Capsule reviews of the next week's video releases, on DVD and Blu-ray, including special features:
“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” (PG, 106 minutes, Fox): The second film based on Rick Riordan's immensely popular books about a dyslexic boy who discovers he is a demigod is a desperately-trying-to-be-epic adventure. It features droll quips from Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion, who play small but enjoyable supporting roles. But even likable actors can't obscure the fact that this thing is a slog, a movie that dutifully hits its plot points involving prophecies and fleeces without evoking a whiff of spirit or imagination. It's a shame that the millions of readers who fell in love with Riordan's classic-meets-contemporary children's stories have been handed such limp adaptations of the material. The first, 2010's “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” was respectable but dull, while “Sea of Monsters,” as directed by Thor Freudenthal (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid”), is dull and awkwardly executed. It's less a theatrical release than a Disney Channel special that got dressed up in CGI clothes. Contains fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language. Extras include “Back to Camp Half-Blood” and “It's All in the Eye” featurettes. Also, on Blu-ray: “Deconstructing a Demigod” featurette, a motion comic and collectible character cards.
“Prisoners” (R, 153 minutes, Warner Bros.): This crime thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal is a well-executed example of pulp miserablism in the tradition of “Seven” and its grisly imitators. Given gravitas by Christian imagery and a mood of millennial survivalist desperation, this pulp procedural joins a long line of films that sell themselves by way of the very depravity and malignant moral imagination they pretend to deplore. Jackman plays Keller Dover, a Pennsylvania contractor who with his family has joined friends and neighbors the Birches (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) and their kids for Thanksgiving dinner when young Anna Dover and Joy Birch go missing. A local detective named Loki (Gyllenhaal) takes the case, and when a suspect emerges, a battle of wills ensues as Dover — whose motto is “Be ready” and who keeps a gas mask, generators and canned goods in his basement — threatens to take matters into his own hands. Contains disturbing violent content, including torture, and language throughout. Extras: “Every Moment Matters” and “Powerful Performances” featurettes.
“The Lone Ranger” (PG-13, 149 minutes, Warner Bros.): Starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, this reboot of the franchise Western is a mishmash of styles, genres and tonal shifts. “The Lone Ranger” may best be understood and appreciated as one long homage to Depp. As Tonto, the Lone Ranger's stoic sidekick, Depp both challenges and indulges in the caricatures that made Jay Silverheels' TV character such a lightning rod for Native American outrage. Contains sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. Extras include a blooper reel; deleted scene; behind-the-scenes featurette on the train sequences; a location tour; and a “Becoming a Cowboy” featurette that follows the cast to boot camp, where they experienced what their characters would really be living like in the Wild West.
“Elysium” (R, 102 minutes, Sony): With “Elysium,” a nightmarish action thriller set in an apocalyptic future, South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp proves that he's the reigning master of dystopian political allegory. “Elysium” doesn't pack nearly the same punch as his 2009 debut “District 9,” and its political agenda is far more ham-handed, but Blomkamp's breathing new life into a time-honored genre. Set in 2154, “Elysium” takes place in Los Angeles, a polluted, overpopulated, chaotic police state run by greedy corporate interests and ruthless robo-cops, and where an ex-convict named Max (Matt Damon) works in a factory making the armed metallic thugs who routinely oppress him. With his head shaven to a cue-ball sheen and his body covered in tattoos, Damon all but abandons his clean-cut image to play a buff, cynical anti-hero. When Max is sent on a mission to Elysium, an elite satellite compound hundreds of miles from ravaged Earth, it's not to save mankind but to save himself. An encounter with his childhood love, played by Alice Braga, will test Max's tough-guy reserve. Contains strong bloody violence and profanity throughout. Extras: a behind-the-scenes cast featurette and a look at how the space station was designed. Also, on Blu-ray: extended scene; a three-part documentary with pre- and post-production diaries and on-location footage; “Visions of 2154,” an interactive exploration of the art and design of Elysium; visual effects and technology featurettes.
“Night Train to Lisbon” (R, 111 minutes, Lionsgate): Based on the best-selling Pascal Mercier novel, this indie drama boasts a stellar cast, including Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Bruno Ganz, Tom Courtenay, Melanie Laurent (“Beginners”) and Martina Gedeck (“Mostly Martha”). Irons is a teacher in Switzerland who saves a young woman from suicide; she leaves her coat, and in his attempt to return it, he finds in its pocket a book by a Portuguese doctor and a train ticket to Lisbon. On impulse, he journeys to Lisbon, finding himself along with answers to mysteries revealed along the way. Extras include interviews with director Bille August, Irons, Rampling and co-star Christopher Lee.
Also: “Ain't Them Bodies Saints” (Texas noir rated in Washington Post critics' 2013 top 20 due to terrific performances from Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and Ben Foster), “The Family” (starring Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones), “Kick-Ass 2,” “One Direction: This Is Us” (documentary), “Force of Execution,” “Ghost Team One,” “Line of Duty,” “Devil's Pass,” “Omnibus: Gene Kelly — Dancing: A Man's Game,” “The Last Letter,” “Shadow on the Mesa” (Hallmark Movie Channel original), “The Secret Village,” “Greek Gods, Heroes and Monsters” (eight History Channel specials) and “Tom & Jerry: Golden Collection Volume Two.”
Television Series: “Burn Notice: Season Seven,” “Burn Notice: The Complete Series” (29-disc set, Fox),” “Family Guy, Volume 12,” “Justified: Fourth Season” and “Shameless: Third Season.”
- – -
Washington Post staff writer Kay Coyte contributed to this report.