Taken (2002) (Universal)

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Released 2-May-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette-Inside Taken
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 842:13 (Case: 840)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Breck Eisner
Félix Enríquez Alcalá
John Fawcett
Tobe Hooper
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Julie Benz
Emily Bergl
Tobias Mehler
Steve Burton
Eric Close
Catherine Dent
Heather Donahue
Chad Donella
Julie Ann Emery
Dakota Fanning
Matt Frewer
Willie Garson
Jason Gray-Stanford
Case ?
RPI $99.95 Music Laura Karpman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Leslie Bohem’s science fiction opus Taken is what all TV mini-series should strive to be; an engaging story that has high production values, and is generally well acted.

    While nominally a science fiction series, this is really a drama epic following the lives of three families from the 1940s until the present day and their connection with an alien conspiracy, the outcome of which is a mystery. There are the Keys, a family of fighters who have resisted being taken generation after generation. Then there are the Clarkes, a family who have become part alien as part of a physical union. And finally, there are the Crawfords, a family where the sins of the father and his obsession with power are visited upon his children time and again throughout history.

    Split up over ten 90-minute movies, Taken is truly an odyssey, and I am disinclined to give you a blow by blow breakdown as this would be an injustice and give away too many surprises and plot threads. So, instead, I will give you only an outlay:

    In some respects, Taken has borrowed a lot from many other science fiction sources. Influences from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Chris Carter’s The X-Files are readily apparent, as well as shows like Dark Skies and Roswell. It also uses the Forrest Gump technique of evoking nostalgia for periods in history, especially recreations of the 1950s and 1960s.

    However, these nods to borrowed sources are more like David Fincher’s Panic Room, where the director obviously accepted influences from Hitchcock and yet built on them to create something more. Rather than copying, this is more appropriately termed an homage. Taken is not exactly like any of the sources it borrows from, instead creating a melange of the lot which is perhaps greater than the sum of its parts, while at the same time giving a respecting bow to its progenitors.

    Much like the final series of The X-Files, Taken also has very high production values. Nevertheless, I was a little disappointed in places, especially considering this was the work of Dreamworks, as quite often some of the FX sequences were a little obvious as being blue screen. But as far as costumes, props, sets, cinematography and acting go, this series is on the whole pretty good; not quite to the standard of Band Of Brothers, but still better than average. It slows down a little too much towards the end, and some sequences do not flow smoothly together, but I still found myself enjoying it in its largely B-grade capacity. And my only real complaint is that we often never get to really know the characters before we are taken on to the next generation in the family.

    I am not sure that I would recommend this to hardcore sci-fi buffs as this show is much more of a drama than it is anything else. It reminds me a lot of Stephen King’s The Stand, in that The Stand had a science-fiction/horror setting, but ultimately the book (and the TV adaptation) was a character driven show about people and their struggles in a certain environment. Taken has much higher production values than the mini-series of The Stand had, and indeed most other mini-series, but its scope is just as grandiose. Regardless of whether you like science-fiction or drama, what I can tell you is that this show has ‘re-watchability’, and for that reason I give this one a definite nod to those of you who like epics with a science-fiction flavour.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio for the series.

    Unlike the previous Dreamworks TV production, Band Of Brothers, Taken has not been given such an exceptional DVD transfer, which is quite a shame.

    The image is a touch soft, at times seeming even a little blurry – particularly Part 8 Dropping The Dishes. This results in what might initially be described as an edge enhancement style of effect, but it is actually a strange ghost image. This is not an omnipresent artefact, and tends to crop up mostly in orange or red lighting.

    Shadow detail is pretty good, although not always stunning. Artificial lighting is used in just about every sequence anyway. Darker shots come incumbent with a noticeable increase in graininess, which is not always the kind of ‘artistic’ film grain that was intentionally employed in Band Of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan.

    There are no glaring MPEG artefacts, and the softness of the image reduces aliasing and moire effect. There is some faint low-level noise in the background, however, and some mildly irritating cross colouration in places of finely grouped lines. The bottom of the UFOs sometimes display this effect if angled at the camera in a certain way.

    There is the odd bit of dirt or small hair on the print, but nothing distracting or worth pointing out as a particular example. If you go hunting for these faults you might see them, but otherwise they will drift by unnoticed. There is however a wobble in the picture from 77:03 - 77:41 in Episode 10 that is very noticeable and quite distracting.

    Subtitles are available in English only. They are white with a black outline and follow the script fairly closely.

    The dual layer pause is in between the episodes, with one episode per layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is available in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

    The stereo track is actually a bit garbled and inconsistent, with surround information sometimes drowning out dialogue, and I think that the sound was originally mixed in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

    As for the 5.1 Dolby Digital track itself, dialogue is always easy enough to understand, although it is intentionally blotted out here and there by sound effects. There were no glaring audio sync problems.

    The score by Laura Karpman is rendered very well, which is important as it plays such a prominent part in the feel of the show and the setting of each time period.

    Surround information is pretty good, with lots of directional cues and some ready use of the rears.

    Subwoofer use is also fairly good, especially for a TV series, and there are some great uses in crashes, explosions and the odd gunshot here and there.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. They are static, with one of the themes from the show playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo. The scene selection menus have motion chapter stops with maybe 20 seconds of footage per selection.

Featurette (42:42)

    Presented in 1.75:1, Letterboxed, 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This is a very in-depth look at the making of the show, complete with interviews with co-executive producer Steven Spielberg and much of the principal cast, including writer Leslie Bohem, talking not just about the making of the show itself but also the meaning we find in extraterrestrial life and man’s possible future interaction with it.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From what I can tell, the R1 release also includes:

    In short, the R4 release got jibbed on extras. I’m giving this one to the R1 release.

Summary

    Taken is an interesting mini-series, with good production values, decent plotting and (for the most part) worthy acting. It slows down and gets a touch schmaltzy at the end, but overall it is entertaining and engaging if not quite a classic.

    The video transfer is acceptable, but leaves a bit to be desired.

    This 5.1 Dolby Digital remix is pretty darn good, although nothing that you would use to show off the system to your friends.

    Extras are fairly minimal, but the one that we are provided with is not bad and provides some insight into the show. It's a shame that Universal didn’t fork out for the rights on the other featurettes provided in R1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, January 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
release date? - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
R2 is DD 5.1EX - Jace
R4 not Jibbed! - Chris W (read my bio)
R2 is DD 5.1EX - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Re: Release date - CatonaPC© (read my bio)