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Saturday, August 08th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Harbinger Down” is a enjoyable flick, but there are some caveats to keep in mind. First; yes this is very much “The Thing” done over. There’s a reason for that though. The effects house Amalgamated Dynamics was hired to do the practical effects for 2011′s “The Thing” prequel. Unfortunately, the studio replaced all of their effects with CGI before release. Feeling slighted, ADI decided to venture forth and kick start their own film to showcase their practical effects. With that in mind, ADI may have had a bit of a misstep in promoting this as a ‘practical effects’ movie because at times, the story runs a bit thin as the movie tends to feel like an effects showcase. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie though.

“Harbinger Down” benefits greatly from the addition of genre legend Lance Henriksen. Lance commands the screen and helps drive the plot when it sometimes bottoms out and runs a bit slow. The rest of the cast does well enough, with nobody really standing out as particularly bad. Nobody really stands out as particularly good though in the wake of Henriksen. This isn’t such a bad thing; it’s a serviceable cast that shines on its own from time to time. With a story line that mirrors such an iconic genre movie though, it could have benefited from some stellar performances.

The story is another factor that keeps “Harbinger” in the realm of pretty good vs. great. Again, it’s a watchable story and is engaging. It just mirrors its roots closely throughout its run. They tweak the origin a bit as well as the big bad, but it was clear that the filmmakers had a particular setup in mind and the follow the formula from beginning to end. It’s a solid formula though, so you can enjoy the film for what it is. There’s just no particular aspects to make it stand out on its own. No aspects that is, aside from the effects.

It’s clear that “Harbinger Down” is made to be a showcase for the unused practical effects created by ADI and thankfully, those effects really excel. While sometimes the framing of these effects by the film around them are a little hokey, if you were a fan of the gory results of “The Thing”, you’ll be impressed by the chaos that besets the crew of the Harbinger. They shoot for the moon in their creations, aiming for bigger and crazier than its predecessor and they make for a fun twist, and these twists are where the film separates itself from their influences. Their big and gooey and sometimes packed with splatter, and there’s moments that will make you cringe and make the gorehounds smile.

In the end, ask yourself this; did you like “The Thing”? Then you’re going to like “Harbinger Down” better than the prequel.

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Sunday, July 24th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

All right, let’s get this out of our system at the top; “Oh man, Uwe Boll sucks! All his movies are crap! I can’t believe you watched this!”

There, feel better? Sweet, let’s get on to talking about the movie itself and not the director.

Back in 2005, Boll brought to life the day walking ‘Dhampir’ from the same titled hit video game. The game was filled with high flying kicks and blood and guts and good old fashioned Nazi slaughter and Boll brought us much of the same. Now we’re up to the third film in the series, “The Third Reich” and not much has changed from that first film, except our busty vampire was taken over by Natassia Malthe in the second and third movies instead of Kristina Lokken who wore the red and black spandex the first time around. As you can see from the picture above, Ms. Malthe fills out the suit pretty well!

As far as the movie goes, “Bloodrayne: The Third Reich” is exactly what you’ve come to expect from an Uwe Boll movie. The film is full of action and brutality to Nazi’s, so it’s something you can get behind and root for. The plot is thin but makes sense for the time period; the Third Reich is trying to exploit the zombie infection to make super soldiers as well as an immortal fuhrer. The idea plays well with the standard occultism plot lines that generally accompany a Nazi horror flick, so all is well. Still, the story is thin and doesn’t leave much to sink your fangs into. Let’s be honest here; we’re only here to watch Natassia Malthe kick ass in a cat suit anyways, so who cares?

In the acting department, we once again get what we expect from your standard Uwe Boll flick. We get “Syfy Channel Original” performances here, so it’s a bit sub par. Malthe lacks conviction from time to time, but pulls through. Michael Pare’ on the other hand, is fun in his roll of an un-dead officer. He’s cocky and drunk on power as you’d expect. He’s also been in tons of Boll flicks and the two work well together, which shows. The fun surprise for “Third Reich” is Clint Howard as Dr. Mangler, the Nazi scientist who’s hell bent on exploiting the dhampir blood. He’s cheesy and over the top, but he’s Clint Howard! Of course he’s cheesy and over the top!

As far as blu-rays go, the disk is passable in all fronts. The transfer looks good as does the sound, but there’s not much more to the package than the movie itself. There are two short features, a behind the scenes and an interview with the film’s writer, both of which are hard to get excited about when the movie itself is lackluster. The behind the scenes featurette starts off with a “Let’s defend Uwe Boll” slant which is pretty funny in itself. Everybody loves to hate on Uwe though, so you can’t really blame them.

