Identity Thief A Mere Shadow Of Hughes’ Classic Road Trip Comedy

Courtesy:  Universal Studios

Courtesy: Universal Studios

Universal Studios’ latest attempt at a buddy comedy comes up far short of the John Hughes classic which it tries to emulate. This road trip buddy comedy is a mere shadow of Hughes’ 1987 classic, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Where Hughes did everything right with his movie, writer and director Steve Conrad and Seth Gordon have combined to make a movie in Identity Thief that struggles at best to come across as an update of what is a much better story. Thank goodness for veteran actor Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Extract, etc.). If not for his acting chops, this movie might have completely sunk. He manages throughout the story to pick up the slack left by co-star Melissa McCarthy whose character is annoying in herself, while she as an actress falls flat in her attempt to be funny. It would be interesting to find out if other actresses had been considered for the role or even another actor before the higher ups decided on her. Even the inclusion of guest stars Robert Patrick (T2, The Unit) and rapper T.I. didn’t do a lot to help the movie.

Identity Thief has more than its share of problems. But for all of its negatives, it would be unfair to ignore the few funny and at least semi-heartfelt moments that are peppered throughout the story (as few as they are). The story does offer at least a tiny amount of heart in that McCarthy’s Diana does reach a point where she begins to realize how she is and begins to change ever so slowly. Audiences see hints of Diana’s change when she decides not to take Sandy’s (Bateman) car one night at a hotel. Eventually her own growth leads Sandy to his own point of self-discovery and realization. That realization leads to his own personal growth. The personal growth of both Sandy and Diana does help move the story. And thankfully there are some equally enjoyable moments of physical comedy that help move the story along. Sadly though, those moments aren’t enough to make up for the mass of slower moments that bog down this near two hour movie. Those slower moments leave a movie that clocks in at just under two hours feel more like a near two and a half hour movie. Needless to say that considering this, it’s the final nail in the coffin for this failed attempt at an update of a classic. It’s one more movie that proves there’s nothing better than the original.

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Us Weekly Exclusive: Irwin, Radziwill Split

Courtesy:  Us Weekly Magazine

Courtesy: Us Weekly Magazine

Aerosmith keyboardist Russ Irwin and author/TV personality Carol Radziwill have split.  According to an exclusive with Us Weekly magazine, the pair made a quiet split in late 2012.  Radziwill, who is known for her stint on The Real Housewives of New York City released a statement regarding the pair’s parting “Russ and I have decided to call it quits,” the 49 year-old star told Us Weekly.  She went on to joke about her newly single status, saying, “I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day since the fifth grade when the boy I had a crush on gave me a valentine, only to find out later that he gave one to the entire class, including the boys,” she told magazine staff in an interview.

Radziwill isn’t letting single life slow her down.  Having already published the book, What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love, she is currently putting the final touches on her new novel, The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating.  The new book is currently slated for release this July.  Meanwhile, Irwin released his latest solo record, Get Me Home early last year.  It featured guest spots from his band mates in Aerosmith.    

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Siberian Tiger Quest A Powerful, Moving Documentary

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Siberian Tiger Quest is a powerful and at times moving special from the network’s Nature.  The near hour long feature takes viewers along with host Chris Morgan as he follows photographer Sooyong Park in an attempt to document the elusive Siberian Tiger.  The majority of the program features Morgan following Park as Park explains in his own words how he survived for years in the Russian wilds to document the lives of a group of Siberian Tigers.  Morgan’s attempt to capture a tiger on camera is impressive enough.  But it’s his story of Park’s dedication and even “obsession” as he [Morgan] calls it towards tracking the tigers that is the heart and soul of this program.  The lengths to which Park went are incredible to say the very least.  As Morgan explains to audiences, Park spent years away from his own family in the wilderness just to follow a group of tigers in their lives.  As dedicated as he obviously was, audiences will be just as moved seeing his heart as he discusses everything he felt throughout his personal journey.  The pain shows through as he discusses seeing these beautiful and powerful creatures gunned down in cold blood by poachers.  Even years after the fact, Park still becomes emotional talking about it.  It shows how much the tigers mean to him.

