The latest DVD releases include The Founder, Wonder Woman and Alien: Covenant. WeekendSpecial reviews what’s out there:

THE FOUNDER. Directed by John Lee Hancock with Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern and Patrick Wilson.

I’ve never eaten a McDonald’s burger in my life, not only because I’m a vegetarian but because the whole branded-unhealthy-fast-food concept is from Satan, as far as I’m concerned. But I found myself sucked into The Founder, a biographical drama based on the rise and rise of the McDonald’s empire. Did you know, for example, that the business was started by two brothers – Maurice “Mac” and Richard “Dick” – who actually were called McDonald? And that it was very much a small, family business? And that they prided themselves on good-quality food? That is, until travelling salesman Ray Kroc saw their hamburger stand one day, and decided to franchise it to the whole of America …

The Founder details how Kroc (played by a deliciously seedy but ambitious Michael Keaton) talks the McDonald’s brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) into branching out. And how, eventually, he takes over the entire fast food operation, offering a handshake deal which should have netted the brothers something like $100 million a year, which they never saw. It’s a sobering tale, offering an inside look into the distasteful side of blatant capitalistic greed (is there any other side, actually?). An engaging film which leaves one feeling, as one does after greasy take out – a little sick. EXTRAS: Behind the Scenes gallery and press conference. – Karen Rutter

THE WHOLE TRUTH. Directed by Courtney Hunt with Keanu Reeves, Renee Zelwegger, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jim Belushi.

Daniel Craig was set to play the lead in this court-room/crime thriller, and one can just  imagine the disapointment of the other cast members when he dropped out and was replaced by Keanu “Wooden Face” Reeves. This would have been a whole other movie with Mister Craig as the principal. As it stands, it’s left to the plot itself, plus a cast of strong but under-used supports, to sustain interest. An almost unrecognisable Renee Zelwegger, an alert Gugu Mbatha-Raw and a brutish Jim Belushi keep things together admirably. The Whole Truth centres on the murder of a rich businessman, supposedly by his teenage son. Reeves, a lawyer, has been asked to defend the son. As the case proceeds, some unexpected and unsettling facts emerge about the businessman and his family. It’s a mildly engrossing film with a nice twist at the end. But oh, it could have been so much more … – Karen Rutter

 ALIEN:  COVENANT. Directed by Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup.

I loved every moment of this new outer space Covenant. In keeping with the Scott franchise, you just know something real BAD is about to happen, and the normalcy of pedestrian characters helps ratchet up the tension. Apart from an engaging Fassbender, there are no standout leads, but just enough squishy carnage as fast growing alien babes birth out of the dwindling crew of a ship carrying 2000 hyper-sleeping colonists to a new planet.
Witnessing it all is a next-generation synthetic person, Walter (Fassbender), who takes care of the ship’s drudge work until the crew are accidentally awakened. One bottom-feeder makes the decision to check out a weird signal coming from a mysterious planet and the stage for more sci-fi gore is set. Covenant may not be a blow-you-away kind of movie, but it’s immersive enough to keep you strapped in for the ride. Good ending! EXTRAS: Deleted and Extended Scenes. – Jane Mayne

 WONDER WOMAN. Directed by Patty Jenkins, with Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and David Thewlis.

Gal Gadot is certainly easy on the eye and she balances her smashing good looks with a robust interpretation of Diana, princess of the Amazons. The upside is that despite the feminine styling she doesn’t just present as a brainless airhead, and infuses a sense of integrity and class into her ‘Wonderful’ role. The only real downside of this grand motion picture is that it’s pitched to a teen market, and fails to engross on an adult level. That said the underlying feminist impetus that propels this heroine is obviously commendable. And what is a standout is the clarity of the cinematography and effects-heavy fight sequences where resilient Gal gets to kick some butt in true super-heroine flair. EXTRAS: A Director’s Vision – Diana in the Modern World. – Jane Mayne

 DROOMDAG. Directed Willie Esterhuizen, with Juanita de Villiers, Greta Keet and Kaz McFadden.

De Villiers gives it her all in this stereotypical role of a young woman desperate to land the man of her dreams. But comparative to other potent Afrikaans productions the film doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. The dialogue makes use of words like “vet gat, jas and chara”, and well, okay this is a way of seeing, but it’s rather crude and dismal nonetheless. Shaleen Surtie-Richards as a flower seller adds to the stereotyping. A poignant ending adds more depth, but in the long run Droomdag offers little viewing appeal. – Jane Mayne

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