Two of the six movies given wide release over the course of a desolate July turned out to be actually pretty good, by my reckoning (Crawl and Once Upon a Time …in Hollywood). That’s a 33% success rate, which is damn near actually satisfactory, which makes me hope that this brutal desert of a summer might have finally righted itself. Very excited to ruin that hope by taking a gander at the movies we’ll have to cope with over the next five weekends!
I swear, if Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw isn’t at least delightfully stupid and fizzy, I might have to finally give up on popcorn movies. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham teaming up against Idris Elba in a sci-fi exoskeleton is good enough on its own; that it is being handled by David Leitch, the uncredited co-director of John Wick and credited director of Atomic Blonde, pushes it comfortably far over the top. The absolute worst-case scenario has to be that it’s only at the level of Leitch’s last film, Deadpool 2, right? And that will feel like manna from heaven compared to what we’ve had the past couple of months.
Nothing else opens wide, but Jennifer Kent’s sophomore effort, The Nightingale, begins its march through limited release, and if we’re not to get excited by the five-years-later follow-up to The Babadook, what are we to get excited for? It kills me that I most likely won’t ever have a chance to see this in theaters.
A quintessential slate of August “well, we had to dump it somewhere” movies. In alphabetical order: The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of those inspirational “narrated by a dog” movies, with the dog in this case played by Kevin Costner, who sounds in the trailers like he is exactly as contemptuous as a movie where he plays a dog’s inner monologue as he ought to be. Dora and the Lost City of Gold finds the bilingual cartoon child Dora the Explorer growing unhappily into a live-action high schooler with profoundly ill-developed social skills, for reasons that fucking defy explanation. The Kitchen places reliable funnywomen Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss into a god-damned crime thriller, and draws upon McCarthy to just really fucking go for it with a New York accent; the best I can come up with is that they really thought that Widows was going to be a giant hit, and wanted to have a knock-off all ready to go. Lastly, producer Guillermo del Toro tries yet again to make gothic family horror happen with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, an adaptation of the beloved children’s horror books that obviously has no clue whatsoever who it wants its target audience to be. Brian Banks, a very serious-minded social issues sports biopic from the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Patch Adams, has been announced as getting a wide release, though I have doubts it actually makes it; including it here just for completeness’s sake, and also so we can point at it and laugh.
So, The Angry Birds Movie 2, eh? I do wish that climate change-driven civilisational collapse would hurry up and get here, already.
Richard Linklater and Cate Blanchett teaming up is automatically enough to bump Where’d You Go, Bernadette up near the top of my most-anticipated list of the month, but honestly, this looks like a pretty bland way for them to collaborate. Regardless, any port in a storm, and it looks pretty fucking stormy: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (how dare it not be named 48 Meters Down) doubles-down on the gimmick of 47 Meters Down, a gimmick that wasn’t even enough to keep that movie interesting for 90 minutes, let alone a sequel. And I’m already exhausted and dispirited by Good Boys, a movie-length argument that 11-year-olds saying “fuck” is inherently funny. On the upswing, Bruce Springsteen love letter Blinded by the Light looks sweet and harmless – and quite thoroughly boring – and by this point in the month “harmless” is going to feel pretty good.
I’m… not uninterested in Ready or Not, a weird dark-comedy/slasher/”old dark house” hybrid. It looks like it’s probably too much for its own good, and the cast does nothing to inspire hope, but there’s something giddy in the trailer that I kep responding to, every time I see it.
So, Angel Has Fallen. They really made a third one, huh? Okay then.
Alex & Stephen Kendrick, the screenwriting brothers who’ve made themselves a proper brand name among the “droning, wretched junk for Evangelical Christians” set, are back at it with Overcomer. I will shit my pants if this goes to #1 and I have to see it.
Finally slicing the head off of this zombified monstrosity of a summer, Don’t Let Go gets the semi-annual “dopey genre film headlined by wildly overqualified black actors” slot; in this case, it’s Mykelti Williamson and David Oyelowo who get to remind us of the profound failure of our culture. And last, and very probably least, animated spy thriller/toy commercial Playmobil: The Movie somehow manged to find screenwriters, producers, financing, and distribution, and all without a single person raising their hand to ask, “are your out of your fucking minds?”