Because anything is better than actually looking Independence Day: Resurgence square in the face and talking about it, we’ve got a cool little conversation starting up in the comments section of my review of same: what are the best and worst summer movie seasons in the last few years? For me, this has also raised questions of how one even thinks about the quality or lack thereof in the Great American Summer Movie, and whether it makes sense to think about movies in the context of “seasons”, and whether the quality of a summer is judged by the best movies of the summer or the worst. Anyway, I wanted to bring that up here because I feel like this is a better place to have that conversation. Plus now we can consider whether this sorrowfully barren July is enough to tip 2016, the Year of Crap Sequels, into the “bad summer” bin instead of just the “largely mediocre” bin.
It is a sad thing for there to be a new Steven Spielberg film coming out, and to feel not the littlest trace of enthusiasm for it. But that’s about where I am with The BFG, a by-most-accounts overly-faithful Roald Dahl adaptation with too little in the way of its own imagination. The “meh” out of Cannes was possible to shrug off, but now that it’s getting almost the exact same criticisms from mainstream critics, I fear it’s time to abandon all hope.
And of course, it was never possible to have all that much hope for The Legend of Tarzan, the latest in a run of Warner Bros. films that cost more money than they were ever going to recoup. I’ve liked some of these terrible indulgences quite a lot, but it looks awfully… dumb. An outstanding cast, though, and I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
Meanwhile, we live in a world where out of three wide releases, The Purge: Election Year is far and away the one that I’m most excited for. What a peculiar world it is!
In limited release, we find a new John Le Carré adaptation, Our Kind of Traitor, and how very much I want to be excited, but the buzz is not great.
Illumination Entertainment shifts gears from weak DreamWorks knock-offs to weak Pixar knock-offs with The Secret Life of Pets, or as the trailers all but beg us to notice, Toy Story with Dogs. The teaser was minutely cute in that “90 minutes of this won’t be funny at all, but at least the dog designs are charming” way, but every new piece of footage they’ve released makes it look worse.
As for the weekend’s other release, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, with Zac Efron and Adam Devine as boorish bros and Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza attempting to perform a film-saving act of triage; well, the thing is that the film’s director and I were in the same graduating class at Northwestern University, so gosh darn it but I can’t ethically commit to having an opinion about it in print. And that is all I have to say about that.
Bryan Cranston fights the drug war in The Infiltrator, a film whose trailers seem to promise a rather fluttery Reaganite terror of Latin America, and 2016 is really not the year for that particular brand of xenophobia to get more oxygen than it’s already getting. But perhaps I am being pessimistic, and anyway, who doesn’t love Bryan Cranston?
I cannot wait for the remake of Ghostbusters to open, not because I think the movie will be particularly good or particularly bad, because then the internet will shut the fuck up about it.
In theory, I should be terrified that Star Trek Beyond, the latest in what used to be my favorite geek property of them all, looks so much like a Fast and Furious movie with spaceships. In practice, I’m pleased that it’s not another J.J. Abrams audition tape for Star Wars, though I still look forward with great anticipation to the time when the franchise is put back in mothballs, because this recent summer action phase just hasn’t been working out for it.
For the month’s big horror release, the James Wan Haunted House Factory produces Lights Out, whose trailers promise some irresistibly good jump scares – it’s about a ghost who comes closer whenever you turn off the lights, which has the appeal of being straightforward – and will, I am sure, descend into an overly talky third act with too much exposition and a tepid quasi-exorcism scene.
Lastly, there’s a fifth Ice Age movie, because we are living in a hell dimension.
I would love to know what the pitch was for Nerve. Something like “The Amazing Race meets Saw“, I hope. Plus a shit-ton of neon. I’m already very excited about never seeing it and forgetting it ever came out by mid-August.
Given that Jason Bourne is the one film all month that I think has favorable odds for being genuinely excellent – Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass have a beautiful track record together – I should probably feel bad that I have such a petty, pissy gut reaction to remembering it exists. It’s that title. Jason Bourne is a terrible title. What on earth compelled them to drop the model of The Bourne Foursyllables? Shit, how about The Bourne Resurrection? It’s a terrible title too, but it’s at least less terrible, and “Resurrection” is one of those words that just sits around waiting to be dropped into the titles of long-in-the-tooth sequel. The Bourne Recovery. The Bourne Revelation. The Bourne Apocalypse. The Bourne Protocol. The Bourne Solution. There, that’s six titles, and I’m not even a paid fucking screenwriter. They are all bad, of course; but Jason Bourne is worse than any of them. Okay, rant done, I’m sure it will be great and I can’t wait to see it.
Jason fucking Bourne. Christ.
Oh, and Bad Moms looks fun, if you like any combination of Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis, as I hope we all do.