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Amazon Instant Video on PS3

April 5, 2012
Amazon Instant Video on PS3

Amazon Instant Video, now on Playstation 3

How could I sum this up in a single word?  Unprecedented? Huh-uh.  Inconceivable?  No, and I’ve been watching too much The Princess Bride.  Stupendous?  Nope.  Ah, yes.  FINALLY!

You have been able to watch Amazon Instant Movies on a computer.  You could buy a Roku player and watch them there.  Mobile users could watch Amazon movies on a Kindle Fire.  Heck, you could watch them on a desert island with a Samsung TV and an Internet connection (and really, what could be more appropriate than Cast Away).  But, for the first time on Tuesday, Sony announced that you can finally watch Amazon Instant Videos on your Playstation 3.

While I have a growing collection of Blu-ray discs and an old collection of DVDs, most of my viewing is done through one online service or another.  Amazon has great quality on their downloads, and they seem to be priced better than some of their competitors.  Their selection is outstanding, so if I’m not finding something interesting on Netflix, I’m using renting or buying it from Amazon.  Plus with the processing power on the PS3, I’m curious to see if the quality will be even better than on my Samsung TV.  Generally, I find that’s the case with Netflix, so it only stands to reason that Amazon will have better quality that way as well.

For more details, you can check out the information on PS3 Instant Videos at Amazon.com.

The Hunger Games – Beyond the Hype

March 26, 2012
Hunger Games - Bow + Arrow

The Hunger Games - Worth the hype?

With the amount of hype behind The Hunger Games, it was hard to fill its own shoes.  A unique story line goes a long way to making this movie worth watching.  Did it fill the shoes?  Depends on how much hype you read.

The movie was actually quite good if you managed to go into it with no expectations.  The characters are like-able, the premise is unique and the action scenes definitely draw you in.  I picture Suzanne Collins (the author) sitting down to think about what would happen if all the worlds reality TV shows were combined into one and run by Adolf Hitler (which, as it turns out, is almost true).  The premise definitely has a spark of contemporary TV in it, but they did a great job turning it into its own theme that succeeds at avoiding the copy-cat genre.

Do you remember the day in Jr. High English when you learned the word “denouement”?  Neither do the writers.  I haven’t read the book, but the movie ends in a way that just screams “We’re going to sell you the sequel!!”  Sell me the DVD.  Sell me the Video on Demand download.  Sell me the T-shirt.  But don’t sell me the next movie, while I’m trying to enjoy this one.  Without trying to give too much away, the ending really cheapened it for me.  They were a little too focused on generating revenue from the next revision and not focused enough on the post-climax of what was otherwise a good movie.

I hate it when I love a movie until the last 20 seconds.

DVDCorral – faster than ever!

March 1, 2012

We’ve just updated DVDCorral.com to new hardware!  This will make the site easier to use and much more responsive!  Whenever we make this kind of a change, there are usually a few things that drop off the plate.  So, please let us know if you notice anything isn’t working.  You should be able to e-mail webmaster@dvdcorral.com or just reply to this post (the e-mail address was broken on one upgrade!).  Hopefully we got everything this time and the site is just faster, but if something is broken please let us know!

Star Wars on Blu-ray now!

January 13, 2011

Yes, George Lucas, you get my money again.  First, you didn’t release Star Wars on DVD because you didn’t know if it would be a legitimate medium.   I bought the VHS versions.  Then you released the mastered versions on DVD.  I bought them on DVD.  Then, you released the original versions which were never available before on DVD.  I bought those too.

Just when I thought I was all done handing George Lucas my money, LucasFilm announced the release of all 6 episodes of Star Wars on Blu-ray Disc, which will be available September, 2011.  Lucas said they will sell for $139.99 for the complete set, but you can (at the time of this writing) save 50% if you pre-order StarWars from Amazon.com.

Yes, I did already pre-order mine.  Yes, George Lucas, you get my money one more time.

Wrong Image? Bad Thumbnail? Problem no more!

January 12, 2011

I know, I know, they drive me nuts too.  You know, the images that aren’t quite right.  Some of them are for the wrong movie (usually caused by multiple movies sharing the same UPC).  Sometimes it’s the right movie, but it’s just a terrible image.  Well, that’s enough of that!

