In the infamous words of one Will Smith, summer, summer, summertime…time to sit back and unwind… or in my case, time to finally head out to the movie theatre.
July gave us a less than impressive roster of summer releases – with some dead on arrival comedies, overblown action flicks and less than entertaining kids movies. The August releases finally pack some punch in the home stretch of the summer season.
Dames, old dudes, turtles and guardians….Here’s some of what’s coming up…
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. This installment into the Marvel canon comes from the far reaches of mainstream obscurity – until the big name stars were attached to this project, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone besides comic book fans who were familiar with these characters or story lines. Guardians of the Galaxy combines a kick ass cast (including the hilarious, and extremely dashing Chris Pratt, sci-fi queen Zoe Saldana, Bradley “Mr. People Magazine” Cooper, WWE star Dave Bautista and Mr. Fast & Furious – Vin Diesel), sharp wit and a slick looking visual style in what is now one of the most anticipated films of the summer. I have high hopes for this – especially since Marvel has ALREADY announced a sequel to the film at this year’s San Diego ComicCon.
Get On Up (August 1)
The sensational Chadwick Boseman stars in this biopic of the late and totally great James Brown. Biopics, specifically those for musicians, tend to be formulaic and somewhat pandering – but I’m more than looking forward to seeing the life story of “the hardest working man in show business”. James Brown was a larger than life character in his time, and I think that Boseman is more than capable of letting his inner Godfather of Soul loose on the big screen. The sound, the style, the swagger. GET UP OFF THAT THING….and head to the cinema.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)
Michael Bay is producing the new take on the much beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Expect explosions… hot chicks…explosions… one liners…. explosions….slow motion walking…. explosions…really loud fight sequences….EXPLOSIONS. While there’s been a lot of fan-fuelled rage at the prospect of Michael Bay having anything to do with TMNT…but… it IS about Teenaged, Mutant, Ninja, Turtles. How badly could he screw this up? Admittedly, I don’t like the look of these turtles (they look like Shrek to me), but at least it’ll be a fun time at the movies. A part of me is still hoping that Ninja Rap makes the cit for the soundtrack.
The Hundred Foot Journey (August 8)
Based on the book by Richard C. Morais, The Hundred Foot Journey is foodie romance in which the Kadam family clashes with Madame Mallory, proprietress of a celebrated French restaurant, after they open their own nearby eatery. An undeniable chemistry causes the Madame to take gifted young chef Hassan under her wing. Helen Mirren is quite a dame (yes. I went there), Om Puri is always delightful, and as directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), I’m sure the film will be a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
The Expendables 3 (August 15)
They’re back… and older than ever. Sly Stallone and his gang of huge, muscled and beefcake action stars are back for another round of shoot ‘em up plotless devastation, and that’s fine by me. With a few new* (*new to the series, but not to us) additions, including Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes – let’s hear it for the old dudes!
The Giver (August 15)
In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world. For those of you who had the pleasure of required reading in school – you may be familiar with the Newbery Medal winning novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. There’s a heavy burden of expectation on films that are adapted from well-known and much beloved source material, but at least in this case we have the added bonus of Jeff “The Dude” Bridges and Meryl Streep taking on two iconic roles.
Let’s Be Cops (August 15)
Fans of New Girl rejoice – Nick and Coach are doing a movie together! The duo best known for their quirky roles on Fox’s New Girl (Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr.) play two struggling pals who dress as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted “heroes” get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line. It seems like an extended episode of their tv show…with a lot more R-rated language.
Frank (August 15)
Frank is an off-beat, indie musical in which Domhnall Gleeson plays Jon, a young wanna-be musician, who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious, enigmatic , and papier-mâché -head-wearing Frank (Michael Fassbender). Charisma, thy name is Michael Fassbender. While most people know that I’m completely Fass-inated by Mr. Fassbender, I realize that this won’t be a film for everyone.
The Trip To Italy (August 15)
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are taking another trip…this time to Italy. I found The Trip to be completely hilarious, real and fun – I expect more of the same… including more Michael Caine impersonations.
Life After Beth (August 15)
A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her. Starring Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, this weird little film boasts some of the most interesting young talent in Hollywood. Hopefully the sum of the film is much more than its “my girlfriend’s back” shtick.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22)
Sin City was so mercilessly cool when it premiered in 2005. It was different, gritty and spectacularly filmed. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novels, much of the original cast is back, including Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Jamie King, and Bruce Willis. New additions to the cast include Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Josh Brolin, Ray Liotta and Lady Gaga. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have re-teamed for this installment, in which the town’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants. I hope the novelty of the first film hasn’t worn off for the sequel.
August or Bust! The end of the summer marks the drive into festival (TIFF for us Torontonians!) and awards season – my favourite time of the pop culture calendar year!