Just as incredible as Park’s love and respect for the tigers is his endurance in tracking them.  Audiences learn in watching Siberian Tiger Quest that Park went to massive extents in order to capture the creatures—which have been hunted to the brink of extinction—on camera.  He explains how he would eat the smallest amount of food and would go to the bathroom just as little in his efforts to get the big cats on camera.  Morgan himself makes it crystal clear that he is taken aback by Park having taken such extreme measures.  He even admits to Park that the waiting game simply isn’t for him.  Though in the end, Morgan does get lucky enough to capture footage of one of the tigers on camera.  While his emotion may not be at the level of what Park must have felt, it is obvious how much seeing these creatures first hand meant to him.  He really did want to see them being that they are so rare in the wild. 

The dedication of Morgan and Park makes Siberian Tiger Quest a feature worth watching for any animal and/or nature lover.  Though, it should be noted that in discussing the death of certain tigers, certain scenes may not be entirely suitable for younger viewers.  Park took pictures of the tigers that were poached.  They are somewhat unsettling even for adult audiences.  Keeping that in mind, it goes without saying that younger viewers might have a harder time than adults taking in the images.  That aside, the general cinematography in this documentary is beautiful.  Audiences are taken through the tigers’ stomping grounds from the snowy forests to cliffs overlooking the nearby coastline.  Audiences also have the privilege of seeing photos taken by Park in warmer climes during his time tracking the tigers.  After having seen PBS’ new Nature special, they will hopefully have a whole new appreciation for creatures that are otherwise thought of as solely predators.  Rather what viewers get is a profile of a creature that while it is indeed a predator, it is also a very social, graceful, and even fragile creature to a point.  It will hopefully paint a picture of exactly why not just these creatures but others in general need to be better protected from those who would kill them and destroy their habitats solely for profit.  The DVD of this presentation is available now.  It can be ordered online at PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org.

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Rieff Promoted To Anchor For NHRA Broadcasts

Courtesy:  ESPN/NHRA

Courtesy: ESPN/NHRA

The NHRA has announced a change in its on-air lineup for the upcoming season of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Long-time pit reporter Dave Rieff has been named as the series newest anchor as it begins its thirteenth season on ESPN.  He will host both broadcasts of the newly re-named Mello Yello series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. 

The NHRA’s new season begins with the 53rd running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Winter Nationals next Thursday, February 14th – Sunday, February 17th.  Qualifying will be aired same-day on ESPN2 at 10pm EST.  Eliminations will be run same-day February 17th at 8pm EST.  Those with ESPN3 will get to see qualifying and eliminations live via the network’s multi-screen live sports network.  And anyone with a smartphone and/or tablet wil be able to catch all the coverage too on WatchESPN and the network’s WatchESPN app.  Rieff will be joined in the broadcast by longtime NHRA analyst Mike Dunn, who is now in his twelfth year with ESPN.  Also returning this season are fellow NHRA veteran broadcasters Gary Gerould, John Kernan, and Jamie Howe.  Rieff commented on his new appointment, expressing his experience in working with his co-workers and with ESPN.  “I’ve been very lucky during the 17 years I’ve been involved with the NHRA to be around many of the greats of the sport, both television personalities and public address announcers,” he said.  “People like Dave McClelland, Steve Evans, Bob Frey, Marty Reid, and Paul Page.”

Rieff went on to describe his appreciation and respect for those with whom he has worked.  “Little did I know all those years ago I’d end up getting to know these great people and would get to work with them and glean as much knowledge as I could.  I’m very grateful for this opportunity and hope to be able to take the best of the best from each of these men and bring it to the forefront,” he said of his co-workers.  He went on to comment on fellow broadcaster Mike Dunn saying, “It’s always a great opportunity just to get to sit next to Mike and talk about drag racing”, he said.  “It’s like one of those sitting around at home on the sofa situations, two guys that really love their sport and come at it from different sides of the fence, so to speak, and we’re able to bring that energy and passion to the viewers.”

A full listing of this season’s NHRA Mello Yello schedule is listed below.

