REVIEW: THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES

CAST

Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd)
Robert Sheehan (Season of The Witch)
Jemima West (United Passions)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Aidan Turner (The Hobbit)

New York City teenager Clary Fray begins seeing a strange symbol, worrying her mother Jocelyn Fray and her mother’s friend Luke Garroway. Later, at a nightclub with her friend, Simon Lewis, Clary is the only person who sees Jace Wayland killing a man, who he claims is a demon. Meanwhile, Jocelyn is abducted by two men, Emil Pangborn and Samuel Blackwell, but she is able to call Clary and warn her about someone named Valentine. Jocelyn drinks a potion putting her in a comatose state. Returning home, Clary finds her mother missing and is then attacked by a demon. Clary kills it, and then Jace appears. Jace explains that he and her mother Jocelyn are both Shadowhunters (also called Nephilim), half human half angel warriors that slay demons and rule over the downworlders. Clary has inherited her powers, including the ability to use runes.Madame Dorothea, the Fray’s neighbor and a witch, deduces that Pangborn and Blackwell seek the Mortal Cup, one of the three Mortal Instruments given to the first Shadowhunter by the Angel Raziel. It allows normal humans to become half-Angel Shadowhunters. Simon, now able to see Jace, arrives and they go to Luke’s bookstore. Pangborn and Blackhell are interrogating Luke there, who claims he cares nothing for Jocelyn and only wants the Mortal Cup. The trio escapes to the Shadowhunters’ hideout, the Institute, where Clary and Simon meet two other Shadowhunters Alec and Isabelle Lightwood, and their leader, Hodge Starkweather. He reveals that Valentine Morgenstern, an ex-Shadowhunter who betrayed the Nephilim, now seeks the Mortal Cup to control both Shadowhunters and demons.Hodge instructs Jace to take Clary to the City of Bones so the Silent Brothers can probe Clary’s mind for the Mortal Cup’s location. The Brothers uncover a connection to Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Bane says Jocelyn had him block the Shadowhunter world from Clary’s mind. Vampires then kidnap Simon from Magnus’ party for downworlders. Clary, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle trail them to their hideout and rescue him but are outnumbered. Werewolves (that share a truce with the Shadowhunters) intervene and save them. These are led by Luke. At the Institute, Clary shares a romantic evening with Jace, ending in a kiss. When Simon confronts Clary about it, she downplays the incident, angering Jace. Simon confesses to Clary that he is in love with her, leaving her feeling guilty because she does not reciprocate his feelings.Clary realizes the Mortal Cup is hidden inside one of Madame Dorothea’s tarot cards that were painted by her mother. The group goes to Dorothea’s apartment but she has been replaced by a demon sent to steal the Cup. Simon and Jace kill it, but Alec is critically wounded. Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup and they return to the institute. Clary gives the Mortal Cup to Hodge who betrays them by summoning Valentine Morgenstern and giving him the cup. Valentine reveals he is Clary’s father and wants her to join him. She escapes through a portal that transports her to Luke’s bookstore. Luke, revealed to be a werewolf, confirms that Valentine is her father, and says Clary had an older brother named Jonathan who was killed. Luke and his werewolf pack return to the Institute with Clary to fight Valentine, who has summoned an army of demons through a portal he created. Simon and Isabelle close the portal with help from a repentant Hodge, who sacrifices himself. Meanwhile, Magnus Bane arrives and heals Alec.Clary and Jace fight Valentine, who claims both are his children. They refuse to join him and, following a battle, Clary pushes him through the portal after giving him a fake Mortal Cup. The portal is destroyed, and Jocelyn is rescued, but she remains in a coma at the hospital. Clary tells Simon that someday someone will love him. Clary heads back home and uses her new-found powers to repair the apartment. Jace appears on his motorcycle, confessing he needs her and wants her to return to the Institute. Realizing that she belongs in the Shadowhunter world, she goes with him and they ride into the distance.The film has had some very harsh critics and after seeing the movie, I don’t understand it. Luckily I ignored the bad critics and I liked it.

