The latest DVD releases include Edge of Winter, The Dark Tower, First Kill, 100 Streets and All We Had. Here we go:
EDGE OF WINTER. Directed by Rob Connolly, with Joel Kinnaman, Tom Holland and Percy Hynes White.
This survivalist thriller hooks around the mental breakdown of loser dad Elliot (Kinnamon – Suicide Squad, Run All Night). And witnessing the trajectory is his two sons, who innocently go on an outing with pops for some vacuous male bonding. Things spiral out of control when dad gets wind of the fact the boys are leaving the country with mom and new man-in-her-life, and the tension hikes up as Elliot’s anguish leads to a violent outcome. Although the dramatic arc is predictable, it’s a fretful watch as Holland and White witness their dad morph into a deranged psycho hell-bent on keeping them at a remote, cabin. A taut thriller enhanced by good screen play, but diminished by an unimaginative script. EXTRAS: None. – Jane Mayne
THE DARK TOWER. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, with Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and Tom Taylor.
Despite rich source material The Dark Tower film version feels lifeless. This urban fantasy draws on Stephen King’s series of books, and instead of making the story a duel between gunslinger Roland (Elba) and the Man in Black, Walter (McConaughey), it is now centered on a boy, Jake (Taylor).
In our world Jake has dreams about a gunslinger striding through his nightmares while a dark tower is being destroyed. The teen discovering there are multiple universes and that his dreams are real, is what drives the narrative. Action sequences featuring close quarter fighting are difficult to parse and any time Roland and Jake discover a new place they don’t have enough time to explore before they are forced to run off. So, all the world building is lost. Yes, the book series has no true ending and it’s supposed to be about boys learning to be men, but King never wrote Young Adult fantasy, which is what this film is trying to be. Arcel has interpreted ideas from King’s sprawling fantasy to put his own spin on it and it really helps if you didn’t read the books. At least the kid at the centre of the film has good chemistry with the Roland character. EXTRAS: Blooper Reel, The Man in Black – Matthew’s process, The Gunslinger in Action – Idris and the Stunt Team. – Theresa Smith
100 STREETS. Directed by Jom O’Hanlon with Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton, Tomm Cullen and Franz Drameh.
100 Streets is an ensemble drama that interweaves three different stories. There’s Max (Idris Elba) a retired rugby player whose life has gone to pot (well, blow, to be precise) and whose relationship with his wife (Gemma Arterton) is progressively shaky . Then there’s Kingsley (Franz Drameh), a young guy who’s taken a few wrong steps but could possibly redeem his life through drama; and childless couple George and Kathy (Charlie Creed-Miles and Kierston Wareing) whose dream of a big family is put on hold after a shocking accident. It’s a fairly gritty and depressing film, to be honest, and not entirely credible. The ensemble formula often works well, especially if there is a cast of strong actors (think Crash, Babel, Traffic etc) but this one kind of fizzles out. Good premise, not such good execution. EXTRAS: A Look inside 100 Streets. – Karen Rutter
ALL WE HAD. Directed by Katie Holmes, with Katie Holmes, Stefania Owen and Luke Wilson.
Holmes’ directorial debut is based on Annie Weatherwax’s 2014 novel, which examines an intense mother-daughter relationship of two disempowered folk down on their luck in 2008. With a battered Ford Escort as their home, the unkempt duo head off into the unknown, hoping for a miracle. A slow first half doesn’t initially endear you to Holmes’ flawed character, but she plays it hard and eventually it becomes easier to empathise with her resilience.
The movie solidifies as Rita (Holmes) and daughter Ruthie (Stefania Owen) 15, try to make good working at Tiny’s diner, where kind owner Marty (Richard Kind) gives them jobs after they rip him off. They form a bond with trans waitress Peter Pam (Eve Lindley) and settle into small town life, but when the cafe’s popularity wanes Rita and Ruthie are once again forced to live by their wits. A coming-of-age drama which picks up as events unfold. And Holmes does ‘trash’ pretty well. EXTRAS: None. – Jane Mayne
FIRST KILL. Directed by Steven C. Miller with Bruce Willis, Hayden Christensen, Megan Leonard and Ty Shelton.
This is a Bruce Willis movie, so you know the drill. Acting: 10%. Action: 90%. Except Bruce is getting older now, so the activity sessions are just a tad slower. And, sorry Bruce, but also a tad boring. Anyhoo – in First Kill, a young businessman (Hayden Christensen) discovers his 11-year-old son is being bullied at school, so he decides to take him hunting to help him man up. Honest to God. Whilst the father is imparting the Lessons of Testosterone to his boy, they witness a shoot-out between two men. Long story short, the son is abducted, the father has to find some hidden cash to exchange for his boy, the local police (Bruce Willis and co.) are brought in, but there are some rotten apples in the force, and complications ensue. It’s not particularly gripping on an action scale, the acting is weak and the plotline predictable. Watching Die Hard re-runs will probably be more fun. EXTRAS: Director’s Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes Featurette, Extended Cast/Crew Interviews etc.– Karen Rutter