August 2015 Movie Preview
With August the Summer Movie Season really starts to wind-down. With ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘, ‘Inside Out‘, ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation‘ and other big-budget, spectacle films released, there’s actually not that much in August 2015 to look out for. Am I missing something or is this an unusually quiet month?
Let’s find out!
August 6th 2015
Fantastic Four –
As I say time and time again, I want to give every movie a fair shake. Yes, a movie can look bad but that doesn’t always mean that it will BE bad. But ‘Fantastic Four‘ is a very unique case in that I have no idea what to expect in terms of quality or even in terms of content. Part of that is due to 20th Century Fox’s pitiful marketing campaign which has told movie-goers practically nothing about the movie and not in a “what mystery is being solved here?” type of way. As in, they’ve told us practically NOTHING about the movie in a way that makes it seem like they’re deliberately hiding it. It also doesn’t help that it’s not being screened for critics (practically unheard of for a tent-pole blockbuster) and review embargoes are the day the film is released.
I want to be optimistic as there are some incredibly talented people involved. Director Josh Trank was behind the phenomenally good ‘Chronicle‘, Simon Kinberg is a co-writer (‘X-Men: Days of Future Past‘) and I like all of the leads; Miles Teller (‘Whiplash‘), Michael B. Jordan (‘Fruitvale Station‘), Kate Mara (‘American Horror Story‘), Jamie Bell (‘Billy Elliot‘) and Toby Kebbell (‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes‘). But the trailers have been vague at best and boring at worst and 20th Century Fox have given audiences practically no reason to rush out to theatres.
This is gonna be interesting.
August 7th 2015
The Gift –
Now THIS is an example of a movie that doesn’t look good turning out to be really good. Not to say that the trailers and marketing for ‘The Gift‘, the directorial debut of actor Joel Edgerton, was bad but it didn’t look particularly interesting. Just your run-of-the-mill exploitation thriller.
Then the reviews started coming in and for a few days it had a 100% on RottenTomatoes. That score has lowered slightly to 94% but still, that’s an incredibly high score in a genre that normally doesn’t get much critical recognition. But apparently this is an incredibly good movie and might rank as one of the biggest surprises of 2015. It’s got a solid cast and it looks to be a great debut for Edgerton.
Here is the plot of ‘Max‘. A dog named Max is assisting U.S. marines in Afghainstan and after his owner is killed and Max is injured, Max gets PTSD. However, the owner’s younger brother attempts to help Max recover while also overcoming his own grief.
I have no idea how much of that synopsis to take seriously.
I’m not trying to belittle those who have fought and died in the name of armed conflict, but the premise”Dog with PTSD” really seems to be reaching for sympathy and emotions. This came out a few months ago in America so the reviews have been out for a while and most critics seem to agree, with the main criticism of ‘Max‘ being its over-sentimentality. Still, the movie has its fans and the few audience members who saw it seemed to respond to it so check out the trailer below and if you’re a fan then have at it.
August 12th 2015
What many people are calling the worst blockbuster of 2015 is arriving a few weeks later in the UK. Honestly, I did initially have high hopes for ‘Pixels‘ as it’s based off a thoroughly charming short-film by Patrick Jean and the premise is equally endearing – what would happen if aliens invaded Earth in the style of 1980s video games? Yes, ‘Futurama‘ did the same thing over a decade ago but it can work in a feature-length film.
The problem is that director Chris Columbus hasn’t made a single worthwhile movie for over a decade despite a huge back-catalogue of incredible family-films and ‘Pixels‘ is coming courtesy of Adam Sandler’s production company; Happy Madison. Happy Madison also haven’t made a good film in around a decade. Adam Sandler is at that stage in his career where he’s pretty much just given up and by the looks of things, critics aren’t giving him a break anymore (if they ever DID). This seems like an incredibly safe movie to skip.
August 14th 2015
Absolutely Anything –
The Monty Python comedy team have been making a comeback recently with an upcoming tour and ‘Absolutely Anything‘ is the first film to star all living members since 1983’s ‘Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life‘ (Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese and Eric Idle). We have Simon Pegg as an ordinary man who is given the power to do “Absolutely Anything” with just a wave of his hand. He’s given these powers by extraterrestrials wanting to destroy the earth and if he uses this powers for good, the planet will be spared.