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REVIEW: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
Liev Schreiber (Scream 3)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Will.I.Am (Date Night)
Lynn Collins (John Carter)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Dominc Monaghan (Lost)
Taylor Kitsch (Battleship)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Daniel Henney (The Last Stand)
Scott Adkins (Universal Soldier 4)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
In 1845, James Howlett, a boy living in Canada, sees his father being killed by groundskeeper Thomas Logan. The trauma activates the boy’s mutation: bone claws protrude from his knuckles, and he kills Thomas, who reveals that he is James’s real father. James flees along with Thomas’s son Victor Creed, who is thus James’s half-brother. They spend the next century as soldiers, fighting in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, Victor kills a senior officer. James defends Victor and the two are sentenced to execution by firing squad, which they survive. Major William Stryker approaches them in military custody, and offers them membership in Team X, a group of mutants including Agent Zero, Wade Wilson, John Wraith, Fred Dukes, and Chris Bradley. They join the team for a few years, but the group’s disregard for human life causes James to leave.
Six years later, James, now using the alias Logan, works as a lumberjack in Canada, where he lives with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox. Stryker and Zero approach Logan at work. Stryker reports that Wade and Bradley have been killed, and he thinks someone is targeting the team’s members. Logan refuses to rejoin Stryker, but after finding Kayla’s bloodied body in the woods, Logan realizes Victor is responsible. He finds him at a local bar, but Logan loses the subsequent fight. Afterward, Stryker explains that Victor has gone rogue, and offers Logan a way to become strong enough to get his revenge. Logan undergoes a painful operation to reinforce his skeleton with adamantium, a virtually indestructible metal. Once the procedure is complete, Stryker attempts to betray Logan by ordering that his memory be erased. Logan overhears this and escapes to a nearby farm, where an elderly couple take him in. Zero kills them the following morning and tries to kill Logan. Logan brings down Zero’s helicopter, killing him, and swears to kill both Stryker and Victor.
Logan locates John and Fred at a boxing club. Fred explains that Victor is still working for Stryker, hunting down mutants for Stryker to experiment on at his new laboratory, located at a place called “The Island”. Fred mentions Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, who escaped from the island and therefore knows its location. John and Logan find LeBeau in New Orleans, then both fight Victor, who kills John and extracts his DNA. Agreeing to help release mutants that Stryker has captured, Gambit takes Logan to Stryker’s facility on Three Mile Island. Logan learns that Kayla is alive, having been coerced by Stryker into keeping tabs on him in exchange for her sister’s safety. However, Stryker refuses to release her sister and denies Victor the adamantium bonding promised for his service, claiming that test results revealed Victor would not survive the operation. Stryker activates a mouth-sewn Wade, now known as Weapon XI, a “mutant killer” with the powers of multiple mutants, who he refers to as the “Deadpool”.
While Logan and Victor join forces to fight Deadpool, Kayla is mortally wounded leading the Island’s captive mutants — including a teenager named Scott Summers — to safety, and she has no choice but to stay behind. The mutants are subsequently rescued by Professor Charles Xavier. Logan decapitates Deadpool, destroying one of the cooling towers in the process. Stryker arrives and shoots Logan in the head with adamantium bullets, rendering him unconscious. Before Stryker can shoot Kayla, she grabs him and uses her mutant power to persuade him to turn around and walk away until his feet bleed. Logan regains consciousness but has lost his memory. He sees Kayla’s body, but does not recognize her, and leaves the island.
In a mid-credits scene, Stryker is detained for questioning by some MPs in connection with the death of his superior, General Munson, whom Stryker did in fact kill after Munson declared his intent to shut down Stryker’s project. There is another scene which features the fate of Deadpool.
Director Gavin Hood does a decent job of bringing Wolverine’s origin story to the screen, and although it was generally an enjoyable effort, it’s solid rather than spectacular.

