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David Vaughn

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 17, 2011 4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $999 At A Glance: Flawless playback of Blu-ray 2D and 3D discs • Audiophile analog performance for less than $1k • Outstanding build quality and first-class customer service

Oppo Blu-ray players have been a fixture in Home Theater's Top Picks section since the introduction of the BDP-83 in 2009. Earlier this year, we added its successor, the BDP-93, to the list due to its flawless playback of Blu-ray Discs, speed of operation, 3D capability, and streaming services from Netflix and Vudu. But good companies don't rest on their laurels, and Oppo has released an audiophile version of the player, the BDP-95, featuring the same reference-quality digital video processing with a beefed-up analog section for those who love their two-channel audio or who haven't upgraded to an HDMI-based AVR or surround processor and want the best audio possible for 7.1-channel soundtracks. Since the BDP-95 is identical to the BDP-93 in terms of video and digital audio, I'll concentrate on the upgraded analog audio here; for more on the rest of the player, see the review of the BDP-93.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 14, 2011 0 comments
Nine-year-old Milo (motion-capture performer Seth Green and voice actor Seth Dusky) stows away on a Mars-bound alien spaceship as it races away with his mom (Joan Cusack), who has been abducted so the Martians can steal her mom-ness in order to raise their young. Once he arrives on the Red Planet, he's befriended by Gribbler (Dan Fogler), an immature young adult whose mother was also stolen by the Martians when he was a boy. It's a race against time as Milo struggles to save his mother from imminent doom at the hands of the aliens.

This is a decent family film that starts off pretty slow but picks up steam in the second act as you get to know the main characters. The motion-capture techniques developed by producer Robert Zemeckis in The Polar Express have improved over the years, especially with adult faces, but the children come across a little creepy. Despite the shortcomings in the story, both the 3D and 2D presentations are outstanding, and the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack is definitely demo-worthy.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 11, 2011 1 comments
The Dude (Jeff Bridges) gets involved in a case of mistaken identity when some thugs show up at his place to collect a debt owed by another man who shares his last name—Lebowski. To add insult to injury, the goons pee on his favorite rug and he seeks out compensation from the other Lebowski, a well-healed wheelchair-bound millionaire who's willing to help The Due as long as he does one little favor.

The Coen Brother's have a unique perspective on the world and they definitely don't "go with the flow." While I don't consider this to be one of their best films, it does contain their most interesting character—The Dude. At the time of its release in 1998, it wasn't as critically acclaimed as Fargo or O Brother, Where Art Thou? but over the years it has obtained cult-like status with its fans and Bridge's portrayal of the iconic character set his career on an upward path.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 10, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $599 At A Glance: THX Select2 Plus certified • Audyssey and THX loudness modes • iDevice Onkyo Remote app

With gas approaching $5 a gallon in some parts of the country, most consumers are cutting back on discretionary spending in order to make ends meet. If you have to drive an SUV (like I do), then a trip to the local gas station could set you back $100 to fill the tank. In times like these, your quest to find the greatest bang for your buck might even extend all the way to your equipment rack. If you’re in the market for a new AVR, you won’t have to look far thanks to Onkyo. What if I told you you could have seven channels of amplification, first-rate video processing, and many of the features found on the flagship products for less than $600? If I’ve piqued your interest, then keep on reading, because the TX-NR609 is one of the best values that’s come down the pike in a long time.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 25, 2011 0 comments
When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's part of an experimental government program called the "Source Code" that enables him to assume another man's identify in the last eight minutes of his life. Armed with the task of identifying the bomber of a Chicago-bound commuter train, Colter must re-live the incident over and over until he can solve the mystery and prevent an even deadlier second terrorist attack.

I was eagerly looking forward to giving this one a spin, and it more than met my expectations. It's nonstop action from start to finish, and Gyllenhaal has great screen presence as the troubled hero. Not only was I wildly entertained, but the DTS-HD MA audio track is outstanding and worth the price of admission all by itself. But don't get your hopes too high for the video encode, which isn't anything to write home about.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 24, 2011 0 comments

South central Los Angeles wasn't an ideal neighborhood to come of age in the early 1990s given the rampant drug problems and gang violence. John Singleton's debut as a director captures the scene perfectly, following the lives of Doughboy (Ice Cube), Chris (Redge Green), Ricky (Morris Chestnut), and Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) as they try and navigate the mean streets of the 'hood.

Even 20 years after its powerful debut, Boyz n The Hood is one of the most realistic depictions of urban life in America. It portrays the hazards that inner-city youth constantly battle—poverty, rampant drug and alcohol use, broken families, and gang violence. Each of the main characters face their own personal struggles, and Lawrence Fishburne delivers a career-defining performance as Furious, Tre's wise father who dishes out advice on life and survival.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 15, 2011 0 comments
It's the classic fish out of water tale of Rango, a family pet lost in the desert who must learn to survive on his own in the desolate environment. The hapless chameleon travels to the dusty town of Dirt, where water is in short supply and the townsfolk are desperate for a hero. The aspiring thespian puts on the show of his life until the local thugs show up to make trouble he soon realizes he's in over his head.

Although the first act seems to drag on forever, the story picks up steam in the second and builds up to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion. Johnny Depp voices the main character, but it's the absolutely incredible animation that steals the show and ILM deserves massive kudos for delivering the best looking presentation I've seen on Blu-ray. Yes folks, it's that good.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jul 11, 2011 0 comments
As a defense attorney, your job isn't to decide who's guilty or innocent, it's to make sure your client gets a fair trial and to present the facts of the case in a way to provide the jury with reasonable doubt in order to gain an acquittal. Hotshot Los Angeles lawyer Mickey Hailer (Matthew McConaughey) is hired to defend a wealthy young man (Ryan Phillippe) who's accused of rape and suddenly finds himself embroiled in a game of deception that threatens not only his career, but his own life.

Based on the book by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer is one of the best thrillers I've seen in a while. The pacing and acting are both topnotch and l loved the twists and turns in the story. Furthermore, the video encode is picture perfect with razor-sharp detail, striking contrast, and inviting shadows.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 27, 2011 3 comments
In case you've been in a coma for the past 10 years, Peter Jackson adapted the popular J.R.R. Tolkien novel with amazing results. Arguably, it's one of the greatest movie accomplishments of all time with 15 Academy Awards, over $1 billion in US box-office receipts, and nearly $3 billion worldwide.

Many fans are angry that Warner decided to release the theatrical versions last year instead of the these extended director cuts, but Peter Jackson has stated publicly that the theatrical releases are the definitive versions of the films, not the extended cuts, but the fans want to see every minute of filmed footage come hell or high water.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 22, 2011 0 comments
Celebrated Roman solider Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) is on quest to restore the reputation of his father and find the golden emblem that disappeared with him and 5,000 of his troops 20 years earlier. With the help of an slave (Jamie Bell), Marcus navigates the wild highlands of Caledonia in order to restore his family's honor.

When I sat down to watch this one I had never heard of it before and for good reason&8211;it's not very good. The acting is wooden and the story has no heart. At no time did I feel anything for the characters plight and I couldn't wait for it to be over.

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