David Vaughn

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 31, 2011 0 comments
While dozing off, young Alice dreams about falling down a rabbit hole that is populated by a peculiar series of misadventures. The always sensible Alice whirls through a world of contradictions, imagination, and surprises where she encounters amazing creatures including a pocket watch-toting White Rabbit, the imperious Queen of Hearts and her army of playing cards, and a Cheshire Cat with a lingering smile.

Walt Disney was one of the most influential movie makers of the 20th Century and had considered adapting Lewis Carroll's famous story in 1933, but shelved the idea after Paramount released its version. He later had artist David Hall create some concept art for the project, but WWII intervened and his animated version didn't hit the screen until 1951. On a recent visit to the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, I discovered that Walt wasn't too keen on the results of the film and complained that it had no "heart." I tend to agree with him and as a kid this was one of my least favorite Disney productions.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 30, 2011 0 comments
William (Patrick Fugit) is a 15-year-old music fan who gets a dream assignment to travel with an up-and-coming band and write a cover story for Rolling Stone magazine. His mother (Frances McDormand) isn't thrilled with the gig, but the young man hits the road with the band and learns there's more to write about than just music.

Writer/director Cameron Crowe burst on the scene in 1982 by penning Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which went on to become a hit with the teen audience. He wasn't a one hit wonder by writing/directing Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and then the film based on his own youth, Almost Famous. While I can't particularly relate to the era (I'm more of an 80s guy), there were certain aspects of the film that gave me a chuckle. For example, my daughter is almost 15 and I couldn't imagine her going on the road with a band, so I certainly empathized with his mother's reaction.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 27, 2011 0 comments
Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) is a southern black woman virtually sold into a life of servitude to a brutal husband, sharecropper Albert (Danny Glover). Celie pours out her innermost thoughts in letters to her sister Nettie (Akousa Busia), but Albert has been hiding the return correspondence making Celie believe she's dead. Finally, Celie finds champions in her daughter-in-law, the take-no-shit Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) and the glamorous Shug Avery (Margaret Avery), a local entertainer.

Up until Steven Spielberg produced and directed this film, he was more known for "popular" cinematic titles such as Jaws, Indiana Jones< and E.T and he hadn't had to deal with meaty subjects such as rape, incest, and woman's rights. Ultimately the film received 11 Academy Award nominations (winning none) and Spielberg proved he was up for the challenge and went on to become one of the best director's of his generation.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 26, 2011 1 comments
As a war rages between men and kings and kings and god, the battle amongst the gods is the one that could ultimately destroy the world. Hope rests with Perseus (Sam Worthington), son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), who was raised as a man and sets off on a hazardous journey deep into forbidden worlds to avenge the death of his family and defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus and unleash hell on earth.

With only a 29% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I had extremely low expectations. I wouldn't consider the movie a classic, but it's a hell of a lot of fun and features adequate acting, a compelling story (revenge is a dish best served cold), and tons of action, especially compared to the slow-paced original from 1981. There's an occasional line of cringe-inducing dialog, but the positives far outweigh any negatives and even with a second watching I found myself drawn into the story.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 24, 2011 0 comments
Behind every legend lies and impossible dream. Witness the spectacular journey of an incredible horse named Secretariat and the moving story of his unlikely owner (Diane Lane), a housewife who risked everything to make him a champion.

Disney is never one to shy away from an inspirational sports story and while this doesn't live up to the magic of Miracle, it has a lot of heart and explains the struggles Penny Chenery had to endure to be a woman in a male dominate world. I'm sure there were some liberties taken with some of the facts to liven-up the story, but that's not uncommon in Hollywood. Regardless, the performances are very good, especially by Lane and John Malkovich, who plays the eccentric Canadian horse trainer.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 21, 2011 0 comments
A boy (Daryl Sabara) has lost the Christmas spirit and doesn't believe in Santa Claus. He awakes on Christmas Eve to the sound of a train arriving in his front yard. Invited to join the Polar Express on its journey to the North Pole by the train conductor (Tom Hanks), a magical world opens his eyes to the spirit of Christmas.

I'm the only one in my family that isn't in love with this picture and I can't say the 3D experience improved it for me that much, if at all. The story is somewhat tedious and forced, so I was paying more attention to the technical details of the presentation and while the audio is outstanding, the Blu-ray 3D presentation wasn't as good as other titles I've watched the past couple of weeks.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 19, 2011 0 comments
Looking to gain the title of "World's Greatest Villain," Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) adopts three orphans in order to steal a shrinking machine from his nemesis, Vector (Jason Segel). What he didn't count on was the three girls changing his outlook on the world and he'll stop at nothing to protect them.

The marketing campaign for this film stunk and I had no desire to see it in the theaters (and neither did my kids) but was willing to give it a try on Blu-ray. Surprisingly there's a touching story behind the fantastic animation as the villain becomes the hero and discovers he does have a heart buried beneath his evil exterior.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 17, 2011 0 comments
Young owl Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) marvels at tales of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, mythic winged warriors who battled to save all owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. When he and brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) fall into the talons of the Pure Ones, it's up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave owls and seek out the Great Tree, home of the Guardians.

The marketing for this film wasn't very enticing, but the story has a lot of heart and is very entertaining. Director Zach Snyder (300, Watchman) makes his animation debut with this fantasy adventure based on the beloved books by Kathryn Lasky.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 15, 2011 2 comments
Eleven-year-old Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) has just moved with her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) to a new home in Oregon. With her parents distracted by work and no one to play with except an annoying boy, Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.), she spends her time visiting her older neighbors. When she convinces herself that her new home is the most boring place on earth, she uncovers a secret door that leads to a parallel world much like her own—but much better. Is the grass greener on the other side or is it all an illusion?

Pixar has changed the way animated films are made, but the days of stop-motion are far from over as director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) proves with this visually stunning and wildly entertaining tale of a young girl in search of attention. One caveat—this isn't really a kid's movie. There are some intense sequences in the "other world" that may frighten younger viewers, so a prescreening is recommended for parents with young children.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 14, 2011 0 comments
Narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, Imax Deep Sea guides you on an astonishing adventure that lets you swim alongside our planet's most exotic creatures. You'll follow green sea turtles as they gather at the cleaning stop so surgeonfish can strip harmful algae from their shells, see Humboldt squid change color four times per second like a strobe light, and witness a mantis shrimp fight off an octopus.

This is the second time I've seen this documentary on home video, but experiencing it in 3D blows away the DVD. Our oceans house some of the most interesting creatures on our planet and this Imax presentation takes you right into the action with freakishly realistic visuals.

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