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Get a Great Deal on a Kodiak Waterproof Backup Battery

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Outdoor Tech have launched an Indiegogo campaign for an expansion of their Kodiak Waterproof portable battery line. I’ve been using the currently available Kodiak 6000mAh model and it’s working fine, even after I threw it in the pond out back and left it there for a half hour.

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‘Fury’ Visits Fort Benning

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Fury director David Ayer and cast members Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Michael Peña paid a visit to Fort Benning on October 16th to show the film to soldiers stationed there.  It was a beautiful day in Columbus, GA and the Army laid out an impressive tank display.

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They invited a few press along to see the scene and ask a few questions before we all got kicked out so those guys could hang with the military and watch the movie in private.

Military​.com interviews Brad Pit for “Fury.”

Fury tells the story of a WWII Sherman tank crew given an impossible mission in the waning days of the European campaign. Director David Ayer (End of Watch) brings his renowned eye for detail to a story about how men bond during wartime.

Brad Pitt gives another one of his Gary Cooper-style performances where he doesn’t talk a lot and lets his eyes and body language do most of the work.  He plays Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier. Shia LaBeouf gives his best performance ever as Boyd Swan, a Bible-quoting crew member. Michael Peña’s Cpl. Gordo Garcia drives the tank and Logan Lerman plays Norman Ellison, an Army typist assigned to the crew because of a clerical error. Jon Bernthal (PFC Grady Travis) didn’t make it to Fort Benning because he’s off shooting a new series for HBO created by the folks who made The Wire.

"Fury" - Fort Benning Georgia Special Screening

Brad Pitt is obviously one of the most famous actors in the world and Shia LaBeouf is adored by a lot of soldiers who grew up on Transformers, but Logan Lerman was the cast member who attracted a group of excited young girls, suggesting that those Percy Jackson movies and/or The Perks of Being a Wallflower must be a lot more popular with kids than adults might realize. Shia wasn’t interested in talking to the press and spent most of his media time autographing stuff for the men and women in uniform. He makes a brief appearance at the end of the Logan Lerman/Michael Peña video below.

“Fury” Interview: Logan Lerman and Michael Peña

"Fury" - Fort Benning Georgia Special Screening

As he described in the above video, Michael Peña had a fantastic role as an LAPD officer in Ayer’s End of Watch. Fury has that same attention to details: the way the characters have customized the Sherman tank’s interior could be the subject of an hour-long documentary when the movie comes out on home video next year. Ayer also talked to us about his eye for detail and how he wants to use that to anchor the very human story he’s trying to tell.

Interview: “Fury” Director David Ayer

Fury is a fine movie. It’s unrelenting in its pursuit of realism but it uses that realism to tell the kind of brothers-in-arms story that was Hollywood’s stock-in-trade for war movies in the WWII-era and those details give the film a depth those old movies never really had. There’s a lot of rough scenes in Fury, but those scenes give the sacrifices the characters make extra weight and clarity.

Screenwriter Bob Gale Talks Spielberg’s ‘1941’

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Steven Spielberg’s World War II comedy 1941 has just been released on Blu-ray for the first time as part of the new Steven Spielberg: Director’s Collection Blu-ray box set (also on DVD). Starring Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Robert Stack and Treat Williams, the movie got a mixed reception on its release in 1979, mostly because its loud comedy wasn’t what everyone expected from the guy whose two big movies were Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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The Director’s Collection features movies Spielberg made for Universal, starting with Duel (the TV movie that launched his career), The Sugarland Express, Jaws, 1941E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, AlwaysJurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Duel, Sugarland, 1941 and Always are appearing on Blu-ray for the first time.

There’s an extended cut of 1941 on the disk that adds about 30 minutes of footage, most of which is plot development. The movie makes a lot more sense when you have a little more insight into why the characters are all running around yelling about an imagined Japanese invasion of Los Angeles. (1941 is on Netflix, but that’s the shorter theatrical version.)

Screenwriter Bob Gale wrote 1941 in partnership with Robert Zemeckis. The two would go on to write all three Back to the Future movies (which Zemeckis also directed). Gale talked to Military​.com about how 1941 got made, the WWII research that went into the film and why you should watch the extended version.

