Get The Gringo - movie review

Another day with the Neural X, and DTS-X, and I took out a disc from the not too distant past: Get The Gringo

A relatively simple plot, with a fish out of water concept, but set within a Mexican prison, Mel is a man with skills and a loot to find. There's action, humor, both served with latte and bitter black noir style. Mel shows some of the form that brought him fame in the past, and the supporting cast do well too.

But the sound is where the money is. Watched on a BR disc with DTS-X upmixing of the sound, it was a nice way to spend an evening. 

I am not too sure who did the mix, but this movie that brought a second wind to Mr Gibson's career also gave it a very nice sound mix. It's one of those 'only' 5.1 DTS-MA mixes, but the scenes within the Mexican prison lends itself to a very claustrophobic mix, and you are able to utilise all the channels, both at the base surround level, and the soundstage extends itself nicely to the heights too.

The dialogue is crystal clear, and when the proverbial stuff hits the fan, well so does the sonic envelop. You get some nice gunfights, in the middle when the hitmen come for Mel, and later on in the final showdown. A very satisfying application of the Neural-X onto a 5.1 track.

Recommended, and although Mel messed up in the past, he can still be a solid actor, and I wish him well on his road to recovery and hope to see more good shows from him, both in front and behind the camera. 


Dynaudio Special Forty Speaker review

Every now and then, Dynaudio will issue some special edition speakers, and this time they are taking some of their best bits and making a pocket rocket, in the form of the “Special Forty”, a standmount speaker conceived to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

The technical specs off their website:

Oppo BDP 83 Nuforce Edition

So what are the special bits?

I found this video which explains the components of the S40:

The cabinet looks like it came off the Focus 110, and the tweeter is an Esotar but it is not the same as the one used in the Confidence C1, a speaker that costs twice more. The woofer is based on Dynaudio’s classic 17W75 MSP model, which is also used in the Evidence and Confidence speakers. So in effect you have much of what costs a lot more, for a lot less.

You get two choices of wood, a Red Birch or a Grey version. There is a plate at the back, with the 40th anniversary printed on it. The cabinet may be derived from the Focus series, but it’s a nice gloss, and will not look out of place in a fancy apartment. Pity that there’s no matching centre though. It’s not a big cabinet, and the rear porting will mean that it’s best to keep them a bit further from the wall, which might not help in the WAF situation. At least the gloss finish will help you convince that missus that they are a keeper.

So how do they sound?

Firstly they aren’t too hard to drive, and there is a nice scale to them, with good dynamics, but make no mistake, they will not replace a floorstander. There is a good sense of scale, and the soundstage created is marvellously deep, with a strong sense of image, with good localization of details.
This is what the speaker is all about, details, but never in a purely analytical way. In fact, the speaker is neutral to smooth, and even with awful mp3 recordings, it tries it’s best to make them sound musical. So unlike some high end speakers, it works well with a variety of music tastes and file types.
So they will go well with neutral sources and amps, but do give them some amps with the ability to double down on the current. They do not need a lot of watts, but like a good grip. This is a characteristic of the Dynaudio drivers.
With some power to drive it, it has good PRAT, and will catch onto any beat in the track nicely.

I must say, the Marantz PM 11 S3 complements them very well. Those who like a bit more bit can use a less warm amp, but in my opinion, this is a nice combination.

I had recently got acquainted with Cassandra Wilson (well her music anyway..) and her “Harvest Moon” song was very captivating. I also used Diana Krall’s “I Am Through With Love” which I listened first on Spiderman 3 (wished MJ aka Kirsten Dunst did a recording of it). There was a real air and space, and the vocals were liquid, never jarring, always just listenable. I then put on “Same To You” from Melody Gardot, and there was a deep beat which the speaker caught onto, and it had grip and some meat. The interesting thing is how well they can make the same song in compressed mp3 sound and if you use Airplay, it still sounds pretty ok.

So is it a world-beater then? Shall we sell our Platinums, Contours and Evidence speakers?

Well no…

The main issue is scale and dynamics. These are relatively small speakers after all, and will not fill a large hall. I believe they are designed for the small European or Hong Kong apartment where space is a premium. I can see them taking the position of pride in a small living room or a study, powered by a stereo amp, with a simple source and they will give you a reasonable impression of a concert, and with some reinforcement by the room, their bass and loudness levels will be sweet. No doubt they are capable of some very decent bass, the issue is that they will not plunge to the depths offered by Dynaudio’s floorstanders. There is no chest thumping bass here, and you should not expect it anyway.

They are best with vocals and will happily showcase their mids well.

