August 2016 Movie Preview
And a rather disappointing Summer movie season starts to come to an end.
We’ve have underwhelming remakes, sequels no one asked for and the bright sparks failed to light up the box-office. But Summer ain’t over until it’s over and we’ve still got August to get through and we’ve got quite a few potential heavy-hitters here. So let’s not waste anymore time and dive right in!
August 5th 2016
Suicide Squad –
While Marvel Studios have been blazing a trail of commercial and critical success with their cinematic universe, Marvel Comics’ biggest rival DC Comics have been struggling to get their own movie franchise off the ground. ‘Man of Steel‘ and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ were both very divisive movies and under-performed at the box-office and now we have ‘Suicide Squad‘ coming from ‘End of Watch‘ and ‘Fury‘ director David Ayer.
The movie follows a group of DC villains such as Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc, Katana, Captain Boomerang and more who are blackmailed into becoming a special ops team that leaves the government with zero accountability. It’s a great premise and we also have the Joker and Batman in supporting roles. However, the release of the film has been met with disdain from critics with David Ayer even saying that he made this movie for people “who actually love movies and go and see movies” despite 99% of the people defending the movie before its released hadn’t actually seen the movie. With ‘Suicide Squad‘ we’re about to find out if Warner Bros. are able to make a movie work without the direct influence of Zack Snyder or if their problems at setting up this cinematic universe stem much deeper.
August 10th 2016
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates –
Ahh, the ever-reliable R-rated comedy. Coming from the team that gave us 2014’s ‘Bad Neighbours‘ and its 2016 sequel we have a concept that follows Zac Efron and Adam DeVine who are forced to get dates for an upcoming wedding. They put an advert out and it’s picked up by Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza who want an excuse to party and, of course, hi-jinks ensue.
There’s not much to say here to be honest. The trailers look pretty fun, the on-screen talent is there and the set-up just looks like an excuse for comedic set-pieces. This is a case of “what you see is what you get” and whether or not you’re excited or not for this film will depend on your tolerance for this material.
August 11th 2016
From the directors of the 2010 documentary ‘Catfish‘, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman we have ‘Nerve‘ from screenwriter Jessica Sharzer who has worked on “American Horror Story”. Much in-keeping with Joost and Schulman’s technology-based origins ‘Nerve‘ follows Emma Roberts who starts playing an online truth-or-dare-esque game where there are players or watchers. She gets involved with Dave Franco but as the dares get more out of control, the two have to figure out a way to beat the game.
This looks like a solid enough reason to get young agreeable stars into high-octane scenarios and the online viewer/player angle feels relevant and of-the-moment where people can do stupid, high-stakes activities online for people to watch. It looks stylish, the marketing has been solid if the reviews have been a bit ho-hum. I’m not hyped for ‘Nerve‘ but I’m definitely curious about what Joost and Schulman have up their sleeve.
August 12th 2016
Pete’s Dragon –
For me, ‘Pete’s Dragon‘ has been this year’s ‘Paddington‘; a family movie that had a pretty poor marketing campaign but then it turned out the movie was apparently pretty awesome. Obviously I have yet to see ‘Pete’s Dragon‘ but the reviews have been incredibly positive even if its box-office results have been pretty poor so far.
But then again, it’s hard to know what Disney were thinking when they decided to remake the 1977 animation/live-action hybrid movie. It’s hardly a beloved classic despite some obvious dated-elements that would make it ripe for updating and we have Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford and Karl Urban on board. Despite some really bad trailers, I’m looking forward to ‘Pete’s Dragon‘ thanks to the really positive buzz.
Now, if they’d gender-swapped Pete and made him bust ghosts I’m sure the internet would have had no issue with this film 😉
The Shallows –
And now for something completely different. Thanks to the incredible success of ‘Jaws‘ in 1975 there was a period where every month there’s be a knock-off or another shark movie in theatres. That era has passed and now most shark films go straight-to-video with a few rare exceptions. ‘The Shallows‘ is one of those exceptions, in fact the movie was able to get financed because the screenplay by Anthony Jaswinski was good enough to get on Hollywood’s famous blacklist.
We have ‘Orphan‘, ‘Non-Stop‘ and ‘Run All Night‘ director Jaume Collet-Serra directing Blake Lively who is stuck on a rock in the shallows being circled by a giant shark. It’s a great low-budget premise and it feels like forever since we’ve had a truly good shark movie. Reviews have been strong and there clearly must be something more to this movie than “just another shark movie” otherwise the script wouldn’t have been on the blacklist in the first place.
Something else that we hardly seem to see anymore is the anthology film where a group of short films, sometimes with a single theme or concept holding them together, are played back-to-back until it counts as a feature-film. ‘Wiener-Dog‘ is such a film which has four-stories with the titular Wiener-Dog serving as the constant throughout.
