By Kristen Lopez | The Playlist July 1, 2013 at 12:14PM
It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the summer, but no worries because July has fireworks, hot dogs, and movies! June was a soft month with staid comedies like “The Internship” and divisive blockbusters such as “Man of Steel” and “World War Z.” But, the next thirty days or so should have more than enough for you whether your appetite is for explosions or more subtler fare with a bit more substance.
July’s highlights include the latest from Woody Allen, sensations from Cannes and Sundance, compelling documentaries and of course, a few well-placed blockbusters that could do boffo business upon release. Feel free to tell us what we missed, or what else we should be looking forward to this month! Anything in particular that you're looking forward to?
“The Lone Ranger”
Synopsis: John Reid (Armie Hammer) is a man who believes in the power of the law. As recounted by his Native American compatriot, Tonto (Johnny Depp) narrates how Reid turned into an outlaw desperate to do well in the world, eventually becoming the Lone Ranger.
What You Need to Know: Disney has taken its lumps in the live-action department lately, as last year's western/sci-fi hybrid, “John Carter,” was a $250 million disaster that barely broke even. Disney hopes to buck that trend with its “Pirates of the Caribbean” dream team of producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski, screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, and megastar Johnny Depp. One can’t say that the movie isn’t being marketed like mad, with clips and commercials playing en masse, and a splashy, star-studded premiere held at Disney’s California Adventure. It’s got the coveted 4th of July weekend, which could be successful if families want to see a film before shooting off fireworks. Depp’s name still carries some cache, but his last few films have caused audiences to wonder if the man possesses any additional talent outside of wearing a lot of makeup. Hopefully, fans of Depp, the “Pirates” franchise, and/or fans of the original series take all those elements and head out to the theaters to break the western curse. But early reviews, including our C- assessment, suggest otherwise.
Release Date: July 3rd
“The Way, Way Back”
Synopsis: Duncan (Liam James) is a 14-year-old boy spending the summer with his mother (Toni Collette) and her jerk of a boyfriend (Steve Carrell). Hoping to spend as little time with his family as possible, Duncan takes a job at a water park and discovers what family truly means.
What You Need to Know: “The Way, Way Back” is the directorial debut of screenwriters Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, the Academy Award-winning co-writers of the Alexander Payne film, “The Descendants.” The film has gained a significant following since its showing at Sundance, with our own Cory Everett giving it a “B” at Park City, describing it as a film that “aims for the heart;” peppered with a slew of fantastic character actors including Maya Rudolph, Sam Rockwell, Alison Janney, and a dark Steve Carrell. Carrell is taking a gamble by playing against type in a role where audiences will be surprised that you’re not “supposed to be laughing with him.” The film’s had several pop-up screenings throughout the month, and could be a strong sleeper hit.
Release Date: July 5th in limited release with expansion throughout the month.
Synopsis: The true story of the death of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) who was killed on New Year’s Eve 2009 by BART transit police.
What You Need to Know: The buzz on “Fruitvale Station” is immense with early prognosticators being that it’s an awards contender. It nabbed two substantial prizes at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Audience Prize and coveted Grand Jury Prize, as well as another trophy Cannes, upping its chances come awards season. Directed by first-time director Ryan Coogler and featuring a break-out performance by “Friday Night Lights” alum, Jordan; Jessica Kiang gave the film a “B”at Cannes and praised Jordan’s talent, although she considered the film “heavy-handed” with a “manipulative script.” The events of the movie were widely documented in the news media, particularly on the West Coast, so viewers might not want to relive events culminating in rioting and chaos. Conversely, any movie that touts it’s “what actually happened” could face mixed audiences finding it manipulative. Regardless, “Fruitvale Station” will make a splash upon release.
Release Date: July 12th in limited with a wide release on July 26th.
Synopsis: When evil creatures known as Kaiju rise from the sea, it’s up to a former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and his untested partner (Rinko Kikuchi) to wield a robot, called a Jaeger, in order to stop the Kaiju.
What You Need to Know: If you’re seeking an original, creative project directed by a legendary fan-favorite director, then go out and support “Pacific Rim.” A $200 million co-production from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, “Pacific Rim” is the brainchild of Guillermo Del Toro, who has been whetting audiences’ appetite with this film since last year. A mix of “Godzilla” and “Voltron,” the movie is hoping to rely on spectacle in lieu of big name stars (the biggest name is “Luther” star, “Idris Elba“). With footage being spotty, probably to entice audiences to check out the finished product, there’s fear that the movie won’t live up to expectations or pull in enough financially. (Although, with a simultaneous 2D/3D release, it‘s hoped that increased ticket sales will make up the difference.) A recent report mentions that the film is tracking behind the atrocious sequel to “Grown-Ups,” which isn’t going to combat the cries of Hollywood’s fading creativity. If you don’t want sequelitis to be reinforced, head out to see “Pacific Rim.”
Release Date: July 12th
Synopsis: A schoolteacher (Mads Mikkelsen), coping with a divorce and ensuing custody battle, finds his life turned upside down when a rumor in his small town threatens to ruin him.
What You Need to Know: Director Thomas Vinterberg, co-founder of the Dogme movement and director of the 1998 film, “A Celebration,” returns with a “brilliantly unsettling” film, according to Jessica Kiang in her A- review. Leading man, Mads Mikkelsen has gained a following this year with his NBC show, “Hannibal,” and while “The Hunt” has been playing in various film festivals since last year (and gained a place in Kiang’s Favorite of 2012 list), it’ll finally be receiving a wide release. With a swath of strong reviews and Mikkelsen’s growing name recognition, it’s a safe bet that this will be tearing up the arthouse world.
Release Date: July 12th (New York and Los Angeles)