We’ve been making a significant number of additions over the last 9 months and they’re so large that we’re unable to roll them all out at once.  A lot of users have made great suggestions and we’ve endeavored to get as many as possible into these changes.  Basically, we revamped our database to give you more data, more accuracy, and more control over your collection.  As the first visible change, we have added the image editor.

The image editor will allow you to upload new images for a movie, or to edit (crop) the current images we have for the movie.  The interface is still a bit rudimentary, but we’ll be improving that as we get feedback.  When you see a movie for which you would like to correct the cover, just click on the image itself until you are viewing the full size image on the movies own page (viewmovie).  Under the movie, you will see a link that says “Crop image”.  Click that link to upload a new image, or edit the existing one.  Once you are on the new page, click an image to edit, or, upload a new image.  You could scan your DVD, for example, or provide one of the images from the DVD movie studio.

Once you’ve chosen the image, you will be taken to a page that will allow you to edit each of the 3 main image types we use.  The first, and top-most image, is the kind that will be found on the front page or when you view an individual movie in your collection.  The next image is the one we use when we are displaying the thumbnails in a user’s collection.  Finally, the bottom image is the icon for a movie.  Click each of these three images, crop the larger image and then click “Save changes”.  This will commit the newly cropped image to the database.

Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see your changes right away.  They may be waiting to go through an approval process first, but then the best crops will get to be used by everyone.  We’re hoping this will help everyone fix images that are broken and even fix images that aren’t quite right even if they are the correct movie.  If you run into issues, please let us know.  We realize the interface is a but cumbersome, but hopefully we’ll improve that in a second stage after we’ve added some other new features.

Keep an eye out for some of the new database changes that should be coming soon.  You may see beta features show up in subtle places if you’re logged in.  That’s our way of testing them out with small sets of users.  Please be patient as we make the upgrades, but we do love to hear your feedback.  Feel free to leave them as comments on this (or other) posts, or you can always e-mail us as well.

For now, enjoy the new images!

DVDs on Sale – Be the First to Know!

May 17, 2010

Don’t you hate it when you just miss out on the big sale?  Well, fear no more!  Now DVDCorral brings you DVD sales just in time!  You have been asking us for sales or discounts on DVDs for a while now, and it’s been a lot of work, but now we’re finally able to bring the biggest and best deals directly to you.  As soon as a DVD goes on sale, you can find it in the Newest DVD Deals section.  To see DVDs that are having huge sales (sometimes as low as $5 or $6), checkout the Biggest DVD Sales page.  We now provide you with many new ways to search for DVDs and you can check them all out on our new DVD Deals page.

How does it work?  Well, if you’ve been around DVDCorral long enough, you probably already know that we draw our DVD and Blu-ray titles from several different databases.  One of those databases is from Amazon.com, and sales through Amazon is how we’re able to keep our cataloging service free to our users.  So, since we don’t really sell DVDs, we can’t technically have sales, but what we CAN do is let you know whenever Amazon has a sale.  So now, as soon as we detect that a title has gone on sale from Amazon.com, we add it to our DVD Deals page.  Now, while we aren’t technically having the sale, you’re still saving money and isn’t that what it’s really all about!

You might also be interested to note that, for most of our deals, the sale is actually from the previous Amazon price.  So, while the title might have dipped from $19.95 to $14.95, the retail price (and the price you’d find it elsewhere) may actually be $29.99.  Just keep that in mind when you’re looking at Newly Discounted DVDs — so if you see you’re only saving $0.50, you might actually be saving a lot more than that, it’s just that Amazon has dropped their price ANOTHER 50 cents today.

As always, we love your ideas and welcome suggestions.  We’ll continue to improve the site and make it easier for you to catalog and purchase DVDs.  Anything you can think of to make it better, feel free to comment on this post — yes, we do read them (and almost always reply)!

DirecTv adds Tivo-like Channel Toggle

September 15, 2009

Great news appeared on my DVR this morning — DirecTv has finally added the much coveted Tivo feature of Channel Toggle to the HR21-100.  This is a feature which has been on the Tivo for the long time and a lot of users who upgraded from the MPEG-2 Tivo HD receiver to the newer HR21 (MPEG-4) lost the feature in the “upgrade”.

