The Open Bar Review – Sausage Party

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Don’t Breathe is fantastic

Photo courtesy Screen Gems.

As Suicide Squad begins to run out of steam, the director of the 2013 Evil Dead reboot drops off a late-summer gem in Don’t Breathe.

The movie follows three Detroit burglars — Rocky (Jane Levy), the ringleader and her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and lovestruck keyman Alex (Dylan Minnette). The trio struggles even outside the law, but Money learns that a blind man (Stephen Lang) in a deserted neighborhood is sitting on $300,000 in cash. They go to his house to rob him in the night, but he awakens, discovers them and kills Money. Rocky and Alex continue an intense game of cat and mouse with the blind man.

Don’t Breathe has the goods. It’s a taut, well thought-out and wonderfully executed thriller, with home invasion and claustrophobia subgenres blended seamlessly together as the burglars and home owner each ride the line between hunter and hunted.

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Ben-Hur doesn’t go big, so just stay home

Costing $100 million and relegated to a mid-August release, Ben-Hur is another in a rash of summer movies that were doomed not by viewers or even critics, but by their own studios. It joins the likes of Ghostbusters ($144 million budget) and Legend of Tarzan ($180 million), movies that should have been just fine with the money they made, but cost way too much. Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures.

Rhiannon Saegert

Ben-Hur is a frustrating sit. It didn’t have to be, but the movie makes an infuriating habit of taking whatever interesting ideas it has and running them directly into the ground like an unconvincing CGI chariot.

The movie follows Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a Jerusalem nobleman, and his adopted Roman brother, Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell). Haunted by his low state and taunted by his grandfather’s role in betraying Caesar, Severus joins the legion and, three years later, returns as a hero to quell a city that has grown restless under Roman rule. When one of the Jewish radicals makes an attempt on Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbæk), Severus is forced to scapegoat his adoptive family. The women are executed and Ben-Hur is sent to die as a galley slave. Five years after that, he escapes, and seeks vengeance on Severus the only way he can — the chariot races.

At first, the film seems to be making a genuine effort to update the story and make a true, big-budget epic that belongs in 2016. 

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The Open Bar Review – Suicide Squad

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Kubo condescending, animation doesn’t make up

Kubo and the Two Strings boasts seven Oscar nominations in its voice cast, and that’s normally great, but none of these actors are known for their voices. English accents are often fetishized in Hollywood, but Ralph Fiennes is one of the Brits known least for his voice, and they make him do an American accent anyway. Great voice casts are usually an easily attained boon for animated features, but it manages to be a waste here. Photo courtesy Focus Features.

Kubo and the Two Strings is one of those frustrating movies that starts off great, then gets worse and worse as it goes on. I’d go as far as to say it’s probably better than I’m giving it credit for because the ending is so much weaker than the start.

The story follows Kubo (Art Parkinson), who has grown up in solitude with his mother, a powerful but severely depressed enchantress. Her sisters (Rooney Mara) and father, Raiden the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes), stole Kubo’s left eye when he was an infant, and he lives his life hiding from the night sky in fear that they will come and take the other. One night trying to commune with his late father’s spirit, Kubo stays out past dark. The twins find him, and his mother sacrifices herself to save him. Kubo’s only hope to fight the Moon King is to find three artifacts of legend with the help of a monkey (Charlize Theron) brought to life by his mother’s magic and a giant amnesiac beetle (Matthew McConaughey).

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