REVIEW: WALKING TALL (2004)

CAST

Dwayne Johnson (Cental Intelligence)
Johnny Knoxville (The Ringer)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Barbara Tarbuck (Short Circuit)
John Beasley (The Purge: Anarchy)
Kristen Wilson (Dr. Dolittle)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)

Former U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant Chris Vaughn (The Rock) returns to his small home town in Kitsap County, Washington. Looking for work, he finds the local cedar mill was closed down three years prior by its heir, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough), who opened a new casino that now accounts for the majority of revenue for the local area. Hamilton, who was also Vaughn’s school friend, invites him to a night of fun at the casino. While checking out the VIP lounge, Vaughn stumbles upon his childhood friend Deni (Ashley Scott), who is now working as a stripper. Later, he notices the craps dealer using loaded dice and demonstrates this to the patrons by placing a bet and calling out the roll before throwing the dice. When the floorman declares no payout, Vaughn instigates a fight. Although he beats down most of the security guards, he is subsequently subdued with a cattle prod and knocked unconscious. The security staff take Vaughn into the basement and Hamilton’s right-hand man and head of security Booth (Kevin Durand) tortures him by cutting his torso with a utility knife before dumping him on a roadside. He is found by a trucker and hospitalized, but recovers quickly.Vaughn goes to the sheriff, Stan Watkins (Michael Bowen), to press charges against the guards, but Sheriff Watkins refuses to allow him to do so because the casino is viewed as too important to the town’s economy, stating that because of its position, the casino is considered a “no fly zone”. After this, Vaughn also learns that his nephew, Pete (Khleo Thomas), experimented with crystal meth, which was sold to his friends by the casino security guards. Infuriated, Vaughn goes to the casino, and using a piece of lumber as a club, begins destroying casino property, and brutally beats the security guards when they attempt to stop him. Vaughn is apprehended by Sheriff Watkins and his deputies as he is driving away from the scene.In the ensuing trial, all of Hamilton’s security and staff testify against Vaughn. When the judge allows Vaughn to present his defense, he fires his appointed attorney, who is implicitly under Hamilton’s employ. After making a civic speech about the town’s great former self, Vaughn tells the jury and the rest of the town that if he’s cleared of the charges, he will run for sheriff and clean up the town. To further emphasize his plea, Vaughn reveals the grotesque scars on his torso from his being tortured by the casino staff. He is then acquitted and wins the election for sheriff. Upon taking office, he summarily dismisses the entire police force and deputizes his friend, Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville), whom Vaughn feels he can trust, as well as help Vaughn learn about narcotics (Templeton revealed earlier that he served time in prison after becoming a drug addict).Vaughn and Templeton find drugs on Booth and they take him into custody. In an attempt to make him reveal information on the town drug operation, they hold him captive in a garage and proceed to strip his truck into pieces in front of him, but he does not talk. Vaughn assigns Templeton to stand watch over his house, as he knows Hamilton will likely target his family. Vaughn himself remains at the sheriff’s office to supervise Booth. He is visited by Deni, stopping by under the pretense of bringing him food and reveals that she quit her job as the casino stripper. The two end up spending the night together in the office. The next morning, Watkins and his deputies arrive at the Sheriff’s office where they blow up Vaughn’s truck and fire upon the building with machine guns. Recognizing his dangerous predicament, Booth pleads for Vaughn to let him out of his cell, prompting Vaughn to use Booth’s perilous situation as leverage for information. Booth reveals that the old mill is where the drugs are being produced, but is immediately killed by the indiscriminate fire of the attackers. Vaughn manages to kill all of the attackers with Deni’s help.Vaughn’s parents’ house is attacked, but Templeton and Vaughn’s father are able to dispatch the gunmen. After ensuring their safety, Vaughn heads for the mill where he discovers a meth lab as well as Hamilton, calmly waiting in a control room. Hamilton attempts to kill Vaughn with the mill equipment by dropping him through a trap door, but Vaughn drags Hamilton down with him and the two fall through a chute. Vaughn, whose leg is injured, manages to tend to his injury in a nearby forest before Hamilton attacks him with an axe. The two fight for their lives, with Vaughn ultimately coming out on top by beating Hamilton with a nearby uprooted tree, breaking his leg. Vaughn repeats what Hamilton said to him earlier “You’re right, Jay. This does change our relationship. This is my town. You’re under arrest.” And Hamilton is arrested and taken into custody, with Templeton’s assistance, Vaughn shuts down the casino. In the closing scene it is revealed that the local mill is back in use.This movie is decidedly ‘heavier’ then Rock’s previous outings, dealing with more significant topics like prostitution and drugs, which gives it a more serious edge. Overall, I enjoyed Walking Tall, and would recommend it to anyone

REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION

CAST

Milla Jovovich (The Three Musketeers)
Sienna Guillory (Eragon)
Michelle Rodriguez (Machete)
Aryana Engineer (Orphan)
Shawn Roberts (A Little Bit Zombie)
Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction)
Johann Urb (A Little Bit of Heaven)
Boris Kodjoe (Starship Troopers 3)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Kevin Durand (Devil’s Knot)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Megan Charpentier (The Shack)

Alice and the others on the Umbrella Corporation freighter Arcadia face an attack by a fleet of tiltrotors led by Alice’s former ally, Jill Valentine. Alice is captured in the attack, while the fates of Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield and K-Mart are left ambiguous.Alice awakens in an underground facility and is interrogated by Jill. During a power failure, Alice escapes her cell and the laser grid, finding herself in a simulated Shibuya Square, Tokyo. Fighting her way out against zombies, she enters a control room and encounters Ada Wong, one of Albert Wesker’s top agents. Ada explains that they no longer serve Umbrella and the power outage was staged by Wesker hacking into the facility’s computers. Wesker appears on a screen, revealing that the Red Queen now controls Umbrella. Ada explains that the facility is underwater, located in Kamchatka, Russia, that served as a former Soviet naval outpost. The facility was designed by Umbrella in manufacturing clones and created simulated outbreaks to show the effect of the T-virus. Ada and Alice plan to rendezvous with a rescue crew, which includes Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton, and Luther West, Alice’s ally who survived after the outbreak in Los Angeles. Leon’s team plants explosives near the entrance of the facility, which will detonate in two hours to ensure the facility’s destruction. The group plans to meet with Alice and Ada in the Raccoon City suburbia area. In a New York City simulation, Alice and Ada defeat two Axemen. Leon and his team enter a Moscow simulation, but are attacked by armed Las Plagas Undead.In the Suburban setting, Alice and Ada encounter Becky, the deaf daughter of another Alice clone who mistakes the real Alice for her mother. They also encounter clones of Alice’s former compatriots, the One, Rain Ocampo and Carlos Olivera, who are sent to capture them. Ada gives Alice her smart glasses so that she and Becky can find their way and become split up. They encounter another clone of Rain, who was a friend of Becky’s mother and Alice gives her a weapon. She then rescues Leon’s surviving crew from the barrage of zombies and a giant Licker. Once united, the heroes head for the facility exit but are assaulted by the clones and Becky is captured by the Licker. Alice rescues her, using Leon’s bombs, kills the Licker and allows the heroes to escape; the good Rain clone and Barry are killed during the battle.On the surface, their snow-mobile is knocked over by Jill Valentine’s submarine. Jill and Rain confront the heroes with Ada as their hostage. Jill and Alice begin fighting each other, while Rain – now also enhanced with Las Plagas, granting her superhuman power and healing, fights Leon and Luther. Rain knocks out Leon and kills Luther. Alice is able to tear the mind-controlling scarab from Jill’s chest, returning her to her normal self. Realizing that they can’t kill Rain, Alice shoots the ice under Rain’s feet and she is dragged down by the swimming zombies from the undersea installation and killed. Alice, Ada, Becky, Leon, and Jill travel to Wesker’s headquarters, the heavily barricaded and fortified White House, staffed by STARS and the U.S. military. Alice meets Wesker in the heavily-barricaded Oval Office, where he injects her with the T-virus, returning her superhuman abilities; as only Alice successfully bonded with it, she is the ultimate weapon. On the roof, Wesker explains the Red Queen is trying to wipe out humanity, and all of the remaining uninfected are in the base; it is humanity’s last stand. A pull-away shows the military defending the White House alongside the remaining Umbrella Corp. soldiers against enormous hordes of T-virus abominations swarming all over the walls.Another great Resident Evil adventure, Milla Jovovich is on form as usual, a great sequel for fans of the franchise.