Channel Toggle gives you the ability to switch between two channels and still have the ability to pause both.  Because most of the HD DVR units now have 2 tuners they allow you to watch one show while recording another.  In the case of the HR21, you could watch one show and then go back to the recording of the other to simulate the Tivo behavior.  With this new firmware upgrade, there is no need to be recording on either tuner to switch between the channels.  This makes channel surfing and switching much more dynamic.

Basically, it means you can easily watch two different programs and skip commercials.  For example, if this had been added as early as last night, I would have been able to watch Jay Leno’s first show, pause it before a commercial, switch to Monday Night Football and then back to resume Jay Leno’s show when the game went to commercial.  It’s a tremendously convenient feature to have and something that I’ve been missing ever since they took my Tivo away.

As with the Tivo, you can activate this feature simply by pressing the Down Arrow.  Similar to the “Prev” button, it will switch to the previous channel.  The difference is that when you now use the Down Arrow, you will keep your buffered recording on both channels (in other words, you can still rewind on both channels live).  So, if you have the HR21, just stop using the “Prev” button and start using the Down Arrow — convenience surely shall follow!

DVD Custom Labels – Fixed

September 9, 2009

While we work hard to test DVDCorral, unfortunately, we don’t find all the bugs in our own testing.  Thankfully we have a great community here at DVDCorral and you help us tremendously.  Recently, a user mentioned that there was a problem with the Custom Labels.  This is a feature which allows you to mark a DVD as being stored in slot #27 of your DVD Changer or as belonging to the James Bond series.  However you’d like to organize and categorize your DVDs, you can!

We have corrected the problem that was mentioned and everything should be working normally.  We apologize to all of those who had trouble using the custom fields, but hopefully they’ll work better now.  Access them by clicking “Settings” once you’ve logged into the site.  Click the checkboxes near the bottom for the custom fields you’d like to enable, enter your personal label for that field, and you’re good to go!

At DVDCorral it is our goal to be your favorite DVD Collection website.  Sometimes we have problems, or maybe you just find features you’d like to see.  Feel free to leave a comment on any relevant blog post, or just e-mail us at webmaster@dvdcorral.com.  Only you can provide the suggestions that make DVD Corral just perfect for your collection, so go ahead, let us know what YOU would like to see.

Thanks for helping make DVDCorral the best place to catalog and watch DVDs online!

Meteor – Mini-series or Harbinger of Future NBC Ratings?

July 21, 2009

NBC recently aired a mini-series about a cataclysmic meteor collision entitled, well, Meteor.  A meteor is headed toward earth — this sounds like science meets explosions.  How could I not enjoy this?  On top of that, it stars Christopher Lloyd and Jason Alexander.  Great cast.  Cool-enough premise.  I sat back ready to be awed, amazed and entertained.  Unfortunately, Meteor doesn’t exactly shower down entertainment.

In holding with DVDCorral-style reviews, I will try to avoid any spoilers while giving you as much information about the movie as possible.

Oh, there was plenty of awe.  I sat back in awe of what a colossal disaster Meteor was.  Amazement?  You bet — I’m amazed that something with a good cast could be such a terrible flop.  Alright, enough blasting Meteor.  Let’s discuss how it missed the mark so badly.

First, there is a premise in Scifi that some aspects of it must be believable.  This is why shows like Star Trek were able to hold viewers for decades and why we can’t even remember the names of movies that don’t make us believe.  One of my favorite examples of this was Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars book series (soon to be a movie).  The initial premise was that a man shows up on Mars and is able to breathe there.  After that, no more faith – just science.  John Carter has super-Martian abilities since he grew up in Earth’s (greater) gravity.  He can run faster, jump higher, etc.  You’ll have to take a leap on the first step, but after that everything not only makes logical sense, but is also believable.

This is the first premise where this movie fails.  In this one 3-hour mini-series, “the unlikely” merely becomes “the predictable”.  Meteor is not a world of SciFi/Action, it is a world where nothing but Murphy’s Law reigns supreme.  Once you realize that, all of the surprise is gone.  Every moment of possible suspense in this mini-series is as predictable as the death of each spurious red-shirted character on Star Trek — each of them fades away as quickly as they surfaced.