Ultimately, “Bloodrayne: The Third Reich” is not a great movie. We expect that though. It is watchable in a “stuck inside on a rainy day” sort of way. The movie would fit perfectly in the “Syfy Channel” stable outside of it’s two forced sex scenes which were completely unnecessary. Should you rush out and buy the disk? No. If you’re a fan of cheese and direct-to-video movies however, it’s worth a rent.

Sunday, July 03rd, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

I sadly had to miss “Insidious” when it was theaters, back when it was covered on the Bloody Good Horror Podcast. I heard nothing but rave reviews from the gang so I was pretty bummed to have missed out. Thankfully, the movie is coming out on Blu Ray here on July 12th and I was able to get my hands on a review copy to share with you folks!

I could go on for paragraphs expounding on the movie itself but I would be repeating my peers such as Louis Fowler over at BGH; “Insidious” is a great flick! As desensitized as I am to horror movies these days, I don’t get scared much when I go to the movies. Sure, jump scares work on me still but who doesn’t jump when the film makers assault you with a cacophony of loud noise? James Wan managed to craft a truly creepy flick with some genuine scares. Sure, he uses the loud jump scares now and then, but that’s okay. He has a whole host of subtle tactics that make the movie pretty intense throughout! I’ve heard complaints that the movie grew weaker in the second half, but I didn’t have any such problems. Just when I thought the movie may be crossing over to eye-rolling territory…I find myself stuck on the edge of my seat for the last thirty minutes of the movie!

This little review isn’t just about the movie though…this is a look at the Blu Ray package itself. To be frank; “Insidious” is a perfect movie for the format. Wan uses many deep vivid colors that translate well to high definition, so the movie is truly enjoyable watch. Where the magic happens on this disc though is the surround sound! This movie was made for full blown 5.1 DTS Super Mega Awesome surround…and this Blu Ray delivers it. Many of the scares in “Insidious” rely on sound to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and this disc does just that.

The extra features on this disc are fairly light unfortunately. There’s only three main extras. I can’t say exactly what more I’d want, just saying there’s not a lot there. What is on the disk though is pretty enjoyable. The first video features James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell discussing their theories behind the cast of spirits show in the movie. It’s a fun bit of info. Really, all three of the extra videos on disc contain Wan and Whannell, with the other two features being their theories behind the horror they used in writing the film and the other being your classic behind the scenes featurette.

Right now, you can pre-order the “Insidious” Blu Ray over at Amazon for for $19.99 which I would say is a fair price. The movie is a great fit for the format and really, it’s a flick you need for your collection for sure!

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Monday, October 18th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

At this point in the game, it’s pretty much not worth crying about horror movie remakes. Hollywood doesn’t care so much what we think; they’re going to release them anyways. Though many of us may decide to boycott the films, there’s still thousands of normies out there that will gladly pay the admission price to see a film. Enter the 2009 remake of “Night of the Demons” due out on the 19th. As far as remakes go? It’s really not so bad!

The basic plot lines of the 80′s original are still in effect; a group of twenty something’s, Angela, drinking in a supposed haunted house and all that stuff. Much of it has been tweaked to give the new movie a feeling of its own but essentially; it’s the same film. Taking the place of Angela this time around is Shannon Elizabeth who isn’t normally your horror movie leading lady. She’s not so bad though. She works the party girl aesthetic pretty well and it’s nice seeing her out of her typical comfort zone. While there won’t be any awards given for her performance, she definitely won’t turn you away. One that might give you some second thoughts though is the plus sized Eddie Furlong of “Terminator” fame. Granted, I don’t really need to tell you where you might know Eddie Furlong from; I’m sure you all know. In “Night of the Demons”, Eddie is….Eddie. If you’ve seen any of his recent turns in horror movies lately? He’s just rehashing those parts once again. He’s flat, he’s trying to look like a bad boy and he’s just not very exciting. Rounding out the known names from this re-hash is budding scream queen Diora Baird. Ms. Baird isn’t shy to take on a horror role and I’m fairly happy about that. Here, she doesn’t have much to work with as far as roles go but she does well with the part she has. This part includes taking over the titular scene from the original movie that starred a young Linnea Quigley and a tube of lipstick. Diora’s take was a little more direct versus Linnea’s original sexy number but Diora’s has a far more gruesome outcome, so it all balances out.

