Two months down; two months to go. So far, this summer had some movies that met and exceeded my expectations. It also had its fair share of surprises and failures. I don’t think this July will have some great mainstream films, but I’m hoping it will be a memorable month for independent films. I’m quite upset Jupiter Ascending got pushed back from July 18th to February 6, 2015. Channing Tatum has literally improved as an actor, and I’m hoping it will be worth waiting to see him with his pointy ears, alongside Mila Kunis, in that nifty-looking visual extravaganza by the creators of The Matrix.
Probably this month will look good even though it got pushed back, not to mention a new one by Woody Allen and one that took 12 years in the making. Here are my thoughts on what has yet to come in the month of July.
Tammy (opens July 2) – Kicking off the 4th of July weekend is the highly-anticipated comedy starring Melissa McCarthy. She plays the title role going on a road trip with her mother after getting fired from her job at a local fast-food joint. Known for being on the hit sitcom Mike & Molly, McCarthy redefines the means of making a comedy worthwhile. After having everyone in stitches in last year’s buddy comedy The Heat, she has a trick of delivering a punchline that is timed so perfectly. Also starring Susan Sarandon, Tammy looks like it will be good for a few laughs.
Deliver Us From Evil (opens July 2) – I’m not a big fan of horror films. Even if they are based on a true story, the result would be too ridiculous to be true. Not to mention lacking tension and atmosphere, it would rather focus more on gimmicky blood and gore, characters we would care less about, and boring the hell out of the audience. Deliver Us From Evil looks far from the shtick we’ve been getting over the years. It may have a familiar concept involving a person being possessed by the devil, but it looks well-executed. I’ll wait and see if it will hold up to the true story it’s based on, not just making it dull and worthless.
Earth to Echo (opens July 2) – Looking like a cross between E.T. and Chronicle, Earth to Echo is the first in the found-footage sub-genre to be more family-oriented. We’re all familiar with the concept; a group of kids help an extraterrestrial to bring it back home. Super 8 had a familiar plot, but what mattered was the execution. J.J. Abrams did an astounding job with that, and also paying tribute to Steven Spielberg. On the other hand, despite the unoriginal concept, this looks quite standard in my opinion. I appreciate the filmmakers giving a purpose to audiences having a feeling of summer nostalgia. It might turn out good, it might turn out bad.
Begin Again (now playing in NY/LA, opens July 2) – After the success of Once, fans have been wondering why musicals should be small and independent rather than big and extraordinary. John Carney returns in the director’s chair to direct another low-budget musical. This time, he’s bringing it to America, featuring some modern musicians (Adam Levine from Maroon 5 and Cee Lo Green) and the charming Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. I have a feeling it would be delightful.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – For someone who hasn’t seen the original Planet of the Apes movies, I was really pleased with the 2011 reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It featured a compelling story about a scientist who successfully tests a breakthrough drug (that could cure Alzheimer’s disease) on a chimpanzee named Caesar. When Caesar is imprisoned in an ape sanctuary, he leads an uprising with his fellow apes. Not only James Franco did a really good job in the movie but I think the highlight is Andy Serkis. He captures the expressions and body language of Caesar so well that it looks like we’re connecting to an actual ape than the person behind it. The effects (notably the apes) are beyond excellent, and it contains one of the best climaxes of this decade.
I have a feeling the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, might be another one of those rare sequels that will surpass its predecessor. Featuring a great cast lead by Gary Oldman and a battle between humans and apes after a virus outbreak, I’m really looking forward to seeing this. I think it’s awesome that Caesar is going to talk more. He only had a couple of scenes of dialogue in the last film. Not to mention the moment where Caesar yells “NO!”
Boyhood – This is my most anticipated movie for the month of July. I’ve never seen a movie that looked as unique as Boyhood. Getting a lot of praise coming out of Sundance, Richard Linklater’s exploration of life seen through the eyes of a boy took 12 years to make. He would use the same cast (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater) to act in sequences where they naturally develop over the time-period. It’s a similar technique he did with the Before trilogy; casting Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy every nine years to see the characters naturally mature. Boyhood looks like a special movie-going experience.
The Purge: Anarchy – Really? Do they have to make another one? The first film had one of the most absurd concepts I’ve ever heard. If you forgot the concept from the first film, it takes place in the not-too-distant future where the government sets a 12-hour period in which every illegal crime becomes legal. The sequel has the same exact concept, which is good enough for me to skip it.
Planes: Fire & Rescue – I haven’t seen its predecessor because it looked like a big, cheap, lazy spin-off to Cars. It gives a good reason why I’m skipping this one.
Sex Tape – The concept sounds more like a sitcom than a mainstream comedy. A couple makes a sex tape on their iPad one night. The next couple of days, they must find out who was responsible for posting their sex tape. Because it stars two funny actors (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) doesn’t mean it looks any good.
I Origins – The movie follows a molecular biologist examining the evolution of the human eye. After meeting a woman, he realizes his research complicates his scientific and spiritual beliefs which leads him to travel around the world. I have to admit the movie has an undeniably clever idea, but, from watching the trailer, it seems like the movie is going go all over the place. First, it starts off as a straight-forward sci-fi picture, then it sort of transitions into a romantic drama. I might end up renting this one.
Hercules– Boy, oh boy. Do I have to explain why this movie looks bad? It wouldn’t surprise me if Brett Ratner would make something that is worse than X-Men: The Last Stand. Dwayne Johnson sure does have a lot of muscles to play the titular role, but I don’t think his performance would do it justice. There is a scene in the trailer where Hercules is about to fight zombies. That pretty much sums that I would avoid the movie at all costs.
Lucy – Now that’s what I’m talking about! It may have similar concept to Limitless, but who wants to see a movie starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman turning into a superhuman after discovering a drug is implanted in her body? It looks insane!
Magic in the Moonlight – After making Annie Hall back in 1977, there would be a movie written and directed by Woody Allen every year. Up to this day, critics would believe that half of his movies turned out good, and the other half turned out bad. After last year’s Blue Jasmine, I wondered how someone who sexually abused his daughter would be such a gifted actor/filmmaker. He created a darkly funny and devastating character study featuring a performance that made Cate Blanchett win the Oscar.
His latest movie, Magic in the Moonlight, looks delightful. Woody Allen bringing the charm of “The Roaring Twenties” in France to life is like a dream come true. Movies set in France (notably Paris) make me want to go there so bad. Emma Stone and Colin Firth look terrific together. I’m looking forward to seeing this one.
Most Anticipated: Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lucy, Magic in the Moonlight
Least Anticipated: Hercules, Planes: Fire & Rescue, The Purge: Anarchy
I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on the upcoming movies for the month of July. Tell me in the comments on what are your most anticipated movies and least anticipated movies for the month of July. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of August at the end of July.