Summer Movies – August 2017

Dark Tower Idris Elba Tom Taylor movie 2017I’ve said this before, but I might as well say it one last time – this summer was a real letdown for movies. AGAIN! Last summer was pretty much a bust as well. This is starting to become a trend at theaters.

This summer will probably be best remembered for a handful of things. Marvel movies remain popular and will attract fans with further expansion of their universe and sequels. DC and Warner Brothers finally scored a hit BOTH critically and commercially with Wonder Woman. It also taught Hollywood that audiences will go see a a movie about a strong female character. Audiences have known this fact for a long time now, but Hollywood has to be reminded of that lesson every few years.

Franchise films and ongoing sequels don’t guarantee anything. ‘Franchise Fatigue’ has been the rallying cry of critics during this summer after multiple sequels of popular franchises were letdowns with audiences. along with many being savaged by horrible reviews. The finger pointing towards the ‘Holy Rotten Tomatoes’ and blaming it for scaring audiences away from movies has gotten louder. The defense of ‘we made this movie for the fans’ is becoming an increasing feeble defense of releasing a horrible movie.

Hollywood looked at the foreign box office to help makeup for domestic letdowns. The once mighty critic-proof Michael Bay and his Transformers showed signs of wear and tear with American audiences. Some of the best entertainment I found this summer were fan videos ranting about the recent Bay release! For me hearing angry reviews is the best thing that has come out from those Transformers movies.

The Mummy Tom Cruise 2017 dark universe franchiseUniversal’s franchise starter for their Dark Universe The Mummy was received so poorly its only salvation came from Tom Cruise’s popularity overseas.  Newsflash – a cinematic universe means nothing if its built on a foundation that leaves audiences folding their arms rather than cheering. We’ll see how that series’ next installment will do without Cruise around.

The remainder of the summer doesn’t look like it will leave any lasting impact. August had been getting more attention in recent years with Hollywood seeing that despite it being the last month of the summer, audiences will still want to see a highly anticipated blockbuster at this time. Plus, with much less competition during the month August releases have resulted in some mighty big hits in the past; Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad. The Bourne Ultimatum. Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

We’re not going to see anything like those big titles this time around. Now it looks like August is back to being a ‘Dump Month’ this year. But let’s see if there is anything worth driving over to the theater for or if it would be better to stay home, watch The Gong Show and just wait for this stuff to hit DVD.

 

August 4

The Dark Tower

A kid discovers another dimension and meets a tough gunslinger (Idris Elba). He’s trying to reach this ‘Dark Tower’ that will somehow save his world and ours from an evil Matthew McConaughey who’s trying to destroy it. I think. They then take their otherworldly fight to New York City.

This is based on a popular Stephen King series of books, which I am not familiar with at all. I do know it has its fans and this story is already being groomed for an ongoing series of sequels (or maybe its prequels) via a television series. Yep, sounds like another ongoing franchise is about to be given birth to.

Not knowing anything about the story and just basing my reaction on the trailer I have no interest for this. This looks like it has a lot of the standard sci-fi/action-y stuff we’ve seen many times over – there’s the slo-mo impossible action bits, big bright light beams shooting into the sky and this kid falling into this fantasy world kind of reminds me of The Last Action Hero.

I don’t see anything special about this. But again, I am unfamiliar with the story and maybe Elba, McConaughey and Jackie Earle Haley will make this be something special. Sadly, I still don’t have even a little curiosity about it and plan on missing it.

Detroit

Detroit 2017 movie Kathryn BigelowKathryn Bigelow directs this docudrama about the 1967 Detroit riots, specifically centering on an incident that took place in a motel that resulted in the deaths of several individuals.

Watching the trailer for this I was somehow reminded of the 1988 film Mississippi Burning. I recall seeing that film and how it became a controversial hot button topic when it was released. Detroit looks like it’s more in that vein rather than being light summer fare. Like Burning had been, Detroit could possibly be a powerful raw story that will make folks uncomfortable and prompt discussion and reflection. With Bigelow’s track record I would expect nothing less.

