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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated > Action > Comedy > Spy > Satire > TV > Thriller > Kidnapping > Terrorism > Murder > Science Fiction > Archer: The Complete Season Three (2011 – 2012/Fox DVDs)/Taken 2 (2012/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning (2012/Sony Blu-ray)/V/H/S (2012/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)

Archer: The Complete Season Three (2011 – 2012/Fox DVDs)/Taken 2 (2012/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning (2012/Sony Blu-ray)/V/H/S (2012/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)


Picture: C+/B- & C+/B-/C+     Sound: C+/B & C+/B-/C+     Extras: C+/C-/D/D     Main Programs: C+/C-/D/D



Now for some new releases that continue previous ones, most of which should have quit while they were ahead.



Archer: The Complete Season Three (2011 – 2012) continues the amusing retro spy action animated TV spoof we cover here on DVD, but you can read more about the show from one of its big fans on Blu-ray from its Complete Season Two at this link:





As a bigger fan of the genre, I can only go for the humor and the like so long before I get bored from the predictability not unlike American Dad, but I still like the style, am amused and am impressed the makers can stay so consistent throughout.  That is why it is enough of a hit to continue.  We get 13 half-hour shows over two DVDs and a nice set of extras, but also a show that is smart enough that I at least respect it.  Fans will likely love it, but if you have never seen the show, start at the beginning if you must experience it just to make sure you like it or not.


Extras include audio commentary tracks on three episodes on DVD One, while DVD Two adds a Comic Con piece tied to this season, Gator 2 trailer and featurette pieces: Heart Of Archness Trilogy Enhanced, Book-On-Tape Fail and Cooking With Archer.



We do not need a sequel to every hit film, but where there is money to be made, we’ll get one, even if the first hit was just sheer luck.  That is the case with Olivier Megaton’s Taken 2 (2012), bringing back Liam Neeson as a former CIA agent in the kidnapping world who survived his daughter’s abduction and killed lots of very bad guys.  In one of the laugh-riots of the year, the surviving killer’s and their “brothers” (playing more than a bit like a low-rent variant of Boondock Saints transplanted to other ethnicities) decide they will hunt him down in revenge for all the killing in the last film.


He, his daughter (Maggie Grace) and wife (Famke Janssen) are in Turkey (for vacation!?!) when they start to have to deal with the retaliation and we get every action cliché you can think of thanks to another trashy, formulaic and cynical script co-written by co-producer Luc Besson in some of his lamest work ever and it feels like a bad 1980s recycle to boot without the corny one-liners and recycle is the word as you have seen all this before.


The credits are like David Fincher’s Se7en including seeing Leland Orser’s name, but at least he is not a nervous wreck for a change and Rade Serbedzija (Eyes Wide Shut) is here as another creepy figure and the lead villain, plus Jon Gries, Luke Grimes and D.B. Sweeney turn up so they have a likable, professional cast plus I admit that the money is on the screen ands in the action sequences.  It is also not cheap to shoot in Istanbul, but it does not stop this from being awful and unnecessary except to turn a buck, which it did and helped Fox be #1 internationally at the box office despite being a not so good year for them in the U.S. (passing on Ted was the biggest mistake).


The result is a package deal with a big price tag for only the biggest fans of the first film.  Everyone else should skip it, even in its longer version, which makes no difference at all.


Extras include Ultraviolet Copy and Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes based platforms, Deleted Scenes, an Alternate Ending that shows how tired even they had to know this plotting was, an FX Movie Channel piece with Neeson to promote the film and featurette Sam’s Tools Of The Trade.



Even more cynical is John Hyams’ Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning (2012), which should win a false advertising award as it features original co-stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren on the cover, but they are barely in this mess.  For this unfamiliar with the film series, here are links to our previous Blu-ray coverage of two of them:


Original 1992 film



2009 Regeneration sequel also directed by John Hyams




This relentlessly bloody, violent, terroristic, dumb, unnecessary and low- budget exercise is not even about the technology of them being soldiers (thus, they are not here much) but is a bad revenge piece with Scott Adkins as the actual lead whose wife and daughter are slaughtered in front of him when he is brutally attacked at his home in one of many bad music video-like scenes that tell no story and makes this easily Hyams’ worst work.


Van Damme looks bored and Lundgren looks like he wants to laugh in every other shot when he should not.  Bankrupt of any ideas, this is a long played out franchise that never should have been and is so stale, one of the featurettes tries to say this is the fourth film in the series when it is actually the sixth including two cable TV sequels they thought no one would remember.  The original film was only so good, with both the team of makers who made it (Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich) as well as original Studio Carolco gone, so this is just junk product to shoot down the distribution line and it barely hit any theater screens, so let’s hope this is the end and the last one of these we see because this is that bad.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Hyams & Lundgren that is thin and three Making Of featurettes.



Finally we have the equally bad V/H/S (2012) directed by at least six persons (one is apparently a silly pseudonym) and wants us to believe it is made out of found VHS tapings that will lead to death.  Maybe the audience being bored to death, but it is really bad as some guys find a dead body in a house with a bunch of tapes and monitors.  Can they found out what happened?  Will they die?  Should we care?


I was shocked at how lame this started out to be early on and the imitation of analog VHS is ill-informed and bad with flaws that are not only artificial off the bat, but pauses and dropouts that are digital in nature and could never be the VHS or even Beta formats.  Acting (if you can call it that) is horrid and this is the latest of the beyond tired found footage cycle that is beyond desperate and nothing here works as a result.  Not so clever, skip this one too.

Extras include a lame Alternate Ending, tired cast/crew audio commentary track, Original Theatrical Trailer, AXS-TV promo piece for it, Webcam Interviews, on camera cast/crew interviews, two featurettes, Concept Design section and a Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Archer is good for DVD with decent color and fairly good definition, but not as good as the Blu-ray of the previous season and since this one is also on Blu-ray, you might want to get that set over this DVD if you can.  The DVD is actually a match for the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on V/H/S which is very distorted and degraded on purpose throughout making one wonder why they would issue a Blu-ray in the first place.  That just adds to the cynicalness of the whole deal.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 25 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Taken 2 is all shot on Kodak 35mm film stocks and in 3-perf Super 35mm format, though some shots were in real anamorphic Panavision, which the whole thing should have been shot in.  Too many degraded images and slightly darkened, styled down images in the best shots hold back overall performance.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD softer and sometimes much harder to watch.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Soldier is an HD shoot and is also styled down and slightly degraded throughout, but has a few good shots, but is just about a match for Taken 2 as the best-looking performer on the list.  However, you can see some of the HD phoniness throughout that shows it does not have the consistency of Taken 2.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Taken 2 is the best sound mix on the list here with a consistent soundfield that is never harsh and well recorded and mixed for the most part.  At least they got that one to work well, but it is nothing memorable either with limited character and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is not bad, but not as good as the DTS on the Blu-ray.  The same DTS-MA 5.1 mix on Soldier is not as good, but has some good sonic moments, yet also has some location audio issues, but it is much worse for the DTS-MA 5.1 mix on V/H/S which is practically monophonic or simple stereo for the majority of its presentation since we see so much would be VHS video with equally bad audio.


That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the episodes of Archer more than the sonic equal of V/H/S and would likely sound better on Blu-ray, also featuring DTS-MA 5.1 mixes on each episode.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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