Part 2 of your ultimate UK Summer Movie Guide.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Hello, there! Welcome back to your very own 2018 Summer Movie Guide, where I run down the films coming out over this increasingly nebulously-defined Summer Movie Season, and recklessly pre-judge films I haven’t seen in an attempt to help you decide what is and is not worth your hard-earned monies in this bloodbath of release schedule. Yesterday, we took close examinations at all of the big hitters dropping between now and the end of July, which you can find at this link if you’ve yet to read or need a refresher! Today, we mostly deal with August which, contrary to how these things are supposed to go down, is drowning in films this year. What fun!
All release dates are UK specific, taken from the Film Distributors Association website and, whilst correct at press time, are subject to change.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Date: July 26th
Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
Star: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill
Allow me to expand upon my likely-controversial statements made in the Incredibles II segment of the previous part by admitting that I just don’t get the Mission: Impossible films. None of them. And, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why because, on paper, they play right into my personal bias preferences. They’re spy movies, filled with cool gadgets, all about writing our heroes into constrained near-impossible scenarios and watching them figure out how to get out of them and save the day, directed with propulsion and style, plus an emphasis on physical stunts and practical effects. These should be my favourite movies, yet I am left cold by them, every single time, without fail, which perplexes the hell out of me. Why does this series do absolutely nothing for me?
In any case, for those of you this does do something for, here’s another one. This time it’s a direct sequel to 2015’s Rogue Nation, bringing back most of that film’s cast and crew – including writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, the first time in M:I history that somebody has directed two instalments – and involves Ethan Hunt being disavowed by the US government and going rogue after a mission gone wrong in order to save the world. I recognise that describes basically all Mission: Impossible movies, but they’re really leaning into the Fate of the Furious “this time he’s gone truly off the deep end!” marketing gimmick that will likely mean nothing in the finished product. Don’t let me rain on your parade if you enjoy these movies, because Fallout definitely looks like another one of this surprisingly consistent series, but I’ve otherwise got nothing. Henry Cavill’s here, though, which lets me shame you all for not having seen The Man From U.N.C.L.E. back in 2015! Now THAT was a spy movie!
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monster Vacation
Date: July 27th
Dir: Genndy Tartakovsky
Star: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kathryn Hahn (voices)
Now, yeah, if we are being fair, the past Hotel Transylvania movies have been, at best, above-average but ultimately disposable. However, these make bank for Sony Pictures Animation and they keep luring Genndy back to the director’s chair with the (frequently reneged) promise of letting him make something other these movies at some unspecified point in time, so we’re going to at least complete a trilogy of Transylvania. This time, we’re nicking from the Alvin & the Chipmunks movies and going on a cruise! Despite all inclinations, basic pattern recognition, my usual militant desire for animation to be better, etc., I am still remaining cautiously optimistic about this one. As an animation nerd, I love the visual design of the movies and Genndy & the team’s commitment to transferring 2D squash-and-stretch animation into a 3D realm. Plus, unlike the previous entries, which were credited with penmanship in part from frequent Sandler-collaborator Robert Smiegel, this one has Genndy credited as a screenwriter, so maybe the creator of Dexter’s Laboratory will finally be turned loose?
Look, it’s not a great Summer for animation and we’ve gotta take what scraps of potential decency we can get, ok?
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Date: August 3rd
Dir: Peyton Reed
Star: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Douglas
As I said back whilst I was grumbling about Infinity War and my dissatisfaction with the lack of meaningful stakes and consequences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all it will annoyingly take is Ant-Man and the Wasp being sufficient amounts of fun for me to get back on the Marvel train. They are irritatingly good at getting me back on-side. After being brought in at the eleventh hour to salvage a movie Edgar Wright backed out of pretty much on the eve of production, and turning in something genuinely enjoyable that was far better than it had any right to be, Peyton Reed now gets to helm an Ant-Man movie from start-to-finish in what is being positioned as a breather in the middle of the “shit just got REAL” phase of the MCU. Little’s been revealed about the plot up to now, only that it involves Scott Lang (Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Lily) teaming up for a caper set between the events of Civil and Infinity War. It’ll probably be good, most Marvel movies are! And then I’ll be able to continue getting hyped about a strong a.f. Brie Larson kicking all the arse! Seriously, look at those muscles! I’m crushing super hard on them! Why can’t I be that strong?!
(Also, not a typo on the release date. That is a full month after America gets the movie. No idea why.)