Kidnap

Halle Berry Kidnap thriller movie 2017Sweet lovable mom Halle Berry’s little kid gets ‘taken’ from her. She loses her ‘cellular’ phone and is now hysterical, angry and on her own to get her kid back. She floors her minivan and drives ‘fast and furious’ after the mysterious bad car. I hope these bad guys are prepared to face a soccer mom’s wrath!

I don’t think this will be as hard-hitting or emotional as 1983’s TV movie Adam.

This looks….you know it’s funny how Halle has fallen. There was a point she was one of the most popular stars around – even though I never understood her appeal aside from her looks. She was able to attach herself to some hit franchise movies, but mostly she appeared in forgettable tripe. She scored an Oscar, but that did little for her cache and she’s squandered that career peak ever since.

Since then she has appeared in a consistent string of forgettable and ignored movies. She moved to television starring in Extant that lasted two seasons. And she continues to star in lower grade movies every time I see her.

Halle Berry Kidnap movie thriller angry funny badKidnap looks like it will help her continue that trajectory and it will not bring any new sheen back to her. It’s a bit of telltale sign that this flick has been pushed back multiple times already thanks to some financial problems with its studio. Plus, I read this was filmed several years ago!

At best Kidnap might be a so bad it’s funny type of movie. One of those flicks you can’t believe you’re expected to take seriously. It looks like a silly, contrived thriller that you might stumble onto while channel surfing one day and you’ll say to yourself, “I never heard of this movie before”. It will be a eye-rolling, ridiculous movie, but you’ll say, “Well, at least Halle Berry still looks pretty.”

Brave New Jersey

Brave New Jersey movie 2017 comedyIt’s the night before Halloween 1938 and Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of War of the Worlds has convinced N.J. residents a real martian attack is about to take place. Panic, comedy and life-changing events follow.

This will be getting a limited theatrical and Video On Demand release. It looks like it’s on the very low-budget side, has some decent production design on display, a bit of corny humor and to be honest, the trailer didn’t look all that great. It looks like it could possibly have a few fun scenes, maybe some decent heartwarming moments, but overall will end up as a pretty forgettable movie.

However, being from Jersey and always being fascinated by that famed War of the Worlds broadcast, I’ll watch anything about that bizarre night in 1938. I remember years back one of the networks updated Welles’ martian invading story as a television news broadcast. I can’t remember the year that was. I recall they were real worried that people might have thought it was real so they had a lot of disclaimers popping up all the time during it. There was great a PBS documentary detailing the events that went down. It’s a great story.

Brave New Jersey looks like an updated version of the 1975 TV Movie The Night That Panicked America. It’s been decades since I saw that one. The main thing I remember about that old TV movie is Vic Morrow and John Ritter were in it and it was a more dramatic take on the martian invasion reaction of townsfolk than how this one looks. I’d like to rewatch that one again. I wonder how difficult that movie would be to find. Maybe it’s floating around out there somewhere online.

So I’m mentioning this film not because I think it will make any major waves or thinking it’s going to be something not to miss, but mainly to remind myself to try to catch it at some point.

 

August 11

Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

The Nut Job 2 Nutty by NatureI have no idea what this movie is. I do not have any recollection of a ‘Nut Job 1’, but I assume the lovable characters from that come back for a new adventure. It looks like a bunch of squirrels, rats and other animals have to save their park from a developer who wants to tear it down.

Kids, go have fun. Get your parents to take you, buy you candy and popcorn and I’m sure you’ll have a fun time watching this. Like the first movie I’ll skip this one as well, and I am perfectly fine with that.

 

August 18

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Hitmans Bodyguard Ryan Reynolds Samuel L Jackson action comedyRyan Reynolds is tasked with protecting hitman Samuel L. Jackson so Gary Oldman doesn’t kill him before he can testify at some kind of trial.

Action comedies don’t seem to work much anymore. I don’t know what it is. Back in the 80’s ‘buddy movies’ were the rage. They had action and humor and audiences couldn’t get enough of them. A big key to these types of movies are the leads. You want two actors who are going to be a kick to see play off each other. Reynolds and Jackson don’t seem like an exciting team up to me.

To be honest, I’m sick of Jackson. He has been inundated into so many movies and franchises that I am just burnt out seeing him show up and do his ‘Sam Jackson’ thing. His unique luster has long worn off for me. Reynolds is very hit and miss. He’s been trying to find his niche for a long time now and outside of Deadpool, he usually ends up in flicks that it’s not just me taking a pass on, but everyone else does too.

