Get First Crack at the Big Turtle Shell

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The Turtle Shell 2.0  is one of the best rugged wireless Bluetooth speaker options and now Outdoor Tech is getting ready to launch the Big Turtle Shell with a campaign on Kickstarter.

Along with its much larger size, the Big Turtle Shell promises up to 110 decibels of sound, a 30-ft range and an 16-hour battery life. They’ve also thrown in some USB connectors so you can use the device as a charging station if you’re not aiming to play music for the full 16 hours before your next charge.

The new one is big enough to come with handles on the bottom but it promises to include all the waterproof and phone call-answering features from the smaller 2.0 version. We’ll have a full review when the Big Turtle Shell is shipped to retailers but, if you’re sure you want one, you can pledge $150 on their Kickstarter page and get one as soon as their ready (with free shipping in the USA). The device will retail for $229.95 when it’s available in stores (and the original sells for $129.95), so this is a big savings. There are other packages available (including a great deal on a matched set of both sizes). Check out their promotional video below. +Continue Reading

ATH-M50X: A Perfect Studio/Home Listening Hybrid

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The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X is a long-awaited update to one of the most respected professional audio headphones. If you’re looking for a reasonably-price pair that can work in a home recording setup and also do double duty for casual listening, then go order a pair right away. Even though the retail price is $239, you’ll be able to find them for around $170 online. Even if you’re not an aspiring audio engineer or musician, the M50X just might be the best under-$200 over-ear headphone choice.  +Continue Reading

Magic Tank Emergency Fuel Promises to Bail You Out

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Magic Tank Emergency Fuel promises to bail you out in an emergency if your car runs out of gas. The product comes in a half-gallon jug and claims to have the same properties as gasoline, minus the fallmable butanes, pentanes, hexanes or heptanes. That should make it safe to keep in the  trunk of your car and the manufacturer claims a 10-year shelf life. +Continue Reading

‘Anchorman’ On Repeat With Adam McKay

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is out this week on Blu-ray in one of those ridiculously loaded packages that includes over four hours of special features. Director Adam McKay talked to us about how they ended up with so much Anchorman and reflects on why so many people think his movies are funnier the fourth, fifth, twentieth time they watch them. +Continue Reading

Reality is Overrated: ‘SEAL Team 8′

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We get a lot of pitches around here that emphasize just how real the military action sequences are in Hollywood movies. Studios emphasize the badass credentials  of their military advisers and directors and actors rhapsodize about the thrill of creating action sequences that might pass muster with the guys who actually do it for a living. Seal Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines (out now on Blu-ray and DVD) is not one of those movies. +Continue Reading

Exploring an Iraq Vet’s Struggles in ‘Out of the Furnace’

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Out of the Furnace (out now on Blu-ray and DVD) tells a tragic tale about Russell and Rodney Baze, two working-class Pennsylvania brothers played by Christian Bale and Casey Affleck. Bale is a machinist who’s trying to look out for his younger brother, an Iraq war vet fighting PTSD.

When the movie came out last December, it into a PR buzzsaw because its bad guys (led by Woody Harrelson) have Dutch last names that are common in the Ramapo tribe, a New Jersey cultural group that identifies as Native American. The Ramapough Lunaape Nation sued the film’s director Scott Cooper, claiming his characters defamed their people.  +Continue Reading

‘The Monuments Men’ Comes to Blu-ray

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The Monuments Men, director George Clooney’s tribute to the Allied Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section and their efforts to rescue and preserve art and European culture during World War II, comes to Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital on May 20th.

The action thriller stars Clooney alongside Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville in a screenplay inspired by and adapted from Robert Edsel and Bret Witter’s history of the men and women who fought to preserve Europe’s monuments and recover and return thousands of pieces of  art stolen by the Nazis. +Continue Reading

Korus Delivers a Different Kind of Wireless

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The engineers at Korus recognized that wireless interference and distance issues can be a major flaw in both wi-fi and Bluetooth speaker systems and set out to engineer their own solution.

