Saturday, March 19, 2011

Steven Spielberg Presents Taken

The special features describe Steven Spielberg's Taken as something of an alternate history, in which aliens really did crash land in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The television mini-series tells a story over ten feature length (90 minute, give or take) episodes that spans at least five decades of American history related to extraterrestrial matters. From the foo fighters sighted by pilots in World War II, to the Roswell crash and resulting military confiscation of a UFO and alien bodies, to the flying saucers and alien abductions reported in the ensuing decades, crop circles and government conspiracies, the story covers all the ground and builds up to the climax of the aliens' secret plan for the humans.

"There's nothing beyond the sky. The sky just is. It goes on and on, and we play all of our games beneath it."

As important as the aliens are to the plot of the story, it's not a story about aliens and who they are and what they do and where they come from. It's really a story about people. And viewing it that way will reduce your disappointment in the ending, which doesn't reveal to you as much about the aliens and their plan as you would like. In the end, it's about the questions we ask - both the humans and the aliens - and the efforts to which we go to find their answers, even though the answers won't come to us in our lifetime. It's how we deal with the hardships in life, that are beyond our understanding, and whether we can come to terms with our insignificance in the grand scheme of things. And in that way, it's a story that we can identify with, even in a world without [overt proof of] extraterrestrial alien contact.

"Hope is the biggest lie there is, and it is the best. We have to keep going, as if it mattered, or else we wouldn't keep going at all."

At its core, Taken is a story of three families. There is the Crawford family, which inherits the government secret and goes to great (and ultimately futile) lengths to try to understand the aliens' plan, at any expense (even that of their compassion and humanity). There is the Keys family, which struggles with alien abductions, and tries (futilely) to find peace and respite from the continued trauma of being 'taken'. And there is the Clarke family, with special powers, their genesis a one-time fruitful (and friendly) tryst with an alien visitor.

The core of the aliens' plan is a breeding experiment, and the ultimate desired result is the girl Allie, part-alien, part-human, more evolved than either. Played by a young Dakota Fanning, she narrates the episodes with wisdom-beyond-her-years, until she finally comes into the story after the final time skip. One of the most fascinating aspects of this series is how it moves through time, and you get to see the main characters age, and you see their kids grow up and take over the family legacy, as the focus of the story shifts to them. You get to see three generations of history (four in Allie's case), and note the similarities and differences between parent and child (and then grandchild). All the while, the alien plan progresses, and the humans get a little bit closer (though never close enough) to understanding it.

Taken is a good story - entertaining, and heart-warming, though also sad in parts. The show is really more of a drama than a sci-fi, but it's a sci-fi themed drama. It's not the ultimate alien-themed fiction out there, despite how comprehensive it tries to be, but it's certainly worth seeing. The aliens aren't really all that scary, though. The CGI just doesn't really do it for me. And some of the characters' accents sounded really fake. Lots of great themes though, and the generational nature of the story is not to be missed. Dakota Fanning makes a convincing alien hybrid girl, and her philosophies about life are very inspiring, but it was Taylor Anne Reid as young Lisa Clarke that really caught my attention.

"When you're a kid, anything can take you away. Soap bubbles. Or a hose spraying a rainbow up over a new mowed lawn. I guess growing up means that it gets harder and harder to find your way back to that kind of place where you can be taken. One time I see grownups with that same sort of look on their faces, is when they're first falling in love."

No comments:

Post a Comment