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I went into “Cloud Atlas” with torn thoughts on the movie. It seems to be one of those movies that is divisive in the film community. Some people, both critics and viewers alike, have given it the moniker of “the worst film of 2012” and seem to find very little redeeming value in the unorthodox storytelling method. Others tout it as the greatest film ever told and on and on the arguments go. Based off of a book by David Mitchell, Cloud atlas is tale comprised of six individual stores, each seemingly unrelated to the next. I won’t dare to summarize each of these six stories, for just describing them would only confuse a reader. “Cloud Atlas” is a prime example of a story that needs to be viewed, rather...
“Daddy, there’s a woman outside and she’s not touching the floor.”
If you ever find yourself having a moment, as in a potentially murderous criminal moment, and you hear these words uttered by your child, then be warned: your end is near. Not to make light of a grotesque scene with deeply disturbing imagery, but Mama begins with a solid bang and is quite an exciting roller-coaster ride. It’s a ghost story based on an original – similarly titled – short film written by Andres Muschietti (director/co-writer) and Barbara Muschietti (producer/co-writer) that caught the eye of Executive Producer Guillermo del Toro (Pans Labyrinth, Hell Boy). Despite the fact the movie is full of Hollywood...
It seems that every author out there is getting a movie deal, and finally Lee Child’s has gotten around to getting his Jack Reacher character on the silver screen as well. The film has gotten one of those love it or hate it raps. Usually the hate it mantra seems to be motivated by fans of the book who don’t think that Tom Cruise is very much the “Reacher” type. In the books Jack Reacher is a hulking 6’5” behemoth who can pile drive a 400 lb marine without so much as batting an eye, and as you can tell Tom Cruise doesn’t seem to fit that physical build very much. After checking into the book character a bit I do admit that the director kind of tailor built the script around Tom Cruise, but it does...
After almost a decade of public service the legend has finally returned in his first full length feature film. Arnold has appeared in a couple of cameo’s over the last couple years, most notably in “The Expendables” series and a handful of others, but nothing more than a few minute cameo or two. Now that he’s out of office, Arnold has decided to step into the acting ring once more. “The Last Stand” debuts Arnold in his post “workout” phase. The last time Arnold starred in a movie his biceps were still bigger than my waist. Now it’s obvious that 8 years of political office and lack of constant exercise has left our beloved icon in a less than paragon state. However, that still...
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Ah yes, finally we get some more classic Jackie Chan movies on Blu-ray. Coming from a 15 + year martial artist I’ve had a soft spot for Jackie and enjoy everything from his Hong Kong flicks to the his Australian and U.S. films. Besides “Rush Hour” I think that “Shanghai Noon” rates as his best American produced flicks to date. Jackie Chan has always had a unique niche in the martial arts film world. Most martial artists tend to be very serious and focused, while Jackie realized early on that he had a penchant for physical comedy and incorporated that...
If you were alive during the good old days, then you’ll undoubtedly remember how easy it was to hook-up a receiver. It involved running speaker wire to two speakers, plugging in RCA cables for your tape player, phonograph, and/or cd player, and attaching a ground wire if you were playing vinyl. Your next step was to turn on the receiver, twist a knob to select an input mode, and then find the volume. If you were feeling particularly moved and wanted to tweak your sound, you’d play with the bass and treble knobs that were planted firmly on the face of your receiver. This was the basic process that your average, non-high end, user experienced. It was fairly straight forward and most everyone was capable of performing the tasks needed for success.
Fast-forward to today. Gone are the days of simplicity for the common receiver owner. The backside of an AVR looks like control panel of a rocket-ship and presents users with a dizzying amount of connection options labeled with confusing acronyms and symbols. There are tweak-heavy Graphical User Interface (GUI) menu options, sound modes, room correction software packages, and large button-filled remote controls. Oh, and user manuals are thick and rather intimidating even for seasoned veterans. Just figuring out how to adjust something as simple as the treble can prove to be frustrating (especially if your AVR is in a mode that doesn’t allow that function to be manipulated).
Does any of this sound familiar?
Denon apparently recognizes that AVR set-up for the common user can be a daunting task and has recently announced the release of a new line of network home theater receivers that “make home theater easier and more accessible.” Denon is calling its new series “IN-Command,” a name that definitely implies users can expect ease of use, and they say that the impetus behind the product line is giving home theater fans the ability to enjoy their purchase out of the box.
Denon’s IN-Command AVR series features newly designed 4-way speaker wire binding posts with 12 o’clock wire inputs. Each AVR comes with a Set-Up Assistant that uses a new GUI with “easy-to-follow” set-up instructions, and Denon supplies buyers with a...
The momentum to move away from physical disc formats has been further strengthened by a recent announcement that DTS, a premier audio solutions developer, will soon offer streaming capabilities of DTS-HD surround sound. DTS-HD is a well known high performance audio codec that is currently found on more than 75 percent of Blu-ray disc releases in 5.1 and 7.1 formats. This move is being made in collaboration with consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung and Best Buy’s CinemaNow video streaming service that runs on a Rovi technology platform.
"Streaming has a very bright future and we are excited about collaborating with Samsung, Rovi and the services it powers—such as Best Buy's CinemaNow—to deliver an unrivaled audio experience to consumers," said Brian Towne, chief operating officer and executive vice president at DTS.
Newly shipped 2013 models of internet-ready Samsung smart TVs will arrive with the latest CinemaNow app that will allow for streaming of nearly 4,000 movies with DTS-HD audio from CinemaNow’s movie library. DTS says that a firmware update for previously purchased 2013 Samsung products will be available soon. Ultimately, DTS does not want this technology to be limited to Samsung and CinemaNow products. DTS says it is currently exploring distribution of its DTS-HD audio experience to other manufacturers and streaming services.
