August! Summer’s leftovers battle for table scraps! Mind you, it’s been a pretty rough summer for the blockbusters this year, so maybe people are hungry for quality films. What’s on the docket? Let’s break it down.
- KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS – August 19, RealD3D. This animated film from the producers of CORALINE and BOXTROLLS looks absolutely stunning. A strong Asian influence brings an original, incredible vision that should be unlike anything else out there. Can’t wait to see this on the big screen.
- DON’T BREATHE – August 26. Fede Alvarez didn’t seem to get a fair shake for helming the EVIL DEAD reboot, though critics seemed to enjoy it. This one has been killing it at festival screenings. Three thieves break into a blind man’s house in search of riches, only to discover that the inhabitant (AVATAR’s Stephen Lang) is not a man to be trifled with. This looks better than any horror film.
- WAR DOGS – August 19. THE HANGOVER’s Todd Phillips directs this true story of two stupid young men who become semi-successful gun runners for the CIA. Looks insane in the trailers, should be a rollicking good time.
- SAUSAGE PARTY – August 19. This feels like a weed-induced dare come to life. Seth Rogen co-created this tale of a sausage who discovers his reason for being is to be eaten, and he’s not happy about it. This is a hard-R comedy that will lead to many news stories from parents who were too stupid to heed the warning that this is for adults only. I’m a big fan of Seth and his team, so I’m already in the bag for this one, should be interesting to see how audiences take it.
- SUICIDE SQUAD – August 5, IMAX. Early reviews are not being kind, but the film isn’t without its good parts, mostly thanks to Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot. It’s pretty obvious they had trouble in the editing room, but it should still be worth seeing on the big screen. One big plus: it’s not in 3D, and there might be a trailer for Christopher Nolan’s latest DUNKIRK in IMAX. EDIT: Looks like it’s in 3D after all. Dammit.
- ANTHROPOID – August 12. The true story of the German underground’s attempt to kill Hitler’s second-in-command, this stars Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan and looks like a great thriller, though it’s not likely to get much of an ad campaign. Might be a bit early for proper drama, but it should be worth your time.
- THE MECHANIC: RESURRECTION – August 26. Jason Statham’s back as his most successful character! Well, not really. But it’s basically another excuse for the bald man to kick many asses, this time with crazy old Tommy Lee Jones along for the ride. You could do worse.
- PETE’S DRAGON – August 12, RealD3D. Disney’s remake is much more grounded than the original, opting for a 3D creation rather than 2D, but he still looks odd. Some real star power with Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard, and it’s much more emotional than the original too. Still not really sure what the point is though.
- BEN-HUR – August 19, RealD3D, IMAX3D. Speaking of what’s the point, who thought remaking a classic was a good idea? And they forgot to cast movie stars in the lead roles. This iteration seems closer to GLADIATOR than the Tale Of The Christ. What I didn’t know is that it’s directed by the Russian madman Timur Bekmambetov (NIGHT WATCH, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER) so it might just be watchable.
- HANDS OF STONE – August 26. Edgar Ramirez IS Roberto Duran! Robert DeNiro IS Ray Arcel! Together, they’re, um, a boxer and his trainer. I’m sure it’s an uplifting story about the triumph of the human spirit, but like most people, the only thing I associate Duran with is his infamous “No mas” fight against Sugar Ray Leonard where he quit in the eighth round.
- FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS – August 12. Another oddly early prestige release, Meryl Streep plays the woman who was billed as “The worst singer in the world” but dammit, people liked her! Was she a delusional rich woman, convinced she was amazing by her doting husband? Or was she a treasure, inspiring millions that anyone can live the dream? It looks like a sequel to THE KING’S SPEECH. I can’t imagine this setting the box office on fire in the middle of August.
- NINE LIVES – August 5. Okay. So, Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed MEN IN BLACK. Check. Kevin Spacey and Christopher Walken, check. The writers of SOUL SURFER? Well, okay. Spacey is transformed into a cat in the first act and is cared for by his own daughter and he voices the cat and other internet cats are here and… this is produced by THE ONION right? It’s all a gag? A movie within a movie? No? Jesus, this looks like it was put on the shelf in 1995 and was released as a contractual obligation. Oddly enough it won’t be screened for the critics.
So, August. A handful of hits and a bunch of misses. September is looking oddly similar. Has the golden age ended? Are we headed to an age of mediocrity? Is it all gone, Pete Tong? Or are better things on the horizon? Stay tuned.