There's a wide variety of new movies - horror, romance, action - out on DVD this week.
Safe Haven, Grade B: A woman (Julianne Hough) goes into hiding to get away from her abusive husband. The latest film based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks includes plot points of spousal abuse, cancer, cute kids, children in peril, a hunk with a heavy heart, loss of a parent, letters from the grave, and a lot more.
Lasse Hallstrom's film is a beautiful blend of Hallmark-card moments: from a couple meeting to sharing a disastrous date in the rain to eventually giving into their obvious attraction for each other. These are such schmaltzy moments they block the dark side of the tale.
None of this story is very original. But if you have even the tiniest sliver of romance in you, see this movie. And be sure to have some tissues handy.
Jack Reacher, Grade B: Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) investigates the murder of five people by a sniper.
Cruise has found a fast-moving and interesting action role that could replace his Mission: Impossible gig, should it become a film franchise. There aren't as many cool gadgets or super spy disguises, but Jack Reacher, the character introduced through a series of best-selling novels by Lee Child, is as rough-and-tumble as Cruise's Ethan Hunt in the spy movies.
Director Christopher McQuarrie and Child have created a story that could have been any episode of CSI. There are some twists and turns to the story, but never so much as to cause the facts to get tangled. Plus, Russian mobsters and corrupt cops aren't that original. It's a simplistic story made more interesting by Cruise.
Mama, Grade D-plus: Jessica Chastain stars in Mama, which would have been good for a few scares if the biggest plot point made even a tiny bit of sense. Director Andres Muschietti's horror film looks at what happens when two small girls spend five years in the forest being raised by a specter. How they got there is a jumble.
K-9: The Complete Series, Grade C: The mechanical dog at the center of this TV series wasn't that interesting as a traveling companion for Doctor Who in 1977. As the star of a children's sci-fi/adventure series, the mechanical character is lifeless and his new companions are rather dull.
The four-DVD set contains all 26 original episodes along with bonus features.
Also new on DVD this week:
Liberace: The Ultimate Entertainer: TV special taped in London.
Witness: A World in Conflict Through a Lens: Series shows viewers the difficult life of war photographers in conflict-torn countries.
30 Rock: Season 7: Tina Fey comedy about life behind the scenes at a TV show.
Doctors of the Dark Side: Documentary about American psychologists and physicians at military prisons at CIA "black sites."
Marley Africa Road Trip: Ziggy, Rohan, and Robbie Marley travel to South Africa.
Felicity: Season Four and Season Five: Two seasons of the TV series about a New York coed are being rereleased.
Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season: Fox sci-fi series comes to an end.
Mr. Hockey: Story of Gordie Howe's successful return to the ice.
Steel Magnolias: TV version of the story, starring Queen Latifah.