Summer Movies – July 2015

Marvel superhero Ant-Man movie
Ant-Man is coming

Fireworks, picnics and big glossy movies! It’s July once again.

Out of the summer months July seems like it’s the month most packed with the best variety of movies for audiences. Sci-fi geeks have a sequel. Kids have a whole movie with those little yellow guys. Marvel fans have another big superhero movie. Action fans have the return of a big shiny spy franchise. And comedy fans have a long-delayed sequel/reboot that will potentially either get them laughing or complaining. Plus, there’s a grabbag of stuff.

Unfortunately older audiences and female movie fans don’t have very much targeted towards them. That’s not too surprising though. It seems to be the norm to ignore those demographics during the summer. That is of course until a female-targeted movie comes along, does surprise business and makes the studios remember – oh yeah there’s an untapped audiences out there! They have to be taught that lesson every few years. Those movie studio folks have very short memories.

July 1, 2015
Terminator Genisys

Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator Genisys
Arnold returns as the T-800

The Terminator franchise had a good run – for two movies. Then, – we’ll put it kindly here – we got two very so-so movies and a forgettable TV show. The Terminator scale of disappointing product has begun outweighing the greatness of it.

Let’s face it the last time fans were enthusiastic about the series and they were actually rewarded for their devotion was way back in 1991 with Terminator 2. Since then it feels like it’s become a franchise that Hollywood just wants to keep going, but hasn’t given fans too much to be excited about it. And believe me, Terminator fans would like to be!

Well, here we go again. This time out the whole Terminator timeline will be changing with a new set of actors and the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an older T-800. Should fans have high hopes for this latest installment that is meant to begin a new trilogy (before those Terminator rights go back to James Cameron in 2019) or should we be ready to witness a colossal letdown once again?

The trailer for this has not been well received. The stunts and effects look cheap, the cast is questionable, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of them doing a whole ‘Back to the Future 2’ thing with the first two sacred films and there has been outrage that the trailer gives away a twist in the story that would have been more surprising had we discovered it while watching the actual movie.

A lot of fans are preparing for the worst. Sorta like Sarah Conner was training and giving off dead eye stares in number two awaiting the inevitable Judgment Day – that’s the look a lot of Terminator fans have about Genisys.

Emilia Clarke Sarah Connor Terminator Genisys
The new Sarah Connor – Emilia Clarke

Before I agree with all that, I have to say I was curious about this movie back when I heard one of the earliest ideas about it. Or maybe it was just a fanboy rumor, but I thought it sounded neat. Set long before the original 1984 film Arnold would have played some kind of retired soldier who has to defend the ancestors of Sarah Conner against a terminator.

I imagine the story would have been set in the 1940’s or 50’s. After a thrilling Terminator fight, Arnold defeats it and in the end Skynet would model their newer, better Terminator – the T-800 – on this kick-ass character of Arnolds.

I just thought it would be a clever and reasonable way to include the older Arnold in the new movie and the period setting with older weapons and vehicles would be a new fresh locale for a Terminator story to take place in.

That’s clearly not going to happen. So they decided to play around and reinsert themselves into scenes of Cameron’s movies, bring back liquid metal Terminators again, have the characters try to stop Judgment Day from happening AGAIN, spout out all the same ‘classic Terminator lines’ and just say Arnold’s Terminator skin ages so that’s why he looks so much older now.

Terminator Genisys John Connor Jason Clarke
Jason Clarke is the latest version of John Connor

Despite Cameron recently coming out and saying he liked the film and considers it the ‘real Terminator 3’, I have very little hope for this movie. Most of the actors look badly miscast. Fans who were holding out hope for an R-rated Terminator film were letdown by the announced PG-13 rating. The plot is said to be all over the place.

I guess this is another movie series that is going to do ‘selected sequel-izing’ and all the time traveling will allow them to ignore some of the films in the series. Are they going to jump into scenes from Terminator 3 too or is that flick erased from the timeline? And I guess Salvation never happened?

