The 2021 Film Release Calendar: May

It’s been such a protracted year, but finally we’re ready to finish the Release Calendar (and finally I can actually start watching stuff from this year in earnest.

By now, the calendar’s starting to get more filled out than it usually is when I start going over everything and we’re starting to get a sense that maybe, just maybe, by the latter half of the year movie theaters will be open and operating again at a level relatively near to what we’re used to.

So, in the hopes of that happening, let’s go over all the stuff that’s fixing to come out.

Here’s May:

May

Black Widow

A film about Natasha Romanoff in her quests between the films Civil War and Infinity War.

It’s Marvel, so 3.5 stars. That’s Marvel’s automatic rating for me. I’m sure this will be perfectly entertaining. Marvel’s only gone 4 stars for me like 4 times in 24 or 25 movies. So best stick with what they usually get.

Mainstream

In this cautionary tale, three people struggle to preserve their identities as they form an eccentric love triangle within the fast-moving internet age.

This is by Gia Coppola, whose first film I was not a fan of. This seems to have gotten not-so-great reviews out of the festival circuit. I think I should go on instinct here and say 2.5 stars. This doesn’t seem like my cup of tea.

The Water Man

A boy sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure said to have magical healing powers.

David Oyelowo directed this. It sounds likable. The question is how solid it’s gonna be. I’m gonna say 3 stars with the hope I like it more than that.

Oxygen

A woman wakes in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there, and must find a way out before running out of air.

Contained thriller. Okay. Directed by Alejandre Aja, starring Melanie Laurent and Mathieu Amalric.

Aja is good for one of those solid 3-3.5 level movies. The question is which end I think I’m getting.

I’m gonna go 3.5 stars, if only for the containment aspect, like Buried with Ryan Reynolds. Sounds like they’re trying to do the ‘there’s more going on under the surface’ thing here, so maybe it’ll pay off. Let’s take a shot.

Spiral

A sadistic mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in Spiral, the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw.

Chris Rock wrote a Saw movie. Or rather, Chris Rock had an idea for a Saw movie that other people wrote and someone else directed. Which I question slightly, but okay. I’m assuming there’s an undercurrent of social commentary here, otherwise I have no idea why Rock would decide to take this on. But again, sure.

I can’t guess more than 3 stars here given my intense dislike of the horror genre. Maybe if it’s smart and entertaining I can get 3.5 out of it, but that’s about the ceiling for me on a movie like this 98% of the time.

The Woman in the Window

An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors, only to witness a disturbing act of violence.

This one’s tough for me. Fox had it, then Disney bought them, then they pulled it back for reshoots, then they realized it wasn’t for them and sold it to Netflix. So I don’t know what the fuck to make of it.

It’s Joe Wright directing from a Gone Girl-style paperback from a script by Tracy Letts and starring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore and Anthony Mackie and Brian Tyree Henry.

I can’t assume anything less than 3.5 stars with Wright. Not to mention that cast. He’s only had two real missteps before: The Soloist and Pan. This feels like it could be one or it could just be a perfectly acceptable potboiler. These movies adapted from those kinds of books tend to succeed or fail based on the caliber of director. And if Fincher is the high end and Tate Taylor is the mediocre end, I expect Joe Wright to be firmly in the middle, closer to Fincher. So I’m sticking with 3.5.

But also, I could have simply said: with that director and that cast, this better be at least 3.5, and that would’ve sufficed.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

A teenage murder witness finds himself pursued by twin assassins in the Montana wilderness with a survival expert tasked with protecting him — and a forest fire threatening to consume them all.

It’s Taylor Sheridan directing. Seems he didn’t write it but rather took over an existing script and punched it up. Still, given the movies he’s written and the one he’s directed (Wind River), I can’t assume less than 3.5 stars here. So let’s go with that.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Thomas and Bea are now married and living with Peter and his rabbit family. Bored of life in the garden, Peter goes to the big city, where he meets shady characters and ends up creating chaos for the whole family.

Didn’t give a shit about the first one, not gonna give a shit about this one.

2.5 stars.

Free Guy

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

The concept is good. I don’t trust the budget level and tone they’re going for. If it’s not a hard-R I’m not sure I can get behind this. And I know they’re gonna try to make this the Hancock of movies, where it should have gone much darker than it did.

I can’t guess more than 3 stars on this. I’m sure it’s fine, and maybe it’ll be amusing enough for me to get 3.5. But I can’t go higher than that. Movies at this price point rarely go higher than 3.5 for me.

Army of the Dead

Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

Oh boy. Zack Snyder. By the time this is due to come out, I’ll have already been forced to suffer through the unholy and unnecessary mess that is his Justice League cut just so I can say that I’ve seen it and officially say it’s just as big a piece of shit as the theatrical cut was, only longer and more masturbatory. Not that it’ll really affect my thoughts on this movie, but I’m pretty sure I know how I’m gonna feel about this one, and I can say it in five words: All style and no substance.

I saw that teaser Netflix put out and it looks exactly like that — too much color saturation, too much bullshit action stuff, absolutely no real plot to speak of and all the worst people defending it. I’m actively dreading this.

3 stars.

Zone 414

Set in the near future in a colony of state-of-the-art humanoid robots. When its creator’s daughter goes missing, he hires private investigator David Carmichael, to bring her home. David teams up with Jane, a highly advanced and self-aware A.I., to track down the missing daughter. Moving through the dangerous iron jungle, they rapidly piece together the mystery, uncovering a crime that leads them to question the origins of Zone 414 and the true purpose behind the “City of Robots.”

I mean, sure. You get Guy Pearce in a generic futuristic thriller. I can make it through this. 3 stars.

A Quiet Place Part II

Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

So there’s a sequel. I quite enjoyed the first one, mainly for its use of silence. Can’t say it was the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, contrary to what a lot of people said about it at the time. But I did like it.

The question is, do I believe they’re going to tell a story worth telling for a sequel or are they gonna fall into all the usual traps?

I’m thinking go 3 stars and let it surprise me and get to 3.5. I know me and I know this genre and I know how all these movies go. You branch it out a little bit and you get military guys trying to rape people and weird religious cults. I need this movie to prove to me that it can do something interesting and that this isn’t just a cash grab.

Cruella

A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.

Whew boy, this looks bad. There’s been two trailers for this thus far. The first is just Joker but with Cruella de Vil and the other is aiming to sell it as a punk rock feminist movie. Hate to break it to you — if you have one, you can’t have the other. Which means you have neither.

This looks like a giant disaster and honestly I can’t wait.

3 stars.

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