 

REVIEW: DEVIL’S KNOT

CAST

Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Martin Henderson (The Ring)
Elias Koteas (Shutter Island)
Dane DeHaan (Life After Beth)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Amy Ryan (Gone baby Gone)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
James Hamrick (Dive)
Seth Meriwether (The Duff)
Kristopher Higgins (In Time)
Mirelle Enos (World War Z)

In 1993, in the working class community of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys – Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore – go missing from their neighborhood. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies are found the next day. The community and the police department are convinced that the murders are the work of a satanic cult, due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime.A month later, three teenagers – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. – are arrested after Misskelley confesses following approximately 12 hours of interrogation. They are taken to trial, where Baldwin and Misskelley are sentenced to life, and Echols to death, all the while still proclaiming their innocence.Overall, the movie is a good, well-constructed drama and a reasonably fair representation of the case–albeit far from a perfect one. It’s worth seeing and entertaining but not a film for kids to see because of the subject matter.

 

REVIEW: THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

CAST

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Amy Smart (Road Trip)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
William Lee Scott (October Sky)
Jesse James (Jumper)
Cameron Bright (Twilight: New Moon)
Melora Walters (Ed Wood)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers)

Growing up, Evan Treborn and his friends, Lenny and siblings Kayleigh and Tommy Miller, suffered many severe psychological traumas that frequently caused Evan to black out. These traumas include being coerced to take part in child pornography by Kayleigh and Tommy’s father, George Miller (Eric Stoltz), being nearly strangled to death by his institutionalized father, Jason Treborn (Callum Keith Rennie), who is then killed in front of him by guards; accidentally killing a mother and her infant daughter while playing with dynamite with his friends; and seeing his dog being burned alive by Tommy.Seven years later, while entertaining a girl in his dorm room, Evan discovers that when he reads from his adolescent journals, he can travel back in time and redo parts of his past. His time traveling episodes account for the frequent blackouts he experienced as a child, since those are the moments that his adult self occupied his conscious, such as the moment his father strangled him when he realizes that Evan shares his time-traveling affliction. However, there are consequences to his revised choices that dramatically alter his present life. For example, his personal time-line leads to alternative futures in which he finds himself, variously, as a college student in a fraternity, an inmate imprisoned for murdering Tommy, and a double amputee. Eventually, he realizes that, even though his intentions to fix the past are good, his actions have unforeseen consequences, in which either he or at least one of his friends does not benefit. Moreover, the assimilation of dozens of years’ worth of new memories from the alternative timelines causes him brain damage and severe nosebleeds. He ultimately reaches the conclusion that he and his friends might not have good futures as long as he keeps altering the past, and he realizes that he is hurting them rather than helping.Evan travels back one final time to the day he first met Kayleigh as a child. He intentionally upsets her so that she and Tommy will choose to live with their mother, in a different neighborhood, instead of with their father when they divorce. As a result, they aren’t subjected to a destructive upbringing, don’t grow up with Evan, and go on to have happy, successful lives. Evan awakens in a college dorm room, where Lenny is his roommate. As a test, he asks where Kayleigh is, to which Lenny responds “Who’s Kayleigh?”. Knowing that everything is all right this time, Evan burns his journals and videos to avoid altering the timeline ever again.Eight years later in New York City, an adult Evan exits an office building and passes by Kayleigh on the street. Though a brief look of recognition passes over both of their faces, they both decide to keep walking.

Directors’ cut

The director’s cut features a notably different ending. With his brain terribly damaged and aware that he is about to be committed to a psychiatric facility where he will lose access to his time travel ability, Evan makes a desperate attempt to change the timeline by travelling back to his pre-birth self (by viewing a family film of his father’s), where he strangles himself in the womb with his umbilicus so as to prevent the multi-generational curse from continuing, consistent with an added scene where a fortune teller describes Evan to Evan and his mother as “having no lifeline” and “not belonging to this world”. Kayleigh is then seen as a child in the new timeline having chosen to live with her mother instead of her father, and a montage suggests that the lives of the other childhood characters have become loving and less tragic.