Coming from Amazon Studios, ‘Wiener-Dog‘ stars Ellen Burstyn, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito and Keaton Nigel Cooke and…honestly this doesn’t really leap out at me. Yeah, it looks okay but it’s hard to look past the cutesy-poo “Look, our festival movie is called ‘Wiener-Dog‘, aren’t we so quirky?” vibe the movie gives off. Either way, this looks like an entertaining distraction and not much else.
August 19th 2016
Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods –
“Asterix”, for those of you who don’t know, is a long-running French-Belgian comic series that started in 1959 and is still going on today. The series has sold over 325 million copies over the course of 36 volumes and the cast of Gauls (Celts who resisted the Roman Empire) have starred in four live-action movies and 9 animated movies, including the brand new ‘Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods‘.
Apart from that incredibly brief history lesson…I really don’t have much to say here. I remember watching an “Asterix” animated film when I was very young (I can’t possibly recall which one) but I know nothing about this series on a personal level. This new movies is Asterix’s first venture into 3-D animation and stars Jack Whitehall as Asterix, Nick Frost as his friend Obelix as well as Greg Davies, Jim Broadbent, Dick & Dom, Catherine Tate and Harry Enfield. There’s no shortage of star-power, but the trailers don’t really do much to sell the film. Though, to be fair, most small-scale animated fare to get released in the U.K. get really poor trailers. So who knows?
In 2001 Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais created the U.K. T.V. series “The Office” which was a mockumentary series set in your average every-day office. It ran for 2 series’ and is often thought of as the first great British sit-com of the 21st century. I think it’s pretty darn good, but I hold it in the same regard as “Gavin & Stacey” or “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” where I love watching the characters and scenarios play out but the laughs are very few and far between. I love Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook and Lucy Davis in the series and its mockumentary approach was novel at the time and very well done.
So it only makes sense for the first big-screen venture to follow the least interesting character and take Ricky Gervais, an actor who can only work in supporting roles and put him front and centre. Yeah, as much as I like “The Office” I’m not excited for ‘David Brent: On The Road‘. The character’s schtick was tired 15 years ago and it just seems desperate now.
Lights Out –
Now this is a nice success story. In 2013 director David F. Sandberg and his partner Lotta Losten created a short horror film called “Lights Out”. The 3-minute short became a great indie-success as it depicted a creature stalking a woman in her home whenever the lights were turned off. ‘Saw‘, ‘The Conjuring‘ and ‘Insidious‘ director James Wan saw the short and helped Sandberg turn it into a feature film which has become a critical and commercial success in the States.
So can ‘Lights Out‘ stretch out to a 90-minute movie? Well, I’m looking forward to finding out because James Wan is easily the best mainstream horror director of the century so far and when he puts his stamp on something to this extent then it’s definitely worth giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s a simple premise, but it’s one that can easily be taken far. ‘Lights Out‘ is THE horror movie to watch this month.
Nine Lives –
Much like ‘The Shallows‘ with giant shark movies you’d be forgiven for thinking that “Human gets turned into an animal” movies were forever destined for the DVD-bargain-bin in this day and age. Instead we have the director of ‘The Addams Family‘ and ‘Men in Black‘ teaming up with two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey who gets turned into a cat by Academy Award winner Christopher Walken. Spacey has to prove that he’s a good dad to his daughter and also his wife played by Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner.
Why? Who thought throwing awards-calibre talent and $30M dollars at a talking cat movie would be a good idea?
Swallows and Amazons –
I always try to keep one ear to the ground when it comes to the British Film Industry but ‘Swallows and Amazons‘ never even registered a blip on my hypothetical radar until a few weeks ago. Based off the acclaimed 1930 book of the same name written by Arthur Ransome ‘Swallows and Amazons‘ follows a group of children who are on holiday in the Lake District and find a small boat named “Swallow” allowing them to travel to a nearby island and camp. But they soon discover another group of children who call themselves the “Amazons” and the two groups then battle it out for supremacy over the island. Throw in some pre-World War 2 tensions and you’ve got yourself a best-seller.
Not much to say about ‘Swallows and Amazons‘ to be honest. It looks like a solid family-friendly movie, we’ve got Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott and Kelly Macdonald to bolster the adult supporting cast and while I’ve not read the book I am told that it’s a really great read for its target demographic. Check out the trailer below and see what you make of it.
August 26th 2016
Bad Moms –
Another Summer R-Rated comedy we have the writers of ‘The Hangover‘ Jon Lucas and Scott Moore directing ‘Bad Moms‘ which stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Jada Pinkett Smith and Christina Applegate. We have a group of Moms who get sick of the day-to-day grind of being perfect parental figures and decide to rebel and party hard.