This movie has also been given a lot of attention because this is the very last film role for the comedy icon Robin Williams who sadly passed away last year. He had four movies yet to be released after his death (‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb‘, ‘A Merry Friggin’ Christmas‘, ‘Boulevard‘ and ‘Absolutely Anything‘) and this is the final one. Williams voices Simon Pegg’s dog who is granted the power of speech. This looks set to be a decent, light-hearted comedy with a lot of talent on-board. I doubt it’ll be game-changing, but I’m sure there will be plenty of laughs.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. –
In the 1960s there was a spy-television series called “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. Don’t worry, no one else really remembers it either. But we’re getting a big-budget feature-length remake and it actually looks good. The main reason to be excited for ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘ is that it’s directed by Guy Ritchie, the director of ‘Snatch‘, ‘RocknRolla‘ and ‘Sherlock Holmes‘. Even Ritchie’s weaker movies have such an infectious kinetic enemy that is incredibly admirable and his better works are essential viewing (particularly ‘Snatch‘).
We also have Henry Cavill (‘Man of Steel‘) who seems to fit in this Bond-inspired universe perfectly and Armie Hammer (‘The Social Network‘) as a KGB rival as ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘ teams a CIA operative and a KGB agent during the height of the Cold War. That time-setting should give this 2015 release a breath of fresh air along with era-appropriate spy-equipment. I’m not hyped to see this, but it looks good and I think you’re set to have a very good time with ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘.
To be honest, Amy Schumer didn’t even register on my radar until the release of ‘Trainwreck‘. I’d never even heard of her, I’d never watched any of her material and then all of a sudden she was everywhere and she was being touted as the next big thing in comedy. From my perspective, it was just the media saying “You like THIS person now! We always liked her (not really), so you should as well!”. It never rang true for me. But then I saw the trailers for ‘Trainwreck‘ and I got mildly curious. Only mildly.
The main draw to ‘Trainwreck‘ for me is director Judd Apatow (‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin‘, ‘Knocked Up‘ and ‘This Is 40‘) who has had a consistently strong career in directing and writing comedy. I also like the cast with Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson and even WWE Wrestler John Cena on board in supporting roles. For me, the jury is still out on Amy Schumer, but for ‘Trainwreck‘ she’s got a very talented team in her corner. This could be pretty entertaining.
Paper Towns –
Confession time; I was not a fan of ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘. The movie from last year, I must stress, not the original John Green book (which I have never read). It just come across as overly sentimental, manipulative tripe, not particularly engaging, with really dumb moments. So I wasn’t very hyped for the next John Green adaptation ‘Paper Towns‘.
And the trailers did very little to make me feel much better as ‘Paper Towns‘ just looks like your stereotypical young guy falling in love with a manic-pixie-dream-girl (MPDG). I’m told that it’s more of a deconstruction movie in regards to the MPDG, but that movie has already been made with 2012’s ‘Ruby Sparks‘, which is a movie I highly recommend. I’m not rushing out to see this and the mixed reviews haven’t convinced me otherwise.
August 21st 2015
The Bad Education Movie –
After ‘The Inbetweeners Movie‘ and ‘The Inbetweeners 2‘ became some of the highest grossing comedies in UK box-office history, it was no surprise that the floodgates opened for TV-to-Movie comedy adaptations. A few of them were good such as ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa‘ but most of them were bad like ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys: D’Movie‘, ‘Keith Lemon: The Film‘ and ‘The Harry Hill Movie‘. With a spotty track record like that, forgive me for being rather sceptical of ‘The Bad Education Movie‘ – based off the BBC3 TV series “Bad Education” that ran from 2012 to 2014.
To be honest, I’ve never seen the TV show. So I honestly can’t comment. But reviews haven’t been great with critics accusing the cast and writers of phoning it in for this big-screen adaptation. I can’t say much, to be honest but the trailer didn’t really leave much of an impression. It just looks like Jack Whitehall is playing an R-rated version of Mr. Poppy from ‘Nativity!‘.
Sinister 2 –
Long-time viewers/readers of mine will know that the first ‘Sinister‘ from 2012 wound up on my Top 10 list for that year. It’s pure-bred horror from a terrific creative team, bolstered by a great premise and bone-chilling scares. Which is why it’s disappointing that we’re getting a sequel with practically none of the original creative team returning (save for the screenwriters). Director of the first ‘Sinister‘, Scott Derrickson, is too busy working on the upcoming ‘Doctor Strange‘ so in his place is relative newcomer Ciarán Foy. That doesn’t mean ‘Sinister 2‘ will be bad, but I would have liked to have seen a sequel to one of the best horror films in recent memory be put in the hands of someone with more clout.
