July 2016 Movie Preview
After a pretty lukewarm June 2016, let’s see if July can pick up the slack. This month’s U.K. movie preview is actually one of the shortest ones I’ve ever done because while there are naturally lots of big summer releases, the counter-programming decided to take a week off.
Will this tactic work to propel the bigger releases to greater heights? Or do the two strategies work best together? We’ll find that out soon, but for now let’s take a look at July 2o16. Let’s dive right in!
July 1st 2016
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie –
Despite generally loving the work of Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, the 1990s British TV sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous” is something that has completely escaped me and I’ve never watched an episode. The programme followed two way-over-their-head women who work behind-the-scenes in the fashion industry who are desperately trying to be relevant and fashionable. The series has been a constant for over 20 years with the series running from 1992 to 1996, coming back in 2001 to 2005 and celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011 and 2012 with a series of specials and a London Olympic special.
Now, with British TV-to-Movie adaptations being big business after ‘The Inbetweeners Movie‘, ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa‘, ‘Keith Lemon: The Film‘, ‘The Harry Hill Movie‘, ‘Pudsey the Dog: The Movie‘, ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys: D’Movie‘, ‘The Bad Education Movie‘, ‘Dad’s Army‘, the upcoming ‘David Brent: Life on the Road‘…yeah, this mine feels pretty tapped-out. Honestly, I know fans of the TV series who say this looks really good and are excited for it, but I’m not in that line-up so, do what you will. Here’s the trailer if you have no idea what I’m on about.
Central Intelligence –
Starring the duo Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, ‘Central Intelligence‘ is another movie in the “buddy-cop” genre that was popularised in the 70s and 80s but seems to very rarely make an appearance nowadays. A buddy-cop movie can only be as good as its duo and ‘Central Intelligence‘ is starting from a strong place in that regard.
Dwayne Johnson is a force of nature in terms of personality and charisma and while the name Kevin Hart would have me doubting the material, it seems that he’s playing the “straight-man” in this relationship which may allow him to shine. The plot seems standard-spy-fare but the trailers have made me laugh and it seems that Johnson can’t do much wrong right now. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber also directed ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story‘ which was brilliant so I’m expecting good things here.
July 4th 2016
Now You See Me 2 –
2013’s ‘Now You See Me‘ was a pretty rare breed, in that is was a high-concept original summer-movie that managed to attract a huge, prestigious ensemble cast. The movie was the sleeper-hit of the summer and managed to spawn a sequel with almost everyone returning, though director Louis Leterrier has been replaced by Jon M. Chu and Isla Fisher has been replaced by Lizzy Caplan playing a new character. The plot involves the “Four Horsemen” magicians getting kidnapped by Daniel Radcliffe and having to commit a heist for their freedom.
The first movie was decent summer fun that’s partially ruined by a last-minute twist that makes the entire movie not make a lick of sense. However, this movie looks like more of the same with newcomers Radcliffe and Caplan seeming to add a fun new dynamic with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman returning. If you were a fan of the first and could get on board with its hyper-reality approach to magic, this sequel seems like a safe bet.
July 6th 2016
The Legend of Tarzan –
Tarzan is a public-domain property that has had numerous interpretations and re-imaginings over the past century. So when Warner Bros. announced that ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows‘ director David Yates would be taking a crack at the material with Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz in front of the camera I got pretty excited. Then I saw the trailers and that anticipation…started to fizzle away.
While I don’t think the marketing for ‘The Legend of Tarzan‘ has been terrible, the trailers have not filled me with confidence as the movie can’t seem to communicate whether or not this is an origin story, a sequel, what the actual plot of the film is etc. And when we saw what Yates’ approach and aesthetic for the film actually was, it came across as pretty uninspired. Maybe it’s just a hard movie to sell as Yates is a great director, but I have a feeling that by the end of 2016 we’ll be thinking more about Yates’ ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them‘ instead of this.
July 8th 2016
The Neon Demon –
Indie-darling Nicholas Winding Refn is back with ‘The Neon Demon‘ which divided the audience at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival as the movie not only received a 17-minute standing ovation but was also booed and jeered with frequent walk-outs.
