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The 2016 Film Release Calendar: July

Every January, I preview all the films that are scheduled to come out for that year. I go through the existing release calendar, month by month, and guess how much or how little I’m going to like each of the films.

The major benefit is that it allows me, come the end of the year, to see which movies ended up surprising me for better or for worse, or which ones I had wildly disproportionate expectations for. It also gives me a chance to know what’s coming out and what to look forward to.

I also take all the films that are filming or in post and theoretically able to come out that year and preview those too, along with all the films from the previous year(s) that have yet to come out that I’ve been tracking. In all, I end up previewing more films than pretty much anyone else, I’ve been told.

July

The BFG

A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers refuses to eat boys and girls.

Steven Spielberg. Written by Melissa Mathison (who just died a few months ago, and also wrote E.T.), based on the book by Roald Dahl.

Mark Rylance, fresh off a Supporting Actor nomination, plays the BFG (Big Friendly Giant, not Big Fucking Giant). Also in this are Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement and Penelope Wilton.

I trust Spielberg. The story sounds fine, but nothing I’d overly love.

My gut tells me to go 3.5, but Spielberg is usually good for 4. So I think I’m gonna stick with 4 stars and at worst, I’m getting a 3.5 star movie.

The Legend of Tarzan

Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

So this is pretty much a remake of Greystroke from the 1984?

Did you see the trailer for this? It looked like shit.

It looked like $150 million of an unnecessary story.

Plus you have the other issues they ran into here, which is that David Yates, the director, had to leave the movie before it was done in order to start Harry Potter, which had a date it had to make. So the movie was not finished, needed heavy reshoots and post work, and the director had to leave because the studio fucked up the schedules and didn’t give him enough time to finish one before starting the other because they had two dates to make.

This is setting up to be a giant disaster. I can’t even guess 3.5 stars for this, because it looks wholly unnecessary, despite a great cast.

Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Djimon Hounsou, Alexander Skarsgard. I see that, I think at least 3.5.

But this trailer was bad. It shouldn’t go below 3 stars, because the budget is so high it’s almost certain to bottom out there. But man, I am not looking forward to this.

Why make a Tarzan movie? What are we getting out of this? What story needs to be told? We’ve seen it before a half dozen times.

This is borderline on Unforgivable watch because of how unnecessary it is and how they spent $150 million (possibly even closer to 200) trying to force a franchise that anyone could have seen wasn’t going to happen. This is a movie you spend $50 million on and hope it catches.

This is a giant bomb waiting to happen. I can’t say disappointment, because my expectations are so low at this point the only thing it can do is make me go, “Oh, well I guess that was okay.” And even then, I’ll never be okay with how much they spent on it.

The Purge 3

No synopsis, but we already know what we’re getting here.

I like the premise. The first one got by on that premise, even though the story was full of holes and annoying tropes. The second one was okay, but I didn’t love it. I imagine this one will be more of the same.

The question is when this movie goes from 3 stars and being good enough to get by on the premise to 2.5 stars and me not caring anymore. They hinted that it might be coming soon with the end of the last one, where they’re moving toward that YA last novel trajectory of government corruption and fighting the dystopian overlords.

But for now, I’ll give them 3 stars and hope this can maintain that, and then depending on how this goes, all bets are off for the fourth one. (Unless this is gonna end a trilogy. But something tells me that’s not gonna be the case.)

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Two brothers place an online ad to find dates for a wedding and the ad goes viral.

Well, they have faith in this, putting it in July. My recollection is that a comedy going in July is never a good sign. But the premise is fair enough.

Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Devine.

Not overly impressed with anything I’m seeing in terms of cast, writers or directors.

I have to stick with 3 stars and let the movie impress me, if it’s going to. It’s hard for me to get excited about a comedy, given the state of comedy.

The Secret Life of Pets

Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max’s life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.

I’m already seeing a franchise here, and it terrifies me.

To be fair, the trailer did have its moments. So I’m not as far down on this as you’d think I’d be.

That said, this is probably one of those that’s getting 3 stars at best out of me the first time, and after this, I’m done and don’t care about anything. This is assuming it’s successful enough for a sequel, but given the date, they’re pretty confident it will.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here and say I’ll find this enjoyable enough.