While touted as being a premier audio experience, the streaming DTS-HD version will only deliver consumers 5.1 surround sound via a technology called DTS Express. Express (an altered version of the DTS-HD Master Audio codec) has been used for secondary audio and BD Live Blu-ray disc content. To put this in perspective, Master Audio offers a lossless bit-for-bit encoding at a variable bit rate of about 1.5 to 24.5 Mbps while Express offers a rate between 192 and 512 Kbps. DTS says Express offers the ability to adapt to varying internet connection speeds to insure users experience consistent audio quality.
"We are committed to delivering the industry's most immersive streaming audio solutions, and believe that consumers will appreciate the engaging entertainment experience that DTS-HD surround sound brings to their living rooms,"said Towne.
Many of you have heard of HTD (Home Theater Direct), a company that has been around for several years (since 1999) selling speaker systems and amplifiers online. They design and manufacture speakers and electronics for home theater and whole-house audio. Their HTD brand is sold only direct to consumers. By avoiding distributors, wholesalers, and retailers their performance to price ratio is second to none. You get great performing equipment with superb build quality... and it is all 30 days risk free!
June 6th this year marks the 80th anniversary for drive-in movie theaters. While not as popular as they once were, some enthusiasts are setting up a big screen and projector in their backyards keeping the experience alive.
At one time there were over 4,000 drive-in theaters that existed in Canada and the United States. Currently though there are less than 380 in the United States.
The first drive-in theater was opened in Pennsauken, New Jersey by Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. Initially he experimented with a setup in his driveway a year prior. His test rig included a 1928 Kodak projector mounted on top of his car and a screen hanging between two trees in his yard. Loudspeakers were tested from behind the screen, which was the first use of that method on record. The final design however included loudspeakers mounted to towers.
Drive-ins have nostalgic feelings attached for many, which explains the increase in backyard setups. But why the decline in drive-in theaters across North America? Part of the reason had to do with Daylight Savings Time which caused an hour loss for projection time. The land that the theaters took up became much more valuable to developers and many of the land masses were eventually used for flea markets or subdivisions. Lastly, color televisions and VCRs made it more convenient and affordable to watch TV at home, as the weather and time of day made no difference. People soon missed the drive-in experience however, because as some say, "there is no movie watching experience like it."
In just a few short days, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) will officially release it’s first wave of “Mastered in 4K” blu-ray titles. The titles, officially available on May 14th, will include Ghostbusters, Spider-Man, Glory, Total Recall, Taxi Driver, The Amazing Spider-Man, Angles & Demons, Battle Los Angeles, The Karate Kid, and The Other Guys. Prices for these titles range between $19.99 and $40.99 MSRP with some e-retailers, like Amazon.com, already offering them at reduced prices for pre-order.
What is “mastered in 4K”?
In somewhat of a gimmicky move, Sony’s Mastered in 4K series compliments it’s launch of Ultra HD (UHD) Television displays. You may recall that Sony unveiled pricing for it’s new 4K display offerings early last month. The missing piece, many critics say, is true 4K source material to properly light-up the mind boggling number of pixels offered by UHD displays. Mastered in 4K blu-rays are meant to help fill that void, however they are not true 4K discs. Instead, they are 1080p blu-ray discs playable in all existing blu-ray players.
“The electronics industry’s groundbreaking launch of 4K Ultra HD TV has given us reason to even further elevate our Blu-ray offering,” said David Bishop, President, SPHE. “This spring, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is excited to deliver a complementing lineup of ‘Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray titles, offering consumers the best possible picture and sound quality to be experienced on the latest HDTVs.”
While this might appear to be a simple retread of already released blu-rays, this may actually come to benefit fans of the movies being re-released. Sony claims these blu-rays will differ from their previous releases because they are sourced from new 4K transfers of the original films that have been tweak by “film restoration experts.” Sony says that the series will provide owners of 1080p displays with high bit rate digital transfers and “expanded color showcasing more of the wide range of rich color contained in the original source,” while offering owners of new UHD TVs an upscaled “near 4K-picture quality.” The keyword, here, for UHD TV owners is “upscaled,” which firmly...
I barely know anyone, besides myself, that doesn't end their day watching TV. My mom for example spends a great deal of her day in front of the television. It's just a part of what people do in general it seems.
With Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought I would discuss a few gift ideas for TV and entertainment loving moms. The key I think, is not to make things too complicated. At least that's the way things need to be with my mom. She likes to keep things nice and simple. She stubbornly stopped trying to learn any new technology when the top loading VCR finally stopped working. She was devastated to learn of the new shiny discs that replaced the VCR tapes.
However, she is getting better and has decided to learn to navigate the Internet with a Windows computer, so clicking on big buttons and icons is not foreign to her anymore.
Redbox eGift card
The movie loving mom might enjoy a gift of DVD rentals from the Redbox kiosks. They are currently offering a deal for Mother's Day where if someone purchases an eGift card, the purchaser will receive a free 1-day DVD rental for themselves.
5 DVD rentals for mom will run you $6.00. If she's sporting a Blu-ray player the cost jumps to $7.50. If she happens to be a gamer, it'll cost $10 for 5 game rentals.
If you aren't familiar with Redbox, you are able to pick up at any kiosk and drop off at another. Their are kiosks all across the United States.
Even better, rather than ask her to leave the house, why not set up mom with a Roku or similar box. The cost can be kept around the $50 to $100 mark.
There are plenty of streaming TV options, many for free. You can connect her with a subscription for old classics, current TV shows, new releases, etc. There are plenty of options.
Setup the accounts for her to keep it simple, and explain how to select a channel. The interfaces for most services are rather simple to master. A couple subscriptions under $10 per month could really put the icing on the cake.
Options include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus and more.