Teen Titans GO! To the Movies
Date: August 3rd
Dirs: Peter Rida Michail & Aaron Horvath
Star: Scott Menville, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch (voices)
So, here’s a fact about me that will probably get me banned for life from any animation fandoms: I actually like Teen Titans GO!. I think it helps that I don’t have any attachment to the original Teen Titans, that I don’t always care so much about the mechanics of my joke machines as long as I find them sufficiently funny, and that I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which is weirdly what the show most resembles), but I own the first season on DVD and every time I catch a newer episode (I’ve fallen behind in recent years) I do end up reliably getting some laughs from them. Admittedly, I question the viability of turning a quickfire 11-minute sitcom series that can at times strain to fill even that into a 90 minute movie, and you bet your ass I would’ve preferred the first theatrically-released Cartoon Network movie since The Powerpuff Girls to have been almost anything else, but I’m still coming into this one with optimism! The actual trailer had a few decent jokes, its nature as a movie should force some effort onto the story side of things, and I will always at least try stanning for 2D animated features with professional voice actors in the lead roles.
Plus, if it sucks, we can just blame James Corden, which is my solution to most things in life.
The Darkest Minds
Date: August 10th
Dir: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Star: Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie
Normally, especially given our current movie climate, I wouldn’t be singling out a cheap-looking Young Adult franchise starter as one of the Summer’s big-ticket items. That is a genre that has largely been dead and buried, alongside 500,000 unsold “CassiexBen” 5th Wave shirts, and this looks so much like a bootleg X-Men that it’s honestly kind of hilarious to see the actual X-Men studio having a hand in it. Except that there’s this one little crucial detail those of you like me may have picked up on: The Darkest Minds is the live-action debut of Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of Kung Fu Pandas 2 and 3, the former of which is still one of the decade’s best animated films. It’s basically a crapshoot on whether an acclaimed animation director can navigate the jump between mediums successfully – after all, for every Phil Lord & Chris Miller, you get an Andrew Stanton, or a Chris Wedge, or a Jimmy Hayward – but you better believe that I am gonna root like hell for Nelson regardless of how over the entire YA experiment I am. Here’s hoping we’re seeing another Marjane Satrapi rather than a Vicky Jenson!
Date: August 10th
Dir: Jon Turteltaub
Star: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose
My adolescence involved the viewing of A LOT of Jason Statham movies, directly as a result of my Mum’s MASSIVE crush on the man and desire to see as many films as possible where he takes his shirt off in some capacity (which accounts for roughly 90% of his filmography). I actually credit his choice of films with helping me develop a genuine appreciation for the immediately-disposable, wholly-generic, star-powered action thriller that used to be around everywhere but nowadays has been exiled to Netflix and buried under endless goddamn algorithms. And Statham is a super-charming and very charismatic guy both in those disposable schlockfests, and the more out-of-his-comfort-zone fare that he should try more of – he’s surprisingly depth-filled in Hummingbird, hysterical in Spy, and his lead role in Snatch is basically all cockney charm and swagger that hints at a different path his career could have taken. Also, he’s advocated for stunt performers to receive their own Oscar category, and he was in both Crank movies, the greatest action films ever made fight me.
The point I am laboriously trying to reach is that I am SO THERE to watch Jason Statham fight a 75-foot shark! I don’t care that it’s by Jon Turtelbtaub – whose filmography spans Cool Runnings, the National Treasure movies, Last Vegas, and HOLY SHIT I JUST GOT THAT “LENNY TURTLETAUB” JOKE FROM BOJACK HORSEMAN. I don’t care that the trailer seems to have no idea what tone it’s going for. I don’t care that the name is crap. I don’t even care that Jason Statham is not going to literally fight a 75-foot shark with like fists and shit! It’s a giant monster movie, which I am ALWAYS there for regardless of quality, and it’s a Jason Statham movie, which I am ALWAYS there for regardless of quality! Sign me the hell up for 40 tickets, please!
Crazy Rich Asians
Date: August 17th
Dir: Jon M. Chu
Star: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
This will be the sleeper hit of the Summer that everybody with a stake in Box Office numbers will be stunned by the performance of, mark my words. Based on the hit novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic-comedy following Rachel (Wu) and Nick (Golding) who are going to Singapore for the wedding of one of Nick’s best friends, only for Rachel to find out that her boyfriend Nick comes from a super-wealthy family and is considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. I have not read the novel, but I’ve heard really good things, I love a good rom-com, and almost the entire main cast is of at least part-Asian descent, the first time a major Hollywood movie has done so since, at least, Memoirs of a Geisha. And, unlike Geisha, they’ve even gotten a part-Asian filmmaker to direct in Jon M. Chu. Chu is kind of wild card, because when he is off, he is REALLY off (Jem and the Holograms, Justin Bieber’s Believe), but when he is on, he is REALLY on (Step Ups 2 and 3D, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Basically, I am crossing all of my digits in the hopes that this turns out great.