2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Schedule on ESPN

(all times Eastern)

 

Date                 Event                                                   Time                Network

Feb. 16 Pomona Qualifying 10 p.m. ESPN2
Feb. 17 Pomona Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
Feb. 24 Phoenix Qualifying 1 a.m. ESPN2
Feb. 24 Phoenix Qualifying (re-air) 8 a.m. ESPN2
Feb. 24 Phoenix Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
March 17 Gainesville Qualifying 1:30 a.m. ESPN2
March 17 Gainesville Qualifying (re-air) 8 a.m. ESPN2
March 17 Gainesville Eliminations 7 p.m. ESPN2
April 6 Las Vegas Qualifying 10 p.m. ESPN2
April 7 Las Vegas Eliminations 11 p.m. ESPN2
April 20 Charlotte Qualifying 5 p.m. ESPN2
April 21 Charlotte Eliminations 7 p.m. ESPN2
April 27 Houston Qualifying 3 p.m. ESPN2
April 28 Houston Eliminations 2 p.m. ESPN2
May 4 Atlanta Qualifying 8 p.m. ESPN2
May 5 Atlanta Eliminations 6:30 p.m. ESPN2
May 18 Topeka Qualifying 5 p.m. ESPN2
May 19 Topeka Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
June 1 Englishtown Qualifying (Part 1) 5 p.m. ESPN
June 2 Englishtown Qualifying (Part 2) 1 a.m. ESPN2
June 2 Englishtown Eliminations 4:30 p.m. ESPN2
June 15 Bristol Qualifying 7 p.m. ESPN2
June 16 Bristol Eliminations (Part 1) 1 p.m. ESPN2
June 16 Bristol Eliminations (Part 2) 11 p.m. ESPN2
June 22 New England Qualifying 8 p.m. ESPN2
June 23 New England Eliminations 7 p.m. ESPN2
June 29 Chicago Qualifying (Part 1) 5 p.m. ESPN2
June 30 Chicago Qualifying (Part 2) 11 p.m. ESPN2
June 30 Chicago Eliminations 9 p.m. ESPN2
July 6 Norwalk Qualifying 6 p.m. ESPN2
July 7 Norwalk Eliminations 7 p.m. ESPN2
July 20 Denver Qualifying 10 p.m. ESPN2
July 21 Denver Eliminations 6 p.m. ESPN2
July 27 Sonoma Qualifying 7 p.m. ESPN
July 28 Sonoma Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
Aug. 3 Seattle Qualifying 10:30 p.m. ESPN2
Aug. 4 Seattle Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
Aug. 17 Brainerd Qualifying 11 p.m. ESPN2
Aug. 18 Brainerd Eliminations 9 p.m. ESPN2
Sept. 1 Indianapolis Qualifying (Part 1) 11 a.m. ESPN2
Sept. 1 Indianapolis Qualifying (Part 2) 5 p.m. ESPN2
Sept. 2 Indianapolis Eliminations Noon ESPN2
Sept. 14 Charlotte Qualifying TBD ESPN2
Sept. 15 Charlotte Eliminations 8:30 p.m. ESPN2
Sept. 21 Dallas Qualifying TBD ESPN2
Sept. 22 Dallas Eliminations 8:30 p.m. ESPN2
Sept. 28 St. Louis Qualifying TBD ESPN2
Sept. 29 St. Louis Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
Oct. 5 Reading Qualifying TBD ESPN2
Oct. 6 Reading Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
Oct. 26 Las Vegas Qualifying TBD ESPN2
Oct. 28 Las Vegas Eliminations 8 p.m. ESPN2
Nov. 9 Pomona Qualifying TBD ESPN2
Nov. 10 Pomona Eliminations 7 p.m. ESPN2

 

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Perry, Fox Carry Patterson’s Cross

Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate

Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate

Actor/producer/director Tyler Perry is known largely for his widely popular movies focusing on the over the top Madea.  So it goes without saying that when he was announced to take over the role of Alex Cross from veteran actor Morgan Freeman, audiences both of his work and that of author James Patterson were left quite in shock to say the least.  Any time that an actor or actress takes a leap outside of his or her comfort zone, it also pulls said actor/actress’ fans out of their comfort zones.  And that apparently is what happened in the case of his take in the new action flick bearing the character’s name.

