A scene from 'The King’s Man' courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Originally posted February 24, 2022

This week’s releases include a mission to protect; a romance gone sour; a hostage situation; a descent into madness; an action classic; and a sewer monster.

Alligator [Collector’s Edition] (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)

After returning from their Florida vacation, the Kendal family decides their pet baby alligator is too much to take care of and they flush him down the toilet. At the same time, Slade Laboratories is conducting secret experiments with animals and disposing of them in the sewer. The baby alligator, fending for itself, must feed on anything it can … including the dead animals. Now, 12 years later, when several murders happen in the city of Chicago, David Madison (Robert Forster) is put on the case to find out who… or what… is killing people.

There’s long been rumours of alligators and other giant reptiles living in the sewers because some irresponsible pet owner tried to dispose of their unwanted animal. This movie brings those rumours to life with a little help from a discarded science experiment. The gator animatronics are not all that bad for 1980 as the giant creature thrashes and chomps through anyone that crosses its path. The special effects for the attacks are especially bloody and look fairly convincing too. Forster’s David often appears to have more courage than sense, searching for the enormous reptile with just a small revolver to defend himself. Luckily, he teams up with an attractive expert who impresses with her basic knowledge of alligator behaviour. Nonetheless, it hits all its marks, and delivers the absurd narrative genre fans hope for and expect.

Special features include: theatrical and extended TV version; commentary with director Lewis Teague and actor Robert Forster; “Everybody in the Pool,” an interview with actress Robin Riker. “Wild in the Streets,” an interview with director Lewis Teague; “It Walks Among Us,” an interview with screenwriter John Sayles; “Luck of the Gator,” an interview with special makeup effects artist Robert Short; “Gator Guts, The Great River, And Bob,” an interview with production assistant, now famous actor/director/producer, Bryan Cranston; “Alligator Author,” an interview with screenwriter John Sayles; still galleries; TV spots; and trailers. (Scream Factory)

Alone with You (DVD)

As a young woman (Emily Bennett) painstakingly prepares a romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, their apartment begins to feel more like a tomb when voices, shadows and hallucinations reveal a truth she has been unwilling to face.

The protagonist experiences a very slow decline into madness as small things gradually grow into much more disturbing invasions of her home. She’s under stress from all directions as she awaits her girlfriend’s arrival, her friend questions the stability of her relationship and her unsupportive mother phones with an appalling request. Though the movie establishes an eerie atmosphere that grows increasingly intense, it lacks surprise as the origins of her predicament are not difficult to guess. As she’s confined to the apartment, the narrative also becomes somewhat repetitive as she cycles through the same attempts to save herself with only more frustrating results. That said, Bennett portrays her character’s distress without overacting, which keeps audiences engaged longer than they may have stayed otherwise.

Special features include: commentary by directors Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks; deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurette; filmmaker and cast interviews; and blooper reel. (Darkstar Pictures)

Hard Hit (Blu-ray)

Review: Secrets are dangerous in this week’s releases

VIP Bank Manager Sung-Gyu (Woo-jin Jo) drives his daughter and son to school one morning. Along the way, a phone rings from the glove-box. It’s an anonymous caller claiming there’s a bomb under Sung-Gyu’s seat and if anyone exits the car, it will explode unless he pays a ransom. What at first feels like a prank call quickly turns into an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Sung-Gyu must simultaneously ensure the safety of his children, find enough money to pay the ransom and evade the police, all while trying to figure out what he did to deserve this.

The story begins with any parent’s worst nightmare — discovering they’ve placed their children in danger and realizing they can’t guarantee their safety. Sung-Gyu is rather casual about the whole situation until an incident demonstrates how serious the consequences of his non-compliance could be. Yet, many of his choices don’t make a lot of sense, which hinders the viewer’s link to the action and feels like an attempt to just fill the gaps. Consequently, even though this appears to be a ticking clock narrative on the surface, there’s no definitive deadline so the movie seems to go on for far too long. Once the reason for targeting Sung-Gyu is revealed, it also becomes a bit harder not to sympathize with the bomber, which makes it difficult to deliver a satisfying ending.

Special features include: making-of featurette; and trailer. (Capelight Pictures)

John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. (4K Ultra HD & Digital copy)

After a 9.6 quake levels most of Los Angeles, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is called to wade through the ruins to retrieve a doomsday device. This sequel finds Snake surfing Wilshire Blvd., shooting hoops at the Coliseum, dive-bombing the Happy Kingdom theme park, and mixing it up with a wild assortment of friends, fiends and foes.

Released 15 years after Snake escaped New York, this film takes the action up a notch with its dystopian sport and even more death-defying stunts. It also steps up its game in the supporting actors department with Bruce Campbell, Pam Grier, Steve Buscemi and Peter Fonda joining the returning Stacy Keach. Campbell’s monstrous plastic surgeon and Grier’s transgender con are both very memorable with the former potentially haunting viewers’ nightmares. Snake is the ultimate hero because he’s great at what he does, but despises having to do it. One of the things this film does very well is depict the city’s major landmarks in a completely different light as it’s dilapidated, flooded and repurposed. Russell seamlessly reprises the role, portraying the innovative felon with the same shrewdness and confidence, while also demonstrating Snake has become unfeasibly colder over the years.

There are no special features. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

The King’s Man (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)

Set during WWI, the film tells the origin story of Kingsman, the world’s very first independent intelligence agency. As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions across the globe, one man must race against time to stop them.

It feels as if each film in this series takes audiences a little further back into the organization’s history, now reaching the very beginning to depict their spy tactics before they were even an agency. The band of unofficial agents, consisting of Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou), tasked themselves with preventing widespread bloodshed by trying to bring the world’s leaders — with three of them all played by Tom Hollander — to their senses. Consequently, this puts targets on their backs and places them in some unexpectedly dangerous situations, including a fancy party and a goat farm. The villains are all based on real-life personalities, including Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner), Vladimir Lenin (August Diehl) and Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl) — but Rhys Ifans’ Rasputin repeatedly steals the show with his eccentric performance.

Special features include: “The King’s Man: The Great Game Begins Documentary” in six parts; “No Man’s Land”; and “Remembrance and Finding Purpose.” (Disney Home Entertainment)

Shattered (Blu-ray & Digital copy)

After lonely tech millionaire Chris (Cameron Monaghan) encounters charming, sexy Sky (Lilly Krug), passion grows between them — and when he’s injured, she quickly steps in as his nurse. But Sky’s odd behaviour makes Chris suspect that she has more sinister intentions, especially when Sky’s roommate is found dead from mysterious causes.

This movie goes a step further than Fatal Attraction as Sky doesn’t just want Chris, but everything he possesses. Their chance meeting is already pretty suspect, but Chris is blinded by his sexual attraction to Sky and desperate for a distraction from his pending divorce. His injury gives her the excuse she needs to further implant herself into his life and by the time he realizes he’s made a mistake, it’s too late. Monaghan’s portrayal of Chris is pretty naïve as he’s failed to adopt the untrustworthy nature most wealthy people feel is necessary to survive. Conversely, Krug is the perfect seductress, playing her role to a tee, transitioning from the damsel in distress to the femme fatale seamlessly. In the end, it’s an okay film, but Chris’ inadequacies keep it from being better.

Special features include: “Mischief in the Mountains: The Story of Shattered with Director Luis Prieto”; and trailer. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)