Taken tells the story of Bryan Mills (Neeson), a retired secret service agent who now lives alone after getting a divorce from his wife. To make matters worse, his 17-year-old daughter, whom he loves dearly, lives with her mother. One day his daughter comes to him to ask permission to travel alone with her friend to Europe. Mills agrees and his daughter heads to Paris. When his daughter is kidnapped, Mills doesn’t think twice before heading off to find his daughter and make the kidnappers pay for what they have done.
Liam Neeson is spectacular in all his films and his performance as Bryan Mills in Taken is no different. He is able to seamless play a heartwarming, compassionate father who also knows how to kick butt and take names. The rest of the cast is mediocre except for Maggie Grace (“Lost”) who plays Neeson’s daughter, Kim. Audiences had become accustomed to seeing Grace play a bitch on the hit show “Lost” (or at least they did when she was still on the show). In Taken, she takes on a whole new persona as a sweet, loveable teen who, throughout the whole movie, one cannot help but feel bad for even though everyone hated her on “Lost,” the show that made her famous.
The storyline of the film is a heartbreaking one because of the reality it portrays. The kidnappers took Kim and her friend so that they could sell them into sex trafficking. We see how it happens, from the moment a handsome, kind, young man tricks the girls into being his friend to the moment the girls are being bid on by rich, middle-aged scum bags. At moments it is hard to watch but, unlike the real world, the bad guys get their butts kicked by Liam Neeson. Taken is an exciting film with plenty of cool fight scenes and car chases but the real heart of the film is the lengths in which Neeson goes to get back his daughter. I give Taken a solid B.
If you were satisfied by the previous one sentence synopsis than you can skip to the next paragraph. If you still want more, read on. Terminator: Salvation begins in the year 2018 after the apocalypse has already occurred. Skynet, the A.I. computer that created the nuclear holocaust, is now punching out thousands of machines tasked with destroying the survivors of the holocaust. John Connor, the boy Arnold protected in T2 and T3, is now grown up and is one of the leaders of the rebellion against the machines.
Terminator: Salvation is certainly an entertaining summer blockbuster. However, it is more like this year’s Wolverine and less like Star Trek. By this I mean that the movie may have had lots of awesome fight scenes and large explosions, but there was no story or character development to back it up. Star Trek drew the audience in and made the audience feel a genuine connection with each of the characters. T4 does not have this, so during the supposedly emotional ending, I felt nothing for the characters involved. The one actor in this movie worthy of an honorable mention is Aussie Sam Worthington as the newcomer to the series, Marcus Wright.
Another disappointing aspect of the movie was the large number of plot-holes. I won’t go into detail with that because I don’t want to give anything away. Just know, at times, it became a bit difficult to understand what was going on solely because of the choppy editing.
The one main redeeming factor was the appearance of a certain Terminator that everybody had grown to love over the years. Although not actually in the movie, Arnold is digitally placed in a key fight sequence. The scene is a testament to how far technology has come. It is amazing to think that Hollywood has reached a point where they don’t even need to hire an actor to play himself or herself in a movie. What next? Are we soon going to be seeing Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot 2?
Basically, if you just want a fun movie to watch with a lot of explosions and pretty good CGI, then go see T4. But if you are expecting it to be anything like the previous installments, don’t hold your breath. For a typical ‘summer popcorn’ movie I give Terminator: Salvation a B-. But overall, I give it a C.
I don’t care how many people make fun of Michael Bay. He has the perfect knack for knowing how to make an awesome summer popcorn film. Who cares if he’s never been nominated for Best Director or had his films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Bay still knocks out a winner every time. The only movie he’s ever directed that was only okay was his last one, The Island. Even so, that film still have big summer blockbuster written all over it.
Two years later, Bay sticks to his true form and does it again with this summer’s Transformers. For those who have been living under a rock for the past 25 years, Transformers are enormous robots from another world that can take the shape of other human make transports like cars, trucks, and even helicopters. Back in the 80’s Transformers were popular action figures and had a cartoon show.
This major movie version of the famous ‘Autobots’ already seems to be the most popular movie since last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. This particular Transformers story pits the good robots (Autobots) against the bad ones (Decepticons) with the fate of Earth hanging in the balance. The Autobots are led by their fearless leader, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). The Decepticons are led by the evil Megatron (voiced by The Matrix’s Hugo Weaving). A war between these two Transformer colonies has been being waged for many years on the Transformers’ home planet of Cybertron. Both groups have now traveled to Earth in search of the Allspark, a mystical sphere that gives ultimate power to whoever has possession of it. In the middle of this alien battle, is a group of select few humans who are thrown into the mix to help the Autobots win the battle.
The human cast consists of many up-and-coming actors including rising star Shia LaBeouf as high schooler Sam Witwicky who befriends his new car who also happens to be a Transformer named Bumblebee. Along for the ride is Mikaela Banes played by the smoking hot Megan Fox. Two other groups of humans decide to help the Autobots including a handful of marines (Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson) and some of the Secretary of Defense’s lackeys (Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, and Rachel Taylor).
The real stars of Transformers, however, are the Transformers. If you are planning on waiting until DVD to see this film, don’t. The graphics and the voice performances in the film are spectacular and are well worth the $10 for a ticket. In fact, the voice performances in this film had a bigger impact on me than the graphic performances. Sitting in a large theater on opening day while listening to the booming voices coming from these humongous robots was just incredible.
Bottom line, if you enjoy an exciting, big-budget summer action film (especially when it is done by the incomparable Michael Bay) Transformers is one you are sure not to miss. I give Transformers a B+.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers 2 picks up not long after the first one ended. Our teenage hero, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is headed off to college while his girlfriend Mikaela (played by the perfectly sculpted Megan Fox) stays behind to help her father, recently released from prison, get back on his feet. Little do these two kids know that they will soon be thrust into a global war with the Autobots to defeat the Decepticons and once again save the world from total destruction.
The overall plot of the film is a bit complicated, if not confusing. I don’t want to ruin the plot twists for you so just know that the movie has a number of interesting twists and turns helps add some mystery to the otherwise 2 ½ hours of non-stop action.
The effects in this movie are top notch and are as advanced as anything I have ever seen. Director Michael Bay must have heard the outcry from fans after the first film. The 2007 original also had superb visual effects, however, fans were disappointed by the fight scenes. When the Autobots (the good robots) were fighting the evil Decepticons (the bad robots) it was difficult to tell who was fighting whom. It just seemed like a cluster of robots jumping on each other. The fight scenes in Transformers 2, on the other hand, were very clear and each individual robot was easily identifiable.
Another upgraded addition was the focus on the transformers in this movie. The humans seemed to be the focal point in the first movie. This time around, the focus was on the robots themselves. The audience is introduced to a number of new transformers, including a new megavillian called The Fallen.
Transformers 2 is a fun summer movie but if you are looking for something new or even a little bit of character development, you will not find it here. However, I must say that having almost all the original cast return was a great treat for any fan of the original film. Megan Fox has a considerably smaller role this time and the hilarious jokes that were prevalent in the first film are few and far betwee. I will say that this movie did have a bit more “heart” than the first one. Look for the scene between Sam and his father toward the end of the film as evidence.
Considering its appeal and the genre the film falls into I give Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen an A-. Overall I give it a B+.