Let me be blunt: August blows. It’s a dump month, too late for summer blockbusters, too early for prestige films. This year, it’s one of the worst on record. Sure, I tend to lean toward genre films, but they often provide the most complete big-screen experience, but there ain’t a lot goin’ on here. Sure, a few possible hits but nothing guaranteed. Let’s start digging for gold.
- OPERATION FINALE – Aug 29. The most prestige-like film of the month is another look at the takedown of Adolf Eichmann after the end of WWII. Director Chris Weitz has been looking for a hit since ABOUT A BOY, and this has potential thanks to Sir Ben Kingsley as Eichmann and Oscar Isaac as the hunter. These films tend to have a sameness about them, let’s hope the actors bring something special.
- MEG – Aug 10. Jason Statham vs a giant prehistoric shark. Hey, you know what you’re getting here. An international cast guarantees big international box office, and director Jon Turteltaub brought the fun with the NATIONAL TREASURE films, so it should be a delightful romp.
- THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME – Aug 3. Mila Kunis is the topliner, but Kate McKinnon will definitely steal this one from her. Nice to see a female writer-director (Susanna Fogel) but the reviews have not been kind. Ah well.
- EIGHTH GRADE – Aug 3. Youtube comic Bo Burnham makes his directorial debut with… a touching, real look at the life of an eighth grade girl? Wha? And it’s got a 98% on RT? Is this the upside down? Anyway, it looks really good. Who knew?
- SEARCHING – Aug 24. John Cho (STAR TREK, HAROLD AND KUMAR) is a dad looking for his missing daughter by going through her laptop. The whole film is told via said laptop, which would be interesting if it hadn’t just been done by UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, though the reviews are surprisingly positive. Let’s see if millennials want to see this genre continue.
- MILE 22 – Aug 17. Director Peter Berg used to be one of my favorites but he’s recently gotten into the Mark Whalberg business, this being their fourth consecutive collaboration (with number five in the pipeline). This one follows an IMF style task force gettin’ the tough jobs done in secret. This time they’re escorting a, let’s say South Asian person of interest out of the country in exchange for info about an imminent terrorist attack only to be attacked by said terrorists. But hey, Iko Uwais from THE RAID is said person of interest so at least SOME ass will get kicked. It’s just that there’s no buzz at all for this and I’m tired of Mark.
- THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS – Aug 24. Brian Henson, son of Jim, directs this black comedy about a world where puppets are real and live alongside people. Melissa McCarthy is the human, an ex-cop turned Puppet P.I. who gets pulled into the murder of a cast of a popular TV show. It’s all an excuse for sexy/ gory puppet mayhem. Sadly, the trailer doesn’t fill me with hope. Ah well.
- CRAZY RICH ASIANS – Aug 15. Here’s a lowball idea: take a successful book about a woman dating a dude who turns out to be crazy rich and turn it into an expensive looking romantic comedy. Director Jon M. Chu knows slick, thanks to his many music videos and work on the STEP UP franchise, so it definitely looks crazy rich. Throw in Michelle Yeoh as the ice queen matriarch who doesn’t think the girlfriend is worthy and you’ve got a stew goin’, baby. Folks love escapist fare about rich folks so this should do well.
- KIN – Aug 31. Ah, low budget sci-fi with high-minded ideals. This is based on a short film from the same director team, the Baker Brothers. A young kid finds an alien rifle and uses it to save his adopted brother from druglords, attracting the attention of the owners of said rifle. Under the high-concept surface is a story about a family just tryin’ to make it. Some high end casting though, Dennis Quaid is the dad, James Franco is the druglord, Zoe Kravitz is the girlfriend and my girl Carrie Coon is in there somewhere. It’s still a tough sell in this market, but maybe it’ll find an audience on Netflix.
- ALPHA – Aug 17, IMAX. The first trailer made it sound like a ballsy movie, a dialogue free prehistoric adventure about a boy left for dead by his family who bonds with a young wolf, creating the first bond between man and dog. Then the second trailer made it look like a cheap Christian adventure film. Director Albert Hughes kicked much ass with MENACE II SOCIETY and BOOK OF ELI, so I hope this is just a case of mis-marketing.
- THE DARKEST MINDS – Aug 3. The last throes of the YA-post-apocalypse are nearly complete, I don’t think there’s much in the pipeline beyond this X-MEN knockoff. 90% of the world’s kids die from a flu, and the 10% left now have superpowers. Adults quickly lock them into facilities while putting down the most powerful. Ruby is one of the most powerful and she’s on the run, just tryin’ to live her life, you know? Reviews are okay-to-bad, so probably not worth your time.
- DISNEY’S CHRISTOPHER ROBIN – Aug 3. I was excited about this one early on, but reviews again have been rough. It’s basically a real bummer, even with the fun of seeing Winnie the Pooh and the gang in real life. Being an adult sucks.
- DOG DAYS – Aug 8. I first heard about this film from an ad on a bus, and assumed it was another goddamn talking dog movie, but it’s a romantic comedy about a dozen people whose lives intersect because of a bunch of dogs. A bunch fall in love and whatnot. If you’re hard up for a date night, you could do worse.
- SLENDER MAN – Aug 10. The internet meme gets the big screen treatment. It’s all a bit insensitive given that a young girl was nearly killed by two girls using the Slender Man as the excuse, but here he’s just another boogeyman. I guess if you’re looking for jump scares this will appease your needs.
- A.X.L. – Aug 24. Remember MONSTER TRUCKS? The big-budget bomb about monsters than live in trucks? This is its slow cousin. An extreme young gentleman who enjoys extreme pursuits on his extreme dirt bike finds a giant robot dog in a junkyard and befriends it. Of course its owners want it back and the new best friends use dirt bike powers and robot shit to oh god it looks so bad. It feels like it was written for a ten year old lead but they cast a twenty year old instead and now it’s just… broken.
Pretty rough list this month. September is better, but not by much. See you then.