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Interstellar [Blu-ray]
Interstellar [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Matthew McConaughey
Price: $14.96
49 used & new from $9.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite four stars - unravels a bit at the end, April 11, 2015
This review is from: Interstellar [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
In general, it's a good story (no spoilers). Earth is slowly dying due to a blight and the main character, played by McConaughey, undertakes a dangerous interstellar journey in search of a new homeworld. The story explores the impact of his decision on the family he leaves behind and the emotional cost to him. The cinematography is very good, both on Earth and in space, which definitely makes it something you'd want to see in Blu-ray and on a large screen. It's a two hour plus movie but it does hold your attention, really giving you the sense that you're experiencing space travel. There are some good twists and turns in the plot as they explore new worlds, and work out issues among the crew, which was the most entertaining part of the story for me. However, when the story comes to a conclusion, it feels like all the careful work to make the science plausible sort of unravels. You're left with a interesting saga about life, sacrifice and hope but really disappointed at the abrupt loss of believability in the last minutes that causes you to drop out of the story. I'd still recommend it, but for me it comes in a little under four stars.

EVGA GeForce GTX 760 Super Clocked ACX 2GB GDDR5 SLI Ready Graphics Card
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 Super Clocked ACX 2GB GDDR5 SLI Ready Graphics Card
4 used & new from $259.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars When playing StarCraft (which my old card easily handled) the game is unusable, March 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bought this card back in November of 2014. Truly awful. I'd heard so much about EVGA being a high quality card that I figured it was worth the extra cost. The first problem I noticed was that I'd get major wavy distortion about ten seconds after my system came out of sleep. Wouldn't last long, just a couple of seconds. It was predictable and I could deal with it. Then I noticed that I had a weird artifact on my secondary monitor, a black rectangle on the desktop about a half inch by three inches. Doesn't affect a application or the browsers, but it's an ugly black square that's not supposed to be there. Still, I could live with almost all of that too. But what really gets me is the frame rate. Even when I play old games, I'm dropping frames left and right. When playing StarCraft (which my old card easily handled) the game is unusable. Going to try to get a mfg replacement but so far I'd say this is the worst card I've ever owned. And I've been building my own systems for a long, long time.

5/25 Update: The saga goes on. EVGA agreed my first card was defective. Had to ship back at my own expense, took just under two weeks to get set up again. Unfortunately, the replacement card wouldn't support my second monitor. EVGA sent a replacement. It was totally awesome! For about four days. Then my system wouldn't boot. Put the old card in (the one with the bad 2nd port) and the system booted. Tested a couple of times to be sure and got same result. Now I have card number three. Unfortunately, the dropped frames (or black flicker) is still a problem. Asked the EVGA tech for advice, he told me some things to try. Tried them. They didn't work. The only thing that does work is my old three years old MSI video card.

So far, EVGA has been very willing to work with me. They're very polite. Just getting really tired of trying cards. I've got a job and I'm tired of pulling my system apart. Is it a driver issue? Who knows. But it does seem very odd that a significantly older MSI card runs with no problem while the EVGA card keeps choking.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2015 9:33 PM PDT

Rush (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet)
Rush (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet)
DVD ~ Daniel Brühl
Price: $14.61
50 used & new from $6.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A full five stars - it really is that good, February 2, 2014
Rush runs contrary to the formulaic trends in filmmaking, producing a unique movie that is both interesting and memorable. The central story (no spoilers) is about a rivalry between the two central characters, James Hunt and Niki Lauda - both of whom are trying to break into the big leagues of Formula One racing. Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor), is a charismatic, hard partying playboy whose recklessness in life translates into brilliance as a racer. Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl, is something of a mirror image. He's an abrasive, mechanical genius who views the sport purely as a monetary exercise. The personal aversion between the two is instantaneous and a huge rivalry ensues as both clamor for recognition as the best in the world.

As a film, Rush succeeds on multiple levels, combining very solid cinematography together with a storyline that’s both interesting and engaging. There is a bit of a back and forth throughout the movie as you alternate between the personal lives of Lauda and Hunt and the races. And while some of it is predictable, there are several points along the way where you’re dealt some major surprises (unless you know the historical backstory). And the story grows too, progressing from something that is initially entertaining to something that's emotionally gripping.

The cinematography is outstanding. As there are numerous races, some of the chronicling is done as a montage, which is understandable given the number of years they must cover. However, some key races are handed in depth and the experience is both highly immersive and visually engaging. Some of the weather sequences are particularly worth mentioning.

Rush is memorable. Days later, the story line remain clear, the characters focused and the images burned into my retina. There are parts of the film that some may find distasteful (hence the R rating). However, the larger story is one worth watching and I’d definitely endorse it. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it was the best movie of 2014.

