Punch Drunk DVD's: 'Don't Breathe', 'The BFG', And 'Pete's Dragon'


Three young robbers decide to break into a blind man’s house and steal the money he just won in a lawsuit after the death of his daughter. When the man discovers them, they’re trapped inside to fight for their lives as they learn the horrifying truth about the blind man’s past.

We Said: “[Writer/Director] Fede Alvarez, who burst onto the scene with his exceptionally gory Evil Dead remake, treads similarly violent waters in Don't Breathe, but he also shows a deft hand at playing the audience's senses like a fiddle, perfect for a movie in which we are taught not to trust any of our senses fully” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: Don’t Breathe has the same director (Fede Alvarez) and lead actress (Jane Levy) as the 2013 Evil Dead remake, and this is for the best. Like Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe is great at maintaining suspense, and is very well shot. Alvarez goes for practical effects over CGI as much as possible, which works great for a movie like this. The performances, led by Levy, are among the best you can hope for in this type of horror movie.

The Bad: Although it starts off strong, the film eventually descends into graphic scenes of sexual violence, which is almost always a lazy and offensive path that too many horror movies take. For Don’t Breathe, it also means a fairly jarring tonal shift away from the exploration of morality that begins the movie.  

Overall: Don’t Breathe has a truly compelling first half, and features a great director/actor pairing with Alvarez and Levy. Although it feels too contrived and upsetting by the end, there are many moments where the talent behind this film is able to shine through. If you can get past the (at times uncomfortable) exploitation in these sort of genre films, you might enjoy Don’t Breathe.

Sophie, a 10 year old orphan in 1980’s England, is inadvertently kidnapped by a giant, who takes her to his home in Giant Country. Although she’s frightened when she first arrives, Sophie and the creature she dubs BFG (Big Friendly Giant) soon develop a close bond. Together, they work to defeat the other, meaner giants who are always bullying the BFG.

We Said: “It's rare nowadays to have a family film exist simply to kindle the imagination but that's what The BFG does, ensuring [Author Roald] Dahl's classic will be remembered on the page and the screen.” Rating: 4 out of 5

The Good: The BFG is a classic Steven Spielberg movie in a lot of ways: It looks beautiful, it has a fantastic John Williams score, and it features fun performances from both a precocious child actor (Ruby Barnhill) and a brilliant lead actor who Spielberg has worked well with in the past (Mark Rylance). The most entertaining aspect of this movie, though, is the surprising and hilarious left turn that’s made in the third act of the story. 

The Bad: Of course, the unparalleled admiration and respect that Spielberg enjoys as a director also means that his films are held to a higher standard than most, and it’s a standard that The BFG doesn’t meet. Pretty images and vast landscapes are shown to us for much longer than necessary, with the movie lingering on visuals rather than focusing on plot or character development. 

Overall: Although The BFG isn’t one of his best, Spielberg’s weakest movies are still great movies. Watch it through to the end to fully appreciate the endearing strangeness of this film. The BFG is a perfectly fine, and family friendly, piece of fantasy.

Pete’s Dragon is the latest in Disney’s recent trend of giving their older films a modern update. In this remake of the 1977 cult classic, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) is stunned when she meets Pete, a child who appears to be living alone deep in the woods. Much to the amazement of Grace and her father (Robert Redford), they soon discover that Pete isn’t alone at all.

We Said: “This modern version, directed with Spielbergian charm and mystery by indie filmmaker David Lowery, can cast a spell on anyone whether they're familiar with the original or not.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5