The Stolen Blu-ray Review
Ah New Zealand. You gave us the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, Russell Crowe, Keith Urban and Lourde. And now you’ve given us THE STOLEN.
In a film that loves to foreshadow events, we first meet Charlotte Lockton (Eve) with her husband (Lukas Hinch) taking aim at a line of tin cans. Questioning why she needs to learn to shoot a gun, her husband replies, “I want you to be able to take care of yourself when I’m gone.” Dum! Dum! Dum! We quickly learn that Charlotte is pregnant and has relocated to the country from England to live on the family farm. Soon she has given birth and everyone is living a happy life. Until the night two men break into the house, kill hubby and take the baby. The authorities do their best to investigate but come up empty handed. But Charlotte is determined to find her son. One morning she receives a letter which includes a photo of the child and a ransom demand. Rather than follow the instructions she follows the postmark, ending up in a mining town where the only women around are either can-can dancers or prostitutes. Have I confused you yet?
A well-meaning film that draws out the drama until you no longer care, THE STOLEN is a series of coincidences played out in under 2 hours. It’s also full of questions. Apparently in this time in history there is only one civilized place in New Zealand. To get anywhere else, Charlotte must travel by wagon. For days. Also, in a wagon full of ladies of the evening, why does anyone who sees Charlotte ask if she is from England? Why won’t ANYONE take the fat, red-headed guys four bucks and show him a good time? And why is the handsome, rich man who owns the saloon/bordello so sad?
Its plot holes like these that take away from some of the film’s positives. First off, the cast is quite strong. Eve begins the film prim and proper and, as the story progresses, so does her realization that life is hard. But her progression is gradual and believable. She doesn’t turn from gentle flower to tough cactus overnight. Corcoran, who also co-wrote the script, is the unofficial madam of the group and, while she knows she should mind her own business, she shows a vulnerability and compassion that suits her character’s arc. Most of the men portrayed are your typical Central Casting cowboy/jerk types. All hands and guns. One that really stuck out was the tough hombre that leads the wagon train. He’s tough, silent and, when needed, handy with a gun. He’s also played by ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW author and co-star Richard O’Brien. Riff Raff as a tough guy. Who would have thought?
Production values are top notch, with the beautiful countryside playing its own part in the film. The ending is kind of predictable but if you’ve already invested 90 minutes of your life into this film, you’re not really going to care.
Video: The film is presented in a 2.38:1 aspect ratio and is well transferred. The beautiful New Zealand countryside is a sight to behold while the more darker and intimate settings are also clearly rendered.
Audio: The soundtrack is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and features a very good musical score throughout that doesn’t impede the conversation. One problem I had was that occasionally you will hear a gunshot before the trigger has been pulled.
“The Stolen” – Behind the Scenes (23:38): A nice featurette that takes a look at the behind the scenes machinations of making the film.