Maggie Grace

Taken Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace

Contrary to popular belief, not all mega-successful movies get an automatic sequel. Often, a pitched battle rages over the right to add a +1 on the end of whatever movie just made a gazillion dollars worldwide. Take Taken 3. The addition of that “3″ was no cakewalk. At first, Liam Neeson was adamant that the film shouldn’t be made, that a single family would suffer three takings to be completely absurd. “It’s just bad parenting,” Neeson argued. Then, Fox offered him $20M to change his mind. He did. But there was a catch: Neeson’s agreement meant Fox had to implement a strict “No Taking” policy for Taken 3. No daughters would be taken. No wives. Not a single Liam Neeson. Which begs the question: what’s everyone supposed to do instead?

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

As someone who’s somehow resisted the pull of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight books but has seen all five films, I feel confident saying the first three movies (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) exist on a sliding scale of awfulness. They’re bland, lacking in anything resembling emotion or humanity, poorly acted, terribly written and insulting to the concepts of free will, family, gender equality, canine care, individuality and love itself. Breaking Dawn Part 1 changed some of that for the better. The themes were still offensive to rational people who prefer a uterus be connected to a functioning and free-spirited brain, but director Bill Condon managed to inject a degree of humor and zaniness to the proceedings that embraced the entertainment value inherent in the story but missing from the earlier films. Basically, he made it fun. And thankfully, he returned to helm part 2. To recap part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) the human and Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire have married, fornicated and given birth to a baby they felt it necessary to name Renesmee. While still a fetus the little scamp had sucked the life from its mother leading to Bella’s death shortly after Edward decided to perform an emergency Cesarean with his teeth. He acts quickly and bites her again, this time in an attempt to save her life by turning her into a bloodsucker, and it works. She opens her inhuman, crimson eyes, and the credits roll. Oh, and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) the werewolf pees on Bella’s newborn daughter […]

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Taken 2

Pierre Morel’s 2009 hit Taken was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise on several levels. It turned the 56-year-old Liam Neeson into a legitimate action star, it re-framed the idea of January being a dumping ground for Hollywood leftovers and best of all, it was damn entertaining in its ridiculous simplicity. Its box office take guaranteed a sequel, but what should have been a sure thing was instead kneecapped by co-writer/franchise-creator Luc Besson‘s decision to hand the reins to the awesomely named  but otherwise utterly incompetent Olivier Megaton. In the sequel, ex-CIA agent and current bodyguard Bryan Mills (Neeson) finally has the relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) that he’s so desperately craved. An upcoming protection gig in Istanbul seems like the ideal locale for a “family” vacation so the ladies surprise Mills after his assignment for some Turkish R&R. But they’re not the only members of the surprise committee.

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Taken 2

Why would this family go on vacation to Eastern Europe? Why? Why do it? After your daughter was kidnapped, forced to wear a glittery bikini and stood minutes away from being sold into a harem, why would you not bed down in the exact center of the United States (Lebanon, Kansas by the way) and resume life as quietly as possible? The new trailer for Taken 2 raises this important question, but it also continues to prove that Liam Neeson is a badass not to be trifled with. The opening sequence is perfect, taking on the perspective of the sex trade mafia as Bryan Mills has become somewhat of a legend that needs to be taken out. And take him out, they shall. Or at least they’ll try. Check out the trailer for yourself as you ponder why Maggie Grace is pretending to be 14 years old when her character is at least 20.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – in a future America, an important member of the First Family gets trapped in an inventive super-max prison the likes of which we’ve never seen, and the only person who can save them is a sharp-tongued criminal. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Unfortunately, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger‘s Lockout is no Escape from New York, but dammit if Guy Pearce‘s performance doesn’t hit some gleeful Snake Plissken-inspired high notes in the midst of some serious cinematic mess. Mather and St. Leger’s take (which comes from an original idea from co-writer and producer Luc Besson) on the “one man against a mega-prison” moves the action away from not just New York, but Earth itself – setting the majority of Lockout in a super prison in the sky. MS One is the first of its kind, a space prison that uses the unique advantages of its location to isolate its prisoners twofold – not only are they trapped in space, they’re also sunk into a deep stasis that should guarantee that escape is not only impossible, but also unthinkable to their conked-out brains. Unfortunately, as we’re told repeatedly, “some minds just can’t take it,” and the philanthropically-minded Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) has just arrived on MS One to interview some recently awoken prisoners to gauge the effects of their stasis. Emilie also happens to be the President of the United States’ only daughter, a fact that the audience knows from the get-go, even […]

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Unfortunately for this year’s WonderCon, I was only able to spend one day at the convention. When busting your cherry, convention or otherwise, it is often best to go nice and slow. While I’d have loved to get a few more hours at the convention, which moved to Anaheim, California, this year, I did more than just get my toes wet. Because it was raining. I spent the better, longer part of Saturday sitting in the massive ballroom at the Anaheim Convention Center, just down the street from Disneyland, staring up at a gigantic screen projecting clear images of actors, actresses, writers, and directors which, to my naked eye, were tiny specks about a quarter of a mile away. The panels I managed to get into included Lockout, Battleship, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Resident Evil: Retribution, so let’s all take a look together at the joyous cinematic wonders they had to show!