Perry’s audiences and critics alike were pulled out of their comfort zone with Alex Cross because all involved became so accustomed to seeing Perry in dramadies, not action flicks.  So much so that they refused to see Perry’s potential in this movie.  Director Rob Cohen even discusses this in the Director’s Commentary of the movie’s new home release on DVD and Blu-ray.  It’s just one of many discussions that he raises which will make for more appreciation for this movie among audiences.  The reality of Alex Cross is that while the story may be somewhat outrageous, it’s no more outrageous than the criminal profilers in CBS’ Criminal Minds going out on “missions” to stop deranged killers, which is exactly what co-star Matthew Fox (ABC’s Lost) plays here.  Fox expertly plays the absolutely deranged sociopathic killer Picasso who is hell bent on taking down Cross for past events.  Much like Perry, his performance is a powerhouse.  He is one of those villains that is totally believable.  He is one of those rare villains that audiences love to hate, and by whom they are disturbed.  That means that Fox did his job and did it well.  So to that extent, Fox and Perry together really are what make the story work.

Keeping in mind why Picasso is after Cross, one can’t help but make at least a slight comparison to fellow actor Denzel Washington’s 1999 crime drama, The Bone Collector.  The difference between the two is that this crime drama is far better and moves much faster.  What Perry has done here for all intents and purposes is harnessed both Washington and fellow action star Will Smith and proven to be even better than both.  Audiences need only allow themselves to suspend their disbelief and they too will realize Perry’s talents as an action star.

It goes without saying that a number of factors were changed in this adaptation of its namesake book by author James Patterson.  But few movies ever adapted from books have ever stayed one hundred percent true to their origins.  Just look at the movies in the Die Hard franchise.  They are prime examples of that.   Audiences need to keep this in mind as well in order to maintain their suspension of disbelief.  Allowing that to happen allows audiences to simply enjoy the fast paced action that starts right off the bat and barely lets up right to the movie’s final confrontation.  And if doing that doesn’t work, then perhaps watching the bonus making of featurette in the brand new DVD and Blu-ray release of the movie will finally convince people to let go of their own expectations.  The feature, “The Psychologist and the Butcher: Adapting & Filming Alex Cross” features interviews with James Patterson himself in which he in no uncertain terms lets audiences know that he accepts the big screen adaptation of Cross.  It’s nice to see an author giving his personal stamp of approval on an adaptation of one of his books.  And hopefully both Patterson’s readers and Perry’s fans will come together after watching this new home release and give the movie the appreciation which it deserves.  It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online and is worth at least one watch by any true action movie fan.

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NASCAR Now Returns This Friday

Courtesy:  NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2, ESPNNews/Rick Hendrick Racing

Courtesy: NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2, ESPNNews/Rick Hendrick Racing

ESPN2’s NASCAR Now returns this Friday.  The hit show will air its first new broadcast of the season live from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.  This year marks the show’s seventh season on ESPN2.  The broadcast will air at 3pm EST.  It will broadcast live from the NHOF as part of the sport’s celebration of the latest class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall.  Among this year’s class of inductees is former driver and NASCAR Now analyst Rusty Wallace.  Also included in this year’s class are:  Leonard Wood, Cotton Owens, Buck Baker, and Herb Thomas.

The broadcast will be anchored by Allen Bestwick.  He will be joined by analysts Dale Jarrett and Ray Evernham.  Both Wallace and Leonard Wood are expected to appear on the broadcast as special guests.  Regular broadcasts will resume Monday, February 11th.  For the first time, NASCAR Now will broadcast in West Coast prime time this year.  Viewers should check local listings for air times each day.  Also new for this season of NASCAR Now is the inclusion of special segments focusing on drivers Juan Montoya, Joey Logano and Nationwide Series driver Travis Pastrana.  Pastrana’s segments are expected to generally run during the show’s weekday editions while the segments featuring Logano and Montoya are expected to run on race-morning editions of NASCAR Now

The entire NASCAR Now staff will be back once again with some new additions this time around.  This season, ESPN SportsCenter anchors Lindsay Czarniak and Jonathan “The Coach” Coachman will also fill in occasionally.  The “NASCAR Nation” can tune in to ESPNNews on Valentine’s Day, for a very special three-hour edition of NASCAR Now beginning at 12pm EST.  The broadcast will be live as part of the Daytona 500 Media Day.  This broadcast and all NASCAR Now broadcasts are available both on TV and online on WatchESPN and on the WatchESPN app.