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This is the first time “1941” has been on Blu-ray, but I also didn’t realize that there was an extended cut released a few years before.

The extended cut was originally first seen on ABC TV, when the movie ran there. When it went to laser disc, everybody said it would be good to put that extra footage in there and then that sort of became part of the package.

But the extended version has never been seen theatrically and the extended version that’s on the Blu-ray set has never been experienced before. Our music guys unearthed the original scoring sessions that John Williams had done and added score to some of those additional scenes. So there are three or four scenes that are now scored properly. Before, they were thrown together with some score by a music editor. So it’s better than ever before.

The extended cut is a much different movie.

It is, isn’t it? I think it’ll be a revelation to a lot of people.

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Tell us the story of how you came to write the script and why the version that came out in theaters is different than this new version.

When Bob Zemeckis and I were first starting off on our careers, we were knocking on people’s doors, trying to get jobs. We had written a script on spec that we were using as a writing sample. One of the people we went to was John Milius, who had graduated USC like we did, about three or four years prior to us. This was in 1975. John had just made the The Wind and the Lion at MGM. MGM was really excited about that and John had a four-picture deal because of it. Two pictures that he was going to write and direct himself and two pictures that he would produce with other writers.

So John said read our script, he really liked it, he liked us. He said, “Boys, I want to do for you what Francis Coppola did for me, when he hired me to write Apocalypse Now and give you a break.” So that was awesome and he asked us if we had any ideas for movies.

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We told him about this incident that we’d come across, in which there was a false alarm air raid over Los Angeles in February 1942. John was a history buff and he knew about that incident. He also knew that General Joe Stilwell had been stationed in LA in the first three weeks of the war, so he said let’s move it to a week after Pearl Harbor so we can put Stilwell in it. And we set the project up at MGM.

We wrote two drafts with John’s supervision and John starts telling his buddy, Steven Spielberg, about this crazy script that these two lunatics he hired out of USC had written. And Steven said, “Ive gotta read this, John, I’ve gotta read it.” So Steven reads it and Steven gets all excited about the prospect of a dogfight on Hollywood Boulevard and a tank battle on the Santa Monica Pier and all the insanity that we put into the script. He said, “I want to direct this movie, John.” So that’s how Steven got involved, that’s how the movie came to be, and that’s the answer to part one of your question.

Part two, regarding the two different versions, the movie had a hard release date of Christmas time, 1979. And the movie went over-schedule and over-budget, so Steven was scrambling to get the movie edited in time to make the release date. I think that if Steven had had a few more weeks in the editing room, he might have gotten the movie balanced more properly. But, as it was, he was worried that the audience might not want to sit so still for some of the exposition that we had in the first hour of the movie, so he cut a lot of stuff out in that part to get to the air raid quicker.

The stuff that he cut out is the bulk of the new material that’s in the extended version. And that had originally been put back into the movie when it ran on ABC in the late 80’s. Then in the early 90’s, we put it on laser disc and it’s kind of been part of the package ever since.

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I was a kid when the movie came out, so I don’t – I seem to vaguely remember some carping from people about the historical details of the movie, but the not-exactly-accurate history plays really well now when you see it.

I mean we’re really proud of that. You know, we did a lot of research on it and we were kind of talking to Steven about the helmets that our troops wore right at the beginning of World War II were actually those doughboy helmets from World War I. And they would have had an old tank. They hadn’t figured out the Sherman tank yet.

All the planes were absolutely accurate. There’s a group called the Confederate Air Force. I think they call themselves the Consolidated Air Force now. And they were brought in to help us with the planes, so that B17 is the real deal. I guess somebody in that group had a P40 and then the other planes that are parked on the airfield at Long Beach, those are all accurate. So the period detail is really, really good.

I’m so happy that the extended version turned out on this Blu-ray the way that it did, because I think when people watch that, they’re gonna completely have a new idea about what this movie really is and how good it is.

‘X-Men’ Clean Out the Closet

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X-Men: Days of Future Past (out now on Blu-ray and DVD) pulls off a great trick: the movie stays true to the overall storyline of the Marvel series and figures out a way to wipe out the plot disasters of X-Men: The Last Stand.