It’s a solid, female-driven premise but much like ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates‘ it seems like a movie that does exactly what it says on the tin and thus your excitement about it can only stem from the marketing material; like so.
Mechanic: Resurrection –
There’s a falsehood in the movie-going community that Hollywood has ran out of ideas. That no original films are being made anymore. Of course, anyone who actually breaks down the numbers will know that while more sequels/remakes/reboots/prequels are being made now than in any other time in movie history that’s because more movies IN GENERAL are being made now than at any time in movie history. That includes original films. Heck, I’ve already talked about 6 original films with 1 left to go in this preview alone.
However, movies like ‘Mechanic: Resurrection‘ do not help fight that mentality. The 2011 Jason Statham vehicle was already a remake of 1972 Charles Bronson movie and this sequel is something that absolutely nobody was asking for. Statham is pretty much the only person to return as we have a new director, new writing team and new supporting cast. Honestly, this looks pretty pants. The “save the girlfriend” plot feels tired in this day and age, there doesn’t seem to be an original or noteworthy stunt anywhere to be found and…the original film wasn’t even that good. Who was demanding this?
Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping –
‘Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping‘ was released in the U.S. at the beginning of June and now it’s coming out in the U.K. at the end of August. This massively depressed me because not only was I annoyed that I’d have to wait for a movie that I was looking forward to from a creative team whose work I consider myself a fan of, but when the highly positive reviews came out it just made the needless, nearly 3-month wait even harder.
But, here we are and the second movie from parody-pop group “The Lonely Island” (the first being ‘Hot Rod‘ in 2007 which nobody remembers) stars Andy Samberg as a Justin Bieber-type who has invited a documentary crew to chronicle his life-story. A takedown of the pop industry is long overdue, Andy Samberg is brilliant in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Lonely Island” have been consistently funny for a long time. The trailers are great, the cast look like they’re having an awesome time and I don’t want to wait any longer to see this thing.
The Purge: Election Year –
Another frustrating staggered release-date, we have ‘The Purge: Election Year‘. ‘The Purge‘ in 2013 burst onto the scenes with a great premise; in an alternative America they hold a yearly event called “The Purge” where all crime is legal for 12 hours. The movie itself was pretty mediocre as it had little ambition other than being a ho-hum “home under siege story” but the premise was strong enough to hook people in and we got an infinitely better sequel in 2014 with ‘The Purge: Anarchy‘ which put the audience on a tour of what it’s like to survive a Purge on the streets.
‘The Purge: Anarchy‘ also introduced us to Frank Grillo who goes out during the Purge as a Punisher-esque vigilante. ‘The Purge: Election Years‘ sees the return of Grillo who is the head of security at the White House where Elizabeth Mitchell’s senator is hoping to be elected president to ban The Purge. Obviously, the Purgers aren’t a fan and assault the White House to take her out. It’s an awesome premise, Grillo is awesome in this role and the cultural commentary (A politician trying to do actual good is being threatened and cut down by those who would benefit the most from a corrupt system) practically writes itself. While ‘Lights Out‘ may be the horror movie you see this month to get scared, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ is the horror movie you see to get thrills.
“Keep America Great”…
War Dogs –
One thing that’s interesting about ‘War Dogs‘ is that it comes out the same day in the U.K. as ‘Bad Moms‘. The reason that’s interesting is that while ‘Bad Moms‘ came from the same writers as ‘The Hangover‘ ‘War Dogs‘ comes from the same director; Todd Phillips. Not only are both of these movies in direct competition with each other, courting the same R-Rated demographic but they do so in vastly different ways and it’ll be interesting to see which one wins the box-office and critical battle.
Or maybe I’m the only person who cares about that. I dunno.
Either way, we have Miles Teller and Jonah Hill portraying two real-life 20-somethings who landed a multi-million dollar deal with the Pentagon as gun-runners. What follows is their difficulties trying to deliver a vast amount of ammunition to Afghan troops. The trailers look funny, Hill looks like he’s going to kill it in this role and I think Todd Phillips is a really interesting guy to tackle this material.
And that’s August! Oddly enough, there aren’t that many big releases. In fact despite it being the Summer Movie Season only one movie had a budget over $100M and that’s ‘Suicide Squad‘. Instead we’ve got lots of counter-programming, biopics, adult comedies, horror, thrillers, mockumentaries and more. While I’m not ridiculously hyped for anything in August 2016 we have one of the most varied months I’ve ever previewed.
But my most anticipated films for this month are (in no particular order);
- ‘The Shallows‘
- ‘Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping‘
- ‘The Purge: Election Year‘
Anyway folks, what are you all looking forward to this August? Are there any other releases that I missed that you can’t wait to see? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below!
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Posted: 30th Aug 16