I’m betting it will raise a lot of timeline questions by fans. Once you start playing with the time travel concept too much inconsistencies start to arise and questions pop up like an out of control game of Whac-A-Mole.

Most of the CGI effects do look awful from the trailers. How many times are they going to do these slow-mo action shots of CGI liquid metal spears dancing through the air? Does anyone really like that kind of stuff?

That bus flip and Arnold diving out of a helicopter like a missile looks ridiculous. It looks like it will end with another fight in an industrial area and Arnold’s head will get damaged so we can see his red robot eye again. And all the speculation that this could kill the franchise does not help me drum up any optimism for it.

Of course we can be proved wrong when we actually see it and it might contain some fun surprises. We still don’t know how J.K. Simmons and Matt Smith work into all this. But I just miss the simpler days of a man and woman running from a killer robot as it shoots up a police station. Back then we didn’t need a complicated plot or fancy special effects to be wowed by this series. Good or bad I’m sure this movie will be discussed a lot by Terminator fans for a long time and I’m looking forward to hearing their reaction to it more than the film itself.

July 10, 2015
Minions

Minions 2015

Whoever created these guys was a genius. I don’t really see the allure. They look to be the same kind of characters those little green aliens from Toy Story were. But you keep it simple, cute and funny and kids will love them.

The Minions from the Despicable Me films return in their own self-titled movie. And boy oh boy are kids anxious to see this flick.

From what I’ve read we learn about the evolution of the Minions through the ages. Probably a lot of funny sight-gags. Three particular Minions go out on their own to seek out a new master to serve. I guess, these guys are sorta like Oompa Loompa’s who’s sole purpose is to work for a boss and do tasks and manual labor for them or something. An epic adventure commences when they meet a villainess voiced by Sandra Bullock.

I don’t know much about these Minion characters only that my nephews and nieces think they’re hysterical. Other than any Marvel movies this summer the Minion movie is at the top of their ‘I Wanna See’ movie list. I’m betting it’s the same with kids all over.

July 17, 2015
Ant-Man

Paul Rudd Ant-Man Marvel superhero

It’s time to meet the newest superhero of Marvel’s ever-expanding and money-making cinematic universe.

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a thief who’s recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to be the Ant-Man. Donning a suit that will make him shrink in size Lang must protect Pym’s invention from bad guys while most likely saving the lives of innocent bystanders – much like superheroes do.

For awhile Ant-Man looked like it was a bit of a gamble. How would Ant-Man go over with general audiences? Writer/director Edgar Wright left the film after being attached and working on it for – what was it, eight years? Fans were left disappointed by thoughts of what the movie might have been in his hands while director Peyton Reed stepped in. The character is quite an oddball superhero with his abilities and the more pronounced light-hearted humor the movie looks to contain might not sit too well with some.

None of that seems to have deterred Marvel fans from looking forward to it. It seems the promotional engine has really picked up steam in the last few months. Marvel is really enjoying exploiting the tiny size of its hero with mini-billboards and posters featuring him in his minuscule glory.

The trailers and commercials have gotten a positive reaction. And the jokey tone looks to fit in with its goofy superhero concept and is making it look like a much more fun superhero movie than the relentless dark and gritty ones we’ve been getting.

Michael Douglas Paul Rudd Ant-Man Marvel movie
Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd in Ant-Man

Still unless it gets some good word of mouth I wonder if general movie audiences will go see it. Everyone went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron and only two months later Ant-Man could look like a silly step down in their narrow superhero movie eyes and they might decide to skip it.

That’s barely a worry though. No doubt devoted superhero fans and kids will make this another success for Marvel and I’m looking forward to it.

For me I’m not expecting it to be on the high end of Marvel movies that are my favorites. I don’t think it will be as good as Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America 2 or Guardians of the Galaxy, but I’m hoping it will be entertaining, rest snugly in the middle ground in the Marvel pantheon, be something of a superheroic heist movie and not be an overwhelming disappointment.

My nephews can’t wait for it and have been laughing at the model train fight scene Ant-Man has in the trailer since they first saw it. “It’s so funny! There are big explosions and Ant-Man is running away from the train! Then we see it’s a tiny model train! I can’t wait to see it!”.

