(with pics)

[STANDFIRST] Damon Smith reviews the latest download, streaming and DVD releases including The Leisure Seeker, Rampage and Truth Or Dare.



The Leisure Seeker (Cert 15, 100 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Drama/Comedy/Romance, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from August 20 on DVD £19.99)

Starring: Dame Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Janel Moloney, Christian McKay, Dana Ivey.

John Spencer (Donald Sutherland) and his wife Ella (Dame Helen Mirren) live in Boston, Massachusetts, close to their grown-up children Jane (Janel Moloney) and Will (Christian McKay).

Ella is a full-time carer to her husband, who has Alzheimer's and often doesn't recognise her as his beautiful wife.

"I'm so happy when you come back to me," beams Ella to John in one blissful, brief moment when the fog in his mind clears.

The spectre of cancer comes knocking at Ella's door and she resolves to embark on a final road trip with John to visit the house of one of his idols, Ernest Hemingway, in the Florida Keys.

The couple depart without a word of warning to their children or next-door neighbour Lillian (Dana Ivey) in a 1975 Winnebago.

En route to their final destination, John and Ella reminisce fondly about the life they have built.

Based on a novel by Michael Zadoorian, The Leisure Seeker is a bittersweet journey of self-discovery, which is forgotten almost as quickly as John loses his flimsy grasp on faces of the past.

Director Paolo Virzi's comical road trip is an affectionate character study of fleeting and uneven pleasures, principally the fizzing screen chemistry between the lead actors.

The script is punctuated by deeply touching moments including a memorable sex scene but the tone grinds through gears almost as nosily as the vintage camper van that conveys the ageing couple on their cross-country odyssey.

Moloney and McKay have limited screen time to flesh out their concerned offspring, which dulls the impact of a hastily orchestrated and elegiac final act.

Rating: ***


Rampage (Cert 12, 107 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Romance, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from August 20 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy.

Special Forces operative turned primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) has raised an albino silverback gorilla called George at San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary since the ape's mother was slaughtered by poachers.

Canisters of a serum engineered by Energyne Industries, which is controlled by scheming minx Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and her goofy brother Brett (Jake Lacy), infect George and the normally mild-mannered creature develops heightened aggression as he rapidly increases in size.

Discredited genetic engineer Dr Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) pledges to help Davis discover a cure before George is deemed a risk to human life and has to be destroyed by shadowy government agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Rampage is an outlandish action-packed fantasy based on a popular 1980s video game.

Brad Peyton's film opens in deep space with a competently orchestrated evacuation of the Energyne space station that recalls the sci-fi horrors Life and Alien.

Once the narrative re-enters Earth's atmosphere in a fireball of special effects and impacts terra firma with an almighty bang, the picture goes up in smoke.

This is a chest-beating behemoth of a blockbuster with no soul, wit, warmth or sincerity, which lumbers from the risible to the yawn-inducingly improbable without pausing for breath for such basic concerns as logic, characterisation or emotional depth.

The ineptitude of Peyton's film is remarkable, eliciting peels of unintentional laughter with its clumsy dialogue and ham-fisted attempts to create a touching bond between muscular lead star Johnson and a digitally rendered ape.

If any proof were needed of humanity's hubris, look no further than Rampage.

Rating: **

Truth Or Dare (Cert 15, 96 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Horror/Thriller/Romance, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from August 20 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)

Starring: Lucy Hale, Violett Beane, Tyler Posey, Sophia Ali, Nolan Gerard Funk, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Sam Lerner.

Olivia (Lucy Hale) agrees to accompany fun-loving best friend Markie (Violett Beane) and her boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey), good friend Penelope (Sophia Ali) and her boyfriend Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk), and their gay pal Brad (Hayden Szeto) to Mexico for a week of partying to excess during spring break.

At one of the beach bars, Olivia meets handsome stranger Carter (Landon Liboiron) and he invites the group to a late-night drinking session.

Sleazy classmate Ronnie (Sam Lerner) crashes the party shortly before the students play a game of truth or dare.

When Carter agrees to answer a question truthfully and Penelope gently probes his feelings about Olivia, his answer shocks everyone.

"I needed to find someone with friends that I could trick into coming here," he coldly declares.

It transpires Carter has lured them into a deadly real-life game of concealment and consequences.

Truth Or Dare is a horror thriller, which deals from the same deck as the Final Destination films, conjuring a malevolent force that targets high school students in a predetermined order and punishes those who refuse to abide by the rules with a suitably grisly demise.

Our lack of sympathy for the students extinguishes dramatic tension and the plot spins wildly out of control when the screenwriters reveal the origin of the evil.

Predictability haunts the musty frames of Jeff Wadlow's picture and white-knuckle scares are exorcised before composer Matthew Margeson's heavy-handed score cranks up the volume.

The script reserves one satisfying narrative bump for the final scene but otherwise, the two-dimensional characters are easy fodder for slaughter.

Rating: **

Also released:

L'Amant Double (Cert 18, 107 mins, Curzon Artificial Eye, Thriller/Romance - see below)

Barbie: Dolphin Magic (Cert U, 61 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Animation/Drama - see below)

Studio 54 (Cert 15, 94 mins, Dogwoof, Documentary - see below)

Terminal (Cert 15, 90 mins, Arrow Films, Thriller - see below)


Better Call Saul - Season Four (10 episodes, starts streaming and available to download from August 7 exclusively on Netflix, Comedy/Drama/Romance)

Petty con artist turned lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) struggles to cope with the death of his older brother Chuck (Michael McKean) in the 10-part spin-off from award-winning crime drama Breaking Bad, written by Peter Gould.