It also doesn’t help that the new cast barely registers, as Ethan Hawke and Juliet Rylance from the last movie aren’t returning (due to that mild handicap of being dead) and that the trailers seem almost entirely reliant on jump-scares and the franchise baddie, Bughuul, is playing a more prominent role despite being the weakest thing about the first movie. I WANT this to be good because of my romantic love of the first movie. But I’m not very optimistic right now.
Strange Magic –
When it comes to 3D animated family movies, unless you’re made by Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Illumination or Blue Sky, chances are you’re not going to do very well. The same fate met ‘Strange Magic‘ after being released in the US in January to a critical mauling and one of the lowest grossing opening weekends of all time for a wide-release movie. In development for over 15 years and the brainchild of George Lucas and distributed by Disney (with no creative involvement from the House of Mouse), ‘Strange Magic‘ is a…very strange looking movie.
By the time ‘Strange Magic‘ gets released in the UK, ‘Inside Out‘ and maybe even ‘Minions‘ should still be playing. And ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie‘ is out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Check out those instead (especially ‘Inside Out‘ and ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie‘). This looks like a safe skip, even for its target audience.
The ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation‘ franchise which started in the early 80s has always been a constant since it was created. In the past 32 years there have been five installments (six if you include straight-to-video releases) and now Warner Bros. have brought us a reboot/sequel starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate and Chris Hemsworth. The main reason that eyes are on this reboot/sequel, however, isn’t because of the franchise’s linage (which, if we’re being completely honest here, only have two above-average instalments) but because the two screenwriters, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, will be writing the untitled 2017 Spider-Man reboot for Marvel.
Which is why the lukewarm reception to this particular movie has been so newsworthy. The trailers haven’t been particularly engaging and while I did enjoy Goldstein and Daley’s ‘Horrible Bosses‘ I’m not fawning all over the pairing. In terms of ‘Vacation‘, it’s probably best to either re-watch the first movie or the iconic Christmas Special.
The 2007 ‘Hitman‘ movie starring Timothy Olyphant wasn’t…good? Okay, let’s not mince words here; it was pretty bad. This 2015 reboot based on the popular video game franchise instead has Rupert Friend in the title role. When it comes to video games that deserve the big-screen treatment, “Hitman” isn’t high up on my list but I can think of much worse pieces of source material.
And to be honest, this doesn’t look too bad. Yes, it looks generic but as long as it delivers the brainless, schlocky fun that the trailers are promising then this could have a certain appeal. Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware also look like an interesting pairing and I think that as long as the movie can emphasise the stealth elements of the video games and not go too over the top in terms of action then we could have a moderately faithful adaptation.
We Are Your Friends –
This digression is going somewhere, I promise, but remember ‘Catfish‘? The documentary (or maybe not) centred around a man named Nev who travelled across the country with a camera-operator to see if his long-distance girlfriend was legitimate? Well, that camera-operator, Max Joseph, is the director of this movie.
‘We Are Your Friends‘ follows a young DJ, played by Zac Efron, trying to find his way in life and break into the music industry. A relatable set-up and by the looks of the trailer it has a contemporary, minimalistic look. This looks pretty good, though admittedly it’s not really my type of film. It looks like a more highbrow ‘Project X‘ which may seem like a negative comparison but this does actually look alright. Should be a fun piece of counter-programming.
August 28th 2015
Straight Outta Compton –
‘Straight Outta Compton‘ is based on the rise and fall of the N.W.A. A Compton hip-hop group in the 1980s which is often credited of popularising the musical trends which are industry standard today. Now, many of the people that this biopic is based around, while very influential, did get up to some morally reprehensible behaviour. However, Cube Vision is one of the production companies behind ‘Straight Outta Compton‘, a company by Ice Cube who is portrayed in this movie by his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. As a result, ‘Straight Outta Compton‘ has been criticised as being a movie that has been immensely sugar-coated.
That having been said, ‘Straight Outta Compton‘ has been very well received by critics with a 90% rating on RottenTomatoes despite its sugar-coating and a strong presence at 2015 film festivals. Regardless of how the movie turns out, it’s safe to say that ‘Straight Outta Compton‘ is a very unorthodox ending to what has been a very ecleptic Summer Movie Season.
So, Summer 2015 seems to be ending on a bit of a whimper. The heavy-hitters came out in May, June and July not leaving much for August. However, there’s still a couple of movies that may be worth checking out. My most anticipated are (in no particular order);
- The Gift
- Absolutely Anything
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
But it doesn’t matter what I think. What do YOU guys and girls think? What are you most looking forward to at the end of Summer 2015? Sound off below! And if I missed anything, be sure to let me know in the comments!
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Posted: 5th Aug 15