother asks what he wants to do with his old toys. When they end up at a day-care center, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) must help the old gang escape from the toddlers' torture chamber and find their way back to Andy's room before he departs.

How do you top one of the greatest sequels ever made? Screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) somehow captures lightning in a bottle for the third time by taking our heroes and mixing them up with a new cast of characters that include Ken (Michael Keaton), a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), and the evil pink teddy bear Lotso (Ned Beaty), who sentences the new toys to the toddlers' room.

Every Pixar release has been a demo showpiece, and this one is no exception. The 1080p video encode is perfect, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack features reference-quality dynamics, frequency response, and surround envelopment.

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 17, 2010 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/ts1.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>The wizards at Pixar discovered that when left alone toys will come to life. In Andy's room his favorite toy is Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), an old-fashioned cowboy doll whose status is usurped when Andy is given the latest and greatest space toy, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). With the social dynamics thrown into chaos, Woody and Buzz end up in the clutches of any toys worst nightmare&#151;Sid, the toy-torturing boy next door.

David Vaughn Posted: Nov 09, 2011 1 comments
The wizards at Pixar discovered that when left alone, toys come to life. In Andy's room his favorite is Woody, an old-fashioned cowboy doll whose status is usurped when Andy is given the latest and greatest space toy, Buzz Lightyear. With the social dynamics thrown into chaos, Woody and Buzz end up in the clutches of any toys worst nightmare—Sid, the crazy young lad next door who loves to blow things up.

In Toy Story 2—arguably one of the greatest sequels of all-time—Woody is kidnapped by a greedy toy collector who plans to complete his collection of the "Woody's Roundup" gang and sell them to a museum in Japan for big bucks. Buzz and the gang come to the rescue and remind Woody what being a toy is about.

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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 27, 2010 0 comments

<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.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 22, 2008 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/transformers.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Two competing factions from Cybertron&#151;the Autobots and Decepticons&#151;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.

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 30, 2011 3 comments
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 here—shallow 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.

David Vaughn Posted: Apr 04, 2011 0 comments
When Sam (Garrett Hedlund) was seven years old, his father (Jeff Bridges) left for work one night and was never seen again. Some thought he couldn’t handle the pressure of being CEO of Encom and fled the country, but little did anyone know he had left our world and was trapped in a digital realm he had created. Now 20 years later, Sam is sent to his father’s old shop to investigate a mysterious page from the abandoned building. It’s there he discovers a hidden room and before he knows it he’s transported into a digital reality he must join forces with his father in order to defeat a rogue program that has overtaken the digital paradise.

I was 13 when I first saw Tron and was disappointed with the story, although I was a huge fan of the video game. The technology talk in the script went over my head because I didn’t discover computers until a couple years later. Surprisingly, the film holds up quite well by today’s standards if you discount the rudimentary special effects and my kids and I really enjoyed it a lot (although my wife fell asleep).

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 23, 2008 0 comments

<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.

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David Vaughn Posted: May 19, 2009 Published: May 20, 2009 0 comments

<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.

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David Vaughn Posted: May 19, 2009 0 comments

<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&#151;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.