Disney’s Christopher Robin
Date: August 17th
Dir: Marc Forster
Star: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Mark Gatiss, Jim Cummings (voice)
I was all set to poo-poo all over this. I was going to accuse Disney of creative bankruptcy, I was going to dread the return to live-action/CGI family movies that infested the mid-2000s like the plague, I was going to scream “RUINED FOREVER” at the top of my lungs to anybody within earshot, I was absolutely going to be That Guy… then the teaser had Jim Cummings’ voice come out of Pooh, as he has done for the last three decades, and I started full-on bawling at my computer screen in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. Nope, can’t help it. Winnie-the-Pooh means so, so, so much to me – I also genuinely burst into floods of tears upon first viewing of the trailer for the 2011 animated movie, back in the day – and as much as I am prepared to pounce on every fault Christopher Robin makes, no matter how slight, there is also no other movie this year that I am more prepared to force myself into loving unconditionally than this. Yes, even with the fact that its premise is resoundingly similar to both Hook and Disney’s own upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, a film I am also going to simultaneously be merciless and ultra-forgiving about.
Sorry if you were expecting genuine analysis or info about this, but The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh was my favourite film as a child, A.A. Milne’s stories were permanent bedtime fare, and I still have the Pooh Bear cuddly toy I was apparently given the day I was born. This is The Peanuts Movie x1,000,000, for me, and I will be insufferable regardless of how it turns out.
The Equalizer 2
Date: August 17th
Dir: Antoine Fuqua
Star: Denzel Washington
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… …huh, wha? Sorry, I fell asleep trying to get through the trailer. That tends to happen to me when I watch Antoine Fuqua films. Hang on, let me try ag… zzzzzzzzzzzzzz… …huh, wha? Sorry, it happened again. One mozzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
Date: August 24th
Dir: Albert Hughes
Star: Kodi Smit-McPhee
This high-concept historical survival drama – about an injured boy befriending a wild wolf as he tries to make his way across the pre-historic wilderness back to his tribe after a hunt gone wrong – has been shunted around the release schedule for well over a year, now. I remember seeing that trailer way back in last October, and yet it’s still not out. That is almost universally a bad sign. Still, high-concept films such as these will always catch my attention, it’s the solo directorial debut of Albert Hughes (who worked with his brother Allen on Menace II Society and The Book of Eli), and regardless of how the quality of the thing turns out, I will cry buckets should the wolf die or sacrifice itself towards the ending. Consider my curiosity captured, and also maybe cool it on the overwrought marketing. “Witness the origin of the relationship that changed our world forever?” It’s an intimate personal drama, Sony, slow your goddamn roll already!
Date: August 24th
Dir: Spike Lee
Star: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace
Spike Lee is back and he is PIIIIIIIIIIIIISSED. It’s no secret that Lee spent much of the mid-00s to early-10s in quite the creative rut, but the passionate, experimental, and smart Chi-Raq signified that maybe we were wrong to count one of our most important directors out just yet. With BlacKkKlansman, Lee appears to be following the career-revival path of another formerly-important director who lost his way before making the unlikeliest of comebacks, teaming up with Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions – plus man-of-the-moment Jordan Peele and his production company, Monkeypaw Productions – for a low-budget back-to-the-roots crowdpleaser. But whilst Shyamalan went for horror thrillers, Lee has returned to the historical biopic that gave birth to his still-excellent Malcolm X to tell the story of Colorado Detective Ron Stallworth (Washington), his undercover sting into the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, and the White Jewish Detective (Driver) he roped in to help pull it off.
It has just screened for the first time this week at Cannes and early notices out of the festival have been extremely positive. I’ve been hoping for Lee to cement a genuine bonafide creative comeback since Chi-Raq belatedly made its journey across the pond, so those reviews, coupled with that excellent trailer which just dropped, have basically guaranteed I clear my schedule on August 24th. Meanwhile, in America, it drops on August 10th, a year to the day since the White Supremacist riots in Charlottesville. Welcome back, Mr. Lee.
Date: August 24th
Dir: Idris Elba
Star: Aml Ameen, Stephen Graham, Akin Gazi
Last but not least on our list of name attractions, we have Yardie, an adaptation of the cult novel by Victor Headley and the directorial debut of Idris Elba, who is apparently gunning for the title of British Donald Glover. Not much is known about it at the moment, the teaser especially is rather vague about anything other than it being a crime drama, and reports out of Sundance (where the film premiered) have been decidedly Not Good. Still, I can hope. 2018 has so far been rather dry on notable British films, so it would be nice for me to be able to point to ones other than Funny Cow for deserving praise.
Tomorrow, we’ll comb back through the Summer release schedule to highlight the genre fare, lower-key highlights, and Netflix Originals that may also be deserving of your time and money. Excited for any of the films listed in this part? Got any you think I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!