I wonder if they would be as equally impressed by The Incredible Shrinking Woman and if seeing Lily Tomlin living in a doll house would be just as funny. I’m betting probably not.

July 24, 2015
Pixels

An alien attack on earth takes the form of classic 1980’s video games. The world is invaded by a giant Pac-Man Donkey Kong, Centipede and more arcade throwbacks who go about destroying city after city. These actual pixelated Space Invaders can only be stopped by some expert old school video game skills and the help of the military.

Here’s a case of a movie starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James possibly not having audiences running in the opposite direction and fearing the worst. Would it be more appealing if the movie had different actors? Well, maybe. But despite their presence Pixels looks like it could be a great deal of fun – if the filmmakers can pull off such a silly concept.

We don’t have to worry about criticisms against unconvincing CGI. The humor is the absurdity of seeing Pac-Man devouring an entire city. But it may not be enough to just have this goofy idea. They have to make a whole movie around it and director Chris Columbus has to be able to milk it in some bizarre disaster movie way. It looks ripe for some laughs in the right hands. But with Sandler and James onboard…..that could be scarier than giant barrels rolling at you.

July 29, 2015
Vacation

Vacation Ed Helms Christina Applegate Rusty Griswold
The new Griswold clan

The Griswolds are back! This time it’s grown up Rusty (Ed Helms) who plans to take his wife (Christina Applegate) and their two sons on a cross country ride to visit the famed Walley World. Let the hilarity commence!

Wow. To me this looks awful. If I hadn’t known I would have thought it was ‘We’re the Millers Part 2’. Throughout the two trailers I watched I cringed the whole time and didn’t laugh once.

I love a good comedy, but in recent years movie comedies seem to have replaced genuine laughs with gross out humor to a breaking point. It’s like they’re going for disgusting and shocking reactions rather than good old-fashioned belly laughs. I’ve practically given up completely on comedies from Hollywood.

I guess if you’re looking for lowbrow humor this will be your cup of tea. The original Vacation movie had some lowbrow humor, but it also had some creativity and intelligence behind it. The jokes weren’t telegraphed as badly as the gags in this one appear to. When we learned the same moment Clark does that he just dragged Aunt Edna’s dog to its death in the original we were surprised with laughter at what he had done.

Here, obnoxious kids cursing, the family bathing in sewerage, Chris Hemsworth walking around with a big penis, the good looking Ferrai girl getting hit by an oncoming truck, Helms talking about rimjobs with his son, oh and toss in some supposed ‘clever meta jokes’ about the original 1983 Vacation movie – this comedy is just not for me.

Vacation comedy Ed Helms Chevy Chase Christina Applegate Beverly D'Angelo
Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return in Vacation
(I’m betting it will only be a short cameo at the beginning
and end of the movie)

Ed Helms while a funny guy, I don’t think works very well as a leading man in a comedy. Plus, he always the plays the same character. I was just waiting to see if he was going to do his bad singing schtick in Vacation and sure enough he does. And I don’t find if very funny.

So obviously, I have no interest in this. Although I’ll be curious to hear the critics reactions when they get ahold of it. I’m predicting it won’t be pretty for the movie, but it will be awfully entertaining to read and hear about. That’s where I’m probably going to get the most laughs from Vacation.

The target audience for it won’t care. They’ll go, have fun and the movie will do some modest business. I would love to hear it bomb and maybe that will force comedies to step up their game, get smarter and start delivering better laughs, but I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon.

July 31, 2015
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Tom Cruise
Ethan Hunt is back!

The Impossible Missions Force has a problem. There’s a shadow organization that’s sorta the evil version of IMF and they’re looking to take the good guys down. There, that’s simple enough right?

Tom Cruise returns to his spy franchise for the fifth time. I wonder if younger audiences realize these movies started out as an adaptation of an old television series. The movies don’t really resemble that old show much anymore.

