Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 26, 2014 1 comments
An eclectic batch of classics—old and new—is the basis of four very different Ultimate Collector’s Editions from Warner. Festooning eminently rewatchable favorites with a thoughtful array of mementos, the 91-year-old studio is fueling our passions with individually numbered limited-edition sets perfect for the most devout film fanatic in your life—even if it’s you.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 23, 2014 0 comments
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Ever wonder how Monsters, Inc.’s Mike and Sully met? Me neither, since their friendship is so well defined in that vastly superior original film. But Monsters University takes us back to their college days anyway, when the optimistic Mr. Wozanski and the cocky Mr. Sullivan first crossed paths. Since childhood, the bookish, hardworking Mike has dreamed of becoming the greatest scarer ever, but after a disastrous first semester, he must win the campus Scare Games if he’s to have any hope of continuing his education. That means teaming up with a ragtag bunch of underdogs—and with Sully, who is rather a shallow jerk before he learns to play nice. This prequel is fraught with clichés and soon feels too darned long. As we used to say back when I was in school, that’s a bummer.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 13, 2013 0 comments
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By 1973, the marital arts genre was nothing new, but Bruce Lee took it to new heights with what would be his final completed film, Enter the Dragon. The movie gave a worldwide theatrical audience a glimpse of his genius as a true star and as an action hero second to none, performing feats that boggle the mind even in today’s jaded milieu of wire-enhanced stunts and computer-generated effects. Lee starred as, well, “Lee,” a gifted Shaolin martial artist recruited by British intelligence to compete in an exclusive tournament staged by the suspected opium lord, Mr. Han.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 25, 2013 0 comments
It’s been 34 years since the world was introduced to Max Rockatansky, a good cop in a bad world. For reasons not explained in 1979’s Mad Max, society “a few years from now” is crumbling, and the law is losing the battle to keep it safe from violent gangs. When Max (a very young Mel Gibson) runs down a murderer with vengeful chums, his contented life is torn asunder, sending him off into the wasteland with a bleak, uncertain future.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 08, 2013 0 comments
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You take on some baggage when your movie stars Tom Cruise. He’s been a box office titan for decades, so you’re improving your chances of a hit. On the other hand, ever since the couch-jumping incident, he tends to bring a certain off-screen persona that rubs a lot of folks the wrong way. Plus, a leading man of his magnitude tends to be Tom first, character second.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments

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PRICE Vamp Verza, $598; Metallo case, $101

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant two-piece add-on to enhance smartphone audio
More power, superior DACs
Sleek, serious metal construction
Minus
Makes phone heavy and bulky for your pocket
Metallo case a pricey add-on

THE VERDICT
V-Moda offers a stylish solution to turn your smartphone into the sonic titan you always dreamed it could be.

The Samsung Galaxy S III (a.k.a.GS3) was arguably last year’s second best-selling mobile phone, behind the iPhone 5, and the popularity of this non-Apple device—reportedly over 30 million units in consumers’ hands—in a sea of Android competitors speaks volumes. Smartphones do a lot, often serving as many folks’ primary media player, but they face the quandaries of all modern portable gear: Performance must contend with the realities of physical size and weight, as well as battery life. One such casualty is the diminutive digital-to-analog converter inside the phone, which turns the digital audio signals into analog audio that we can hear over headphones or the built-in speaker. As a GS3 user for the past 11 months, I have no major gripes about the onboard DAC (in this case built into the Qualcomm WCD9310 chip), but it is fair to say that it wasn’t selected only for audio quality, but perhaps partly because it’s tiny and it won’t overwhelm the phone’s battery.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 31, 2013 2 comments
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Cloud Atlas is something of a cinematic curiosity. It is incredibly ambitious and deftly executed, weaving together six disparate tales with similar themes of oppression and rebellion, each told with the same handful of actors playing the key roles in each scenario. Set in different locations and in eras ranging from 1849 up through 2321, the movie serves up everything from a single slave earning his freedom on a sailing ship to a genetically engineered hostess inspiring a full-on societal revolt. But even when the all-star filmmaking team of the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer has three hours to play with, not one of the half-dozen narratives can be particularly deep or overwhelmingly original. They have, however, fashioned an enormous event movie that pushes technique—dramatic as well as purely technical—into bold new territory.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 14, 2013 0 comments
The small screen serves up some big drama in these three TV-on-Blu-ray releases, from Liberace to slave revolt to big-city vigilante justice.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 05, 2013 0 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.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 30, 2013 0 comments
Father and son Miyazakis craft another touching tale, Helen Mirren shines as a capable cop, and all hell breaks loose in an offbeat World War II gorefest.

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