August Movie Preview

August! The rest of the summer releases are vomited upon a burned-out, exhausted nation! Can anyone get excited about a movie ever again? Or, at least before December? The answer will (not) surprise you! It’s too soon for the Oscar bait, too late for box-office gold, but dammit, there are screens to fill! Let’s take a look at what’s heading your way.

  1. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. – Aug 14, IMAX. It’s another reboot of a beloved TV series! This one’s been in the cooker for a long time, but Guy Ritchie gets the gold star for bringing it home. Thankfully it’s a period piece, set in the original series’ 1960s, rather than updating it with a modern setting. Brit Henry Cavill plays the American agent Solo, and American actor Armie Hammer plays the Russian, Kuryakin. All they need is a Russian playing a Brit and the circle would be complete! This actually looks like a lot of fun, and should be this year’s KINGSMAN. Wait, that came out this year too? And there’s still a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE in theatres with a Bond film to come? Hell of a year for spies!
  2. AMERICAN ULTRA – Aug 21. What if Jason Bourne was a stoner? That’s pretty much the setup for this, but it looks like a lot of fun. Jesse Eisenberg plays the unlikely CIA assassin who’s reactivated, but years of weed have altered his conditioning, so he’s deemed a threat and targeted for death. Hell of a supporting cast with Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, John Leguizamo, Tony Hale… the only wrinkle is the director, whose only other credit is the teen party found footage comedy PROJECT X. I’m still hopeful for a PINEAPPLE EXPRESS vibe.
  3. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – Aug 14. The NWA biopic actually looks really good, and it’s more timely than ever. Can’t wait to see the edited for TV version though.
  4. FANTASTIC FOUR – Aug 7. Nerds aren’t giving this one a chance, and the early reviews seem to be reinforcing it, but there’s a chance they’re setting the table for a much better story down the road. They’ve definitely taken out one thing: fun. It’s pretty grimdark, but other elements show a different path than the megablockbusters have been going down, which could be a good thing.
  5. THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL – Aug 14 limited, Aug 28 wide. Indie time! Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard are a couple in 1970s San Francisco, and he ends up having an affair with Wiig’s teenage daughter. It’s getting rave reviews on the festival circuit, but will you go see it in the theatre? That’s the $15 question.
  6. HITMAN: AGENT 47 – Aug 21. Another reboot! You may have seen the first HITMAN back in 2007, but you likely don’t remember a damn thing about it. This time the bald badass with the UPC tattoo is out to find others from his program, and Sylar himself, Zachary Quinto, is out to use the hitmen for his own nefarious deeds. Interesting action in the trailer, but it’s a bit over-reliant on CG, which is pretty much par for the course these days. Still could be interesting.
  7. SHAUN THE SHEEP – Aug 7. The Aardman folks are back with more young kid’s fare with a feature length SHAUN THE SHEEP film. Though I love their stuff, I’ve never been able to get into Shaun, since it skews pretty young. The feature brings the sheep into the big city to recover the injured sheep herder, and there’s lots of burping and farting.
  8. THE GIFT – Aug 7. An interesting thriller with Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton, with Edgerton playing the odd kid from Bateman’s past who returns out of nowhere looking for friendship. Reviews are surprisingly positive, but again, are you going to spend the money to see it in theatres, or wait for Netflix? But it’s nice to have options.
  9. RICKI AND THE FLASH – Aug 7. Meryl Streep plays the titular Ricki, an aging never-was rocker who’s drawn back into the family she left in search of stardom. Seems to be aimed at the older folks, and who doesn’t want to see Meryl do her thing? It’s directed by Jonathan Demme who mined similar territory in RACHEL GETTING MARRIED. Might make a girl’s night for your mom and her bestie.
  10. SINISTER 2 – Aug 21. Didn’t see the first but I heard good things, though it didn’t seem like a franchise. This is likely more of the same, but there haven’t been many horror offerings lately, so it should slake that thirst.
  11. NO ESCAPE – Aug 28. Pierce Brosnan’s had a rough go of it lately, and I don’t think Owen Wilson will help pull him out of straight-to-VOD hell. Wilson’s trying to get his family out of a foreign country as a coup breaks out, but will Brosnan help him escape, or is there something more sinister at play? Director John Erick Dowdle’s previous works are more horror-themed with AS ABOVE, SO BELOW and DEVIL, but it might surprise. Though I doubt it will.
  12. UNDERDOGS – Aug 14. An Argentinian (!) animated offering about a foosball team that comes alive to help a hapless nerd take on a proper football team. No idea why this is getting a theatrical release. The reviews on IMDB seem to be more about Argentinian pride than the film itself.
  13. WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS – Aug 28. What better way to end the summer than this tale of a douchebag DJ trying to be the best damn DJ he can be? But it’s super hard, you guys. It’s so tough for a normal-looking dude like Zac Efron to get a shot at the big time, but darn it, he’s got so much talent to share with the world. It wants to be SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER but it’s more like ENTOURAGE.

And that’s August. A few potential gems, but a whole lot of mediocrity. Which oddly enough mimics September! But that’s for another time.

July Movie Preview

July! We’re in the thick of it now, people! This season has seen two of the biggest box office successes of all time, featuring dead people and dinos, but will the records continue to fall? I’m going to say, yes. Yes they will. Well, not this month, but hey, records were made to be a baseline to compare success with other instances. Let’s go!