Next, imagine you’re watching the movie Armageddon and the creep from I Know What You Did Last Summer shows up.  It doesn’t really fit the plot (ok, sorry, that was an understatement — apparently I’m running out of hyperbole here).  It’s just strange, a little annoying, and definitely distracting.  At least it would be distracting if there were more of a plot to begin with.  Oh, thankfully they removed the hook so you can keep trying to figure out what movie this character has been extracted from.

Finally, we bring in the absolute worst element of Star Wars.  Let me clarify.  In the first episode of Star Wars, A New Hope, the rebels blow up the Death Star.  The Empire then does something very creative — they build another death star.  Every time we fix a problem, the exact same problem resurfaces with a new disguise.  I lost count of how many aborted count-downs there were.  Each time they are ready to blow up the meteor they come up with a new reason to wait at the last second.  Yawn.

Believe it or not, there were some redeeming qualities in a movie this bad.  There were some good actors who did exactly what we expect out of them.  Jason Alexander does a great job as an Astro-physicist and I never once thought I was watching Seinfeld.  Several of the lesser known actors also did a great job, so overall I was impressed with the acting.  The effects were also pretty good for a mini-series, though some scenes were a little dark watching it on Hulu.com.  It is possible that was just related to video quality, however, and not necessarily to production.

There is a human element that is sometimes forgotten in SciFi/Action movies, but it wasn’t lost here.  For each major event the fallout can be seen among people and their reactions.  In a real disaster, this is the magnifying effect that is really seen in people.  Those who are truly good people and think on their feet quickly become heroes.  There are always a few people who try to take advantage of the situation and cause a nightmare for everyone else.  Some even begin to react emotionally only to settle into their true selves as the need arises.  Meteor did a great job of adding this human element to an otherwise pending disaster reaching terminal velocity.

I often wonder how NBC’s ratings could be so bad.  They have good shows like Chuck… which got pushed out a year and a half.  NBC is certainly the late night leader with Jay Leno on the Tonight Sh– I’m sorry, I forgot they fired Jay and replaced him with Conan.  Now this?  Maybe Meteor is just another example of NBC’s ability to crater in the face of certain success.

Gran Torino Review

July 2, 2009
Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino

Eastwood in Gran Torino

The movie is over.  The credits are over.  I haven’t moved.  I can’t move.

Sometimes a movie hits you from an angle you didn’t see coming and you can’t do anything but stare… soaking it all in.  It wouldn’t be the first time a Clint Eastwood film struck hard.  Million Dollar Baby was an intense movie — lit with passion, but rushing with emotion.  There is certainly a different theme in the movie, but that same, well-developed plot carries the emotion high throughout the entire movie.

There is a certain passion that has been lacking in movies lately.  Some great special-effects movies have come out and even the occasional movie with a strong plot.  Gran Torino was a different kind of movie.  There is a constant building to the climax you are certain is coming.  Yet it is so elusive.  Small streams of thoughts and themes run through the movie, but you can’t quite put your finger on where it is going.  Yet each moment pulls you deeper into the character.  Not in the way you expected, not in a way that has become cliche… yet you are pulled in none the less.

Everything that had been setup in this movie is clearly pulled together in the ending.  It was like taking a trip down the Niagara River… blindfolded.  You know there’s a clear end coming and that it will be spectacular, you can even hear the rushing waters, but you’re not quite sure wher– and then it’s over.  The climax was everything I was expecting it to be and more and the denouement was perfect.  Somehow Eastwood managed to put magic in this movie that can usually only be found in a book.  It was truly breathtaking.

As usual, Eastwood was striking as an actor.  There were some other parts in the movie that could have been played better. There were also some issues with the audio.   I heard one viewer complaining that the sound track was too low, but personally I found it especially punchy.  It didn’t seem well mixed and it made the voices jump out too much which was occasionally a distraction from the movie itself.  I suppose if I didn’t listen in near-reference levels I may have found the same problem with the overall level not being loud enough.  I tend to listen to my music softly and my movies loud, however.

In all, the few technical issues with the movie were just minor distractions.  Those sensitive to language might want to know that it was rated “R” for some very strong language.  Other than that, I can’t find anything bad to say about the movie.  The plot was phenomenal, the directing was excellent, and finally — Wow.  When you see the movie, you’ll understand.

Gran Torino is now available from Amazon for Rent or Purchase.  I purchased this movie through Amazon and watched it on 100″ projection via Xbox360 and was very pleased with the quality of the Video on Demand.

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