There's three one-word-titled films due this week, each worth at least one word of praise or criticism. 'Buried' is the best of the lot; Ryan Reynolds plays a U.S. truck driver buried in a coffin in Iraq with only a cell phone and a cigarette lighter as tools to set himself free. In one word: frightening. 'Stone' pits Robert De Niro against Edward Norton in a mind game as a convict attempts to manipulate a parole officer into an early dismissal. In a word: lackluster. And 'Takers' is a by-the-book heist film with hot-shot gangsters attempting one last score. In a word: ho-hum. Read on.

'Buried'

What It's About: Here's your worst nightmare come true: You wake up in a wooden box six feet underground. Is this something from Edgar Allen Poe? No, it's a one-person modern horror tale about Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a U.S. truck driver working in Iraq who has been kidnapped by terrorists and has been buried -- for a ransom. He only has a cell phone and a lighter, and only a few hours to figure out who has captured him, how to contact the U.S. authorities, and try to get rescued -- before his oxygen runs out. He has to fight panic, despair and delirium -- as well as double-dealing corporate bureaucrats and government agents -- if he is to survive and get rescued.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Vanishing' meets 'The Cask of Amontillado'

What We Say: At first we really shied away from this one -- the thought of spending 90 minutes in an on-screen coffin, "buried alive," sent us running for the ativan. But star Ryan Reynolds, screenwriter Chris Sparling and director Rodrigo Cortes pulled off an amazing feat that kept us glued to the screen. Reynolds is on-screen for the entire time -- and he provides a tour-de-force performance of a man alternately hoping for the best and resigning himself to death. If you have any form of claustrophobia, brace yourself -- the camera is in the coffin with Reynolds virtually the whole movie. But this viewing experience is well worth the fear.
• Extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray disc include a behind-the-scenes featurette.
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Did 'Buried' Screenwriter Break Rules By Hyping Film to Academy Members?


'Stone'
What It's About: Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro), a parole officer days away from retirement, is asked to review the case of Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton), who's in prison for arson. Now eligible for early release, Stone needs to convince Jack he has reformed, but his attempts to use his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to influence the older man's decision have profound and unexpected effects on them both. It's a tale of passion, betrayal and corruption that explores the thin line between lawman and lawbreaker.

It's Kinda Like: 'Monster's Ball' meets 'Garde à vue'

What the Critics Say: Most critics dismissed this talker as sagging "under its own overblown philosophical weight, with a strained and painfully obvious spiritual subtext finally smothering what could have been a simple, effective psychological thriller," as Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post put it. On the other hand, the leads' acting chops rescued the film for some critics, such as Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel: "If you're of a mind that actors as talented as Robert De Niro and Edward Norton could make even pedestrian material watchable, 'Stone' puts your theory to the test. And surprise! They can."
• Extras: A making-of featurette.
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'Takers'
What It's About: A notorious group of criminals (Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Hayden Christensen, Tip "T.I." Harris) pull off perfectly executed bank robberies: They're in and out like clockwork, leaving no evidence behind and laying low in between heists. But when they attempt to pull off one last job with more money at stake than ever before, the crew finds their plans interrupted by a hardened detective (Matt Dillon) who is hell-bent on solving the case.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Town' meets 'Heat' meets 'Ocean's 11' meets 'The Italian Job' meets 'Armored' -- you get the picture

What the Critics Say: This by-the-book thriller came in for some hits from the critics: "With no emotional heft to the performances, it's hard to care whether anyone's dreams are dashed or fulfilled. That leaves the heist itself to compensate, but it only digs deeper into tired action movie cliches," according to Ian Buckwalter of NPR. Yet the film resonated for die-hard action fans: "A Michael Mann-ish heist thriller with a pulse-pounding foot chase and some terrific stunt work offsetting its hackneyed plot and dialogue," Lou Lumenick of the New York Post wrote.
• Extras: Behind-the-scenes and stunt featurettes.
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Best in Blu-ray: 'Animal Kingdom,' 'Shock Corridor,' 'Naked Kiss' and More!


Other New January 18 DVD Releases:
'Animal Kingdom': Down-under crime thriller about a teenage boy who goes to live with his grandmother and uncles, who just happen to be a gang of ruthless thugs.
'Death Race 2': Direct-to-DVD prequel to Paul W.S. Anderson's 2008 "Death Race."
'Eichmann': The unflinching true story of one of the world's most dangerous men, Adolph Eichmann, who designed the Nazi plan for the extermination of Jews, gays, gypsies and other "undesirables" during the rule of the Third Reich.
'El Superstar: The Unlikely Rise of Juan Frances': Musical improv by writer-director-actor Amy French, tells the story of Juan Frances who, Scottish by decent, is raised to be a God-fearing, music loving Mexican and, thanks to the Virgin Guadalupe, becomes a star.
'Jack Goes Boating': A limo driver's blind date sparks a tale of love, betrayal, friendship and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples.
'Paper Man': Coming-of-middle-age comedy that chronicles the unlikely friendship between a failed author and a Long Island teen, all under the disapproving eye of his long-suffering wife and his imaginary Superhero friend.
'The Virginity Hit': Mockumentary about trying to lose your virginity while the whole world watches online.
'Freakonomics': The all-star team of documentary directors tackles the best-selling book that examines how our lives are shaped by statistics.

Check out other new January 18 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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