Ladies and gents we are about to pass the point of no return; we are soon to cross into the second half of the calendar year for 2014 and beckoning us to that sainted shore is July, dressed in flowing, nigh-on-transparent white silks whilst the summer breeze wraps itself around her beguiling, but honestly perplexing, dance moves. What secrets will this self-branded hottest month hold for us weary travellers of cinema? Will the promise of bombast alluded by Tom Cruise’s frantic leg movement hold fruit, or shall we be faced with a long slog of a summer, replete with woe, drought and the craving for a Capri-Sun, despite their immediate unavailability? Below are some words. They may help us in these regards.
Transformers: Age of Extinction -5th July
I once read an article about the clandestine nature of Transformers; how they’re an allegorical depiction of the potential destructive nature of technology and their propensity to explode into a far more terrifying and dangerous form. Does its potential mechanized form favour mankind’s advancement or a far more anarchic and violent future? This is the untapped subtlety of the Transformers franchise. In the trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction there is a robot with a gun for a face. Michael Bay, your grasp of the impalpable astounds me. Go have Mark Wahlberg’s muscles run away from robot dinosaurs while I sit in this corner and despair.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – 11th July
I’m ever so slightly annoyed by the phonetic ambiguity of How to Train Your Dragon 2. How to train your dragon to what? Tap-dance? Collect stamps? Speak Dutch? Be a reliable companion in your adventures across a mystical dragon-filled world whilst you struggle with duty and adolescence in tandem? Oh, actually that last sounds kinda film-make-able. This sequel to the 2010 surprise hit follows the dorky-no-more Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and the gang stumbling upon the legendary Dragon Rider and countless new dragons at its command. Are they friend, foe, or an arbiter of an adversary most arduous? Go watch the film, man. I don’t know.
Boyhood – 11th July
If you dared Richard Linklater to make the same movie twice, I think he’d drop a smoke bomb and make a ninja-like escape. I’m not claiming Richard Linklater is Batman, I’m just saying he has such a varied film-making skill-set given his history that he could be the cinematic equivalent of Batman. Back when Batman wasn’t a dour and serious grump, that is. Seriously, go IMDb him if you don’t believe me. Anyway. Shot over 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is Linklater’s latest and most in-depth attempt to capture that most tumultuous of times. Ethan Hawke turns up, because it’s a Richard Linklater film.
Begin Again – 11th July
Back in the mists of 2006, writer-director John Carney made Once, a film about two disparate buskers in Dublin who would fall in love, write bitter-sweet music together, get separated and eventually win an Oscar for pulling on your musical hear-strings until they snap. Having had a busker’s dalliance with Dublin myself, I can safely say that that kind of thing doesn’t happen as often as you’d like. Fast-forward to 2014 where Carney’s new film, Begin Again, has spookily similar themes going for it, except one person is a jaded musical exec (Mark Ruffalo) and the other is Kiera Knightley. Not to be too dismissive, but James Corden’s in it, so it can’t be that good.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 17th July
Did anyone really expect Rise of the Planet of the Apes to be nearly as good as it was? ‘Cause I sure as genetically-modified apes didn’t. I mean, it was this hour-long character build about a hyper-intelligent chimp that perfectly dovetailed into spectacular monkey-based revolution AND a gorilla fought a helicopter! Now we have a sequel where humanity, pushed to the brink following the epidemic at the end of the last film, is on the verge of waging war against the presently-peaceful cabal of super-apes led by Andy Serkis’ Caesar. We kinda already know where thing are going to go, but if the last outing was anything to go by, this is going to be good.
Hercules – 25th July
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is Hercules. Someone, somewhere has had this movie idea floating around for a while, it just has that feel about it, y’know? Was it this film’s director Brett Ratner? Was it Dwayne himself? Who’s to say? The gist for this swords-and-sandals epic is that following those Twelve Labours he was known for, Hercules gets roped into helping the King of Thrace win a war and beat up all the other guys. The biggest task for Herc, truly, is if anyone can make it through the trailer without singing a number from Disney’s Hercules. I went for “Zero to Hero”. Don’t act like that’s not in your head now.
Joe – 25th July
Despite my appreciation of the man, I’ll be the first to admit that Nicholas Cage hasn’t made the best decisions in recent years. With Joe I hope, with penitent knee, that he has rediscovered his form in a film that makes use of the grubby thriller aesthetic of more contemporary films such as Blue Ruin and Cold in July. Joe sees Cage’s drifter-ex-con take on the patriarchal role to Tye Sheridan’s put-upon Gary in a rural town-scape that looks like it’s gradually being eaten by trees. Or invaded by trees. There’s a lot of trees. Will Joe’s past bubble back in his attempts to look after Gary, or has he truly made amends?
The Purge: Anarchy – 25th July
If you’re not an avid horror fan and/or an American, you probably missed The Purge when it reared its masked face a few years ago. The idea behind The Purge is that in an ultra-conservative America, once a year, all crime is legal for 12 hours. This means yuppies dress up in masks and go murder everyone, including poor ol’ Ethan Hawke. The first film was made for approximately 20p and made a neat million at the box office, so they’re doing it again! This time a couple get caught on the street during this year’s Purge and have to survive the night, as the film’s tag-line encourages.
Guardians of the Galaxy – 31st July
That’s right, the UK release of Marvel’s most hotly-anticipated film this year comes out a whole day earlier than you expected. If you’ve somehow avoided the incredible trailers and snippets of info about Guardians of the Galaxy, seriously, where have you been and what have you been doing? Guardians of the Galaxy sees human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) team up with an alien assassin, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a psychopath, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a talking tree, Groot (Vin Diesel), and a homicidal raccoon, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) in a desperate quest to save the universe and look damn roguish in the attempt. Be excited, and if you can’t be excited then go back to your chrome-plated future you unfeeling automaton, you.