When we last saw Chuck, he was at the mercy of his electromagnetic hypersensitivity and had knocked over a lantern, setting fire to his home with him still inside.

This horrific demise sets in motion the events of series four, catalysing a transformation in Jimmy that gives birth to Saul Goodman.

Meanwhile, Jimmy's path intersects again with hit man Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and the grief-stricken anti-hero continues to clash with fierce rival Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian).

Like Father (Cert 15, 103 mins, streaming and available to download from August 3 exclusively on Netflix, Comedy/Drama)

Workaholic executive Rachel (Kristen Bell) is looking forward to marrying the man of her dreams until he leaves her standing at the altar in front of friends and family including Rachel's estranged father, Harry (Kelsey Grammer).

The humiliated bride-to-be drowns her sorrows and, the next morning, she wakes on her Caribbean honeymoon cruise with... Harry, the last person in the world that she wants to be stranded with as she wallows in self-loathing.

At first, father and daughter try to keep their distance on board the luxury liner but they are thrown together in a series of misadventures which rebuilds the bonds of trust and love.

Umbrella-clad cocktails lubricate the soul-searching and Rachel gradually acknowledges that the only man she needs in her life right now is Harry.

Terminal (Cert 15, 90 mins, Arrow Films, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from August 6 on DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller)

Annie (Margot Robbie) is a waitress in a railway station diner, which customers refer to affectionately as the End Of The Line.

She keeps a close eye on her clientele, including an English professor called Bill (Simon Pegg), who intends to end his life by throwing himself under a train as soon as services resume.

Away from the diner, Annie moonlights as a stripper called Bunny in the local club, but she is keen to prove her credentials as a hit woman to a local kingpin called Mr Franklin.

This mysterious puppet-master has already hired two hapless goons, Alfred (Max Irons) and Vince (Dexter Fletcher), to stake out a hotel room and shoot anyone who checks in.

Annie vows to prove her sharp-shooting skills by targeting Alfred and Vince, and any other assassins who stand in her way.

L'Amant Double (Cert 18, 107 mins, Curzon Artificial Eye, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from August 6 on DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller/Romance)

French enfant terrible Francois Ozon returns to the sexually charged delights of his earlier films for this heated psychological thriller, torn from the pages of Joyce Carol Oates's novel Lives Of Twins, which she penned under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith.

Deception and illusion are key themes of L'Amant Double, which centres on a former model called Chloe (Marine Vacth), who lives alone with her cat in Paris and has been struck down with crippling stomach pains.

She seeks answers from a gynaecologist, who refers Chloe to a handsome therapist called Paul (Jeremie Renier).

Sparks of attraction between healer and patient compromise the effectiveness of the session and Chloe quickly moves into Paul's apartment to begin a passionate, full-blown romance.

However, he remains an enigma and she discovers that her mysterious beau has a doppelganger, a twin brother he refuses to talk about called Dr Louis Delord (Renier again).

Unlike his sibling, Louis is fully in touch with his sexual desires and he inspires Chloe to embark on an orgasmic journey of self-satisfaction that forces her to choose between the brothers.

Studio 54 (Cert 15, 94 mins, Dogwoof, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from August 6 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99, Documentary)

Famous New York hot spot Studio 54 - located on West 54th Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway - opened on April 26 1977 and quickly became the most fashionable haunt of the rich and fabulous in Manhattan.

Created by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, the club wooed the most flamboyant and extrovert crowd on the east coast and regularly welcomed celebrities through its doors to a glittering palace of sex, drugs and decadence.

Less than three years after it opened, Studio 54 in its original guise was gone, after the founders faced charges of tax evasion.

Matt Tyrnauer's film is a revealing documentary about the rise and fall of Rubell and Schrager, and the legacy they created with a venue that warmly embraced the blossoming gay counterculture of the late 1970s.

Flavors Of Youth (Cert 12, 74 mins, streaming and available to download from August 4 exclusively on Netflix, Animation/Drama/Romance)

Told in three chapters set in different cities, Flavors Of Youth is a bittersweet animated drama from the producers of the smash hit Your Name, which considers similar themes of love and longing across space and time.

In the opening story, A Breakfast Of Sunflowers, a boy called Shaomin (voiced by Mariya Ose) hankers for the rice noodles he used to enjoy in his hometown, sparking memories of an idyllic past.

Next, in A Little Fashion Show, two sisters are driven apart when the elder sibling puts her health at risk to succeed on the catwalk.

Finally, in the aptly titled Shanghai Love, childhood friends are compelled to recall their life together by listening to heartfelt recordings they made two years ago.

Barbie: Dolphin Magic (Cert U, 61 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, available from August 6 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from August 6 on DVD £10.99, Animation/Drama)

Barbie (voiced by Erica Lindbeck) heads to a tropical island where Ken (Adrian Petriw) is doing a marine biology internship.

She is accompanied by her pals Chelsea (Alyssa Swales), Skipper (Kazumi Evans) and Stacie (Claire Corlett).

The young women go snorkelling to admire the local sealife and they discover a bright green Gemstone Dolphin trapped in an enclosure.

It emerges that Ken's biologist team leader, Marlo (Maryke Hendrikse), intends to make money from showcasing the dolphin to the public.

Barbie and her sisters vow to release the creature back into the wild and they are helped by a magical mermaid called Isla (Shannon Chan-Kent).