Part 3 of your comprehensive UK Summer Movie Guide!
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Ladies, gentlemen, and others, welcome back to your 2018 Summer Movie Guide, where we take a rundown of the upcoming movie release schedule and decide what is and is not worth watching based on pre-release information that may not be indicative of the final product! Hooray! In the previous two parts, we took a close look at all of the big-name attractions coming out between now and the end of August. Your Jurassic Worlds, your Incredibles IIs, your First Purges, and all that good stuff – if you’ve missed those parts or need/want a refresher, you can hop straight to each via this link and this link!
But how about those who want something a little outside the box? A little off the beaten track? A little B-tier or below? A feature with a little less than nine figures involved in its budget? Welp, that’s what this half is all about! Here, we’re going to cast our eye upon those very movies, the little nuggets shoring up the rest of the schedule that may otherwise have passed you by, organised into semi-arbitrary categories for expediencies sake. Some of them may be great, some of them may be dogshit on a streak-filled toilet bowl, but they all have the same chance of either outcome as the big-name features, so don’t let that stop the hype train! Because this turned out WAY longer than I anticipated, we’re gonna do half the categories today, and then the other half tomorrow. Infinite content! Let’s do this thing!
All release dates are UK specific, taken from the Film Distributors Association website and, whilst correct at press time, are subject to change.
The nature of 90% of animation and family movies effectively being certified licences to print money with guaranteed audiences who won’t say no to anything, means that the lower-deck stuff is properly lower-deck shit. Here in the UK, almost any animated feature that could be considered even slightly kid-friendly from anywhere in the world will get a super-cheap dub job and dumped into as many screens nationwide as possible in the hopes of raking in some dough from desperate parents needing something to silence their kids as quickly and firmly as possible. Therefore, we get this ghastly-looking new adaptation of The Little Vampire (May 25th), in 3D no less, that’s guaranteed to share cinema space with Solo in your local multiplex despite looking like this and you having never heard of it until now. The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear (August 3rd), meanwhile, genuinely looks more like a parody of cheap pre-school level animation than a genuine movie. We also have a new Thomas & Friends (July 20th) compilation (I assume) movie coming this year because Peppa Pig was too lazy to put together one of its own (I assume).
Still, even in the lower-tier, one can find gold if they scrounge deep enough and, at least according to the info I’m working from, you may not have to scrounge that deep this year! Next Friday, Studio Canal FINALLY, after over half a goddamn year since it opened in America, puts out The Breadwinner (May 25th), the third feature from acclaimed Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kels), the solo directorial debut of Nora Twomey, and the single best thing I saw at last year’s London Film Festival. A gorgeous, sophisticated, complex, and emotional rollercoaster based on Deborah Ellis’ children’s novel following a family struggling to get by in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the film is a testament to the power of animation, storytelling, hope, and so many more kind and completely-justified words that I threw its way back when I first saw it. Supposedly, this is getting a serious moderate release, so there is every chance it may play near you and, if it does, I cannot implore you enough to go and see it. It is just utterly incredible.
Or, you know, you can see Show Dogs (May 25th) instead. I WILL NOT BE DRAGGED BACK TO THE FAMILY FILMS OF THE MID-2000S, YOU HEAR ME! NOT AGAIN! NOT AFTER GARFIELD!
This segment is going to be completely useless for most people, as an advance notice, because I am extremely easily scared and therefore not the best person to judge horror movies for others. Nevertheless, perhaps spurred on by the continuing success of The Conjuring saga and the end-of-Summer release of IT, Horror is making some real in-roads on the Summer market this year. Leading the charge, with all of the buzz since its Sundance premiere, is Hereditary (June 15th), the feature debut of writer-director Ari Aster, details of which have been deliberately vague but apparently the film ends up welding arthouse horror values onto a James Wan-type jump machine – which, given that this is the way critics have been selling the movie, seems kind of dismissive of both types of horror (are we really going to claim that arthouse horror is merely “horror that has themes and shit”)? What I know for sure, is that my horror-adoring bestie was properly freaked out by the trailer and she needs an honest-to-god win in this department after recent let-downs on critically-acclaimed horror, so let her have it, Hereditary!
