Tony’s Movie Reviews: ‘Ben-Hur,’ ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ ‘War Dogs’ and ‘Hell or High Water’

Photo Courtesy: TP Productions

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 19, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Four new films are hitting theaters today. And the news, for the most part, is very good.

According to Box Office Mojo, the weekend outcome looks like a repeat of last week’s top films, with “Suicide Squad” still in the top slot. The film is estimated to take in another $22 million, with “Sausage Party” doing almost $18.0 million its second weekend.

The animated family film “Kubo and the Two Strings” is predicted to debut with about $17.0 million, and The Jonah Hill/Miles Teller dark comedy, “War Dogs,” is expected to bring in an estimated $13.5 million.

“Ben-Hur” is predicted to open in fourth place with an estimated $12.0 million, while “Hell or High Water,” which is debuting in just over 470 theaters, won’t make it in the top 10 at all.

Here’s what the weekend is predicted to look like for the top 10 films:

Suicide Squad – $22 million
Sausage Party – $17.8 million
Kubo and the Two Strings – $17.2 million
War Dogs – $13.5 million
Pete’s Dragon – $13 million
Ben-Hur – $12 million
Bad Moms – $7.8 million
Jason Bourne – $7.75 million
The Secret Life of Pets – $6 million
Florence Foster Jenkins – $3.9 million

The Reviews:

Starring: Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman
Rated PG-13

“Ben-Hur” is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

This is the fifth adaptation of the Ben-Hur story, this one produced by Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett.

“Ben-Hur” is an unnecessarily action-filled movie with its major problem being that the story is buried deep under a mound of special effects.

The acting is fine, but the film is overtly trying to be an epic and suffers from being “too big for its britches.”

This “Ben-Hur” is only an average movie. It gets a C and is rated PG-13.

War Dogs
Starring: Jonah Hill and Miles Teller
Rated R

Based on true events, two friends in their early 20s, living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War, exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a $300 million deal to arm the Afghan military. The deal puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. government.

“War Dogs” is a surprisingly satisfying film, mostly due to its stars, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. The pairing of these two actors is reminiscent of a Hope & Crosby film. Teller is the more reserved one, thoughtful and careful, while Hill is the wild card who is constantly teetering on the edge of reason.

All in all, it is a fun ride, but not without some bumps. The pacing is a little chaotic in places, and the film does get a bit maudlin here and there.

But it does manage to entertain and keep the audience engaged.

“War Dogs” gets a B and is rated R.

Hell or High Water
Starring: Chris Pine and Ben Foster
Rated R

A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s farm in West Texas.

“Hell or High Water” is a stunningly well-done Western. The film will engage you from the beginning and keeps your attention to the very last frame.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster put in strong, powerful and watchable performances. Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham as Texas Rangers, add in some lighter moments. But the film encompasses pretty much all the spectrum of the human experience, including: heart, love, tragedy, loss and redemption.

“Hell or High Water” is one of those movies that come along every decade or so and create a whole new standard for the genre.

It gets an A and is rated R.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Starring the voices of: Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey
Rated PG

Kubo lives a quiet, normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” is simply one of my favorite films of the year. This incredible piece of art blends together animation and stop-motion, making this a double treat for fans of animation.

Although rich in storytelling, color and artistry, “Kubo and the Two Strings” may not be perfect for some kids, as it has some moments that may frighten younger children.

That being said, this is a wonderful film and well worth your time to see.

It gets an A and is rated PG.



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