Blu-ray
One to Avoid
1.5 stars
Amazon
$5.99
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Overall Grade
1.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
0.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
2 Stars
HD Audio Quality
2.5 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
One to Avoid

House of the Rising Sun

Street Date:
July 19th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 8th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2011
Studio:
Lionsgate
Length:
90 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Can we finally admit that WWE wrestlers don't make good actors? Please! Can we stop trying to cross them over into Hollywood? Can we stop giving them projects where they're asked to scowl at people and then perform some rather mundane action scenes that closely resemble the mundane wrestling matches they performed before their movie career started? Let's face it. The Rock is the only wrestler that really "made it" as a viable leading man. It's because he was always more in tune with his inner actor, rather than his inner wrestler. The Rock was an actor stuck in a wrestling ring using it as a means to an end. For the rest of the guys – yes, even the venerable Steve Austin – watching them act is downright painful.

Cue Dave Bautista and his new movie 'House of the Rising Sun'.

Ray (Bautista) is a cop who did time for being one of the dirty ones. Now he's a hired meathead for the local mob. He's the head of security. He bounces people, looks tough, and uses his gigantic shoulder muscles to intimidate. He's a formidable sight, until he opens his mouth. Wooden dialogue is too nice a way to put it. Can we coin the term "cement dialogue?" Or, better yet, "dead dialogue?" We've entered the morgue here and there's no return. Bautista reads his lines like it's the first time he's ever heard them. Yeesh, it's terrible.

But, it's about to get even worse, for Ray that is. Because, he's about to be robbed. Well, the club he's watching is about to be robbed, and he's about to be thrust into a story of love, betrayal, and double-crosses that may require of him to emote something other than surprised disinterest. Unfortunately, he fails.

Ray has a love interest. Enter the what-in-the-world-are-they-doing-in-this-stinker actress Amy Smart. Decent, fairly well-known actress slumming it in a movie where she can act circles around everyone put together. Instead of giving her more a meaty role and allowing her to carry this dead fish of a movie, the writers and director make the brilliant decision to make her the generic love interest that sits around and waits for the big burly man to sweep her off her feet.

There's no real hope for 'House of the Rising Sun'. Its title doesn't make a lick of sense. Hearing only the title you'd think you'd be readying yourself for a direct-to-video samurai movie. Instead you get a doltish wrestler who was told by someone, somewhere (most likely his agent) that he could, "totally be a great actor."

If there's one thing to love about this movie it's the appearance of Danny Trejo, an actor who will literally do any movie at any time. It doesn't matter what that movie is, Trejo is in. You get the feeling that he did this movie just so he could have his one scene sleeping next to a topless girl. It doesn't matter though, since he's also relegated to a hey-look-it's-that-one-guy role. There's also some fun to be had with Dominic Purcell's ('Prison Break) dreadful overacting and his choice of an accent that makes him sound like he's from nowhere in particular – is he from Italy or Jersey? Who knows!

We haven't discussed a thing about the plot since there really isn't anything to discuss. This is one of those movies that accurately spells out, with the synopsis on the back of the case, exactly how the movie will play out. It will not deviate from its course. It charges headfirst, shoulder muscles flexed, into Boresville. 'House of the Rising Sun' could be redeemable on some level if it had that so-bad-it's-good quality to it, but it doesn't. It's just bad. Really, really bad.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'House of the Rising Sun' is a Lionsgate Blu-ray release. It's housed in a standard Blu-ray case, and has been minted on a 25GB Blu-ray disc. The case indicates a region A coding.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

This low-budget DTV movie looks just like that, low-budget. Even with it's 1080p specs, the movie suffers from numerous problems that seem to frequently inhabit these DTV Blu-ray features.

The entire picture is soft and lacking in detail. Edges are tough to make out at times, especially in low lit scenes. Crushing is a frequent offender, wiping out detail, edges, and delineated shadows at a moment's notice. Skintones are all over the place from unnatural reddish hues to almost gray pale-like appearances that look almost ghoulish. It appears that the movie was shot digitally on a fixed budget, because all the hallmarks are there; very flat blacks, a lack of any fine detail whatsoever, and a very un-cinematic look to the whole thing.

Don't think you expect much from this title anyway, but just in case you were mulling over a purchase in your head, know that the video presentation is below par on many levels.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The movie's stunted DTS-HD Master Audio mix features some of the same problems. There's nothing here that will wow you, and even though the movie features a fair bit of action, the soundtrack fails to deliver on many occasions.

Prioritization is troubling as the phony smack of punches is given much more emphasis, than say, the actual dialogue. It doesn't help that Bautista delivers every line as gruffly as possible. His voice gets lost in the mix on numerous occasions, making for an even more frustrating movie experience. Guns and their ensuing firefights sound artificial at best. More low-budget complications strike again.

Like the video presentation, the Blu-ray's audio is lackluster and forgettable.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary — No, I'm not kidding you. There's actually a full-length commentary attached to this turd and it's not a riffing commentary either. Director Brad Miller is joined by Bautista in a tedious discussion about the nuts and bolts of the film. They go on about the filming and what it was like to shoot in Michigan in the dead of winter. I can't even believe there's a commentary on this disc in the first place.
  • Making Of (SD, 9 min.) — Just your standard making of doc, heavy with clips from the film, that features promotional interviews from the cast and crew.
  • Interviews (SD,12 min.) — More back-patting as the movie's actors and directors are interviewed about their thoughts on their characters and their motivations.
  • Trailer (HD, 2 min.) — The movie's trailer has been included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided.

Final Thoughts

'House of the Rising Sun' goes down in flames, but they aren't glorious flames. You won't be able to laugh your way to the end, because this movie is so boring it's impossible to even revel in its inanity. It's a mind-numbing way to spend 88 minutes of your life. Avoid this one. Like you were even thinking about picking it up anyway, right?

Technical Specs

  • 25GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, Spanish

Supplements

  • Commentary with director Brian Miller and Dave Bautista
  • Interviews
  • Making Of

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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