Now that we have the stars of the movie out of the way, we can get into the meat and potatoes of “Night of the Demons” and what separates it from its predecessor. Before I dive in, I’ll let it be known that the original flick has long been one of my favorites. It was campy, it was different for 1998 and…well… it had Linnea Quigley and her lipstick. So before the opening credits even rolled, the remake had some big shoes to fill. Overall, it didn’t do a bad job. There is plenty of gore and some really great makeup work going on. Some of the gore is CGI I’m sure, but it’s blended well. On the whole, there is a lot of practical FX work going on which is nice to see in this day and age. The demons are well crafted and made to look extra grizzled and dead and they make for a striking appearance when they’re lunging form the darkness and attacking our mortal heroes. As a matter of fact, it’s the demons and their chaos that makes the movie fun. Where the problems lie are within the script.

Bottom line; the biggest problem with “Night of the Demons” is that it is about fifteen minutes too long. It never really manages to outshine the original, but it does manage to run a close parallel. The problems come when we try and flesh out the origin story of the demons and who they were. It really isn’t handled badly. I can get behind the ideas that director Adam Gierasch had working here with the demons being too evil even for hell, etc. When we have to watch our three mortals hide away in an upstairs bedroom for hours and rely on talking to each other to keep the story movie, it feels a bit weak. There is also the problem that Bobbi Sue Luther could instantly read all of the magical scribbling on the wall and know what they meant or the fact that Eddie and company knew where and how to draw the symbols back on the wall when they were washed away! Watching a movie about a house filled with the spirits of seven bad ass demons trying to devour souls to bring on the end of the world makes those issues a bit trivial though, doesn’t it?

In the end, “Night of the Demons” is not a bad flick! The gore and such are well done and the jump scenes are good. When the film makers decided to make the story a bit deeper than the original though, the movie falls short of its predecessor. Many have found this remake to be disappointing but for me it manages to keep a bit of the 80′s feel with oddly a large amount of 90′s flair. Come for the blood guts and boobies; just do your best to ignore the deep parts. And Eddie Furlong’s wooden acting.

Oh and lest I forget…in the original film, there is a key moment in Linnea Quigley’s ‘performance’ where she bares her backside for all to see in her tiny little costume. Keep your eyes peeled for a nostalgic little cameo and try and keep the mental image of 80’s Ms. Quigley in your mind.

Sunday, June 06th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve always been the flaky sort when it comes to TV. There’s two factors to blame for this; one I generally have a lot of movie screeners to work through and two, I just don’t like being held to a schedule. Sure, there are a number of shows that I do watch week to week, but there’s just a limit on how many I like to add to my list.

Which brings us to “Supernatural”. The show should be a natural (some would say ‘super’) fit for someone such as my self. By the name alone, you’d think that I would have eaten such a show up. Be it other interests at the time the show started or the fact that I didn’t really watch the channel that show aired on, I’ve managed to pretty much ignore all five seasons. Until now of course. After hearing a lot of love and praise regarding the Winchester Brothers and their adventures, I jumped at the chance when I was asked if I wanted to review the impending blu-ray release of the first season. After trudging through all four disks of the set, I’m now pretty happy I finally took the time for it.

If your’e like me, avoiding five seasons of the show, the first season of “Supernatural” is a fun monster of the week type setup. We watch along as the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, fight evil across the country in search of their missing father. We learn quickly that the family has a bit a history regarding such pass times, fighting evil and such, starting with the demonic attack which killed their mother and later Sam’s girlfriend in the same fashion.

Though the show isn’t a high mark of television quality, it’s still a good entry in genre TV. For the first season, the monster of the week format keeps the show nice and light. At times it hearkens back to the glory days of the “X-Files”. The creators penchant for exploring urban legends for their monsters helps to give the viewer a quick and easy familiarity with the story and makes the deconstruction of the myths just plain old fun.

While the seasons have been out for some time now on DVD, Warner Brothers is bringing the Winchesters to blu-ray on June 15th. We’re all familiar with the benefits of the format and the four disk set of “Supernatural The Complete First Season” hits all the right notes. The picture is nice and pretty sharp with surround sound that is sufficiently booming when the show’s trademark classic rock soundtrack kicks in. I will say that the episodes do not appear quite as vivid and clear as other blu-ray movies you may have seen. While the picture itself is fine, it lacks a bit of the ultra sharp vibrancy that is typical of the high def format. This can be contributed to the format of the show as it relies heavily on blacks ad shadows which are notoriously hard to produce in a lot of different HD televisions. At times the scenes will appear to luck much like their DVD counterparts for this reason. When we get scenes that take place in full daylight and such though, the picture is exactly as you would expect from a HD broadcast.