Seriously, Cannes. Get your act together.
Either way, Refn has made a name for himself as an off-kilter, alternative director after ‘Drive‘ and ‘Only God Forgives‘ made waves at Cannes and with its target demographic and it looks like ‘The Neon Demon‘ will do the same. It follows Elle Fanning as a 16 year-old model who is hoping to start her career in Los Angeles. What follows will be depraved, divisive and gruesome but I have a feeling you won’t forget it anytime soon. This may be a movie that will preach to the already converter.
The 1984 original is a legitimate classic that holds-up both in terms of its story-telling, effects and lasting cultural legacy. Remaking or rebooting it was always going to be a tall-order but the backlash for this movie (sight unseen) has been rather unprecedented. To be clear, the backlash is not entirely without merit as Sony’s made-to-order marketing approach and general corporate style of film-making has done this film zero favours. The trailers have been poor, yes. But in terms of remake trailers and trailers for comedies and upcoming 2016 releases, I have seen FAAAAAAR worse (‘Ben-Hur‘, ‘Pete’s Dragon‘ and ‘Sing‘ anyone?). But those films don’t have “two-million downvotes” campaigns like this one has.
‘Ghostbusters‘ may be a beloved classic but so was ‘Robocop‘, ‘Total Recall‘, ‘IT‘, ‘The Thing‘, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street‘, ‘The Evil Dead‘ etc. Do ALL of those films not add up to a single ‘Ghostbusters‘? Don’t get me wrong, I love the original but that just doesn’t seem rationale. There’s clearly something else at play here and yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking.
No, I am not saying that if you’re not excited for this reboot then you’re a sexist. But when Sony removes legitimate negative comments from their YouTube channel (which was a stupid, shady thing to do) but keeps the thousands upon thousands of sexist comments that were originally there, if your problem is ONLY the removals and not the legitimate sexism there then it’s hard to have an intellectually honest conversation. Internet, you can in fact be mad at two things at the same time. I don’t know if the sexism makes up the majority of the backlash but I know it’s a larger portion of the potential audience then people are willing to admit.
Either way, the talent is very promising, I’ve actually laughed hard at some of the trailer jokes (“Can’t. It’s in the fish tank”) and I’m rooting for it to prove the naysayers wrong. Hopefully, ‘Ghostbusters‘ is this year’s ‘Paddington‘ because that would be another great, humbling experience.
July 15th 2016
Ice Age: Collision Course –
Blimey, I think the “Ice Age” franchise is second only to the “Leprechaun” series in the amount of instalments it took the jump the shark and go to space. “Ice Age” took 5 movies, “Leprechaun” only took 4.
So, here’s the set-up, in this franchise which seems to have no grasp of actual history, Scrat the Squirrel gets launched into space when trying to reclaim his acorn and in doing so sends several asteroids on a collision course with earth. It’s up to the rest of the characters Manny, Sid, Diego and Ellie, to find a way to survive immanent destruction.
The first movie from 2002 is a fun, legitimately heartfelt animated movie that still holds-up today (though its low-budget origins are apparent). Its sequels have ranged from bad to mediocre and I hold out little hope for this 5th instalment. It’s clear the creative fire ran out long ago for this series and Blue Sky Studios are only making these films because of their huge financial returns. Reviews are poor for this movie, but I’m sure the box-office will be plentiful.
Key and Peele’s presence is seemingly non-existence in the U.K., which is probably while this April release in the States is only just coming out here. As a result, I have no idea who these two are and apart from this being the “Gangsta’ Kitten” movie, I have very little to add here.
The cat looks cute. That’s enough to get me in the theatre.
July 22nd 2016
The BFG –
‘The BFG‘ feels like one of those rare movies that are specifically tailored to me. As much as I’d love to see Steven Spielberg tackle more original, big-budget work, when it was announced that he’d be directing a big-budget adaptation of one of my favourite books by Roald Dahl with Mark Rylance as the titular Big Friendly Giant then this movie instantly became one of my most anticipated of the year.