Bryan Singer is back as the director after Matthew Vaughn revived the series with X-Men: First Class in 2011. Singer and writer Simon Kinberg have come up with a time travel story that features both adult and young versions of most of the characters (except Wolverine. Wolverine always stays the same).

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There’s even one scene where young Professor Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) meets up with his older self (Patrick Stewart) as the X-Men try to change the course of history and win the war against the Sentinels by preventing them from being created in the first place.

The script dials down the trippy time travel elements in favor of straight-ahead action. Wolverine travels back to 1973 and tries to convince the younger versions of the X-Men to foil Mystique’s assassination of the scientist who invents the Sentinels. Magneto is incarcerated in the Pentagon basement for allegedly killing JFK, but the newly-sprung Magneto insists that he would never kill Kennedy because he was also a mutant.

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The ‘70s scenes are shot like a ‘70s movie and the contemporary scenes have a futuristic look. It makes for a nice contrast. X-Men: Days of Future Past does not contain any Moody Blues songs on its soundtrack, but it does push a few of the same musical buttons as Guardians of the Galaxy with Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” and Roberta Flack performing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”

Fans of Major William Stryker from the comic books (and X2) will be glad to know that his younger self makes an appearance in the flashback scenes and he seems to be set up as a major character in the inevitable sequel.

The extras are serviceable but not necessary. Fox has come up with a solution to the Digital copy problem. You can now get an iTunes version OR an UltraViolet version as your digital copy. They don’t offer both like some studios but you now at least have the opportunity to own the Apple version if that’s what you prefer and the Fox digital website actually works in a non-complicated way.

Pocket Kick: A Quality Speaker that Really Does Fit in Your Pocket

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Soundfreaq makes a lot of well-designed wireless speakers that sell at a reasonable price and the Pocket Kick fits right into that tradition. It’s really small (6″ x 2.5″ x 1.25″ and weighs 9.3 oz.), retails for $99 and comes in black, gray and gold. +Continue Reading

Underwater Photography With the iPhone PhotoProX

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If you want to use your iPhone camera underwater, the Optrix PhotoProX case and lenses for the iPhone 5/5s are going to get the job done and protect your phone. The set sells for $149.95 direct with free shipping.

Testing waterproof products is always a leap of faith. There’s a lot that can go wrong and there’s not really a “testing-related phone accident” clause in my employment agreement. Optrix advertises “Military-grade” protection and IPX8 water immersion protection. Once I made the commitment, the case was 100% effective through my testing. +Continue Reading

Review: ‘Universal Classic Monsters’ DVD Box Set

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Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection is a DVD box set that fills in most of the gaps left by the excellent Universal Classic Monsters eight-film Blu-ray collection from 2012. The set covers the golden era of Universal monster movies from 1931–1956 and features separate DVD collections for Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. +Continue Reading

Fix Your iMac With a NewerTech Keypad

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The NewerTech Wireless Aluminum Keypad corrects a major Apple error: the elimination of the numeric keypad from its wireless keyboard a few years back.  They still sell as wired keyboard with a keypad, but that severely limits where you can position yourself at your computer. The NewerTech retails for $54.95, matches the Apple wireless keyboard and does a great job. +Continue Reading

Lose the Land Line With Ooma

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The Ooma Telo uses your Internet connection to provide telephone services. You can buy the device once for $129.99 and use it forever. This sounds a lot like the Vonage pitch from a few years back, but with a crucial difference. The Ooma sounds great, way better than the other VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services on the market. If you’re tired of paying your local phone company for a land line, this is a great solution if you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Anyone under the age of 30 whose first phone was a cell phone may not really see the need for a home phone number, but people alive back in the ancient times of the ‘70s and ‘80s often feel like a shared family phone is a necessary part of a civilized lifestyle. Ooma wants to talk to you people.

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Get the Complete ‘Daniel Boone’ on DVD

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Daniel Boone: The Complete Series (50th Anniversary Edition) has just been released on DVD and contains all 165 episodes of the NBC series that ran from 1964–1970 and all through the ‘70s in after-school reruns. Fess Parker starred as the pioneer legend, with pop singer Ed Ames as his Native American sidekick Mingo. +Continue Reading