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Digital Divide: February 2013

Taken 2
20th Century Fox

From deep in the file marked, “Didn’t we learn anything the first time?” comes Taken 2.

I’ll admit, I approached this one thinking there was no way it could be as bad as the first one, right? Right? Well, the good news is it isn’t. The bad news is it’s only better in the way that the milk in the fridge a month past its expiration date is better than the carton that’s been in there a month and a day too long.

Once again, Liam Neeson tackles the role of Bryan Mills, the former CIA officer with a very particular set of skills. Only this time, instead of his daughter being kidnapped, he and his wife fall into the hands of Euro-trash bad guys pissed that he offed their family members in the first go-round.

There are certain things that happen in Taken 2 that, if I ever find myself in a similar situation, I pray it plays out the exact same way. For example, if I ever find myself in a standoff with three bad guys pointing guns at me, I hope they do me the courtesy of letting me make an extended phone call to someone with the express purpose of telling them what is happening and what I want them to do to provide assistance.

Second, I want to be able to have the person trying to find me narrow down my location by lobbing grenades at the top floor of a building, so I can estimate the distance via sound delay. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, it’s only Istanbul, a city with 13.5 million people packed tighter than New York. Nobody will notice but me, right?

And third, I want to be able to plow my car through the gates of the U.S. embassy in the above metropolis, only to be allowed to walk away unhindered and fully armed moments later to continue my quest for revenge.

The disc’s special features do help things a little, with some deleted scenes and a 25-minute alternate ending that gives a different take on the whole embassy thing, but there’s really not much that can be done to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.

At least there won’t be a Taken 3. I mean, no studio is that desperate for an action franchise that makes no sense. What? It’s already in development?

Ah, Christ . . .

House At The End Of The Street
20th Century Fox

In almost every instance, there is a film on the resume of a major actor that they would prefer you never mention. Sometimes they’re just misguided choices that looked good on paper, but, more often than not, they’re low budget horror flicks in which they appeared to get their name on the radar or to pick up a paycheck.

There’s nothing wrong with it really. After all, when the list includes names like Hanks, Depp, Bacon, Aniston, and Clooney, you’re not really in all that bad of company.

While the jury is still out on the kind of career Jennifer Lawrence will have, it’s a safe bet that with her name above the title of the newest mega-billion dollar franchise, not to mention two Oscar nominations by the age of 22, she won’t be asked to do “Dancing With The Stars” any time soon. It’s also a safe bet that in a few years when asked about House At The End Of The Street, her response will be “Oh yeah, that.”

House isn’t necessarily a bad film, it’s just very generic. There’s nothing in here that hasn’t been seen before.

The plot revolves around a mother and daughter who move next door to a house in which a double murder had been committed. As anyone should know by now, you never move into, or next door to, a murder house – it’s bad hoodoo.

Yet since House is rated PG-13, you know it won’t be as graphic as your normal horror flick (not that it’s a bad thing), but it relies way too much on things jumping out at you with bombastic orchestral hits.

Although the disc is billed as the “unrated” version, there really isn’t that much of an escalation when it comes to the blood factor and very little in the way of special features.

Aside from Lawrence giving up a game effort, there really isn’t much to recommend here.

– Timothy Hiatt

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