  1. ANT-MAN – July 17, IMAX3D, RealD 3D. The shortest window between Marvel Films yet! A lot of people thought this would be their first misstep, especially after the late dismissal of Edgar Wright, but based on early reviews, it’s one of their best efforts. Sorry haters! It’s probably the funniest of the lot and has a lot of heart, plus some really innovative action. This is the official end of “Phase 2”, things are only getting bigger and better.
  2. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE:: ROGUE NATION – July 31, IMAX. The latest adventure for Ethan Hunt and the gang was actually moved up from a Christmas release, which is pretty shocking but makes sense since a certain sci-fi film will likely take up all the screens. THE USUAL SUSPECTS writer Chris McQuarrie is behind the camera for the first time since the very underappreciated JACK REACHER, and there’s no shortage of insane stunts. Definitely IMAX worthy.
  3. TRAINWRECK – July 17. Judd Apatow’s latest is a full-blown vehicle for red-hot Amy Schumer, and it looks like a winner. The film follows Amy through life as a woman who refuses second dates thanks to a messed-up parental situation, but then she falls for Bill Hader’s sports surgeon character. A great supporting cast with SNL vets Colin Quinn and Vanessa Bayer, John Cena (?) and LeBron James (??).
  4. MINIONS – July 10, RealD 3D. Did you like DESPICABLE ME? Did you like the minions? You’ll probably need to see this. Seems that they’ve always been around, looking for a villain to follow, and this tells the tale of their lives pre-Gru. Sandra Bullock plays the bad guy, but no one cares. They want to see the little yellow buggers be super adorable, and it’ll probably shatter box office records. I’m sure it’ll be fun.
  5. SOUTHPAW – July 24. Jake Gyllenhaal has transformed into a monster, playing a successful MMA star whose life falls apart when his wife (Rachel McAdams) dies. Director Antoine Fuqua has worked magic with Denzel in the past, this one looks pretty intense, mixing family drama with a comeback story. Writer Kurt Sutter created SONS OF ANARCHY, so that should give you an idea of HOW intense.
  6. MAGIC MIKE XXL – July 1. I saw the first one because it was a Steven Soderbergh film, and it was a surprisingly interesting tale. This one seems a little more like fan service, with most of the original crew on a road trip, and though he’s not directing Soderbergh actually shot and cut the film, so it’s still got his DNA all over it. Most folks are getting hot and bothered over the dance numbers, you’ll get what you paid for if you’re looking for man flesh. But dammit, Channing Tatum is just so damn awesome. Dude’s got MOVES.
  7. SELF/LESS – July 10. Ryan Reynolds is the new Ben Kingsley! Well, Ben’s consciousness is transplanted into Ryan’s body, but thanks to some memory flashes it seems that he may not have been a willing donor. An interesting look into our obsession with immortality, it’s actually directed by Tarsem Singh, visionary behind THE CELL and THE FALL, though his last two were the tepid IMMORTALS and MIRROR MIRROR, so take that into account. Could go either way.
  8. TERMINATOR: GENISYS – July 1, RealD 3D, IMAX3D. Arnie’s back! Back again! And based on the rave reviews, it’s “almost as good as the first two!” What a killer review! Word is all over the map, from “a disaster” to “not as bad as you expect”. The time travel elements are basically insane, and the big twist is spoiled by both the trailers AND THE POSTER. Features a crapload of callbacks to the other, better films, and let’s be honest, THE TERMINATOR never needed a sequel in the first place. This should never have been a franchise, and this shows what happens when money overrides brains. Still, it’s Arnie, and there’s some big action setpieces from director Alan Taylor (THOR: THE DARK WORLD, GAME OF THRONES), so sure, check it out on the big screen if you’re going to see it at all, just leave your expectations at the door.
  9. PAPER TOWNS – July 24. Another precious youth-driven tale from the writer of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. A young man falls for a troubled girl who disappears but leaves a series of clues, seemingly in an attempt to get him to leave his small town and become his own man. Like last month’s ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, this could either be a teen smash or be too twee to live.
  10. VACATION – July 29. No NATIONAL LAMPOON’S in front of this one. Not a remake, but an actual sequel to the classic, following Rusty’s attempt to replicate his beloved childhood memory for his own family, no matter the cost. Ed Helms and Christina Applegate bring the comedy bona fides, and it should provide some laughs, but it’s got one hell of a shadow to get out from. Trailer looks good though.
  11. THE GALLOWS – July 10. I think they forgot to market this one, but it’s coming out regardless. A high school play ended tragically, and twenty years later the school decides to take another crack at it, displeasing the local spirits. I expect nothing.
  12. PIXELS – July 24. Could this be the final nail in Adam Sandler’s coffin? He’s already in a straight-to-Netflix deal for most of his current output, but this is a big budget action sci-fi comedy, so they have to pretend it’s worth seeing on the big screen. It looks absolutely terrible. Aliens attack Earth by looking like 80s video game characters, so the government finds a group of experts of the era to save the world. Sandler was good at Frogger or some shit, I don’t know. They thought it would be funny to cast Peter Dinklage as a thinly veiled Billy Mitchell, king of Donkey Kong. It’s funny because he’s a midget! Sure, it was shot in Toronto so you can see our beloved city stand in once more for New York, but for the love of god, wait until it’s on Netflix. Let Sandler’s career just die already. Look at his eyes! HE DOESN’T CARE. He has contempt for you for watching him half-assedly perform. Oh god, I just found out this was directed by Chris Columbus, who made HOME ALONE and ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING. What a waste. And Kevin James plays the president? AAAAAAAAAAAGH

So that’s July for you, kids! August looks, well, bad. Really bad. But there’s a few gems, so look out for that one next month.