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Old School Metal Fans Will Enjoy Slough Feg Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade Records’ most recent signees, The Lord Weird Slough Feg—or simply Slough Feg as it’s now known—is quite the interesting band.  This Pennsylvania based band is part of a movement to bring pure guitar driven rock music back to the masses.  Having recently signed with Metal Blade, three of the band’s previously released albums have been made available to the masses.  One of the best of that trio is the band’s 1999 album, Twilight of the Idols.  This LP injects a much needed dose of pure rock into an industry that has become far too overpopulated by bands whose music relies on crunchy, down-tuned guitars and cookie monster growls.  Listeners will instantly be taken by surprise by the album’s instrumental opener, ‘Funeral March.’  This song is performed entirely on bagpipes.  What’s most interesting that for a song titled, ‘Funeral March’, it sounds anything like a funeral dirge.  Rather it has more of a major tone to it than a minor. To this critic specifically, it conjures images of sunrise over a country side more so than a funeral setting.  And to others it might conjure similar images or something different.  It’s all open to interpretation.

From the ‘Funeral March’ the album takes a rather abrupt change of pace as its second track, ‘Highlander.’  Musically, the sound of this song is similar to much of what listeners can expect throughout the album.  That’s not to say that every track sounds the same.  Rather, the feel throughout the album is much the same, save perhaps for the semi-electric/semi-acoustic jig that is ‘Brave Conner Mac.’  The first thing that comes to mind in listening to this is a comparison to the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  ‘Wickerman’ follows in similar fashion though this song mixes the band’s Celtic sound with its old school metal sound to make one of the album’s highlights.  Just as enjoyable as ‘Wickerman’ is the eight-minute plus song, ‘The Great Ice Wars.’  Yet again, audiences get more of the old school Iron maiden/Black Sabbath/Judas Priest vibe here.  The real highlight of the song that late in the song, it breaks into something of an improve session, allowing for vocalist Michael Scalzi to rest his voice if only for a couple minutes and the rest of the band members to showcase their talents.  It all leads up to a final moment that could easily be seen as the closer for the band’s live sets, pyro and all.

The band barely lets up even after the intensity of ‘The Great Ice Wars.’  It picks up right where it left off and keeps the adrenaline flowing, hair flying, and horns in the air throughout the remainder of the album right up to the album’s bagpipe based closer that serves as an excellent bookend to the album.  The album is available now as part of a triple disc box set released by Metal Blade Records.  It can be purchased online at http://www.metalblade.com/thelordweirdsloughfeg.  After ordering the band’s new box set, audiences can go to the band’s Facebook page and “Like” it at http://www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial to get all the latest news from the band.  Fans can also follow the band on Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/sloughfeg, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Slough_Feg, and on its official website at http://www.sloughfeg.com.

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Atlas Genius Debuting New Song Today

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Records

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

Aussie rock band Atlas Genius has a surprise for its fans.  The band will debut a new song today.  The new song will debut on the band’s website, and through its social media pages, too.  It will debut at 11am.  Along with the new song debuting today, fans will get to see the band live as it tours in support of its new release, When It Was Now, which is set to be released next Tuesday, February 19th.  The band will perform live in Tempe, Arizona this Friday.  The band will follow up that performance with a show this Saturday in Las Vegas.  Fans in North Carolina will also get their chance to see the band live when it comes to Asheville, North Carolina’s Orange Peel next Wednesday, February 16th.

Atlas Genius’ fans can get a full tour schedule online on the band’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AtlasGenius and on its official website, http://atlasgenius.com.

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ESPNU Announces BracketBusters Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPNU

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPNU

ESPNU has officially announced the schedule for its 11th annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters.  The Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters is a two day men’s NCAA basketball series that puts possible NCAA Championship hopefuls against each other.  This year’s event will take place Friday, February 22nd and Saturday, February 23rd.  It will feature thirteen televised games across the ESPN family of networks and on WatchESPN and ESPN3.  ESPN2 will air no fewer than three BracketBusters games while ESPNU and ESPN3 will air four each.  There will be two extra flex games that will air either on ESPN or ESPN2.  That final decision is expected about a week before the games.  Audiences can expect the games to feature teams from thirteen different conferences including four teams from the Missouri Valley conference, three each from the MAAC, Mid-American and Ohio Valley Conference.  The full rundown of the games is listed below.

