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Martin Owen
Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Raff Law
Writing Credits:
John Wrathall, Sally Collett

An orphan joins a street gang.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 9/28/2021

• “The Artful Dodger” Featurette


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Twist [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 12, 2021)

When I went to open this review, I planned to make a snarky joke about how 2021’s Twist offered an update on the Charles Dickens classic about an English orphan. As it happens, my attempted witticism proved true, as the movie does adapt Oliver Twist - whoops!

After his mother dies suddenly, “Twist” (Raff Law) flees and lives on the streets, with an amateur avocation as a graffiti artist. Eventually he finds himself drawn to the paternal nature of Fagin (Michael Caine), an older man who operates a street gang, and Twist becomes one of the crew.

When the boys attempt an art theft, it goes awry. This creates complications for Twist, as he finds a mix of challenges in the aftermath of this event.

Famously, Michael Caine commented that he never saw 1987’s Jaws the Revenge - a film in which he starred – but he loved the house that its paycheck built. Caine readily admits that he sometimes takes roles just for the money.

Look left at the Blu-ray’s cover and examine the glum expression on Caine’s face. Does that tell us he took Twist solely for the bucks?

Probably. While not the worst film Caine has ever made, Twist nonetheless fails to offer an engaging take on the Dickens tale.

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with a version of Oliver Twist set in modern-day London, but the film just feels like it tries too hard to be self-consciously “new”. Oddly, a lot of these stabs at “freshness” seem stale, especially in the way Twist and other characters gratuitously go everywhere via parkour moves.

Parkour was exciting to see in films maybe 15 years ago, but now? Not so much, and the movie’s use of those techniques doesn’t make a lick of sense in the universe set up here.

The characters’ bounding moves seem like a self-conscious attempt to add spice and excitement to the proceedings. Instead, they just come across as perplexing and pointless.

Twist also fails to adapt Dickens in a meaningful manner. Indeed, the connections between the source and the new film seem superficial at best, as Twist just uses vague links as a gimmick more than anything else.

Really, if you eliminate the use of character names from Dickens, you’d find it next to impossible to realize that Twist translates the 19th century novel. Beyond the notion of an orphan who gets involved with a gang of criminals, the two properties share little in common.

Instead, Twist just gives us a basic heist flick with occasional character flourishes. It occasionally throws out a Guy Ritchie vibe, but it usually seems too bland to even come across like a competent ripoff.

Can I find anything to praise about Twist? As “Red” – this movie’s version of Dickens’ Nancy – Sophie Simnett looks really pretty.

And there ends the positive portion of this review. Twist squanders the possibilities that come with the Dickens source and turns into a wholly pointless, dull stab at a thriller.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Twist appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasn’t a flawless presentation but it looked good.

For the most part, sharpness satisfied. A couple of interiors suffered from a minor decline in delineation, but the majority of the film seemed accurate and concise.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or source flaws. Although the movie opted for fake print defects during the opening credits, those were intentional and not a concern.

Colors went down the stylized path, with a trend toward a heavy orange. Teal also appeared, and we got occasional splashes of purple, pink and red as well. These seemed perfectly satisfactory given the visual choices.

Blacks appeared rich and taut, while low-light shots displayed nice clarity and smoothness. Overall, I remained pleased with the image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Twist, it proved more than competent. Music and general environmental information dominated the proceedings, so we didn’t get much that really stood out as especially active.

Still, the soundfield felt appropriate for the material. While the soundscape didn’t dazzle, it offered appropriate support.

Audio quality worked well, too. Music was dynamic and full, while effects appeared accurate and dynamic.

Speech seemed distinctive and concise, without edginess or other issues. The soundtrack seemed more than satisfactory.

A featurette called The Artful Dodger runs 25 minutes, 45 seconds and includes notes from producers Matt Williams, Jason Maza and Ben Grass, director Martin Owen, actor/co-writer Sally Collett, and actors Raff Law, Rita Ora, Lena Headey, Sophie Simnett, Franz Drameh, and Michael Caine.

“Dodger” looks at Oliver Twist and its loose adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and stunts. Though a fair amount of “Dodger” leans toward happy talk, it nonetheless brings a pretty decent production overview.

Though it purports to adapt Charles Dickens, Twist instead delivers nothing more than a generic heist tale. It lacks anything to make it engaging or involving. The Blu-ray comes with solid picture and audio as well as a decent featurette. Twist goes nowhere

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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