Chris Chiarella

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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.

Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 26, 2007  |  0 comments
Welcome to the age of Audistry.

My office—cubicle, actually—is in Manhattan, so I get it: Despite your love of movies and music, some readers either don't want or just can't deal with a full array of five loudspeakers plus a subwoofer. Rather than settle for simple stereo (and I mean no disrespect to John Atkinson and his Stereophile crew down the hall), some overachieving sub/sat systems add often proprietary processing techniques to simulate sprawling surround sound. But what if newly released signal-processing algorithms offered so much control over the listening experience that they could turn a budget home-theater-in-a-box into a sound lab of sorts, allowing you to experiment with a previously impossible milieu of realistic audio illusions?

Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 26, 2007  |  0 comments
Griffin Technology's multichannel gift to fruit lovers.

Hey, Mac users: Does it ever feel like your PC-loving "friends" are having all of the 5.1 fun? For you, Griffin proposes the FireWave External Sound Card ($99.99), an outboard Dolby Digital decoder and more, specifically for OS X 10.3.9 and above.

Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 05, 2007  |  Published: Jan 05, 2007  |  0 comments
Super Hero
Christopher Reeve flies again.
Perhaps never before in the history of home video has a studio crafted months of releases upon a single theme, as Warner has in 2006, “the year Superman returns.” No doubt tying into that new feature film, all manner of Super movies and TV shows have been issued on DVD, some for the first time—new seasons of Smallville, the classic Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark, Superboy, The Animated Series, and even the cartoon adventures of the Dog of Steel, Krypto. But we can never give enough credit to Christopher Reeve and his dual role as the impossibly awkward Clark Kent and a gentlemanly savior in a red cape. Reeve’s electric screen presence was born of classical acting training, an understanding of how to fly under his own power—from his experience as a glider pilot—and a willingness to bulk up his lean frame under the tutelage of Darth Vader himself, trainer David Prowse. The later of Reeve’s four franchise films were not an ideal stage for his inspired thespian stylings, but his characterization was a high-water mark for the timeless hero, as celebrated in Warner’s new boxed set, The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 30, 2006  |  Published: Dec 03, 2006  |  0 comments
Think of it as a cheat code to unlock your 360's hidden sonic levels.

The high-definition video capabilities of the Xbox 360, like those of the imminent Sony PlayStation 3, have put a renewed emphasis on the importance of the video display. And, indeed, consumers young and old continue to bring HDTVs into their homes in record numbers. But no one was more shocked than I was to discover that there are still some gamers out there with current- and next-generation consoles in their living rooms who aren't hooked up to discrete 5.1-channel audio systems. Rather than record a Sally Struthers–style public-service announcement to elicit help for these poor, unfortunate souls, I chose to investigate the options—and I came up with Pioneer's officially licensed Xbox 360 sound solution, the HTS-GS1.

Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 30, 2006  |  Published: Dec 03, 2006  |  0 comments
Special Effects Guru Dennis Muren talks to HT about computer graphics, the equinox, and owning his own tux.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 02, 2007  |  Published: Dec 02, 2006  |  0 comments
Dream Street
Welcome to their
Nightmare…again. This new and greatly improved infinifilm edition of A Nightmare on Elm Street reminds me that New Line had other blockbuster franchises before the reign of hobbits and snaggletoothed British spies. Director Wes Craven’s imaginative script struck a nerve with audiences who were growing tired of contemporary horror flicks. He introduced us to the iconic Freddy Krueger, a supernatural murderer relegated to attacking his young victims in their sleep, where no one can protect them from his knife-enhanced fingers. Elm Street also marked the big-screen debut of a baby-faced boy next door named Johnny Depp.
Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 22, 2006  |  0 comments
The senior VP of Walt Disney Imagineering leads us through the "Under the Sea Adventure," the ride that almost was and the coolest DVD extra ever.

Here's a lost bit of Disneyland history gleaned from the new Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD: The film's overwhelming success prompted Disney Imagineers to dream up a new theme-park ride in its honor. But then the radiant accolades for the studio's Best Picture–nominated follow-up, Beauty and the Beast, promptly changed a fickle world's tune to "The Little Who-Now?" and Disney shelved the project. Disc two of the set caps this tale with one of the single most impressive bonus features ever conceived, fully realizing the ride that almost was through modern computer-generated imagery. It's authentic to the pseudo reality of Disney's parks, and you can view it with optional schematic drawings, commentary, and the ability to turn up the lights to reveal the inner workings of the accurately simulated machinery. It's all part of "Under the Sea Adventure: A Virtual Ride Inspired by Disney Imagineers."

Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 13, 2006  |  0 comments
Video: 2
Audio: 3
Extras: 1
Finally available in their 1977, 1980, and 1983 versions, the new Limited Edition Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi DVD sets contain minimally tweaked re-releases of the laserdisc masters created in 1993. Disc one in each case is essentially the same as the first disc inside the four- and three-disc Trilogy sets that came out two years ago; the second disc for each movie contains the original theatrical version. So, this review pertains to those second discs, the supplemental inclusions of the “unaltered” films.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 04, 2006  |  Published: Nov 04, 2006  |  0 comments
New streaming and networking options for the home and beyond.

Sling Media
I bet our founding fathers came to this same conclusion: One of the obstacles to true freedom is the necessity of wrapping your mind around the new benefits that await you. Take the Slingbox. It's a revolutionary piece of hardware, if you can grasp the relationship between audio, video, and networking. It takes the signal from any standard home entertainment device and streams it to a computer elsewhere in your house—or via the Internet to a laptop, desktop, and even certain phones. The best source component to use with the Slingbox is a DVR, as it combines live TV with stored content and recording capability, all of which you can control remotely.

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