Gravity (Blu-ray)
Gravity (Blu-ray)
DVD ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: $12.29
79 used & new from $5.16

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let Gravity pull you in, November 23, 2013
This review is from: Gravity (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
<No spoilers>

3D tickets at the theaters aren't cheap these days but Gravity is definitely worth seeing. For many movies, the whole 3-D part is something of a gimmick, but not so much in this one. Yes, there are a few of those stock film shots when something flies by your head, but in general, you find yourself forgetting the fact its 3-D as you get absorbed in the story. And the story is absorbing.

You shouldn't expect a large cast on this one. In fact, it's a tiny cast. The vast majority of the story (no spoilers) takes place in space. But unlike Apollo 13 and other space movies, there is no real development of mission control. Instead you get what's essentially a real time story about a horrific accident in space and the efforts of the crew to survive.

George Clooney plays a great role. He's a career astronaut and an experienced hand. On the surface he's a bit of a clown. Underneath he's all business. Using a mix of jokes and distractions, he tries to maintain the calm among the crew while desperately struggling to get control of the situation.

Sandra Bullock is the scientist in the crew. She doesn't seem to be too thrilled about being in space but she's there to do an important job, and so she tolerates it. If you've seen Sandra in other movies, expect something a little different this time. Yes, she still has a bit of the quirky nature you'd expect but this is not fun and games. It's a survival role, and unlike Clooney, she's not clowning around.

This is very much a character driven story. However, the plotline is pretty riveting too if you don't get hung up on technical details. This isn't a documentary, so don't expect perfection. The cinematography is something of a mixed bag. At times it's fantastic--as good as any I've seen. At other times they seem to lose the grip, and it can look a big contrived and cartoonish.

The bottom line? So long as you don't hung up on the technical flaws, I think you'll be entertained by fresh story that isn't formulaic. And if you let go a bit, you'll lose yourself in a space adventure that gives you a birdeye view from space. I'm confident that most who make the trip will be glad they saw this one in the theaters. It's that good. Maybe not quite five stars -- but for me, it's definitely the best movie I've seen this year.

The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises
Price: $2.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bale fails in Dark Knight Rises, December 31, 2012
I've tracked Batman for quite a few years - in comics, cartoons, serialized television and in movies. It's fair to say that I'm a fan, And against that backdrop, I'd say that I find particular incarnation of Batman as something of a disappointment.

Batman is a different kind of superhero. He's the caped crusader, whose abilities rest not in super powers but on cunning and intellect. Sure, he has some gadgets. But he's not Superman. He's a real human being whose biggest advantage is his brain. In the same way that James Bond is supposed to be cool, Batman is supposed to be stealthy and smart.

Without Heath Ledger to add excitement to the script, I find Christian Bale kind of dull. He tries to be mysterious and cool but can't quite pull it off. For instance, there is that absurd guttural voice he uses, like some kind of scary Muppet. And then there is the fact, if I'm honest, that Christian Bale just doesn't strike me as a particularly smart Batman. You almost cringe watching him.

And it's not just Bale. It's the way the whole movie is cast. Bane is supposed to be the heavy in the movie but the character is confused. They give him this British accent, to make him sophisticated, and he spouts off a lot of philosophic stuff. But they've got him dressed like Master Blaster from Beyond Thunderdome with a face mask that looks like it came straight out of Silence of the Lambs.

My advice is to skip this one. And based on Bale's performance, expect a new Batman. Soon.

<Update> Looks like my prediction has turned out to be correct. Looks like they're going with a new Batman.

Midnight in Garden of Good & Evil
Midnight in Garden of Good & Evil
DVD ~ Kevin Spacey
Price: $7.89
48 used & new from $1.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, great storyline, June 26, 2012
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of those movies that's good enough that you go back and read the novel afterwards. Ironically, this movie didn't get a lot of acclaim when it released but seems to have garnered support as it aged. There are reasons for that.

What I like best about Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil are the character performances. How often will you get John Cusack, Kevin Spacey and Jude Law in a single film? Add to this a rather odd and quirky set screenplay and you won't have difficulty wondering why they still run tours today in Savannah that are related to the film.

What makes the story line interesting? Nearly everything. You've got a murder, gossips, voodoo and antebellum culture all colliding in a sleepy little city in coastal Georgia. There is something nostalgic about the filmaking too with a strong soundtrack and great cinematography. And in today's day, dominated by formula movies, I can guarantee you won't come out feeling like you've seen this one before.

Firefly: The Complete Series
Firefly: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Nathan Fillion
Price: $13.18
45 used & new from $6.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth watching, June 17, 2012
This review is from: Firefly: The Complete Series (DVD)
Firefly is definitely a little different than the run of the mill sci-fi series. What makes it different is the cowboy flair they give to it. You wouldn't think that mixing a cowboy style with sci-fi would work, but in this case it does.

