If the new year is anything like the one before it, 2013 should be a great time to be a Blu-ray fan. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a few bumps along the way, and you needn’t look any further than January for evidence of that. Though there are a few exciting titles to look forward to this month, just like the theatrical release schedule, you’re going to have to wade through a lot of crap in order to find any gems.
It’s hard to imagine “Hit and Run” getting as large of a theatrical release as it did (or even one at all) without the involvement of Bradley Cooper, not only due to his box office drawing power, but because his amusing, against-type turn as a dreadlocked ex-con is about the only good thing the movie has going for it. Clearly inspired by “Smokey and the Bandit,” the action rom-com is mostly just an excuse for Dax Shepard (who also wrote and co-directed the film) to make a movie with his wife (Kristen Bell) and Hollywood friends. But despite a somewhat promising premise, it gets stuck in first gear and never really recovers. With the exception of Cooper and a cameo by Jason Bateman, the movie is almost completely void of laughs (Tom Arnold is particularly awful as a dim-witted U.S. Marshal), and the car chases aren’t nearly as exciting as intended. Fans of Cooper will no doubt be curious to see the actor in such an unexpected role, but while it’s certainly good for a couple of laughs, “Hit and Run” is more miss than hit.
Blu-ray Highlight: Apart from some deleted scenes, the only other bonus material on the disc is a trio of featurettes (on the cast, cars and the movie’s love story) that each run just over two minutes long. In other words, they’re a complete waste of your time.
Jennifer Lawrence is still really young, so “House at the End of the Street” likely won’t be the last bad movie of her career, but it doesn’t make her decision to star in this bland “Psycho” wannabe any less tragic. No one that talented should be forced to slum it in a subpar horror movie, especially when her time could’ve been better spent making the next “Winter’s Bone” or “Silver Linings Playbook.” Though it’s nice to see Elizabeth Shue back in front of the camera as Lawrence’s protective mother, her character is perhaps the most one-dimensional of the bunch (and that’s saying something), while just about every scene featuring Max Thieriot is the equivalent of watching paint dry. Putting aside the bad acting, choppy editing and major plot holes, my biggest problem with “House at the End of the Street” is that it doesn’t even respect its audience, to the point that director Mark Tonderai provides false information in order to protect the big twist, even though he didn’t need to. Any movie that resorts to that kind of tactic is a lost cause in my book.
Blu-ray Highlight: “Journey Into Terror” is a pretty decent making-of featurette (at the very least, it offers an explanation as to why Lawrence would consider doing a movie like this), but it hardly qualifies as must-see material, and it’s the only extra on the disc.
Fans of the 1997 action flick “Con Air” have been waiting 15 years for Nicolas Cage to reunite with director Simon West for another project, so it’s probably safe to assume that they’re going to be pretty disappointed with “Stolen.” A hopelessly generic action movie that fully deserves the direct-to-DVD treatment, it’s the kind of film that Cage has been making a little too frequently these days. One thing you can usually rely on from even the actor’s most heinous movies is at least some effort on his part, but he’s pretty much just sleepwalking through this one, and it’s hard to blame him either. Although the film actually gets off to a relatively good start, it only goes downhill from there, despite a solid supporting cast that includes Danny Huston, Josh Lucas and Malin Akerman. The plot is terribly clichéd, the action sequences aren’t very exciting, and though Cage’s performance is definitely more restrained than usual, Lucas makes up for it with one of the year’s most ridiculous villains. I may not have expected much from “Stolen,” but I expected better than this.
Blu-ray Highlight: In addition to your standard EPK, there’s a healthy selection of interview footage with director Simon West, Nicolas Cage and the rest of the cast, but the fact that you don’t know what questions are being asked makes it difficult to enjoy.