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Guy Pearce in Lock-Out

The teaser trailer for the upcoming Guy Pearce vehicle Lockout (formerly Lock-Out) gave us a glimpse at the rogue charm Pearce has mustered up in the lead role, but it didn’t let us in on much of what the movie is actually about. The new full-length trailer over at IGN gives us a bit more of that Pearce sass, but it also lays out pretty much the whole plot. Some of my favorite movies ever take multiple genres and blend them together. Sometimes blending genres creates a tonally weird mess (Cowboys & Aliens), but when you do it right you create something fresh and new out of used parts (Serenity), and it seems like Lockout has some potential to do the latter.

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Guy Pearce is one of those actors you keep hoping will become a big star. The man’s been in some fantastic films (Memento, LA Confidential, The Proposition) and almost always gives a stellar performance no matter the size of the role or quality of the movie. But for some reason he’s never quite taken off the way he deserves. Not that he’s been hard up for work… he appeared in HBO’s much-lauded miniseries Mildred Pierce earlier this year and per IMDB has twelve upcoming projects in various stages of development including Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Prometheus. But before he stars in the alien movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Alien, he’s heading to a far lower profile region of space. Lock-Out is about a convicted criminal (Pearce) who’s given a singular chance at freedom if he can rescue the President’s daughter from the middle of a space station prison riot. The film is the feature directorial debut of James Mather and Stephen St. Leger who also co-wrote the script with the busiest man in France, Luc Besson, so you know if nothing else there’s going to be some fun, logic-free action. The short description makes it sound like the sequel to Escape From New York we should have gotten instead of the abysmal one we did. Check out the teaser trailer below.

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From her stint on Lost to being sold off for sex in Taken, Maggie Grace has proven herself to be nothing more than an actress with blond hair. But now, based on this new bit of casting news, she will be an actress with blond hair who is also in a Twilight movie. She will star alongside Edward, Jacob and Bella in the Bill Condon directed Twilight: Breaking Dawn, a flick that begins shooting this fall. According to Deadline Forks, she will play a character named Irina, who is (according to the Twilight Saga wiki) one of the vegetarian vampires who is not a big fan of Edward’s warm-blooded girlfriend. I guess she was in love with Laurent (the deadlocked vamp who met his gnarly death in the last movie).  Do I have that right, Twilight fans?

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The new trailer for The Experiment promises to eat the weak or at least release some battery acid into your bloodstream with tension and social commentary. History and Psychology buffs will recognize the story as The Stanford Prison Experiment which saw volunteers divided into two groups to see how normal people would respond when given power over others or seeing their rights taken away. Such a fantastic premise for a film – and adding Academy favorites Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker to the bill is a masterstroke – so why is it going straight to DVD again?

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Last night I recapped the second to last episode, “What They Died For,” exploring all of the questions that have been answered and discussing some of the questions that have risen just in time for the Big Finish. Today, I’m looking back much further — back to the beginning. Well, before the beginning.

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Malice in Wonderland

The folks at Magnet Releasing have provided us with an exclusive clip from their upcoming US release Malice in Wonderland, starring Lost and Taken star Maggie Grace. The film released a few months back in the UK and is now making its way over here to this side of the pond.

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews the movies the studios didn’t allow him to see early this week: Taken and The Uninvited.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Neil has returned from Park City, but he’s decompressing from his fruitful Sundance trip. So Kristin Dreyer Kramer from NightsAndWeekends.com braved the Ohio snow and ice to make a trip to the Magical Studio in the Sky to join in this week’s fun.

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taken-poster-header

I could probably give you a ten-point list of reasons why you should check out the upcoming suspense thriller Taken. Then again, all I really need is a clip from the film.

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This week’s entry may not look look like a French film, but the movie bible (IMDB) says it is, so it is. It’s produced by a French man, directed by a French man, and released by a French production company. It’s also filmed in English and is being released in the US one year after it’s worldwide release.

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published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+
published: 04.16.2014
C-

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