[caption id="attachment_149560" align="alignleft" width="300"] Fox[/caption]
This week: The former CIA agent played by Liam Neeson is the one who ends up being abducted instead of his daughter in "Taken 2," the hit action sequel that also features the return of Maggie Grace as Neeson's daughter and Famke Janssen as his ex-wife in a story that moves the action to Istanbul.
Also new this week is the Sam Raimi-produced Jewish exorcism flick "The Possession" and a new collector's edition of "The Notebook" packaged with movie-inspired keepsakes.
[caption id="attachment_161449" align="alignright" width="220"] Fox[/caption]
Box Office: $139 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 21% Rotten
Storyline: Retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) returns to America with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), and gets closer with his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Jannsen), after having rescued Kim from being sold as a sex slave in Paris. Now the relatives of the slain Albanians from the first film swear to avenge their dead by kidnapping Bryan and Lenore during a trip to Istanbul. This time it's up to Kim to elude capture and help unleash the overprotective papa with whom you don't want to mess.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a "Black Ops Field Manual" and "Kill Counter," deleted and extended scenes, a lengthy alternative ending, "Tools of the Trade," an FX piece and more.
We Say: Neeson is carving a niche for himself as a middle-aged cinematic action hero, so if you enjoyed watching him tear through a bunch of dirty sex-slave operators in "Taken," you'll still get fired up seeing him take down their misguided relatives that think they've been robbed of valuable contributors to society in this sequel. It's also a cool twist to have Neeson be taken this time, allowing more room for Grace to get in on the action instead of just playing being "taken" again.
[caption id="attachment_161450" align="alignright" width="220"] Lionsgate[/caption]
Box Office: $49 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 39% Rotten
Storyline: Sam Raimi produced this Jewish twist on exorcism movies about a young girl, Em (Natasha Calis), who becomes obsessed with an antique wooden box purchased at a yard sale. Em's parents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick) become concerned with their daughter's increasingly erratic behavior and discover that the box contained a Dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and eventually consumes its human host. With nowhere else to turn, Em's father seeks the help of a Hasidic Jew (Matisyahu) who reluctantly agrees to attempt a ritual that will force the Dibbuk back in its box.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain audio commentaries and "The Real History of the Dibbuk Box" featurette, which talks about the real-life inspiration for the movie.
We Say: "The Possession" isn't the worst post-"Exorcist" exorcism movie out there (that dubious honor goes to "The Devil Inside"), but aside from switching religions on us, "The Possession" doesn't bring any new boos to the possessed-kid horror subgenre. There are a few spooky shots and cheap jump scares, but we like our otherworldly, acid-tongued demons to be of the R-rated variety; here is nothing that comes out of the mouth of a possessed tween in a PG-13 movie that is going to shock us more than "The Exorcist" did 40 (!) years ago.
'The Notebook' Ultimate Collector's Edition
[caption id="attachment_161452" align="alignright" width="220"] New Line[/caption]
Box Office: $81 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 52% Rotten
Storyline: Director Nick Cassavetes' 2004 adaptation of the bestselling Nicholas Sparks novel has Noah Calhoun (James Garner) reading stories from an old notebook to a female nursing-home patron (Gena Rowlands) about the sweeping romance of a young couple (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) who were separated during World War II. Seven years later, the couple reunites for a second chance in this tearjerker co-starring Joan Allen, Sam Shephard and Kevin Connolly.
Extras!: This new Blu-ray edition contains commentaries by the director and Sparks, featurettes and deleted scenes. Since this is the third time "The Notebook" has been released on Blu-ray, the real "extras" are the collectibles packaged with this box set, including a golden locket, a set of postcards and a vintage leather-style journal with watermarked images and letters from the film to help inspire you when writing about your own epic romance.
We Say: All of Sparks' stories are overly sentimental and melodramatic to a fault, but the author has his ardent supporters and this particular movie adaptation is probably the most beloved of them all. Its enduring popularity is the justification for this triple-dip Ultimate Collector's Edition … as is the meteoritic rise of Gosling's popularity since this movie came out nearly a decade ago. Valentine's Day being around the corner doesn't hurt, either.
Also New This Week:
"Wild River" Blu-ray
"The Man Who Knew Too Much"
"The Other Dream Team"