Hitmans Bodyguard poster 2017I have no interest in this. The story sounds like an ordinary action premise, which is fine if the leads appealed to me more. Jackson looks like he’ll be doing his usual loud, authoritative shtick dropping constant ‘F bombs’. Reynolds will counter with his snarky demeanor and cutesy jokes. Yawn. It could be the action and this pairing will ignite some sparks and make it more special than how it looks to me.

It could also possibly get some attention and make some money since August is just so barren. This looks like a flick had it been released in the more packed June/July months it would have easily gotten ignored. It does look more at home as a direct to video actioner though.

By the way, the spoof ‘Bodyguard’ poster for this looks like it’s twenty years too late too by the way. That looks like the type of gag a Leslie Nielsen movie would have done in the mid-90’s. It just looks like a desperate way they’re trying to give this flick an identity.

Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky Channing Tatum Adam Driver Riley Keough 2017 castSteven Soderbergh directs a redneck style heist comedy, it almost reminds me of a Cohen Brothers comedy (hopefully it’s better than Lady Killers).

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are two brothers who plan to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. They need some help and adversaries, so there are co-stars Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Hilary Swank and Daniel Craig who all show up.

This looks like it could be goofy fun. Soderbergh typically does quality films. They haven’t all been great, but he has a decent eclectic track record. Logan Lucky could be a unique addition on his resume. It also looks like Craig is having a ball playing in this bizarre comedy.

August 25

Polaroid

Poloroid 2017 horror movieA spooky old Polaroid camera is found in an antique shop. Unbeknownst to the girl who discovers it, this camera is something very special. Not only will it be hard to find film for the thing, it’s also haunted and whoever get their picture taken by the thing will meet a grisly fate.

This sounds like a Twilight Zone-y/Final Destination-type of premise.

There always seems to be some horror movies that sneak onto screens in August. They’re usually not very good, which is why their studios decide to dump them out around this time. They’re not worthy enough for Halloween time.

I have no idea if this will be the start of a whole Polaroid horror franchise with this camera being passed around in multiple sequels or if it will just be another ignored horror movie that barely anyone will remember.

Life and Death of John Gotti

Life and Death of John Gotti John Travolta 2017

John Travolta plays John Gotti in this bio pic about the the life of the Teflon Don. Also starring Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Spencer Lofranco and Leo Rossi, directed by Kevin Connolly.

There had been a bunch of TV movies that have been done about Gottii, but this big-screen one has been in development for a long time. I could swear I read about it years ago. Apparently Travolta was really keen to do it and finally it’s completed.

However, now the release date for this is somewhat hazy. Most sites have it slated for August 25, but with no trailer, promotions or barely anyone even knowing about it at this point it I say seeing this in August is unlikely.

The odds are better it will pop up later in the year. Or maybe it will be a straight to Video On Demand release. If that’s the case you can do a marathon of all the other Gotti movies leading up to this one and see if it’s better than any of those and compare Travolta’s casting with the other actors who’ve played Gotti.

 

It does look guaranteed that Kidnap will be released – for better or worse

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2 Responses

  1. spaceodds says:

    Another forgettable summer; Wonder Woman got away with it because it was actually a good film. It’s not only because a woman is starring in it. Wonder Woman should be a template for women starring movies, i.e. don’t make the movie because your lead protagonist is a woman, make the movie because its got potential to be great.

    Now July not only brought the film summer, but most probably the film of the year, and quite possibly one of the top five films of the decade. There are only a small number of films that are so close to perfection, and Dunkirk belongs on that list. Dunkirk is a marvel of cinematic craftsmanship and has left me with emotions that I thought were long dormant in movie viewing such as awe, shivering with tension, pure shock, and pure sadness. Christopher Nolan yet again goes against the norm and has created his most radical film to date, not to mention save movies fans from boredom. Nolan, along with Hans Zimmer and Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk’s cinematographer) has created a cinematic miracle and has redefined the war film.

  2. Sam says:

    I recommend Dunkirk . Surprised its a “summer” movie as it would be a strong candidate for a Jan/Feb release in time for the Oscars

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