Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Taken & Taken 2

I'm taken by Taken, and Taken 2 too. The first one plays on every father's paranoia about his daughter's safety in this dark and cruel world. Imagine having to reluctantly agree to your 16-year-old daughter's parentless trip to Paris, only to have her kidnapped by human traffickers immediately after landing. But what if you're an ex-CIA operative with "a very special set of skills"? What would you do? Use your spy connections and razor sharp instincts to find your daughter, and your combat experience to shoot and karate-chop the living crap out of everyone who's responsible, of course. It's every father's wish-fulfilment fantasy. It's also a thrill to watch an improbably efficient, resourceful and lethal ex-spy go to work.

Taken 2 actually spoils Taken 1 if you haven't seen the first, because the poster instantly tells you that the hero survived the first movie; either that or you thought the sequel was about his twin brother. Of course it isn't, but you have to wonder... what are they going to do with the sequel; kidnap his daughter again? So they go with this premise that I thought was pretty clever - remember those people he killed in Part 1? Apparently, human trafficking is a family biz, and their dads and brothers and sons are not too happy with their kin dying in the hands of some American fellow. I couldn't understand the heavy Albanian accent during the funeral scene, so I just imagined them saying "at last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi; at last we will have our revenge." It's our hero who gets taken this time, and his daughter does the rescuing. Great to see Liam Neeson rampaging against the backdrop of Istanbul.

Ludicrous but fun. Recommended.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (Part 5)

Despite what the critics say, I really enjoyed the Resident Evil movies. Silly, but still darn creative in finding ways to present zombies and to eliminate them (guns, missiles, sidekick to the head, psychokinetic powers, coins, etc.) But the fifth one, Resident Evil: Retribution, is probably the first one that I didn't enjoy. The creativity level dropped so drastically in Part 5 that they almost rehashed every highlight from the past four movies and use a holodeck-like facility as an excuse to bring them back to this movie. I can't tell you not to watch this one if you are dying to know what happens after Part Four, but be prepared for ANOTHER cliffhanger at the end of Retribution. We're all going to have to watch Part Six now. Thanks a lot. Surprised to see Li Bing Bing play a debuting major character from the video game. Expect one or two more surprises from it. Not enough to save the movie, though.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: Dredd

Dreading to see Dredd? Dread no further! Turns out to be one fun, violent sci-fi action pic that also manages to stay faithful to the original source material (the comic book). It's true; there are quite a few similarities between this and the most highly-lauded actioner of 2012, The Raid, but Dredd's world and its inhabitants are compelling, and the action is a little different from The Raid's martial-arts-heavy highlights. This is a reboot, not a sequel, so don't bother with the inferior Stallone version from 1995. Recommended!