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  1. #1
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    Default TAKEN: 2-DISC EXTENDED CUT (20th Century Fox)



    I WILL FIND YOU.
    I WILL KILL YOU.


    Studio Name: 20th Century Fox
    MPAA Rating: UNRATED & PG-13
    Disc Information: 50GB Dual Layer Widescreen 2.40:1; U.S. Region 1 Release
    Video Codec: AVC@ 34 MBPS
    Tested Audio Track: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (DTS core tested)
    Director: Pierre Morel
    Starring Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen
    DIGITAL COPY of the film included


    SYNOPSIS:

    Some marketing materials for this outrageous, edge-of-your-seat Liam Neeson thriller proclaimed "Move Over, Jason Bourne!" and indeed, Neeson kicks mucho ass in this...so much so that some parallel him and can envision him as a 007 down the line...with some British accent lessons, of course.

    Theatrically, Taken didn't succeed, and that was a head-scratcher because this was one of the most entertaining films -- let alone action pictures -- of the past few months. Making the theatrical launch very bittersweet for Mr. Neeson was the fact that his wife had died while they were on a ski vacation I believe it was...right before the film had opened in box offices everywhere.

    But oh, how Neeson just fit like a glove in this role...the plot tells a rather brief 90-minute run time story about Neeson's character, who is a retired special agent spy with Jason Bourne and James Bond-like training, and who has become overtly paranoid from his time during his missions. He is divorced from the sexy Famke Janssen (House on Haunted Hill) and brings his paranoia and over-protectiveness to his daughter's world; the daughter, played by Maggie Grace, is a teenager now living with her new stepfather, a seemingly wealthy balding putz who owns a mansion and throws birthday parties for Grace that Nicky Hilton would be jealous of...almost. There's a sense of competition between the two fathers; Neeson brings Grace a GPX-brand karaoke machine for her birthday, and the stepfather buys her a horse which she rides around in front of her friends. And the ex-wife? Janssen plays the ultra-bitch she's so good at playing in things like House on Haunted Hill.

    At first, you wouldn't think the rather semi-aging Neeson could pull off a role such as this...but as the action heats up, his performance as a martial arts-laden superspy is one you simply have to experience to appreciate. A group of Neeson's also retired spy friends tell him about a job they want to include him on, which involves private protection for a pop diva singer. Neeson agrees, and is assigned direct protection in the girl's dressing room. When the singer is attacked by an armed assailant, we see Neeson's training come into action for the first time -- and he puts this guy down as fast as Steven Seagal. There's a connection between Neeson's daughter wanting to be a pop singer and this girl he's protecting; after Neeson saves her life, she gives up her manager and vocal coach's contact information for his daughter. Those kinds of chances don't come every day.

    The plot begins to come alive when Neeson meets Grace at a favorite restaurant, with Janssen in tow, and the daughter tells him she wants to go to Paris with her best friend to experience all the culture and art of the city -- the truth is, the girls are going to supposedly follow U2 on their European tour dates. While Neeson's paranoid, ridiculously overprotective character doesn't know this yet, he refuses at first but then allows her to go to Paris with the condition that she stay in touch with him at all times. The girls go, and the trampy, promiscuous friend ends up falling for a lame Euro-trasher named "Peter" who asks to share a cab with them on the Taxi line outside Charles DeGaulle Airport. Peter asks them to come to a party that night, and gets the address where they're staying, but he ends up being a contact guy for a group of Albanians who have staked a claim in France for the business of kidnapping and selling young girls for high-end prostitution rings.

    In an exciting sequence, Neeson finally speaks to the daughter after attempting to contact her countless times, and as she speaks, her friend is abducted by a group of men right across the way from the bathroom she is in. Neeson understands what is going on just from what she is telling him, and in a rather odd part braces her for the fact that she's about to be kidnapped -- I thought Pierre Morel clouded things a bit here, as it's almost as if Neeson knew this was coming based on his reactions on the phone; at any rate, Neeson gets a good listen to their accents as they kidnap the girl. In the film's marketing jargon -- as indicated at the top of my review -- Neeson seethes some heavy-duty threats about what will happen to these men if they don't give him his daughter back...and it's really cool to listen to. Liam Neeson as a bad ass! Well, he proved he could do this already in Batman Begins but this is different; the kidnappers reply with "Good Luck"...and the chase is on.