Newcomer Ruby Barnhill plays Sophie, a young orphan who gets kidnapped by a huge dream-stealing giant and gets taken to “Giant Country” where she discovered that the giant is actually a kind soul who is bullied by much bigger giants who want to eat humans. It’s a great foundation for a story, feels right in Spielberg’s wheel-house and I have a feeling we’re going to see one of the more faithful adaptations of Dahl’s work here. We also have the final screenplay for writer Melissa Mathison who wrote ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial‘ in the 80s and, unfortunately, passed away last year.
As mush as I’d love to go against convention, ‘The BFG‘ is a movie I’m hyped for. So hold your breath, cross your fingers, here we go!
Star Trek Beyond –
Full disclosure, I have only watched one episode of the original “Star Trek” TV series (“Shore Leave”….it was weird) and I’ve watched a couple of the movies. So maybe my opinion doesn’t hold much water on this topic, but 2009’s ‘Star Trek‘ was an incredibly average sci-fi film and ‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘ was just a flat-out bad film. However, director J.J. Abrams left the series to go and make ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ leaving this series in the hands of Justin Lin who, oddly enough, actually has a better track record than Abrams as he’s the director who elevated the “Fast and Furious” series in 2009.
And, despite an incredibly bad first trailer (going back to ‘Ghostbusters‘, where was that trailer’s down-vote campaign?), Paramount Pictures quickly changed course and the marketing for ‘Star Trek Beyond‘ has gotten better and I’m actually quite looking forward to this instalment. It looks more fun, more inventive and visually interesting than its predecessors, Chris Pine actually looks like he has screen-presence and we’re finally going where no man has gone before as opposed to stealing material from ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‘. Yeah, I’m optimistic here.
July 29th 2016
Finding Dory –
2003’s ‘Finding Nemo‘ isn’t just a movie that holds up for Nostalgic reasons. It’s a legitimate modern animated masterpiece. Seriously, it’s an amazing movie and one of the reasons for that is because the regal blue tang Dory was a near-perfect comic-relief supporting character. She was funny, but not over-bearing on the narrative, she revealed to have real dramatic heft as the movie went along and Ellen DeGeneres gave a brilliant vocal-performance. However, after Pixar made ‘Cars 2‘ and put the comic-relief supporting character in the forefront, it’s only natural to react to ‘Finding Dory‘ with scepticism.
But it would seen that Pixar can do no wrong, once again. The trailers for ‘Finding Dory‘ have been strong, the reviews have been universally positive and audiences in America can’t get enough of it. I’m also hearing that children with disabilities or the parents of those children will get a lot out of the material so I’ll be interested in seeing what exactly sparked that reaction. Either way, yeah ‘Finding Dory‘ seems like a surefire hit this month.
Jason Bourne –
I have never been a fan of the “Bourne” franchise. I don’t think any of the films are outright bad, but they’re so bland, uninspired and so lacking in character that I literally can’t remember anything thematic about them despite having seen all four of them. ‘The Bourne Identity‘ is the best one of the lot, but that was directed by Doug Liman who was quickly booted for Paul Greengrass and then the camerawork in the franchise went to complete shit. But Universal Pictures seem to think that Greengrass has the magic touch and brought him and Matt Damon back on board for this sequel after ‘The Bourne Legacy‘ didn’t take off with audiences.
Despite ‘The Bourne Legacy‘ having the exact same strengths and weaknesses as the first three films so…I’m not sure why that happened. Also, despite Matt Damon being a terrific talent, Jason Bourne feels like a personification of all of his weaknesses as an actor. I just can’t buy him for a millisecond as an ultra-competent badass super-spy.
So yeah, not a fan of the series, the trailers have done nothing to rope me in and if it wasn’t for the fact that this is a big summer movie and I have a movie-related website, I wouldn’t think twice about skipping it.
Sorry to end on such a negative note with ‘Jason Bourne‘ but that’s just how the release dates work. Anyway, there wasn’t much in the way of higher-profile smaller releases though I’m sure they do exist so if you can think of any then be sure to sound-off in the comments section below! In no particular order, here are my Top 3 Most Anticipated films for July 2016;
- ‘The BFG‘
- ‘Star Trek Beyond‘
- ‘Finding Dory‘
Anyway folks, what are you all looking forward to this July? 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: 11th Jul 16