Ghostbusters

I bet most people writing a list of their most “anticipated” movies of 2016 will have this on their lists. Because, you know, click bait.

Count me as one with this on my list of films that make me the most nervous. Because if this sucks, and it makes money, there are going to be more of them. If it sucks and it doesn’t make money, then everyone shits on it and an all female cast movie is wasted. Where’s the benefit of doing this?

The cast doesn’t inspire me with any confidence. They could just as easily make a terrible film as a good one. The budget is $150 million, which scares the shit out of me. There’s a lot to make me nervous.

So I have to say 3 stars and let the movie decide whether or not it’s gonna be good.  I will be personally shocked if this movie gets to 4 stars for me. If it can get to 3.5 star I will be pleasantly surprised. 3 stars is the most likely scenario.

Here’s just hoping it’s not Unforgivable, which is also a distinct possibility.

La La Land

This happens every summer. One film everyone would put on their most anticipated list that I don’t care about is immediately followed by a movie I’m infinitely more excited about.

Does anyone even know what this is?

Okay, does anyone who doesn’t read what I write know what this is?

I’m still thinking the overall percentage is low.

This is the follow up film by Damien Chazelle to Whiplash.

It’s a musical.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are starring.

This immediately becomes one of the movies I’m most excited for this year.

4 stars. It’s a musical, so unless it’s completely tone deaf (pun ridiculously intended), I’m getting a minimum of 3.5 stars here. There’s a chance I can even get 4.5 stars or 5 stars out of this if I really love it. I don’t want to guess 4.5, because I don’t want to ultimately be disappointed. I loved Whiplash, but I don’t know what I’m getting out of this guy after that. So we’ll see what he can give us and remain enthusiastic about everything to do with this movie.

The Lake

A team of Navy SEALs discover an underwater treasure in a Bosnian lake.

The reason I’m not skipping this is because J.K. Simmons is in it. And Luc Besson wrote it. Usually when he writes something, it’s okay.

The director did Into the Storm, so that’s not the worst thing he could have on his resume.

I don’t know where this goes, so I have to say 3 stars and hope for the best. It’s probably gonna be either 2.5 or 3. Luc Besson written films tend to be in that range.

Ice Age: Collision Course

Nope.

Pretty sure I was done after two.

Completely skipping this. Do not give a fuck.

But 2.5 stars, because we gotta put something on there in case shit happens.

Lights Out

I saw the short this is based on. It was pretty good. How you turn that into a feature, I have no idea.

But hey, credit for getting a feature made.

2.5 stars.

Star Trek Beyond

I feel like this year is so easy to guess ratings because so much of it is franchises or directors and I know exactly how I’m going to rate them even before I see a cast and synopsis.

There’s no plot announced for this, but seeing as how the first one was fun but not great, and the second one was watchable but a giant mess, I have no choice but to say 3 stars here. Justin Lin is directing, who is the king of the 3 star franchise action movie. Maybe we can get 3.5 stars out of this, but it’s not gonna go higher than that.

The Space Between Us

A young man raised by scientists on Mars returns to Earth to find his father.

The director made Hector and the Search for Happiness, which was whatever, Shall We Dance, which I haven’t seen, and also Serendipity and Town and Country. So nothing overly outstanding.

Stars Asa Butterfield, Britt Roberston, Carla Gugino, Gary Oldman and BD Wong.

Okay, sure. I’ll bite.

3 stars.

Genius

A chronicle of Max Perkins’s time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe,Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.

Sounds like they’re gonna try to get this an Oscar push at some point. The date doesn’t help matters, though.

Colin Firth stars. As does Nicole Kidman. Because apparently they have to make every movie together at this point. Plus Jude Law, Guy Pearce, Dominic West, Laura Linney.

Good cast, interesting premise. Do I go 3 or 3.5?

First time director. Written by John Logan, who is usually good for a solid script.

So 3.5 stars. Let’s see what we get. Solid cast, good writer. I’ll go 3.5.

Untitled Next Bourne Chapter

Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass, Bourne.

4.5 stars, enough said.

They got Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel as well, and Julia Stiles is back.

I’m in at Damon/Greengass/Bourne. I hope this is as good as Ultimatum was.

Anything less than 4 will be disappointing for me.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is August.

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