2013 Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters Schedule (All times are Eastern and subject to change)

Date Time (ET) Game Network(s)
Fri, Feb 22 7 p.m. North Dakota State at Akron ESPN2 / WatchESPN
  9 p.m. Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State ESPNU / WatchESPN
Sat, Feb 23 11 a.m. Iona at Indiana State ESPNU / WatchESPN
  1 p.m. Eastern Kentucky at Valparaiso ESPNU / WatchESPN
    Canisius at Vermont ESPN3
  2 p.m. Pacific at Western Michigan ESPN3
  3 p.m. Montana at Davidson ESPNU / WatchESPN
    Northwestern State at Niagara ESPN3
  4 p.m. Detroit at Wichita State ESPN or ESPN2 / WatchESPN
  6 p.m. No. 16 Creighton at Saint Mary’s (Calif.) ESPN or ESPN2 / WatchESPN
  8 p.m. South Dakota State at Murray State ESPN2 / WatchESPN
    Denver at Northern Iowa ESPN3
  10 p.m. Ohio at Belmont ESPN2 / WatchESPN

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Action Flick Fans Will Be “Taken” With Taken 2 On Blu-Ray, DVD

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Taken 2 is one of those movies for which there is no grey area.  It’s a fast moving, flash-boom-bang shoot-’em-up action flick that is very much in the vein of Lionsgate’s recently released The Expendables 2.  The only difference between that over the top sequel and this one is that more than likely 20th Century Fox will let this franchise end with the end of this movie.  Is it the best sequel ever made?  No.  But it is a great turn off your brain flick for anyone looking to escape from the constant barrage of negative news and every day stresses thrown at audiences every day on television and in the work-a-day world.  Right from the movie’s opening moments, it grabs viewers by the collar, making no bones about what to expect.  Once it takes off, there is no stopping the story’s action.  From gunfights to car chases and everything in between, this latest (and likely last) movie in the Taken franchise accomplishes the very goal which it set out to achieve in its short ninety-two minutes.  That goal is to entertain audiences and let them enter another world, if only for a short time.  For that, 20th Century Fox and all involved with this movie are to be commended.  That’s especially the case in a time when audiences need an escape more than ever.

As one can hopefully already tell, Taken 2 offers exactly what action movie buffs want out of said genre.  But there’s more to the movie than just the action that makes it worth at least one watch.  Much like The Expendables 2 and so many other action movies, this story offers audiences a hero for whom they can cheer in Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills.  All Mills wants is to finish the job that he started in the franchise’s first movie.  But the thing is so do the men who took his daughter.  And both sides will go to whatever lengths necessary to accomplish their goal.  Being that Bryan Mills is a clearly defined archetypal hero, rooting for him is that much easier.  So many of today’s movies have fewer heroes and more anti-hero figures.  It’s nice to see that Bryan doesn’t fit into the latter mold.  It’s one more positive to a movie that any action movie lover will appreciate.

Audiences will appreciate this movie even more now that it is available on DVD and Blu-ray.  The Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo pack offers audiences the most in-depth experience.  It offers audiences both the theatrical and unrated version of the movie along with an interesting bonus “pop-up” feature in the unrated version called “Black Ops Field Manual.”  It offers extra little bits of information about plot elements of the movie.  It’s sort of a director’ commentary without the commentary.  There’s also a character profile of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills courtesy of FX network.  There is no bonus commentary included here.  But that’s not necessarily a loss as there’s nothing extra needed to understand.  This is an action movie with an easy to understand plot, period.

The movie’s bonus features add their own element of enjoyment to this fast paced action flick.  In an even deeper level, there’s one more factor that makes the movie even more interesting.  That factor is that while this movie is a sequel, it could just as easily succeed as a stand-alone movie.  Audiences don’t necessarily need to have seen the franchise’s first movie to enjoy this one.  All audiences need to know is the most basic elements of the first of the pair of movies to understand the plot for this one.  Keeping this in mind, and adding in the bonus features of the Blu-ray/DVD/combo pack, Taken 2 actually turns out to be one of those rare sequels that actually turn out to be as good as the original.  In the grand scheme of things, it turns out to be a sequel that’s worth at least one watch.

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