My favorite character is the lead, Malcom. He's more or less a retired cavalry officer who has taken up a new line of work captaining a ship called Firefly. The character has a ton of charisma. He's not at all one of those wimpy sci-fi characters that's always worried about intergalactic peace or the prime directive. He tends to shoot first an ask questions later.

The other characters are interesting too. Malcolm's almost love interest is a high end call girl, who takes occasional jobs as they stop off at various places along the way. And then there is the rather quirky pilot who provides some good moments of comic relief. Toss in a couple of others, and the occasional visitor and it's a pretty interesting crew.

The technical name for this type of genre is a "space opera". What that means is that the episodes often showcase different aspects of the various characters lives to the backdrop of some kind of drama. Series like Star Trek, Farscape, etc., fall into that same category and if you liked them, you'll likely enjoy Firefly.

A great many people wonder why the series ended. And considering what the did with the two season's, tend to agree. Some episodes towards the end did loose their edge, but I didn't think they were out of gas. If the series had any weakness it was probably that they didn't develop aliens that were terribly interesting. The ultra villains, the Reavers, were kind of a joke. However, my guess is that Joss just got bored with it and moved on to some other project.

Short as it was, I'd recommend it. It's solid as Sci-fi series go.

John Carter (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
John Carter (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
DVD ~ Taylor Kitsch
Price: $12.96
52 used & new from $5.67

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and memorable, June 17, 2012
As some have remarked, John Carter isn't as bad as the critics claim. I can't say it's the best sci-fi I've ever seen but it is memorable.

The basic story, without spoilers, is about a postwar Confederate soldier, named John Carter, who ends up on Mars by accident. He soon finds himself in the middle of a new civil war between the three peoples who inhabit the planet. For his part, John must decide what his place is in this new world.

The best part of the film are the visual effects. They've done a really good job of world building the cinematography is high quality. They went for a steampunk look and feel (high tech/low tech) and for the most part it works. Also, the action wasn't overblown as is the case in a lot of the current movies.

Disney did a good job of creating likeable characters and there are plenty of comical moments along the way. For the most part the storyline keeps you interested and in that sense the movie succeeds.

So where does John Carter go wrong--and why do I only give it three stars? Two reasons, both of which are tied to the screenplay itself. The scenes can be very choppy at times. It really feels like the problem may be do to a screenplay that was rewritten one too many times leaving the story disjointed.

Another big problem for me was all the characters and scenes that too closely resembled other movies--I kept getting flashes of Jar Jar Binks, Jabba the Hut and that blue-man scene from Braveheart. It was very distracting because it was so hard not to notice.

Even so, it's still worth watching. Yes, it can be corny and a little recycled at times but its still fun. It was certainly worth the dollar blueray rental. If you like sci-fi and don't have super-high expectations, you'll probably enjoy it.

Finding Nemo (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Finding Nemo (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Albert Brooks
Offered by SoughtAfter
Price: $49.99
53 used & new from $1.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I've watched it many, many times, April 6, 2012
The screenplay for Finding Nemo is very, very clever and its one of those films you can watch multiple times and pick up something new each time. The basic story <no spoilers> is about the coming of age of a clown fish named Nemo. And, as the name implies, Nemo's dad spends a lot of time looking for him.

Love her, hate her, but any way you cut it Ellen DeGeneres turns in a brilliant performance as Dory, the memory challenged companion of Nemo. Likewise Willem Defoe is a standout as Gill, the escape artist. Add to these Bruce, the rehab shark, and Crush the very mellow surfer turtle and you've got a tour de force.

The screenplay is so clever that you really have to listen closely to get the full effect. And even when you're watching it again, the humor still works. The only downside that you have to deal with is the rather Disney-ish tendency to portray children as the wise ones and adults as the louts. This isn't done in such a heavy handed way though that it ruins the storyline.

Should you buy it? If you've got young kids and you've never seen it before, I'd definitely say yes. It's virtually guaranteed that you'll watch it several times. Pixar generally turns out great films and this is certainly one of the better ones. It's geared for kids but adults will enjoy it as well.

DVD ~ Kirk Cameron
Price: $4.99
110 used & new from $0.11

12 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful to watch, April 6, 2012
This review is from: Fireproof (DVD)
One of the worst bits of film I've ever watched. The script is amateurish, the plot contrived, the acting wooden. I don't say this because I oppose Kirk Cameron, Christianity or family programming. I'm actually an avid supporter of moral messages. My problem is that this this film is really, really bad. Don't be fooled by the rave reviews. What you're looking at is the result of large blocks of church votes from people who either like Kirk Cameron or support the idea of Christian films.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2014 2:54 PM PST

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