Despite mixed reviews prior to seeing this, I thought this film was an absolute gem. The cast were well introduced at the start and you were led thru the film with mysterious gaps which were filled later on, shocking the audience at times. Subject matter was occasionally difficult but this made it all the more believeable in our hero’s responses. Anything that offers a temporal paradox allows the mind to fulfil the ‘whatif’ question. It gets you thinking but this movie was difficult to 2nd guess which in my view makes for a great and unpredictable film

REVIEW: TAKEN (2002)

CAST

Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Eric Close (American Snuper)
Catherine Dent (Terminator: TSCC)
Joel Gretsch (V)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Tine Holmes (Half Nelson)
Steve Burton (Cyber Tracker)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Stacy Grant (Shanghai Noon)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Michael Moriarty (Courage Under Fire)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Ryan Hurst (Bates Motel)
James Kirk (X-Men 2)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Brenda James (Slither)
Chad Morgan (The Purge: Anarchy)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Desmond Harrington (Ghost Ship)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Britt Irvin (V)
Camille Sullivan (The Birdwatcher)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Gabrielle Rose (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Linda Ko (Antitrust)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Justin Chatwin (Taking Lives)
Gwynyth Walsh (Van Helsing)
Heather Donahue (The Blair Witch Project)

From none other than visionary Steven Spielberg comes TAKEN (2002), which I first saw during it’s initial run on the BBC. I admire the scope, ambition, and emotion attached to this entertaining mini series.It starts off in 1944, with Russell Keys, along with his bomber crew, being ‘taken’ by an alien spacecraft during their WWII mission. The crew is experimented on, but Keys is essentially the lone survivor. Keys returns home with PTSD, not due to war, but due to the alien experience. This compels him to leave his wife and child to solve the mystery. Eventually, the aliens take Russell’s teen son Jesse Keys. The aliens obviously see an internal resolve in the Keys’ men that distinguishes them from the rest of the human race.
A second parallel story starts around 1947, and involves the lone survivor of a downed alien spacecraft that manages to take human form as “John” , who seeks refuge on a Texas farm owned by Sally Clarke, a hard-working waitress and single mother of two. John and Sally bond and she is impregnated, leading to a human-alien hybrid Jacob Clarke (superbly played by then-newcomer Anton Yelchin, now known for being the new Chekhov in the re-booted Star Trek franchise).The final parallel story also starts in 1947 in the infamous Roswell, New Mexico, where the local Air Force has found John’s downed ship and his 4 alien compadres who did not survive. Backed by the government, the military takes over the super-secret project, which starts off being briefly led by Colonel Campbell and is soon taken over by his ambitious son-in-law Captain Owen Crawford (brilliantly played by Joel Gretsch), military intelligence officer. Gretsch perfectly essays the role of megalomaniacal Crawford, who runs the project with unapologetic brio. I really felt that Gretsch’s character carried the first few episodes (spanning 1947 to 1962) with strong support from the other actors.
Taken’s first half  storytelling is strong, a perfect balance of science fiction, politics, speculation, and drama. One really buys into the premise that these goings-on could have actually happened. It’s definitely not fiction that many an American have reported UFO sightings and alien experiences over the years, and this miniseries is one of the better attempts at relaying this message to the viewer.
With the second half of the mini series the puzzle pieces finally start to come together to an interesting conclusion. Emily Burgl (as Lisa Clarke) and Andy Kaufman (as Charlie Keys) were commendable as the adult versions of the last respective offspring of the Clarke-Keys clans, the main highlight of the second half was  was the performance of newcomer Dakota Fanning (who plays Allie) whose wonderful narration is a key to the series overall success. She stole the show from all of her adult counterparts. I would definitely recommend the miniseries based on ambition and overall scope and the tightly woven storytellingthe show demonstrates. It’s an epic Sci-Fi story that is intriguing and at times touching. It wasthe series that made Dakota Fanning a star.