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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist

‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.

Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.

More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.

The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.

Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)

The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.

Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”

“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.

In a theater, the tendency with a movie so dependent on a central mystery might be to become antsy. At home, “Antebellum” is worth seeing, not only because of what it has to say about America’s past and present, but as a reminder of the often yawning gap between an intriguing idea and a fully realized film.

“Antebellum” premieres Sept. 18 via digital platforms.

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Elton John is getting his own Barbie doll

Elton John is getting his own Barbie doll

Elton John is getting his very own Barbie doll. And while the doll won’t look like the Rocket Man, it will be styled in his likeness.

The limited-edition Barbie doll, which was released on Mattel’s website on Thursday, will have a glittery top and flared denim complete with the singer’s initials.

Her multi-colored “Elton” bomber jacket has stars on its sleeves and rainbow stripes on its hem. She will also have rainbow-patterned platform boots, a purple bowler hat and Elton’s signature sparkly pink sunglasses.

“The Elton John Barbie doll is a bold collaboration that personifies two cultural icons and honors the extraordinary artistry and musicianship of a stellar performer,” the doll’s description on the Mattel website reads.

So, what’s the occasion?

The doll, which retails for $50, was released to mark the 45th anniversary of the singer’s record-breaking two-day performance at the Dodgers Stadium in October 1975.

At the time, the 100,000 attendees made it the largest concert ever for a single artist.

“Barbie is an icon in her own right, so having her pay tribute to my work and personal style is a real honor,” Elton John told Rolling Stone. “I hope that she inspires fans everywhere to fearlessly pursue their own dreams and limitless potential.”

The Elton John Barbie doll can be bought on the Mattel website or on Walmart’s online store.

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Scott Baio is not happy with ‘Happy Days’ Democratic fundraiser

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Adele gets us ready for her ‘SNL’ performance

Adele gets us ready for her ‘SNL’ performance

We are so ready Adele. The singer is set to host “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, and she stirred anticipation late Wednesday with a photo she posted on social media. The picture on her verified Instagram account shows Adele wearing a mask and appearing to be going over a script. “3 days to go,” the…Continue Reading

Jamie Lynn Spears drops new ‘Zoey 101’ theme song

Jamie Lynn Spears drops new ‘Zoey 101’ theme song

Jamie Lynn Spears is working on that “Zoey 101” reboot, ya’ll. The former Nickelodeon star told CNN in a recent interview that she gets asked by fans of the show all the time when there will be some sort of reunion. She says that’s why she decided to re-record the theme song from the show…Continue Reading

‘Borat’ sequel somehow still manages to serve up audacious surprises

‘Borat’ sequel somehow still manages to serve up audacious surprises

Like any sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” faces the challenge of what to do for an encore, 14 years and a big box-office haul later. Somehow, though, Sacha Baron Cohen hasn’t lost the power to deliver audacious surprises, with enough explosive, not-suitable-for-anywhere laughs to power through the flatter patches this sort of exercise inevitably yields. Success…Continue Reading

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