And there’s the Confidence 1. I don’t own the Contour, so those of you who are asking about a comparison between the Contour 20 and the Special Forty are out of luck.

If I did not have the C1s around, that would have been it. Perhaps I will wax lyrically about how good the Special Forty speakers are, bar none. But the Confidence speakers do sound better, but they cost more than two times more. They also go down just a bit more. The C1s can be used in small to medium sized rooms, but the Special Forty is a good match for a study, or a modestly sized living room. Like mine… in my room, it was in it’s element, and since I prefer a good soundstage, and great mids, the lack of the final octave did not bother me. You would not miss that last bit that the C1s can churn out if you do not have them for comparison in the same room. You also would not miss the extra air in the higher frequencies until you have the C1s play the same song. The C1s convey music like a pair of electrostatics. They are that good.

Well like the Confidence 1s, I did find out that they can be quite fussy with speaker position. Even so, they withstand a closer boundary placement better than the C1.

I do not have an ultra high end setup, so I wonder if the differences will be more obvious in a better setup? As it stands, there is a difference, and for those who want a Home Theatre setup, there are no matching centre speakers for the Special Forty, so you have to step up to the Contours at least.

Now that will be interesting, seeing how the Specials compare with the Contours. The components are pretty similar, although the Contour 20 has a larger cabinet and is meant to please the bass heads more.

But given it’s pricing, it’s actually interesting that someone with deep pockets may consider using them as rear speakers in a Confidence or Contour based setup.

My final thoughts?

If you can only afford the Special Forty, you will be pretty pleased with them. The C1s have long been the bookshelf speaker that many aspire to own but now we have another two speakers jostling for the position of king of the bookshelf speakers from Dynaudio. The king should be worried, but it has just that much more, but it’s close enough to make them feel a little threatened... just a little.. 

I can safely say, if you have the 3000 Euros, it’s a very solid proposition, and there are some very sweet components inside. Run out and get a pair, or get two and hide one under your mattress for prosperity.. 


Very forgiving nature
Not too hard to drive
Real scale and wonderful soundstage
Solid value for money


Will not play to it’s best in a large room
No matching centre for expansion into a home theatre system
Limited color choices

 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Spiderman Homecoming – movie review

Spiderman has always been a fan favorite. He has superpowers, but he is also vulnerable, with bills to pay, school issues, and a lot of angst from his guilt about Uncle Ben.
Yet, he is also the one of the few superheroes who lives in a real city,  and is a funny, positive guy. If Batman was the night, you could say Spidey was a nice sunny day.
In recent times, we have already seen about 5 Spiderman movies starring two other actors, that have given this franchise their own interpretation of how he should be, and personally, Toby and Sam Raimi’s version was the better of two, and I must say, I shed tears when Spidey fought to the point of exhaustion to keep the runaway train from crashing into the river in Spiderman 2.  So now there’s a new reboot.

However this is more than simply another chap donning the outfit, and sharing a new version. It’s the first time Sony has allowed their golden goose to work with other studios, thus allowing Spiderman to enter the MCU or the Marvel Comic Universe. This is unprecedented in the movie world and we first saw a glimpse of Tom Holland’s Spidey in the Civil War and he gave as good as he took and did not look out of his league bouncing around with the best.

So he gets his own movie now, with cameos by other MCU heroes and an absent father figure in the form of Downey’s Ironman. Thankfully the plot does not spend too much time on the origins, and let’s a 2-minute conversation between Spidey and his sidekick Ned do the explanation. Instead it focuses on a version of Spiderman that is younger, more naïve and nascent than the previous two outings.

Here, he is still wearing his L plates, and whilst he has a new suit given by Tony Stark, he is shown to be new and still feeling his way around his powers. This gives a different take to the other shows, and of course, the fact that his aunt is now the super hot Marisa Tomei helps steer things from the usual interpretation.

Does it work? Well to a certain extent. I must say, the best superhero movie in recent memory was the Avengers Civil War. That is hard to top and this show has it’s moments, but it’s a bit too long and a bit too angsty to get the same top scores. Nevertheless it’s a solid outing, and there is enough action, humor and even a sprinkling of romance to keep it in the good category.

Michael Keaton is an excellent choice as the vulture, and it plays into the second rate kind of feel here. The stage is smaller, the villains are in your neighborhood, the hero is some guy or kid next door and the impact more localized. It does prevent a certain staleness that a larger scale movie may run into, given the recent rash of superhero outings with large ensemble casts which have even gone into the galaxies.

