David Vaughn

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David Vaughn  |  Apr 27, 2011  |  0 comments
From Greenland to Mongolia, Cambodia to Kenya, people are living by their wits, braving the elements, seizing opportunities, and overcoming huge obstacles to survive and thrive. Whether it's a line of woman and children who use star and sand dune patterns to traverse the Sahara in order to trade their wares, or dozens of young Pa-aling fishermen who breathe air through a tangled web of pipes attached to a diesel engine, humans find a way to endure.

BBC Earth has quite a pedigree with hit documentaries such as Life, Planet Earth, and Blue Planet. They've taken us all around the globe and given us a better understanding of what a marvelous place we live. In Human Planet, they weave 80 different stories over eight episodes (Oceans, Deserts, Arctic, Jungles, Mountains, Grasslands, Rivers, and Cities) to show humanity's uncanny ability to adapt and live in every corner of our diverse world.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 25, 2011  |  0 comments
To impress the pretty newspaper travel editor Darcy (Amanda Peet), an underachieving mailroom clerk named Gulliver (Jack Black) takes a writing assignment traveling to Bermuda. On his way there he's swept into a giant cyclone and ends up on the island of Lilliput and discovers he's a giant compared to the little inhabitants.

When you take classic literature and modernize its story, sometimes something can be lost in the translation, and that's certainly the case here. While Black is his usual funny self, the screenplay is quite shallow and contains a litany of two-dimensional characters. I have to admit, I laughed out loud on a number of occasions, but I was equally grossed out when Gulliver needed to extinguish a blazing fire and chose a rather unique way to putting it out.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 22, 2011  |  1 comments

Price: $499 At A Glance: Flawless playback of Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D Discs • Outstanding build quality • The best customer support in the industry

Oppo Ups the Ante

The Blu-ray format has seen its fair share of changes since its introduction in 2006. Its initial launch included players with base playback functionality and poisonously slow boot-up and disc-loading times. Then came BonusView-enabled players, which added a minimum 256 megabytes of local storage with secondary audio and video decoders for picture-in-picture. Next were the BD-Live-capable players. These required an Internet connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and a minimum of 1 gigabyte of local storage (sometimes purchased separately), which allowed access to mostly useless online content. After the wild success of Avatar, the studios have jumped into 3D with both feet. Blu-ray 3D players now support a maximum data rate of 72 megabits per second (up from 48 Mbps in previous generations), include HDMI 1.4, and of course, these players support 3D video, 3D menus, and 3D subtitles.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 22, 2011  |  1 comments
Precocious siblings Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Heynes), along with their cousin Eustance (Will Poulter), are sucked into a painting and transported back to Narnia. They join King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and the noble mouse Reepicheep in a quest to rescue lords who had been lost fighting evil on a remote island. Aboard the magnificent ship The Dawn Treader the courageous voyagers travel to mysterious islands, confront mystical creatures, and reunite with the Great Lion Aslan on a mission that tests their characters to determine the fate of Narnia itself.

I haven't been a big fan of this theatrical franchise (nor the books, for that matter), but I do appreciate the family friendly message and just adore Georgie Henley's character. Fortunately, the director keeps the runtime under two hours and the brisk pacing helps keep the film more entertaining than the bloated second installment Prince Caspian. Disney decided the dump the franchise after the poor box office showing of the second film and Fox stepped in to the mix, but with a much lower budget (about $80 million less), and it shows in the finished product. The CGI isn't nearly as good and the cinematography takes a step back compared to its two predecessors.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 20, 2011  |  0 comments
Country music superstar Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) enters alcohol rehab after tumbling during a concert and meets Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), an aspiring small town country singer. Once out of rehab, she wants to give Beau a shot at the big time by having him open her comeback concert, but her husband/manager James (Tim McGraw) has chosen a beauty queen (Leighton Meester) instead.

I'm not a big fan of melodramatic stories, and this has over-the-top sappiness seeping over the edges. Writer/Director Shana Feste can't keep seem to make up her mind on what direction she wants to take the film; is it a story about a pair of up-and-coming singers or about the superstar trying to regain her footing? Overall, it's a tiring two hour experience with mediocre music and horrendous dialog.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 18, 2011  |  0 comments
After the death of his father and the scandalous abdication of his brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth), who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all of his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually forge a genuine friendship.

Taking home the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Firth), Best Director (Tom Hooper), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), I had extremely high expectations of this film and they were mostly met. That being said, I don't think this was the best picture of 2010, my pick would be The Social Network, but I can see why the Academy chose this film due to the lavish sets, decadent costumes, and historically significant story.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 15, 2011  |  0 comments
The wizarding world has become a dangerous place. The long-feared war has begun and the Dark Lord has seized control of the ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting all who might oppose him. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are on the run in search of the magical Horcruxes and must discover a way to destroy them in order to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

Having two kids who are part of the Harry Potter generation, I've had the pleasure of reading each of the books and watching every movie with them. I love how Warner finally decided to split the final book into two parts (something they should have done starting with Goblet of Fire), and we finally get to see more of J.K. Rowling's outstanding story grace the silver screen. Be advised, the story is quite dark and may be disturbing for younger audiences.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 11, 2011  |  0 comments
Once one of the world's top crime fighters, Bob Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible) fought evil and saved lives on a daily basis. But 15 years later, he and his wife Helen (the former Elastigirl) have been forced to take on civilian identities and retreat to the suburbs. Itching for action, Mr. Incredible gets his chance when a mysterious communication summons him to a remote island for a top-secret assignment.

Pixar has quite a track record with its films, and this is one of their best. I love how they take something from our society (rampant personal injury lawsuits) and weave it into a story about superheroes that can no longer practice their craft because someone gets a sore neck when being saved from certain death! The cast is brilliant here with Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter as the husband and wife crime fighting team along with Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 08, 2011  |  1 comments
In the future, the polar ice caps have melted, the sea waters have flooded coastal cities, and you must obtain a license to have a child. Science has evolved to the point of creating artificial beings, called mechas, to serve humans and preserve precious natural resources. One such mecha, David (Haley Joel Osment), is the first of its kind; an artificial kid that can give and receive unconditional love to his adoptive parents.

Of all of Spielberg's films, this is probably my least favorite. Its pacing is horrendous, it runs much too long at 145 minutes, and its last 40 minutes are a bizarre waste of time. While the acting and special effects are very good they can't overcome the boring second act and the horrendous ending(s).

David Vaughn  |  Apr 06, 2011  |  0 comments
After his brother-in-law ruins his marriage with his philandering ways, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is his father-in-law's (Robert DeNiro) last hope to assume the role as the family patriarch (aka, "The Godfocker"). When a beautiful pharmaceutical rep (Jessica Alba) enters the scene, Greg must repel her sexual advances in order to keep his marriage sacred and not lose the new found admiration from the family patriarch.

After being skewered by critics in its theatrical run, I had extremely low expectations for the third installment of the trials and tribulations of Greg Focker. While it doesn't measure up to the first film (or the second), there are quite a few laughs, especially when Stiller and DeNiro share the screen together. Unfortunately the screenplay doesn't flow very well and I expected to see more of the kids given the title of the film, but their time on screen is very limited.