    Neeson informs Janssen what has happened, along with the a-hole stepfather, and the rich stepfather flies him to Paris via private jet, where he breaks down every door to find his daughter. These sequences are the most exciting in Taken, where Neeson first learns who the kid was who spotted his daughter and her friend -- and who is still doing it as more girls fly into Paris -- and beats him to a pulp trying to gain information. With the spotter dead (in a wild scene in which he's struck by a speeding truck) Neeson turns his sights on the underground prostitution ring in the city, which eventually leads him to the Albanians who are in control of the kidnapping ring. All the while, a French investigator who has a history with Neeson's character, is tracking his every move, refusing to give up any information about the group. Neeson's search eventually lands him in a place where ultra-wealthy sheiks and lords from all over the globe actually sit in a circle and "buy" sexy young girls that have been kidnapped by this organization and drugged into coma-like states so they simply cannot resist. The sequence where the girls are "bid on" is a bit disturbing, but what's more disturbing is the visual of the fat bastard beached whale who bid on Neeson's daughter -- the thought of what that fat f***ing pig was going to do to this teen in high heels stoned out of her gourd on G-d knows what will make you barf up your Marie Calendar's Lasagna dinner.

    Good thing Neeson arrived just in time, eh?

    There's also a clever, satisfying end sequence involving the pop diva from the beginning and Neeson's daughter, which I won't divulge.

    What's refreshing about Taken is that for the first time in a long time, a film actually made sense and didn't require a doctorate in mythology to really understand...not only that, it runs at a brisk 90 minutes as I said, so it never really drags on in any one spot. This was a very entertaining, solidly-made action thriller that although I enjoyed more in the theater, will definitely have replay time in your home theaters.

    Also of note...this is the "Unrated" 2-Disc Extended Cut of the title, which gives you the option of watching the theatrical version or the "extended" version; after selecting the extended cut, I saw really nothing different nor "longer" to warrant it receiving this moniker as compared to my memory of the theatrical release.

    But Neeson does kick ass in this...

    Did I say that already?


    REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW...

  2. #2
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    TAKEN REVIEW CONTINUED...

    VIDEO QUALITY:

    Theatrically, Taken didn't look good at all -- and it apparently carries over to Blu-ray on this AVC 34 MBPS codec used by Fox. Theatrically, the film was loaded with grain -- definitely a stylistic and photographic choice -- and the same effect and image stains the Blu-ray release. The outdoor sequences of the film look fantastic for the most part -- but the majority of Taken just looks crummy in my opinion; there's a heavy dose of grain that becomes distracting at many points, causing, like so often, a given scene to go soft and un-HD-like. As a matter of fact, I would go so far to say that if you want to save a few bucks, Taken may even satisfy enough on standard DVD.


    AUDIO QUALITY:

    If the video transfer wasn't really top-notch, the film's DTS Master Audio mix makes up for it -- in LFE spades. Even running at its core DTS track, the mix is absolutely loaded with low frequency effects that rattle the walls to the point you'll have to turn down your master volume to compensate. There's an abundance of every element that makes a good sound design here: Cars rushing into the surround channels during chase sequences, intelligible dialogue, crushing bass...the track was very impressive. I found this better than Fox's last co-release, Quantum of Solace which was also in Master Audio.

    If there was anything to nit-pick, I would have to say the mix overall has a bit of a...how do I say it..."covered in a little bit of a blanket" effect -- what do I mean by this? Well, while certainly loud and aggressive, there's a style to this sound design that feels a bit "chesty" and "blanketed" as if some kind of noise reduction (audio) or dynamic range compression was added or on. And before you ask, yes, I did check to see that my system wasn't running with any "Night Mode" or range compression.

    But if wall-rattling, booming LFE is your thing, this track has it.

    SUMMARY:

    As I said, a solidly-made action thriller that will surely entertain Bourne and even Bond fans -- to see Liam Neeson kick ass since he did so in Batman Begins was truly nail-biting and exciting; while hammy and campy in certain places, his performance warrants putting this title on your shelf.

    RECOMMENDATIONS:

    I can whole-heartedly recommend this, friends; when I saw this theatrically, I walked out thinking I couldn't wait to get the Blu-ray when it came out...it seemingly came out in the blink of an eye because it didn't apparently do well at the box office, and I can recommend it for any fan of the action/spy/martial arts genre. It's not anything that is going to shake the Oscar Awards foundations to its core with planet-changing performances or setpieces, but it sure is a fun hour and a half.