Here, it’s a borough in New York, with the setting of a school as the main stage, some action in the streets of NYC and many close ups of New York. I delight in knowing that Tom Holland actually attended a school there incognito so he could get a feel of it, and surprisingly no one there recognized him or believed him when he revealed who he was. Tom Holland is the youngest actor to play this hero, and he cuts a slim figure and balances being Peter Parker and Spiderman well.

This is what Spiderman is about, like 7-11, he is close but never closed, our friendly neighbourhood superhero. I look forward to the next installation and seeing him in future Marvel outings.

Apart from a nice plot, there was solid action and enough bass, activity the surrounds, to satisfy the home theatre fans. This will make a nice demo disc in future.  


I am glad he turned down the chance to be an Avenger. It doesn’t close the door, and depending on how things are polled, he can star in his next standalone movie or join as a member of the ensemble in a MCU matchup. But the fact that he refused initially makes him stand tall and not just become another cog in the wheel when the next Marvel / Avenger movie comes around. Right now, each Avenger movie has become rather busy and is in danger of being overwhelmed with too many stars.


XXX Return Of the Xandar movie review

For a real no brainer, where you can let your brainer relax, comes to the Xandar land. This is a movie where the plot is a mere excuse to move from one action piece to another. Bombs, babes and blasts in a Bond wannabe movie. 
The line between Vin Diesel's Fast and Furious and this franchise is blurring as the brings over the fast cars, action, and incredible stunts seamlessly across. I wonder if he used the same stunt team?
Not bad, but one will buy the disc for it's demo worthy action scenes more than the story. 

A long flight and some loud movies.. short reviews of Kong, Gifted, Kung fu Yoga, Rogue One, Resident Evil and XXX

Went for a long trip and I had a chance to check out a few movies:

Chris Evans aka Captain America sheds mask and shield to take on a more emotional role that shows off more of his acting chops. Think of it as a modern Kramer vs Kramer Lite.. not bad and worth a rental at least. No really effects.

Kung Fu Yoga:
So is that what an older and less energetic Jackie Chan does when he tries to replicate his big hit Armor of God? It's not bad, and there is genuine chemistry in this cross cultural treasure hunt. But if one is expecting breakneck pacing and action, then this is not for you.
But if you are looking for some classic slapstick plus some really nice/hot eye candy thrown in, you get two Indian superstars, plus one very flexible and hot Chinese actress who is skill in Yoga too.
Disha Patani is a really dish... 

Kong: Skull Island

A remake or a reboot? Well for action fans, this is not important and you get plenty of action, thrills and spills, copious use of bass. The plot is not too bad, and tries it's best to look original despite the many previous iterations. Worth a rental or a buy when it comes onto UHD.

Rogue One:
I had to skip this as I was busy and it's a nice movie, but for those who have not seen it, it's very important to go in without the baggage of watching the other Star Wars hits. Think of it like a Dirty Dozen in space instead. Nice plot, pacing and chemistry. Pity we can't see more of Felicity Jones. A buy for fans and also action demo hits.

XXX Return Of the Xandar:

For a real no brainer, forget Kong, this is a movie where the plot is a mere excuse to move from one action piece to another. Bombs, babes and blasts in a Bond wannabe movie. 
The line between Vin Diesel's Fast and Furious and this franchise is blurring as the brings over the fast cars, action, and incredible stunts seamlessly across. I wonder if he used the same stunt team?
Not bad, but one will buy the disc for it's demo worthy action scenes more than the story. 

Resident Evil Final Chapter:

The boom fest continues with this. The plot is thin than almost any other resident evil instalment or most other zombie movies, but if you have already invested time watching the rest, you might as well finish it. At least, it rewards you with plenty of action but I don't know if UHD will be kind, as our Zombie Action Queen, Ms Milla Jov has certainly aged.. rent or buy for a low price during the Good Friday sales and complete that collection.

Chips - movie review

In the 70s, you had two buddy cop TV shows that captured the audiences for many years: Starsky and Hutch, which became a semi-hit a few years back, and the motorbike equivalent: Chips.

So Dax Shepard decides that he should do the remake and promptly decides to be one of the leads too. Micheal Pena is his partner and he is usually a reliable character actor, but they can't really save this. There is plenty of action, some humor, mostly of the sexual innuendo sort and a few more that would have made Jim Carrey blush. That kind of sums up the movie and unless you are a true blue Chips fan, and the disc is cheap, I would stay away. In fact if you Are a Chips fan, you will want to avoid this to blemish the memory. 

My setup 3/2018

I decided to make the Denon AVC X8500H the centre of my home theatre system, and finally bring Auro into the system! PS64D8...