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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 21, 2015 0 comments
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You’d think that the unique power to control metal, or the weather, or other people’s minds would be awesome, but no. In the world of the X-Men, mutated superhumans with such gifts are feared and hated and—in one possible future—will be hunted to the brink of extinction by an army of killer robots. Even worse, these deadly machines will also begin targeting us ordinary human beings, and the world we know now appears doomed.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 15, 2015 0 comments
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Million Dollar Arm thankfully falls into that welcome category of sports movies that don’t demand a love of sports in order to click with audiences. Based on a true story, it introduces us to J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm), partner at a small sports agency in desperate need of a break, lest their doors close forever. He decides to think globally and soon cooks up The Big Idea: to hold a well-publicized contest in India with the intention of converting a cricket bowler into a baseball pitcher, with a seven-figure prize at stake. J.B. will secure some undiscovered talent, bring his winners home, and teach them the good old American pastime. Simple, right?
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 22, 2014 0 comments
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Yes, it’s been 30 years since the original Ghostbusters, the first movie to strike upon that irresistible balance of big laughs and big scares. The story is built around the ridiculously fun idea of professional trackers/capturers of wayward spirits, brought to life by the undeniable comedic talents of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. The Oscar-nominated special effects also helped Ghostbusters become the biggest box-office hit in a year full of blockbusters. Although young Mr. Murray’s effusive wiseassery dates the movie somewhat (much like the remarkable amount of smoking on display), watching it anew reminds us of his consummate ability to find often subtle ways to make every moment his own—and so many of his lines worth quoting.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 01, 2014 0 comments
I don’t always watch my favorite movies and television series. But when I do, I prefer to watch them on Blu-ray. Thankfully, the studios have provided home theater enthusiasts—people who shop for them—with a bounty of exciting new sets, likely to elicit that elusive “Ooo…” as the ribbons and bows tumble to the floor. From film canons to entire classic TV series to the sort of inspired little tchotchkes that can be proudly displayed, these selections go beyond the ordinary, as gifts that will be enjoyed well beyond the holidays.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 25, 2014 0 comments
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Peter Parker’s a recent high school graduate with an awesome girlfriend and—thanks to a bite from an experimental spider—has become the super-powered guardian angel of New York City, and quite the folk hero. But Pete’s good fortune seldom lasts, and the return of his boyhood chum Harry Osborn quickly takes a dark turn—or is that just the new villain Electro sucking all the juice out of the Big Apple?
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 19, 2014 1 comments
Greg P. Russell is the sound rerecording mixer of Transformers: Age of Extinction, and all of the Transformers movies actually, representing three of his 16 Oscar nominations… and counting. Since this was not only his first Dolby Atmos mix but the very first Dolby Atmos Blu-ray ever, he graciously sat down to discuss his work with Sound & Vision.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 19, 2014 0 comments
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I guess people really like to watch robots breaking stuff. Transformers: Age of Extinction was another worldwide hit for the franchise, repeating more of the same paranoid nonsense (and lame dialogue and unfunny jokes) as its three predecessors. This time, a couple of suits decide they can build and control their own Transformers, using technology stolen from the evil Decepticons. How do you think that works out? The human ally this time is an underdog inventor (Mark Wahlberg) with a cutie-patootie daughter, in a mildly disturbing riff on Beauty and the Beast.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 13, 2014 0 comments
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Thawed in the modern day at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger and revealed to the world to be as brave as ever in The Avengers, World War II hero Cap (Chris Evans) is now working for S.H.I.E.L.D., the super-secret, super-powerful organization of good guys. But his Greatest Generation standards of right and wrong are often a square peg in the round hole of our post-9/11 world. Case in point, the launch of a new ultimate weapon calls into question the meaning of freedom, security, and whether one must be sacrificed to preserve the other.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 29, 2014 0 comments
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Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning go-to cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with this fantastical tale of a 21st-century ghost in the machine. Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) believes that mankind is on the verge of a new order of artificial intelligence. It involves “transcendence,” whereby the electrical impulses of the brain—the emotions, memories, and ideas that make up our consciousness—are uploaded into a supercomputer. And after Will is shot by a member of a radical neo-luddite group (no, seriously), that’s exactly what he does to himself, losing his physical form and becoming a being of pure software.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 22, 2014 0 comments
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At its best, science fiction sparks the imagination, inspiring the question, “What if…?” And in the world of cinema, this enthusiasm gives way to conjecture, even debate: Remember the decades of geek chatter about the version of Blade Runner that might have been, eventually leading to Ridley Scott’s Final Cut? We come away from Frank Pavich’s remarkable documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune with that same excitement. The second half of that title is no doubt familiar, either as Frank Herbert’s seminal novel or as the much-reviled 1984 film by David Lynch that it eventually became. The first part, not so much: Chilean-born filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is perhaps best known for the surreal Western El Topo, widely considered the first “midnight movie” for its offbeat appeal.

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