Hereditary is not the only arthouse horror in town this Summer, though! There’s also Spanish horror drama Marrowbone (July 13th), formerly The Secret of Marrowbone, written and directed by the writer of The Orphanage, Sergio G. Sánchez. It’s received mixed reviews from critics when it played at festivals (and opened in Spain) last year, but still seems worth checking out. But maybe you want more straightforward horror fare, none of this arty shit, just simple jolts and teenage girls being murdered, like in the good (?) old days! Well, Sony’s continued commitment to making the dumbest goddamn business decisions has got you covered with, get this, a Slender Man (August 24th) movie! No, really. They even got the director of I Will Always Know What You Did Last Summer to bring this way-too-late-to-the-party to life. Still, at least it’ll be timelier than when they finally get that Five Nights at Freddy’s movie out the door!
Slim pickings on this front given the changes in the Hollywood ecosystem and my having already spotlighted Hotel Artemis, but the three that fit the bill all have interesting hooks. Upgrade (August 31st) is a sci-fi action body-horror hybrid by Leigh Whannell, of Saw and Insidious screenplay duties, and whilst it obviously cribs from Robocop – a former cop who becomes a quadriplegic in the line of duty gets a new body courtesy of a highly-advanced microchip with accompanying AI that he uses to help hunt down his wife’s killers – it does seem to be taking a slightly different tack, updating its thematic concerns for 2018, and there is a surprising level of legitimate style in that trailer. Also likely to be unfairly dogged by comparisons to other films it resembles is Searching (August 31st), in which John Cho tries to find his missing teenaged daughter and uncovers a web of deception and lies in the process, with the hook that the film is told entirely via his Macbook screen. Unfriended, yes, but Cho is a forever criminally underrated actor being given close to a one-man show, and the word out of Sundance was incredibly strong; ditto for Upgrade at South by Southwest.
Also, Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have made another movie together as punishment for the rest of us refusing to get our collective shit together. At least Mile 22 (August 10th) has a prominent leading role for Iko Uwais. But then it’s also going to make Ronda Rousey act again, so I think that completely negates the positivity of more Uwais in our lives.
Straightforward grown-up dramas make for a nice, vital chaser to a Summer of loud noises and expensive explosions, and there’s a surprising number of them coming along this particular Summer. Disappointingly, though, they mostly slot into two distinct categories. The first are the kinds of “respectable” genial old-people dramas that have become dime a dozen in the British cinema scene in recent years, and which I have already had more than my fill of in 2018. Nevertheless, we’ve got quite a few to get through. The Bookshop (June 29th) is based on the novel about a woman trying to run a bookshop in late-50s Suffolk against the wishes of snobby elitists, and also stars Bill Nighy as all films like these are required to by law. On Chesil Beach (out now) is based on the novella by Atonement writer Ian McEwan and has even had members of the Set the Tape staff who have read and loved it wondering why and how it can be adapted into a movie – I can sum it up for you in a sentence without taking much out, I promise you. Whilst Mary Shelley (July 6th) continues Elle Fanning’s ceaseless quest to star in an actual good movie instead of just being the best part of garbage.
Mind, just because one might be a “respectable” old-people drama, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be immediately forgettable and weightless. Edie (out now) seems to be Wild but for aging, where an 83-year-old woman decides to go mountain hiking, yet it does already stand out on premise alone, and should be a fine showcase for Sheila Hancock. Whilst on the flipside, just because a film fits into the second distinct category – that being “not the first kind” – doesn’t mean it automatically looks worthwhile. Witness Adrift (June 29th), based on a true story about two lovers (Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin also still searching for more actual good movies to star in) stranded at sea in the middle of a hurricane, trying to sail back to safety. It’s the latest from journeyman director Baltasar Kormákur who last made the alright Everest, and may at least be better than the other based-on-a-true-story sailing drama from this year (The Mercy), but signs ain’t looking good. At least we’ve got the long-awaited return of Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) to look forward to in Leave No Trace (June 29th) which tries to envision a world in which Captain Fantastic was really good instead of an insufferable bag of shite. Seriously, snark aside, go watch the trailer, I am really excited for this.
Tomorrow, for real this time, we’ll wrap this whole thing up by looking at the comedies, indies, and Netflix-ies that are coming your way this Summer. Excited for any of the movies in this article? Disagree with any premature assessments? Sound off in the comments below!