    There it is, friends! Please fire away with any comments or questions!

    Thanks for reading!

  3. #3

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    I watched it last night and I liked the movie a lot. It was fast and to the point.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    I watched it last night and I liked the movie a lot. It was fast and to the point.
    It most definitely was!

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    Watched it last night and its a very good movie.

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    I totally disagree with the comment that the film grain stains the blu-ray transfer... grain is inherent in film and any movie transfer should reproduce the image exactly how the director wanted it to look like. High definition has now exposed viewers to all the film image details, flaws and all. But grain is not a flaw but a part of the filming process.

    I do not like how some of Blu-Ray movies have been digitally "scrubbed" to remove grain as this also removes detail and gives the movie a cartoonish look to it. The worst examples of overprocessing is Fox's "Patton" and "The Longest Day". Bill Hunt of "the Digital Bits" has complained that the new "Star Trek" Blu-Ray movies (with the exception of "The Wrath of Khan" is so over-processed, the movies looks terrible on a big screen.

    Another complaint is that edge enhancement is still being added to Blu-Ray titles. "40 Year Old Virgin" has so much edge enhancement added, all edges have a distinct halo around it.

    Movies should not be digitally enhanced in any manner other than removing any flaws or damage on the image. Viewers who do not like film grain should go back to watching on VHS.

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    I saw this in the theater and bought it yesterday on Blu Ray. Liam Neeson gives a terrific performance and I loved it.
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  8. #8

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    The OP seems REALLY familiar. I seem to remember Mr Grand theorizing about a pterodactyl eating a mysterious entity known as OnkyoFanatic....

    But I could be wrong.
    Last edited by zombie boy 2000; 05-13-2009 at 11:44 AM.
    I never had it like this where I grew up. But I send my kids here because the fact is you go to one of the best schools in the country: Rushmore. Now, for some of you it doesn't matter. You were born rich and you're going to stay rich. But here's my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone. Don't let them forget it. Thank you.Herman Blume - Rushmore

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    I watched it last night and I liked the movie a lot. It was fast and to the point.
    Thanks for the reply and for reading, Mantis! Indeed, it was fast and to the point, and that's what made it so appealing in this age of overdone, overlong "epics" that leave your ass killing you in a theater...

    As I mentioned in the review, it was refreshing to experience this.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  10. #10

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    Good Movie-Good Sound:)
    Linn AV5140 fronts
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    SVS Ultra-13 Gloss Black:D

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jon s View Post
    I totally disagree with the comment that the film grain stains the blu-ray transfer... grain is inherent in film and any movie transfer should reproduce the image exactly how the director wanted it to look like. High definition has now exposed viewers to all the film image details, flaws and all. But grain is not a flaw but a part of the filming process.
    Perhaps "stained" was the wrong choice of words here, Jon -- I completely understand that high definition has brought out details and everything we simply weren't seeing with 480 lines of resolution with DVD, and that it is indeed the director's and director of photography's stylistic choice for the look of many films and that's what we're seeing at home.

    HOWEVER, excessively grainy films and transfers are simply distracting when they get to the point that it looks as if a "noise" or "staticky artifact" is introducing itself on certain titles; Bill Hunt of the Digital Bits, a respected colleauge and other reviewer, complained about "noise" and grain on the recent Quantum of Solace Blu-ray, and I saw it too.

    Some transfers break down into grain so excessively, it makes some scenes go soft and lose its "HD edge;" this is what happened during many sequences of TAKEN, and I criticized it for that. Have you ever seen 88 MINUTES with Al Pacino on Blu-ray? It looks absolutely AWFUL with staticky grain and artifacting that takes you right out of the picture; now, you can argue and feel that it was the "artistic decision" of the film maker(s), but the film just didn't LOOK GOOD on Blu-ray Disc.

    The same thing happens on a handful of BD titles, one of which is INDEPENDENCE DAY, which I have criticized heavily as well. But getting back to TAKEN, I understand your point you bring up, but my stance as a reviewer is to look for what I think made for a negative -- or positive -- presentation, and there were too many instances on TAKEN where I felt I could have chosen the DVD version and been just as happy...that's not good.

