'Tommy's Honour,' 'Kong: Skull Island' on video platforms this week
Posted July 20
You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy “Tommy’s Honour,” but you will have to be a monster movie fan to get into “Kong: Skull Island.”
“Tommy’s Honour” (Lionsgate, 2017, PG, featurette). In St. Andrews, Scotland, circa 1866, “Old Tom” Morris (Peter Mullan) is the innovative groundskeeper for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, where he kowtows to the upper-class membership but is respected as a golf legend.
Old Tom is responsible for the game’s 18-hole standard and was instrumental in the founding of the first major tournament some six years earlier. He has also won it twice. Meanwhile, his son, Young Tom, or “Tommy” (Jack Lowden), is the first golf prodigy, and, at 17, becomes the youngest major champion in history (a record that still stands). But Tommy has little patience with class distinction, which puts him at odds with his father.
This is a gentle, easygoing true story, and as such it lacks the kind of gritty punch that modern audiences may prefer. The phrase “old-fashioned” comes to mind, but that’s fine with me. The story is engaging, and it’s very well-acted and produced. And as with all of the best sports films, you don’t have to care about golf to enjoy it. (It is directed by Jason Connery, son of Sean.)
“Kong: Skull Island” (Warner, 2017, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). After a World War II prologue, the setting is 1973 as a U.S. government agent (John Goodman) recruits a pair of Vietnam veterans (Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson) and a peacenik photographer (Brie Larson) to map the uncharted Skull Island. But, of course, Goodman has ulterior motives. It's an enjoyable old-school monster movie, set in the same universe as the 2014 “Godzilla,” to lay the groundwork for a future “Godzilla vs. King Kong” showdown.
“The Promise” (Universal, 2017, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). This is a disappointing historical melodrama about an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac) and an American reporter (Christian Bale), both in love with an Armenian woman (Charlotte Le Bon) who was raised in Paris. It is a lightweight, star-crossed romance set against the real-life Armenian genocide that took place during and after World War I.
“Free Fire” (Lionsgate, 2017; R for violence, language, drugs; audio commentary, featurette). A black market weapons deal in a deserted warehouse goes sideways in 1970s Boston, leading to a wild-eyed gun battle. The film has very dark action comedy, sort of, which often makes no sense, confuses alliances and strives for a Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese level of violence (Scorsese is an executive producer). Armie Hammer, Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy co-star.
“La Vie de Jean-Marie” (IndiePix, 2017, not rated/probable PG, in Flemish and French with English subtitles). Documentary filmmaker Peter van Houten spent five years following aging Dutch pastor Jean-Marie for this gentle, slow, very long (approaching three hours) cinéma vérité profile. The elderly priest talks and talks and talks, as the film demonstrates his devotion to his flock of 25 villages in the French Pyrenees.
“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” (Well Go, 2011, not rated/probable PG-13, two discs, audio commentary, extended interviews, featurettes, art/character galleries). This is a biographical documentary about the Marvel Comics icon, a comic book artist who created or co-created dozens of familiar characters, most notably Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and the X-Men, and who has cameos in most of the Marvel movies. Interviewees include Nicolas Cage, Kenneth Branagh, Roger Corman, Kirsten Dunst, Samuel L. Jackson, Ringo Starr and many more.
“Behind the Mask: The ‘Batman: Dead End’ Story” (Candy Factory, 2017, not rated/probable R for language). Comic book geeks and Batman fans will feel a kinship with special effects artist/commercial filmmaker Sandy Collora, profiled in this backstage show-biz documentary. In 2003, Collora created a short film about the Caped Crusader meeting Predator and Alien, which caused a sensation at Comic-Con and put him in movie studio meetings, but ultimately led nowhere for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his own hubris.
“Buster’s Mal Heart” (Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence and language, deleted scenes, trailers). This is a strange, jangled tale of a mountain man (Rami Malek) who’s been breaking into cabins and is finally cornered by a sheriff, which sends him (and us) into flashbacks that challenge the audience to ferret out what is real and what is hallucination.
“Resident Evil: Vendetta” (Sony, 2017, R for violence, audio commentary, featurettes, art gallery). This entry in the “Resident Evil” franchise is a Japanese motion-capture animated film unrelated to the movies, but instead set between the sixth and seventh sequels in the video game series. The story has Captain Chris Redfield recruiting a pair of agents to help save New York City from a death merchant.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.