Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 22, 2007  |  Published: Feb 22, 2007  |  0 comments
Games and movies collide, again, this time in high-def.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD player is targeted specifically at the owners of the Xbox 360 gaming console—or those on the fence about purchasing one. It's an affordable way to bring HD DVD into your existing multimedia system. This small disc spinner will not work by itself; rather, it will only operate in conjunction with one of the two available versions of the Xbox 360, or with a PC (sort of, as you'll see later). It's another box (which will of course take up more space), and it lacks the sleek approach of a single-chassis solution. But the easily replaceable USB cable that connects the HD DVD player to your Xbox does offer a bit of placement freedom. This in turn makes the drive's integrated USB hub potentially more versatile.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 22, 2007  |  Published: Feb 22, 2007  |  0 comments
The universe is still expanding.

People seem to love bashing the last great format war—SACD versus DVD-Audio—in which, of course, there was no real winner. My personal opinion has always been a little different. I consider it a unique pleasure to bask in the warm embrace of 5.1 high-resolution channels of some of the best popular music ever. I continue to do this, as I always have, by way of an affordable universal disc player, as one could fairly call it in the days before HD DVD and Blu-ray. I'm glad to see that manufacturers are still supporting the high-resolution audio formats, helping the consumer take advantage of all the great software currently available, much of it heavily discounted in the aftermath of the conflict.

Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 14, 2007  |  0 comments
It’s curious timing for a new PS2 accessory, but this one is a dandy. For those of you who just couldn’t wait for the debut of the PS3, or, more to the point, couldn’t afford to buy one of the scarce wonder boxes off of eBay, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your favorite PlayStation titles in high definition right now, thanks to the Xploder HDTV Player for PlayStation 2 ($40).
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 08, 2007  |  Published: Feb 09, 2007  |  0 comments
For prolific director Michael Apted, the Up series continues to be a lifelong labor of love.

Before he embarked on a distinguished career in feature films (Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, The World Is Not Enough, and many more), director Michael Apted was part of a revolutionary British-television documentary project. It was called Seven Up, and it profiled a group of children in 1964. Apted took over from director Paul Almond starting with the first follow-up, 7 Plus Seven. He rounded up the same subjects at age 14 and has gone on to shepherd the series through to the present day. The films have become increasingly powerful for their ever-expanding scope and their ability to effectively condense entire lives of everyday citizens in a matter of minutes. 49 Up is the most recent installment, on DVD from First Run Features. All of the previous iterations are also available in an extraordinary boxed set.

Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 05, 2007  |  0 comments
Five-Star 007
A new Bond benchmark has been set.
James Bond has saved the world time and again, but where has the appreciation gone? True, MGM Home Entertainment released those three comprehensive boxed sets a few years ago. They worked from the best possible masters available at the time and added a host of special features. But even those discs went on moratorium, relegated to big price hikes on eBay. But, now, as the culmination of two-and-a-half years of audio and video restoration by DTS, the 20 Bond films from 1962 to 2002 are available again as part of The James Bond Ultimate Edition. The four volumes include Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, The World Is Not Enough, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill, Licence to Kill (sic), Die Another Day, GoldenEye, Live and Let Die, From Russia with Love, For Your Eyes Only, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Tomorrow Never Dies, You Only Live Twice, Dr. No, Octopussy, and Moonraker. Working from the original camera negatives, John Lowry’s process has reduced the grain and generally removed dirt, in addition to digitally repairing scratches and other incidents of damage. The color has also been retimed under expert supervision. The goal was to remain authentic while making the films as visually appealing as possible to the modern eye. The discs include new DTS tracks, along with Dolby Digital 5.1, plus the original audio in most cases, although Spy is missing its theatrical mix.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 05, 2007  |  0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
A 1950s sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet is a futuristic spin on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Fifty years later, it remains a fun and frightening cautionary tale of fathers, daughters, and hubris, replete with flying saucers, ray guns, and other technology far beyond our own.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 05, 2007  |  0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
Peter Jackson not only creates elaborate special editions of his movies, he lets audiences know that bigger, better versions are in the works when the initial theatrical cuts first hit the store shelves so we can choose wisely. He did it with his Lord of the Rings trilogy and now with his King Kong remake, offering a subsequent director’s cut with new extras that complement the original release.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 26, 2007  |  0 comments
Ready-made living-room multimedia.

We're down with entertainment PCs here at Home Theater. For those of you who are ready to share the joy, there are basically two ways to join the party. For the hands-on approach, we've written about specific best-of-the-best audio and video cards and other devices that you can plug into your own custom-built box. But, for some readers, personal success has brought with it the notion of luxury. Companies like HP are only too happy to remove the guesswork from the equation and pre-assemble a bundle for you, which you can purchase with one phone call or just a few clicks online. Their Pavilion Media Center TV m7580n HTPC is just such a system.

Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 26, 2007  |  0 comments
One of Hollywood's most successful directors, Richard Donner is also a damned nice guy.

After years in television—The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island—director Richard Donner went on to launch several major film franchises, starting with The Omen in 1976. Two years later, his Superman made Hollywood history. But few knew that he'd completed much of what wound up on screen for the sequel, Superman II, even though he would be abruptly replaced by director Richard Lester. Donner has finally returned by popular demand to complete his version, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (on DVD from Warner Brothers) and make every Superfan's dream come true.

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