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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 09, 2011 0 comments
A mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie) and a vacationing math teacher (Johnny Depp) from America become involved in an international manhunt after meeting on a train traveling from Paris to Venice. A case of mistaken identity puts poor Frank (Depp) in the crosshairs of a British gangster looking to reclaim his lost fortune from a former associate.

Depp is one of the hottest stars in Hollywood and I had high hopes for this international spy thriller. Sadly, the star power of Depp and Jolie couldn’t overcome the meandering and predictable script from the trio of writers which includes the director (Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck - The Lives of Others). Character development is nonexistent and there’s no real drama or suspense throughout the film and anyone with half a brain can see the ending coming from a mile away.

David Vaughn Posted: Mar 07, 2011 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Google TV and Wi-Fi • Speedy loading of Blu-ray Discs • Ergonomically challenged remote control

Blu-ray meets Google TV

Google TV strives to deliver a new experience by bringing your TV and Internet together. It gives its users access to more entertainment options, and its powerful search capabilities make it easier to find what you want to watch. Two of the first products to incorporate Google TV are the Logitech Revue and Sony’s Internet TV Blu-ray player (NSZ-GT1). While both are based on the same platform, Sony ups the ante by including a Blu-ray player with a $100 price premium. While Kim Wilson explored the virtues of Google TV in our February 2011 issue, I’ll take a look at the NSZ-GT1’s Blu-ray capabilities and see how a Google TV–powered player stacks up against the other streaming Blu-ray players on the market.

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 07, 2011 0 comments
A laid-off television producer (Rachel McAdams) is desperate for work and takes a job to produce the lowest-rated morning new show called "Daybreak." She soon learns that the zany world of network broadcasting will require quick thinking and a great sense of humor in order to handle the self-absorbed co-hosts of the show (Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton).

The film boasts and impressive cast, an accomplished writer (Alan Brosh McKenna - The Devil Wears Prada) and director (Roger Michell - Notting Hill), and hit-maker J.J. Abrams as the producer. Unfortunately, the accomplished team delivers few laughs with a cast of unlikable characters and shallow scrip.

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 04, 2011 0 comments
LAPD officer Paul Cutler (Gabriel Macht) leaves the sun and fun of California when he's ordered by Homeland Security to relocate to Detroit in order to train its S.W.A.T. team on the latest rescue techniques. Things are going great until a botched domestic dispute turns ugly and the surviving spouse (Robert Patrick) wants revenge.

I had low expectations considering this is a direct-to-video release, which allowed me to moderately enjoy the flick. The script, acting, and production value all have a low-budget "made for TV" feel, but director Benny Boom does his best to keep a brisk pace to keep it interesting.

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 02, 2011 0 comments
A morning light breaks across the meadow; a young deer named Bambi is born and hailed as "Prince of the Forest." Soon Bambi emerges from the thicket on wobbly legs, much to the delight of his new friends, Thumper, the playful rabbit, and Flower, the bashful skunk. Exploring his new world, Bambi learns valuable life lessons with every adventure.

Bambi was Walt Disney's fifth full-length animated classic and was released in 1942. With disposable income in short supply due to the war, the masses didn't flock to the film as Walt had expected and it took many re-releases in order for the movie to turn a profit. It currently resides at No. 3 on the American Film Institute's Top 10 Animated Films of All Time and is certainly worthy of its place.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 28, 2011 1 comments
It's a case of nature versus nurture when super villain Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) finally defeats his arch nemesis Metro Man (Brad Pitt) and gains control of Metro City. With the hero out of the way, the villain grows bored of tormenting the humans and creates a new hero, Tighten (Johah Hill), in order to put a little fun back in his life. But when the hero turns out to be evil, will Megamind do the right thing and save the city and people he's grown fond of?

While not as good as How to Train Your Dragon or Toy Story 3, this is a lot of fun to watch, and you could tell the voice actors were having a blast in the recording studio. Sadly, the video presentation is not up to par with other animated titles and exhibits some banding and rampant aliasing that degrades the otherwise visually stunning disc. The audio suffers no such faults, and the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack is definitely demo-worthy.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 25, 2011 0 comments
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and for Driver (Dwayne Johnson), he's been waiting 10 years behind bars to avenge the murder of his brother. Now a free man, he can have his revenge but the hunter is also the hunted with two men trailing him. The first is a cop (Billy Bob Thornton) who's just days from retirement and the other is a young hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who's happy to come across such a worthy adversary.

Maybe I'm getting too old, but I'm really getting tired of gratuitous violence that's so prevalent in today's films. I like an action movie just as much as the next guy, but does the violence need to come along for the ride? That aside, the action is pretty intense and well choreographed, but Johnson and Thornton's characters are hard to root for and I couldn't wait for this one to end.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 23, 2011 0 comments
Director/producer Tony Scott is no stranger to action movies. His resume includes hits like Top Gun, Deja Vu, and Man on Fire, the last two starring Denzel Washington. The two team up again here in one of the better action movies to come out of Hollywood in 2010.

Based very loosely on a 2001 story of a runaway train in Ohio, writer Mark Bomback jazzes it up for the sake of entertainment and action. As in real life, the adventure begins when an idiotic engineer jumps from the slowly moving train in order to reposition a switch before the train can damage it. Successful in this task, he then tries to reboard the moving train as it gains speed, but to no avail.

From this point on, the facts go out the window as the fictional train loaded with toxic chemicals hurtles toward Scranton, PA, where an elevated curve in the track will cause the train to derail, creating an environmental catastrophe and costing many lives. Despite its best attempts, the rail company can't slow the train down, and two unlikely heroes emerge to hopefully save the day. Along the way, we witness a few narrow escapes, corporate incompetence, and one hell of a thrill ride.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 21, 2011 0 comments
A grizzled veteran cop (Nick Nolte) is determined to hunt down a couple of cop killers and needs the help of a smooth-talking convict (Eddie Murphy) who's behind bars for robbery. Cates (Nolte) pulls a few strings and gets Reggie (Murphy) a 48-hour furlough to help track down the murderers, but will this odd couple be able to tolerate each other long enough to catch the bad guys?

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 30 years since Eddie Murphy launched his feature film career with this classic buddy flick. He and Nolte have great chemistry and returned to the screen eight years later with Murphy at the top of his career after Beverly Hills Cop I and II and Coming to America. Like most films from this era, it can get a tad campy, but it holds up pretty well due to the two stars.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 18, 2011 0 comments
Expectant father Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is flying home from Atlanta in order to bear witness to the birth of his first child. When he encounters Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), a socially retarded wannabe actor at the airport, things get off on the wrong foot when they inadvertently exchange bags and Peter gets stopped in security for carrying drug paraphernalia. Sadly, that's the highlight of his trip because he's soon kicked off the plane, put on the no-fly list, and is forced to take a cross-country car trip with the man responsible for his troubles.

My expectations were pretty low going into this, and for good reason. The trailers made it look like a complete rip-off of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and unfortunately it isn't as funny as the classic John Candy/Steve Martin movie. The first act sets up the scenario pretty well, but then it quickly falls apart when the two protagonists hit the road.