The other bonus for this release is that it comes packed with extras. Most of the features you’ve seen will be familiar if you already own the DVD sets. New to this release are the Devil’s Road Map, an interactive atlas to all of season ones urban legends. How factual it is I can’t say, but it is fun to find out more to all the myths that you will vaguely remember from the show. We all know the stories such as ‘Bloody Mary’ or the ‘The Man with the Hook’, but have you ever bothered to look up the history of these legends? This feature will help fill you in! The other new feature is a panel discussion with the cast and crew from the Paley Festival. If such a thing is your bag, you’ll have fun getting some candid behind the scenes discussion from all involved.

For a blu-ray collection, “Supernatural The Complete First Season” is a good set all around. The show is a solid bit of fun to fill your genre TV needs during the summer hiatus. At $49.99, I can’t say that there is enough new material here or high def glory to warrant an upgrade from your DVD set, but for those just getting started on the show, this blu-ray set is a sure thing.

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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

As a recent Blu-ray convert, I’ve been wowed by the formats crisp picture and even more astounded by the improvement in sound in nearly every title I’ve bought. Sure, I waited for the format wars to end before I jumped on board but since then, I’ve made an effort in that any new movie I buy, it would be in blu-ray. After seeing “Avatar” in theaters, it’s a logical jump that most everybody would be chomping at the bit to get this sci-fi spectacular at home. It stands to reason that this movie would be a great showcase for the increased resolution and sound, perhaps even a great demonstrator to show off your own home theater setup. Having gotten my hands on it finally, the “Avatar” blu-ray stands up in the technical areas if not exceeding them but does leave a little bit of disappointment in other areas.

As a showcase of presenting a movie in the best possible format at home, the “Avatar” blu-ray has it all. The picture is clear as a bell and stands out well, even on my older 1080i setup. Sure, I may not be running at the top of the line as far as equipment goes, but this disk still manages to look great. The details standout throughout the film and they seem just as breath taking as they did in theaters. Now of key interest here; this current blu-ray release does not include 3D. Sure, the home technology isn’t quite up to par to show off the movie in its full 3D glory so that’s fine. At the moment, our only accessible option for home 3D is the crummy old fashioned blue and red variant and really, a movie such as “Avatar” with Camerons newly developed process in that older format would just be a waste. You can count on there being yet another release of this movie on blu-ray somewhere down the line because you know as well as I do that people will flock to purchase the 3D version once they figure out how they’re going to release it in the home market.

Perhaps my next point lies in the fact that I am running an older 55″ 1080i display but in my home setup, it’s never the picture of blu-ray movies that stand out to me. Instead, it is always the DTS audio tracks that really seem to pop far more than they ever did even on DVD. Small underlying sound details seem to be given much more emphasis and really stand out separately from the mix. This release of “Avatar” is no exception and possibly even stands out as one of my favorites yet. With the multitude of sounds that take place on the forest floor, the movie managed to make my poor pooch Frosty a nervous wreck as he was surrounded by sounds of alien wildlife. He really didn’t know what to make of it!

This iteration of “Avatar” on blu-ray is worth the money, especially since you can find it on sale in most locations, but there is a big caveat. This two disk set comes with absolutely no special features whatsoever. The theatrical version of the movie takes up an entire blu-ray disk with nothing more that two sub-title tracks and corresponding audio tracks. There’s no making of, no behind the scenes or anything of the sort. For myself who is not a big fan of special features, this is fine. You can argue that this allows them to use the entire 50 gb of the disk dedicated to giving us the highest possible resolution and sound quality. Once again, I can appreciate that! Disk two is nothing but the same exact theatrical release, only on DVD. The problem here is that there are many film fans out there that do enjoy the special features and digging into the behind the scenes elements of a movie. For them, there is currently no option. This almost guarantees that there will be a second ‘special edition’ release of “Avatar” in the near future that includes all of these features and more. Could the studio be holding back to add that to the 3D version? It’s hard to say. The only thing you can say for sure is that they will be looking forward to getting your extra money when you wind up buying the same movie several times.