They come up with two new speakers, the V400 and the the V600, that both use the proprietary SKAA networking standard. SKAA creates a direct connection between the streaming device and the speaker, aiming to eliminate the dropouts that plague wireless music systems. +Continue Reading

Director David Ayer Talks ‘Sabotage’

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Sabotage stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as John “Breach” Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA team tasked with taking down the most dangerous kingpins in the drug trade, They steal $10 million during a raid and slowly turn on each other after the stolen money disappears. Writer/director David Ayer has made a movie that’s part heist story, part film noir, part revenge tale and part mystery story. Why Breach’s team stole the money, who stole it the second time and who’s taking out the agents are revealed in between the scenes of mayhem.

Schwarzenegger’s team features a much higher-octane cast than his other post-Governorship movies: Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans), Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike), Terrence Howard (Crash, Iron Man), Max Martini (Saving Private Ryan, Captain Phillips), Mireille Enos (World War Z, The Killing TV series) and Josh Holloway (Lost, new TV series Intelligence) make up most of the DEA team, which Ayer has rounded out by casting technical advisers Kevin Vance and Mark Schlegel in acting roles. +Continue Reading

‘Brothers in War’ Revisits Vietnam

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The new National Geographic Channel documentary Brothers in War (premiering Wednesday, March 26th at 8pm ET) takes a look at the conflict through Charlie Company’s experiences during the men’s training and year-long tour in 1967.

Based on new interviews with the veterans, archival film footage from both training and field service (including a surprising amount of the troops’ own home movies) and even some recordings sent home as audio letters during the tour, the documentary’s narrow focus (the 160 men of Charlie Company instead of the 485,000 troops in Vietnam in 1967) gives an honor and weight to the men’s experiences that’s missing from most military documentaries that try to explain the conflict from a 10,000 ft. overview.

Based loosely on Andrew Wiest’s The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam and mostly lets the men speak for themselves. There’s a minimal amount of narration from a raspy Charlie Sheen, trying to conjure up that Platoon spirit after a couple of decades of being Charlie in Hollywood.

In this clip, Charlie Company Commander Herb Lind talks about down time at the Dong Tam Base Camp and the amenities the men enjoyed. 1st Platoon Squad Leader talks about the Med Camp operations and the troops’ interaction with Vietnamese civilians.

The tour was brutal and Charlie Company suffered a casualty rate of over 80%, with 26 killed and 105 wounded. The film captures the camaraderie the men developed before going into explicit detail about their major engagements with the Viet Cong. Brothers in War follows the men through their return home in January 1968 and their company reunions that began in 1989.

The “war at home” stuff is there to provide context but none of the men featured in the film seem interested in focusing much on that conflict. Maybe it’s just the perspective of 45 years gone by or the fact that American civilians have since learned to respect men and women who serve even if they disagree with the military decisions made in Washington, but that standard hippies screaming about Vietnam footage doesn’t seem that crucial a part of this one.

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Another striking thing about the film is just how much of the included footage is taken from network news reporting. Anyone too young to remember seeing the Vietnam War on the evening news might be shocked at how much access the media had to the day-to-day operation of the war. One small reservation: the music score sounds like instrumental outtakes from a 1993 alternative hard rock album. Faked Stones, Motown, Hendrix or Doors sounds would better fit the footage.

I’m not the only one who likes this documentary. Military historian Dr. Erik  B. Villard saw the film at a screening last week and offered up the following quote:

Having spent the last two decades researching and writing about the Vietnam War, I must say ‘Brothers in War’ is one of the finest documentaries about that conflict ever produced, featuring razor-sharp editing, masterfully restored archival footage, and a powerful yet understated musical score. The narration by Charlie Sheen is first-rate, as are the interviews conducted with members of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, who offer compelling testimony about the harsh realities of combat and the bonds of brotherhood forged in war. A must-see.

Nat Geo TV will probably show this a few dozen times over the next year or so and it’s worth checking out, especially if you have a family member who served during this era.