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PHOTOGRAPHY

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION
DVD Review by David Blackwell
 
DETAILS:   97 minutes, audio commentary, featurette
VIDEO:  2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)
AUDIO:  English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles:  English, English SDH
 
STUDIO:  SPHE/ Foresight Unlimited/ Signature Entertainment/ BMP
RELEASE DATE:  2-2-2010

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION is an attempt to start Universal Soldier up again (the ending sets it up for a sequel).   It is better than UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN in some ways and worse in others.  The action and cinematography (from director Peter Hyams) along with the direction from John Hyams (son of Peter Hyams) make the movie entertaining in addition to the gothic backgrop of an abandoned steel mill (in Bulgaria) which stands in for the Russian nuclear power plant Chernobyl.  
 
The movie starts with a group of masked people kidnapping the kids of the Russian Prime Minister.   It is a blackmail attempt by the son of a dead Russian general to gain the release for political prisoners and independence for a fictional republic.   If the Prime minister doesn't give in, the small group of rebels will detonate explosives at Chernobyl releasing a cloud of radioactive dust.   The rebels have one of the next generation of Universal Soldiers along with one of the scientists who used to be with the program.    The US and Russians attempt to mount a rescue and disarm the explosives with four of the first gen Universal Soldiers.   The Universal Soldiers get killed by the next gen Universal Soldier or NGU.   They resort to kidnapping Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) as a last ditch effort.  Luc is going through behavioral drug theraphy to become normal again.
 
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION does hold promise, but the script does fall apartin sections by making Luc seem like he has went backwards from the progress he made in the first film to be human again and by ignoring UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN completely.   When one of the other characters is brought back for this sequel, his role isn't as well-written as in the first one and his part is short-lived compared to Van Damme only being in half of the movie.   I do like the approach they bring to the film by making it gritty looking and showing videos of the Universal Soldier program (first and next gen).   Andrei Arlovski does as much as he can as the NGU, but I do think the UniSols from the first two films had more personality.   Character development is a little lacking and I do think the film could have been better if they fleshed it out more and wrote a better script.   The action stuff is great for a direct-to-DVD movie and the direction is good (even though I was surprised by Peter Hyams being a DP for his son).
 
SPECIAL FEATURES:
The audio commentary by Director John Hyams and Dolph Lundgren can be skipped.  The 18 minute making-of featurette, BEHIND THE LINES, is a btter look at the making of the film and it gives a little more into the process of making the film in a more compact manner.    Rounding out the extras are previews for other films including UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN, DETONATOR, BLACK DYNAMITE, and BOONDOCK SAINTS 2: ALL SAINTS DAY.
 
FINAL ANALYSIS-  UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION is a mixed bag.   The script could have been better, but the action and setting mixed in with the cinematogarphy and direction doesn't make the film a total loss.
 
this DVD review is (c)2-12-2010 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com