If you absolutely can’t wait to watch “Avatar” another seven times in a row or don’t really care at all about the special features, this release is top notch. The presentation is one of the better ones I’ve seen in blu-ray format and is a treat. It even holds up to at home viewing in boring old 2D! If you need more for your movie enjoyment however, you might want to hold off for the inevitable special edition somewhere down the line.

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Tuesday, March 09th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Much like my friend Louis, I can’t pass up a chance at finding some cheap genre flicks on DVD or whatever. While I don’t have the fortune of a Big Lots near by like Louis does, I did happen across a Movie Gallery store that was closing up shop on my weekend travels. Generally by the time I find out a movie store is closing, the pickings are already slim and I don’t even bother. Especially when I’m just passing through town. This time though, the sun was bright, the air was warm and something whispered in my ear that I should stick my head into the closing Movie Gallery I passed on Friday on my way back through Kokomo, IN. And I’m quite glad I did, as you can see!

My little side trip netted me 6 DVD’s and two Blu-ray disks, and I’d say I did rather well! Amongst the spoils were May, that creepy little and awesome little feature starring Angela Bettis. I must add, this is one of my all time favorite horror flicks right here! Why I didn’t have it on DVD yet? Couldn’t tell ya. How about a good copy of Cemetary Man starring that hunk of man Rupert Everett? I couldn’t pass up a Beyond Re-Animator since Jefferey Coombs is the king of B-horror. And Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is just an all around good time. I couldn’t just go with the well knowns though, so i had to experiment a bit too. Amongst the experimentation was Chainsaw Sally that the Ms. saw a few years back and like a lot as well as Sasquatch Mountain. On this last one, I’ll give you two reasons and you go with the one you like best. 1. I’ve got some plans in mind for an upcoming Sasquatch horror story, so I figured this would make for some research. 2. I freaking love Lance Henriksen in a horror flick and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

As for Blu-ray titles, I didn’t find in horror movies that I didn’t already have or that looked appealing. (“Twilight” is not horror.) So, I grabbed two flicks that I love a lot. First up was Ray Stevens in The Punisher: War Zone which I still think is the best big screen adaptation of the character to date! I stand firm by that thought too! In addition to this, I added one of my favorite movies of the 2000′s, Pineapple Express, to finally upgrade my well worn DVD copy! There was a time that my own mother used to watch “Hoosiers” every Saturday when she cleaned the house. My house cleaning movie is “Pineapple Express”.

Overall, a pretty damn nice haul for just under $35 and a chance stop in a town we were merely passing through!

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve already heard it a couple times since talking about it on Twitter last night. Many people are going to read this post and say, “I can’t believe you haven’t seen this yet!” And well, my only excuse is that I’ve been pretty single minded in my movie watching for the last few years! I’ve had a certain type of film I’ve been writing towards, so and had the blinders on so to speak. But now Cinema Fromage is a little more loosey goosey, so with that in mind the times between duties at Bloody Good Horror have been a madcap race to catch up on what I’ve been missing outside the horror world. Some films I’ve discovered I haven’t been missing much, others I can only sit back and wonder as to why I waited so long! “Lucky Number Slevin” is one such film.

From the get go, “Slevin” has all the makings of a film I would like, all the way down to its barest bones. The cast of this film is quite simply amazing and all of the big players I’ve been a fan of in some way shape or form over the years. For instance, Morgan Freeman. Show me a man that says he’s not a Morgan Freeman fan, I’ll show you a man that doesn’t watch movies. The man simply is movies, right? Here we get to see him take a turn as the bad guy. Something we don’t see too often but when we do, it is always phenomenal. Playing off him is Ben Kingsley. Sure, Kingsley has been known to throw in a few clunkers here and there such as when he’s working with Uwe Boll but in “Lucky Number Slevin”, he’s on. He’s menacing, he’s funny, he’s very very Jewish and all around fun to watch. Lucy Liu is throw in here too for a well rounded mix. She’s had few roles as well that I could do without but generally she’s pretty fun. Here, she’s great. She’s a bit manic, a bit crazy, plenty weird and down right adorable.

Those people are fine actors for sure, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here. Josh Hartnett and Bruce Willis. I’ll be honest here; I flat out love Bruce Willis. I even liked “Hudson Hawk” because he was in it. When he is playing his quirky roles such as here as Mr. Goodkat the specialist hit man, he’s at his best. He does well in the mainstream but I always feel he’s at his best when he’s a few steps away from that lime light. As Goodkat he’s menacing and quirky, precise and exacting. It makes him feel cold as ice and dangerous. Hartnett plays great off him as well though they spend very little screen time with each other. Though some have voiced their opinion that Hartnett isn’t a good actor, I’ve never had an issue with him and he fits in great here as Slevin Kelevra. The cockiness works well for him and the dry humor does well too.

