NICOLE Kidman glams down to play an alcoholic cop in the bracingly bleak crime saga Destroyer.
There are daft laughs to be had in Kiwi rough diamond Mega Time Squad and slashings of black comedy in the grisly but gripping Monster Party.
DVD Of The Week: Destroyer
(15) 119mins, out Monday
BRACINGLY bleak crime drama with Nicole Kidman glamming-down to play a compromised, crumbling cop with one hell of a hangover.
Kidman’s nervy, hollowed-out performance is effective rather than revelatory. Her alcoholic Detective Bell trudges wearily between various debasements and defeats, a guilt-racked skeleton in skinny jeans, towards a denouement that is no less satisfying for its grim inevitability. Like Blue Ruin with a badge, there is violence without catharsis, payback without redemption
Destroyer is not wildly original — few movie cops have a happy home life, after all — and there is a Top Of The Lake vibe to proceedings, with Jade Pettyjohn providing good support as Kidman’s troublesome daughter.
The visuals are stark but striking and the drama only faintly undermined by a villain (Brit Toby Kebbell) who’s the spit of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. Kebbell’s Silas is no a mastermind but a two-bob manipulator with a messiah complex, merely the most spiteful in a gallery of largely disagreeable characters.
Not fun, as such, but compelling just the same.
Mega Time Squad
(18) 80mins, out now
IT’S rare to be caught completely off guard by a movie but this oddball Kiwi crime caper with a fantastical twist manages exactly that.
The throwaway plot — about a magical bracelet that lets the wearer replicate himself and rewind time — is merely a vehicle for surreal, goofy comedy, as a gang of criminal dim-bulbs stumble around a scrubby landscape studded with rusty caravans and derelict farm equipment.
There are echoes in Tim Van Dammen’s direction of Peter Jackson’s early work. Before splurging zillions of Hollywood dollars on his Tolkein epics, the Lord Of The Rings auteur famously cut his teeth on low-fi splatter-fests Bad Taste and Brain Dead. It would be intriguing to see Van Dammen given the reins of a Thor: Ragnarok, say, like his fellow New Zealander Taika Waititi.
Not all the jokes land and the script occasionally leans too heavily on C-bombs for comic effect, but the laughs come thick and fast (more thick than fast) and the romantic subplot is sweet rather than cloying. A real diamond in the rough.
(15) 89mins, out Monday
SPITEFUL, silly and occasionally startling slasher that’s not nearly as dumb as it makes out, given the laughable premise about three mischievous scamps who run afoul of a self-help group for rehabbing serial killers.
There are a handful of nicely naturalistic performances among the young cast, in particular from Virginia Gardner (Halloween) and former EastEnder Sam Strike. These are thrown into sharp relief by some creaky turns elsewhere, although Lance Reddick (The Wire’s Lt Daniels) has fun as the grown-up in the room full of murderous oddballs.
With some nicely executed shots and moments of daft humour amid the bloody mayhem, it capers along agreeably towards a gruesome conclusion. Deadlier than you might expect.
(12) 75mins, out now
GLOBE-TROTTING documentary that lifts the lid on the carnage in our oceans in which millions of sharks are slain every year through the barbaric, illegal but lucrative practice of finning.
There are moments of grace amid the horror, via some stunning underwater photography, in a project that serves as a tribute to crusading shark-lover Rob Stewart, who died while diving in the final stages of making this film. His passion and commitment shine through in every frame but the greatest tragedy is that his urgent cry for change is likely to fall on deaf ears.