Mission Impossible is something of a strange film franchise to me. They have been extremely successful films pulling in major loot. I’ve seen them all, but it’s not a series that I feel particularly excited about and don’t rush out to see. They’re kind of one-shot movies for me. I don’t really think about them again after the closing credits. Like, I have never in my life uttered the phrase, “I can’t wait for the latest installment of Mission Impossible and to see what Ethan Hunt is up to next!”

The only thing I know about the character of Ethan Hunt is that he’s played by Tom Cruise. They could have just cut to the chase by literally calling the character ‘Tom Cruise’.

Mission Impossible Rogue Naiton Tom Cruise motorcycle chase

I enjoyed the last two Mission Impossible movies. They were just fun big-budget, silly action movies. They added a bit more humor to the series and they were guaranteed hits for Cruise.

While Cruise is still good in the lead action role it’s been the spectrum of changing directors behind each film putting their own stamp on the material that has made the series more interesting to me – either good or bad. Brian DePalma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird and this time Christopher McQuarrie.

I expect Rogue Nation to be entertaining, have some memorable stunt set-pieces (Cruise hanging onto the plane looks to be the big one from this movie) and a story that I won’t remember at all after seeing it.

It seems it’s always the same thing – bad guys in the government, the IMF team is blamed for something, Cruise is out on his own with selected team members, there’s a generic leading lady, acouple of hi-tech gadgets come into play, they have to break in somewhere to get evidence or something, cue the big stunt sequence and rake in the cash.

Cameron reassuring fans Terminator Genisys will be good (I won’t buy it until I see it)


 

 

Agent Tom Cruise is back with another impossible mission


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5 Responses

  1. Pixels was based upon this short animation produced way back in 2010 (link below)…I teach animation / cgi and show it to my students all the time. I'm a little gutted / worried that its being turned into a film with Adam Sandler. Here's hoping that it turns out well – Fingers crossed.

    https://vimeo.com/10829255

    Great reviews, articles, and films by the way – Keep up the great work. Its very much appreciated 🙂

    • That Pixels short is great! Simple and creative idea and really impressive execution – especially considering I imagine they didn't have anywhere near the money this film has. That two minute short had me more engaged and wowed by the idea than any of the trailers I've seen for the movie. I hope the creators of the short are getting some money from the movie.

  2. CKulik says:

    I read your TERMINATOR reviews. Like many other casual fans, I think the first 2 are great but I didn't eve see the last 2, and it wasn't because of their less-than-stellar critical reactions either. Hearing Cameron trying to pimp GENISYS makes me think this might have something worth seeing, but I still have every intention of waiting for the Blu-ray to rent.

    If someone were going to buy me a ticket to ANT-MAN I would definitely go, but alas I have a bad feeling its going to be a mediocre Marvel movie at best. As for PIXELS….I don't have any nostalgic affection for those '80s video games and I can't stand that cast. And I've never been big on the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE series either (I can't really watch Tom Cruise movies anymore).

    As for VACATION well…as a devoted fan of the series, I must admit that it looks like it's going to suck royally, yes. I'm hoping it offers something beyond the trailers, but yeah I can totally see a really embarrassing reaction around the corner, I just do. That being said, it can't be as bad as NLCV2:CEIA, yet I suspect it wall mark the permanent end of the Griswold saga, and perhaps it's just as well.

    By the way Hap: have you seen any of the Summer movies in the theater yet so far? I'm guessing you saw at least AVENGERS 2, but correct me if I'm wrong. I saw both FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD; both films were AWESOME and both will surely be added to my 2015 list. The one thing I can't decide is which is the more feminist film! 🙂

    • So far this summer I've only seen Avengers 2 and I was a bit underwhelmed by it. I'd really like to see Mad Max since everyone I've talked with about it loved it. Ant-Man I'll probably venture out to see. It's funny I'll write all about these summer movies, but I probably won't be seeing most of them until they hit dvd.

  3. Capt. Nemo says:

    I'm worried.

    Are we really blanching at these movies because they don't make'em like they used to? Or are we turning into old fuddy duddies?

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