Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Cinema: Party's Over

It's already August, yeesh! Seems like yesterday it was May and Avengers: Age of Ultron was kicking off the Summer Cinema season and I was working the Skin Trade premiere and schmoozing at Pound of Flesh's. This weekend sees a pretty crowded line up of flicks hitting cinemas including Fox's $120 million dollar reboot of Marvel comic book franchise The Fantastic Four, low budget blast from the past reunion thriller The Gift, Aardman Animations Shaun the Sheep and Meryl Streep as an over the hill rocker in Ricki and the Flash all fighting for your movie going bucks.

Fantastic Four has been battling bad press since it's onset with the hardcore fans crying about the casting of Michael B. Jordan as The Human Torch, previously played by Chris Evans. Those same fans lambasted the 2005 and '07 attempts which I enjoyed as they were basically action-comedies about a dysfunctional family with super powers. Not everything needs to be rooted in gritty darkness like Batman or taken with such self serious emptiness as The Avengers. There were rumors about young director Josh Trank losing control on set and the online vitriol being a main reason he opted out of a standalone Star Wars feature. The approach seems more lo-tech, grunge science-fiction and made for an interesting first trailer. I'm staunchly not a supporter of new Reed Richards Miles Teller so we'll see when I see this.

A film that cost less than 1/10th of Fantastic Four but looks surprisingly more interesting is Joel Edgerton's The Gift. The King Arthur, Smokin' Aces and Warrior standout had written and directed short films in Australia and co-wrote 2014's The Rover. Here he directs, produces, writes and co-stars opposite Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. The trailers reminded me of 1992's Unlawful Entry, where yuppie Kurt Russell and trophy wife Madeline Stowe deal with an overzealous and creepy police officer played by one Ray Liotta. Word has been good on The Gift which sees Bateman and Hall's couple being slowly terrorized by former classmate Edgerton. Newly formed studio STX Entertainment is hoping to fill the market void on low to mid budget comedies, dramas and thrillers as the big boys focus on tentpoles, comic book adaptations and franchises.

The rest of the summer looks like slim pickings with WB's update of TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. starring Superman's cocked eyebrow and the Lone Ranger in Russian then Lionsgate's "stoner who's actually a spy" flick American Ultra being possible good times at the theater. Until then, see ya at round 2 of Ant-Man!

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