short circuits

New and noteworthy experiences among home video, games, gadgets and the Web.


'Taken' goes only so far

"Taken," about a former CIA operative who rescues his teenage daughter from sadistic sex-trade traffickers, was a surprise hit in 2009. Its appeal, apart from a straightforward, unpretentious approach to otherwise pedestrian material, was Liam Neeson.

As "Taken" protagonist Bryan Mills, he infused an otherwise by-the-numbers procedural with an ineffable, highly appealing blend of Celtic soul and 6-foot-4 heft. But the sequel is every bit as clumsy, ham-handed, outlandish and laughable as the original was sleek, tough and efficient.

"Taken 2" finds Bryan in Istanbul on business, with circumstances conspiring to bring his daughter and ex-wife there, too. Soon, all three are caught up in a nasty web of kidnapping, torture and revenge by earlier vanquished Albanian bad guys. It's a perfectly acceptable setup, but "Taken 2" seems more invested in going through the motions than raising its own bar.

The DVD (Fox, $30) includes an alternate ending (20 additional minutes), while the Blu-ray ($40) adds an unrated cut and deleted scenes.


Colin Covert's take: Why an actor of Liam Neeson's ability would play this character once, let alone twice, is a mystery for the ages.

Also out Tuesday:

Movies: "How to Fall in Love," "The Possession," "Runaway Slave," "To Rome With Love," "Wake in Fright," "Won't Back Down."

TV: "Jackson Five: The Complete Animated Series," "Life's Too Short," "Men of a Certain Age" (Season 2), "Merlin" (Season 4), "Undercover Bridesmaid," "Waking the Dead" (Season 7).

Blu-ray debuts: "How Green Was My Valley," "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "The Tin Drum," "Wild River."


No thanks to this 'Tank!'

"Tank! Tank! Tank!" ($50 for Wii U; rated Everyone) lets up to four players hop onto the Wii U and battle it out, either as a team against waves of enemies or vs. each other in various modes. This provides the best experience of the game, considering its tedium and brevity in other areas.

There is no story. The controls are easy to grasp. Turn toward a target, and press a button to shoot. That constitutes the depth of your gaming experience. The game handles the aiming for you, which means you better hope it points you toward the gigantic spider or robot heading your way; otherwise you're toast.

You must constantly unlock newer tanks to replay the levels you already beat to unlock more tanks, and then you've seen all the game has to offer.

You can watch 4-year-olds play more complicated fare on iPads. Anyone looking to spend $50 on a console game would expect more than this.



Sweet sound and strong

V-Moda's new M-100 headphones (, $300) are the Taj Mahal of headphones in sound, design and durability. The headphones are made with 50-millimeter dual-diaphragm drivers to produce the powerful sound. Each set is designed to survive 70-plus drops on concrete, the SteelFlex headband is made to be virtually indestructible and the cables are designed to bend more than 1 million times.