Inspired by a classic piece of American literature, director David Blair’s “Best Laid Plans” can’t avoid the predictable, though it does manage to get a solid high definition presentation. Best Laid Plans Release Date: June 26, 2012 Studio: Well Go USA Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray keepcase with slipcover Year: 2012 Rating: R Running Time: 1:48:06 MSRP: $29.98 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video AVC: 1080p high definition 2.35:1 Standard and high definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: English 2.0 Stereo Subtitles None None The Feature: 2.5/5 “Best Laid Plans,” director David Blair’s urban drama about the lonely two-bit crook Danny (Stephen Graham) and his mentally challenged hulk of a friend Joseph (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), claims to be “loosely” based on John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” “Inspired-by” would actually be more accurate, since the dichotomy of underground cage fights and a sweet love story don’t ever factor into Steinbeck’s acclaimed, Depression-era novella. The film also has a radically different environment and ending, a result of debts Danny owes to a local crime boss (David O’Hara) and the manner in which Joseph is used to help pay them. But semantics and comparisons aside, the film does seem true to the Steinbeckian themes around friendship and the hope for a better life. The problem is you can see how the two men’s relationship, and their dreams, will play out well in advance, given how many other films have already explored the selfish jerk / person with a disability dynamic. The film’s specific reference to “Of Mice and Men” actually makes the final scenes less predictable, but only because the filmmakers have already made such significant deviations from the novella that you’re not sure which route they’re going to take. Strong performances by Graham and Akinnuoye-Agbaje manage to keep things relatively fresh and involving, but ultimately their work can’t improve on a script that’s filled with the over-familiar. Video Quality: 4.5/5 The 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is framed at 2.35:1 and features strong blacks, fine textural details, and a rich (though slightly desaturated and stylized) color palette. Contrast can vary a bit in the darkest of scenes, though it all works for the gritty urban environment and subject matter. The transfer also appears free of digital processing artifacts from sharpening or noise reduction measures. Audio Quality: 4/5 Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently clear and detailed, but some of the heavy regional British accents will give listeners difficulty (and the absence of subtitle options provides no relief). Surround activity is fairly tame for a recent production, but consistent with other independently produced films – an occasional atmospheric or environmental effect shows up, usually during the fight scenes, but for the most part sound is isolated to the front speaker array. LFE is virtually non-existent, but the track has a satisfying depth and dynamic range. Special Features: 1/5 Theatrical Trailer (2:53, HD): DVD: The feature is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic video and Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio. Special features mirror those on the Blu-ray. Recap The Film: 2.5/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 1/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3/5 Well Go USA delivers a solid presentation for director David Blair’s predictable urban drama inspired by Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” The special features are meager, though not surprising given the quality of the feature.