The 2020 Film Release Calendar: July

This has been perhaps the strangest Release Calendar I’ve ever done. Because the Oscars were held a few weeks earlier than they usually are, I wasn’t able to fit in the majority of the calendar before them. Usually I get the whole thing done by late January. And now, we’re post-Oscars, and I’m only on March. And the only reason January and February got done is because I wanted to get them up before some of the films actually came out.

But, here we are, working our way through the rest of the calendar for all the films to look forward to. I think you all know how this works — I’m gonna preview everything that’s set to come out (and a lot more that isn’t), and then guess what I think I’m gonna rate them all when I do manage to see them. And then we’ll use this as evidence of my ineptitude come the December wrap-up articles. These are my own twenty-seven 8×10 colored glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.

Anyway, here’s July:

July

Free Guy

A bank teller discovers that he’s actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.

I’m torn on this. The premise is really smart, but do I have any faith in them to fully make use of it? Judging from the main writer, I’m thinking no. Ryan Reynolds is the generic leading man of the moment who does these bland blockbusters, and Sean Levy directs. Which… all signs point to generic.

It looks heavily CGI’d and… yeah, let me just say 3 stars. Maybe it’s got an emotional undercurrent that works or maybe it does smart things with the premise and get it to 3.5.. But that insanely long trailer that basically spelled out the entire plot of the movie and didn’t give me much hope for that. It looks like pure July boring mainstream studio filmmaking.

Minions: The Rise of Gru

The continuation of the adventures of the Minions, always in search of a tyrannical leader.

2.5 stars. Automatic. Hate these Minions, hate their movies, please make them stop.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

I’m interested in this. Because it’s Jason Reitman. And it’s not that his father made the original films. But rather that he’s a good director. He’s been kinda quiet this past decade… Young Adult didn’t quite go over even though it was good, Labor Day didn’t work, Men Women and Children no one saw, and then Tull and The Front Runner were back to being really good, but no one saw them.

So on paper, I’ve got faith in him making this very good. The question is, when his character dramas tend to go 4 stars for me, how does that factor into a mainstream studio release with money behind it? Bill Murray seems to be very happy about this one, to the point where he’s very willing to return, but does this mean we can get 4 stars out of this?

I’m gonna say 3.5 stars, just because I don’t know what they’re gonna do or how they’re gonna pull this off. But 3.5 stars for a movie like this is very good, and somehow if they can get 4, that’s amazing. And it’s not even that I’m expecting it to suck or worried about that part. It’s just… when more money goes into stuff, stuff that’s meant to be a summer release especially, it tends to lower the ceiling on how good it can be.

Purge Sequel

This is supposed to be the final entry in the Purge series. They brought the writer back and got some new director. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. This franchise has exclusively been 3 stars and pretty entertaining for what it is, and I’m expecting more of the same. There’s really not much they can do to elevate or lower that rating from what it is. So let’s just get what we’ve always gotten and feel pretty good that they maintained this premise for five movies without ever really fucking it up.

Tenet

An action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel and evolution.

I mean, it’s Christopher Nolan. 4.5 stars is the baseline for him. Not even 4 stars anymore. Because look at his films — Dunkirk, Interstellar, Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Dark Knight, Prestige, Batman Begins… nothing less than 4.5 stars here and honestly you have to go back to his first film to get anything less than 4 from me. But anything he made with money has been almost entirely 4.5 stars (Insomnia’s the only one that’s probably a 4 from me, but everything else is 4.5). He’s earned it, and that’s the rating he gets, no matter what the movie is.

It’s also John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson… and fucking everyone. His usual cast. Everyone is in this, seemingly making cameos all throughout it. I’ve got no reason to think he won’t make a great movie. At worst, what are we getting? 4 stars? Okay.

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie

Is this real? It says it hasn’t been shot yet. And for animation… probably not the best idea? And is this even theatrical? I’ve watched like one episode of the show (and that weird Archer crossover or whatever that was) and have no real opinion of it.

I guess I’ll say 3 stars, if this even happens. I’ve got no idea what to make of it, and even if the show is funny, it’s hard to get these feature length versions of TV cartoons to work.

The French Dispatch

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.

It’s Wes Anderson. Automatic 4.5 stars. That dude is almost automatic for my top ten when he does live-action. What’s the worst case scenario on this? 4 stars? Okay. I’ll take 4 stars.

The trailer looked amazing, everyone under the sun is in it, and again — Wes Anderson. I know what I’m getting.

Jungle Cruise

Based on Disneyland’s theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles, but with a supernatural element.

3 stars. I don’t even have to see or say anything further. We get it. Big budget summer Disney movie starring The Rock. 3 stars. Automatic. No variation. I’ve seen a trailer for this in front of something — maybe Star Wars — it looks totally generic and perfectly 3 stars. They’re trading on The Mummy, only in the Jungle, but the problem is you can’t pull off The Mummy anymore in the era of this much CGI. So it’ll be 3 stars, no one will remember it and we’ll just move on with our lives.

Mobius

Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.

Wait, what?

And it’s Marvel? Oh, but like, Sony Marvel. Got it. Venom crossover sort of deal.

The director did Safe House and Life and Jared Leto stars. I’ll watch a trailer, but I already know what the rating’s gonna be, sight unseen.

Yeah, saw the trailer. 3 stars. The ceiling on this is 3.5 stars, and I don’t know how they’re gonna get there.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

The story of best friends Barb and Star, who leave their small Midwestern town for the first time to go on vacation in Vista Del Mar, Florida, where they soon find themselves tangled up in adventure, love, and a villain’s evil plot to kill everyone in town.

When I heard the title, I could have sword Aubrey Plaza was starring in this. Is it just me who thought that? I guess I conflated Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Ingrid Goes West and assumed it was one of her weird indie movies. Instead… it’s arguably worse.

It’s a Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo movie. Which, for some people, means, “Oh shit, they’re doing another thing after Bridesmaids!” And for me, it’s that same sentence, only without the explanation point and with a very different tone.

They wrote it, and the director is a TV guy making his first feature. Honestly, I’ve got no faith in this to be good. 2.5 stars. Maybe it gets to 3. 3.5 would shock me. But knowing me and comedy, I’m just gonna aim low. The smart move is 3, but honestly… I hate these studio comedies. I know what’s most likely to happen here.

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