    I do not like how some of Blu-Ray movies have been digitally "scrubbed" to remove grain as this also removes detail and gives the movie a cartoonish look to it. The worst examples of overprocessing is Fox's "Patton" and "The Longest Day". Bill Hunt of "the Digital Bits" has complained that the new "Star Trek" Blu-Ray movies (with the exception of "The Wrath of Khan" is so over-processed, the movies looks terrible on a big screen.
    Okay, so forget my referece to Hunt as you already know of him, and yes, I am aware of the PATTON DNR issue; as for the STAR TREKS, yes, I did read Bill's reviews of them and saw the reference he made to WRATH OF KHAN and the difference between the others...as I don't have any hands-on experience with the new Trek Blu-rays (I am still watching my STAR TREK MOTION PICTURES DVD COLLECTION set) I cannot comment on them, but he did mention the others are so bathed in some kind of digital manipulation that they appear flat and smeared with vaseline it's so bad.

    I am absolutely in the minority here, and I admit that...but I will be big enough to say that I am one of those enthusiasts who actually enjoy some kind of "cleaning up" or noise reduction on titles that are not pristine. I leave my Blu-ray player's "DNR" circuit ON during standard DVD playback, as to me, it eliminates much of the mosquito noise on the screen and such.

    At the end of the day, I didn't care for TAKEN's 1080p image, and I am advising people of it.

    Another complaint is that edge enhancement is still being added to Blu-Ray titles. "40 Year Old Virgin" has so much edge enhancement added, all edges have a distinct halo around it.
    Again, I haven't seen 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN on Blu, as I have the standard DVD copy...

    Movies should not be digitally enhanced in any manner other than removing any flaws or damage on the image. Viewers who do not like film grain should go back to watching on VHS.
    I think that's a harsh and generalized statement; as I said earlier, EXCESSIVE film grain -- and I'm not talking about eliminating ALL film grain from every transfer (a good example of nice grain structure is on Sony's 30 DAYS OF NIGHT BD) -- is distracting and interferes to the point that it makes certain shots of films look too soft.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danz1906 View Post
    Good Movie-Good Sound:)
    Yes, Danz, it seems this title is getting good vibes all around...I too enjoyed the DTS Master Audio track and thought it was better than the video.

    Thanks for commenting and reading! :)

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    BUMP; watched this again the other night, and can't get over how efficiently Neeson kicks ass in this one....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike LoManaco View Post
    Yes, Danz, it seems this title is getting good vibes all around...I too enjoyed the DTS Master Audio track and thought it was better than the video.

    Thanks for commenting and reading! :)
    I really enjoy a Movie more if it has great sound, I like to give
    my Subs a workout:D
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    Quote Originally Posted by danz1906 View Post
    I really enjoy a Movie more if it has great sound, I like to give
    my Subs a workout:D
    I know what you mean, Dan; ;) I wish I could crank up my PSW10 more than I do, but unfortunately we have neighbors...:(

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    Very good post Mike LaManaco. It was informative and educational - I now know better what to look for and the importance of the decisions made in the transfer process.

    This is a good example of what I come here for.

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike LoManaco View Post
    I know what you mean, Dan; ;) I wish I could crank up my PSW10 more than I do, but unfortunately we have neighbors...:(
    Just Watched it again today-He will find you
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreggC View Post
    Very good post Mike LaManaco. It was informative and educational - I now know better what to look for and the importance of the decisions made in the transfer process.

    This is a good example of what I come here for.

    Thanks
    Hey Gregg!

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting; your thoughts are indeed kind and worthy! Yes, I try and supply as much information as I could for you guys and gals regarding these BD and DVD transfers so you can have this data before purchasing or renting.

    Thanks for reading, again! :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by danz1906 View Post
    Just Watched it again today-He will find you
    LOL. Yeah, I watched it again the other night -- cool film, indeed. I was just not pleased with how varying the video quality is on this one; the outdoor sequences with Janssen's character and Neeson's daughter at their new mansion look absolutely fantastic with snapping colors and unbelievable clarity. But as the film progresses, the darker sequences collapse into a grainy softness that causes the image to lose detail and sparkle. Disappointing for such a recent 1080p release, although it can be due, of course, to filming decisions and photography methods, etc.

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