“Lucky Number Slevin” is the type of film that you can’t go into too much detail on the plot as you might give too much away. A crime thriller with plenty of black comedy mixed in, it has many twists and turns to keep you guessing and is downright fun. A couple of times throughout this movie I figured I had the twists sussed out only to have the tables turned on me once again. Often times you find yourself right in your guesses, but then there is more that you didn’t suspect. All of these twists are worked in very subtly which is what makes the movie fun. Never does it smack you aside the head to say “Haha! We got you!” Instead, they unfold naturally and soon become an expected part of the story.

This is a great movie that wished I wouldn’t have waited so long to finally catch. The crime story is a great one filled with vengeance, double crosses and murder. It’s engrossing and highly entertaining. The humor that they mix in here is the icing on the cake that makes this transform from a good movie to a great movie that you’ll remember for some time to come. Never once did anyone, or anything, feel out of place.

In all honesty, with the cast at play here, it felt much like getting together with old friends and having a good night. Never a bad thing and worth your time to watch at home whenever you can.

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Saturday, July 25th, 2009 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’m an action flick kind of guy. I like to watch fist fights, people shooting guns at each other and things blowing up. A lot of the time, these are the majority of what an action film consists of; a whole lot of flash and little substance. To be honest, this is fine. Sometimes you just need to see somebody else’s chaos and carnage to end your day. Sometimes though, an action movie will give you some meat and potato’s to go with it though and give a little bit of drama, tension and story to go along with it. This generally gives you a well rounded action movie with some depth to it, something nice to stimulate both the ‘things that go boom’ part of your brain, and the ‘things that make you go hmm’ part.

When the trailer for “Taken” first hit, I wasn’t sure what to think of them. The first thing to jump out at me was the idea of Liam Neeson as an action hero. Sure, we saw his wily ways as Qui Gon-Jin, but those were younger days and pretty fantastical fighting at that. Would it be possible to believe him in a real world fight situation? With real people fighting back? The second thing to stand out to me was the fact that the trailers seemed to be dead serous, bordering on becoming a heavy drama with an ex-CIA agent using his brains to outsmart some bad guys. Once again, nothing wrong with this idea in itself, but it felt as if it could easily slip into the dank and sappy depths of a family drama and well…I’m not a fan. Sitting down and letting the film run, after working my way through the character development and the excitement began to snowball, “Taken” surprised me as it managed to turn itself into a good mixture of action movie tropes and proved itself to be one of the most surprising action movies I’ve seen in awhile.

Setting off at a decent pace, “Taken” makes sure to spend some time to setup the characters and the scenario in good form. The do this in just the right amount of time avoiding weighing down the movie with too much development and making it thin and lifeless with too little. IN a mere thirty minutes, we manage to feel sad for Liam Neeson as a father, dislike Famke Jansen as an unfriendly ex-wife and somehow believe that Maggie Grace is a sweet and innocent seventeen year old. With characters to care about, it was pretty easy to get sucked in to the plot lines of the movie.

For me, the highlight of the movie is the fact that at roughly fifty seven years old, LIam Neeson can still kick some pretty major ass. Not only that, it was rather smart ass kicking as well. Feeling much like the frenetic fist fights of the “Bourne” series, the fights were always exciting and fast paced and still managed to be somewhat realistic. Mind you, the movie does suffer from the fact that its lead character is pretty much infallible throughout the entire movie. He continuously takes on throngs of men with nothing more than a pistol and a fist fight and doesn’t really appear to be challenged by all this in the slightest. Throughout the entire film, he really only seems to be on the defensive two to three times and comes across as injured only once that I can remember. He’s a super man and it takes away a lot of the realism the movie had going for it. Regardless, as lopsided as the fights were, they were still great fun to watch, well shot and well choreographed.

While the trailers led me to think that “Taken” would be more drama than anything else, I was still happily surprised at how engaging it was. It seems to fit in well with the “Bourne” style movies with plenty of crazy action, a meaty story and some brains behind it. There is no camp whatsoever here, so if you need some good yuks with your action this may not be the movie for you. If you like Liam Neeson and some solid ass kicking though, you’ll be all set.

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