Welcome to PTBN Pop! Flick Pics! Each month, Russell makes his picks for the best (and not best) way to spend your hard-earned dollar at the movies. Be it action, superhero, sci-fi, comedy, drama, horror, romance, etc., he’ll direct you to what’s likely to be the best time at your local theater.
July 2018 is looking a little sparse, isn’t it? This used to be THE month for the biggest summer flicks. Now they all seem to drop in April-June and November-December. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something worth seeing.
Ant-Man & The Wasp – Marvel Studios already pulled off a multi-billion dollar haul this year with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, so any profit this one turns is going to be pure gravy. That said, this one looks genuinely better than the first. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are back in the title roles from the previous film, with Lilly donning her own shrinking suit complete with wings and blasters. Michael Douglas is back as Hank Pym along with new cast members Lawrence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster and Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne (aka, the original Wasp). The villain Ghost is already more compelling in the two-minute trailers than Yellow Jacket was over the course of two hours in the first film, so that’s a big step up. An all-star cast and some crazy shrinking and expanding action set pieces make this one another must-see MCU flick.
Skyscraper – I know, I know… it’s a blatant Die Hard rip-off… but, that building is WAY bigger! All kidding aside, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is proving to be Hollywood’s most bankable star at the moment. Seriously, the only flop he’s had was Baywatch, but he shrugged that off pretty fast and landed another hit in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. This one looks to be playing it straight, going for tense thrills and big action. The plot is definitely as thin as the air at the top of that tower, but if you’re looking to turn your brain off for a couple of hours and watch a muscle-bound behemoth kick ass, here you go. Something about him also being a veteran who lost his leg in a mission gone wrong and his family being trapped in this tower when terrorist take it over…
Eighth Grade – Independent Coming-of-Age movies seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but this one looks to tackle the subject of childhood anxiety in a way most others tend to gloss over. Writer/director Bo Burnham has received massive amounts of praise for this film about a young girl’s last week of eighth grade and her struggle with identity. The commentary on the adults in these kids’ lives trying so hard to relate to them and making the problems worse will hopefully be handled better than simply saying “parents just don’t understand.” But it’s clear from the trailers that these adults are as desperate to hold onto youth as the kids are to be seen and heard. The social anxieties of moving from middle school to high school are on full display and this looks to have a new crop of incredibly talented child actors. A welcomed trend considering how bad things got in the late 90s and early 00s.
The Equalizer 2 – Denzel Washington is back for another round of revenge-flick goodness. And this time… it’s personal! Alright, when is it not? Plot-wise, who cares all that much? We came here to see one of the best crack skulls and shoot a lot of bad guys. If this one’s trailers are any indication, there’s plenty of that to go around. Fast-paced, well-choreographed action scenes and Denzel’s trademarked silent glare and 1,000-megawatt smile are sure to keep you glued to the screen. That he’s back with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua doesn’t hurt, either. Obviously, this one isn’t going for that Oscar, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still have a good time watching Denzel kick ass.
Pick of the Month
Mission: Impossible Fallout – Tom Cruise might not be the bankable star he once was, but the Mission: Impossible franchise has been on a real tear since JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot took the reins for M:I III. Since then we’ve gotten the game-changing Ghost Protocol and the heart-pounding Rouge Nation. As plots go, it’s about what you’d expect with Ethan Hunt and his team once again being hunted by his own government while chasing down a shadow player who’s actually responsible for the bad things happening. This time around, though, Cruise is joined by new-comers Henry Cavill (with full, non-CGI face and mustache) and the incomparable Angela Bassett. Big action set pieces and lots of practical effects are what set this franchise apart from many of its contemporaries. Oh, and Cruise still doing mind-boggling and insane stunt work, especially for a guy in his mid-50s! This cast has been electric together for years and they’ve found a formula for these movies that just works. Well worth seeing on the biggest screen possible.
Skip of the Month
Teen Titans GO! To The Movies – Look, I get it. It’s aimed at kids who love that show. And likely, your kids (if you have them) are going to beg you to go. If the trailers are any indication, it may lean into making fun of the current crop of superhero films. That’s all well and good. But not worth sitting through the rest of the painfully dumb drivel sure to populate the rest of the movie. Wait for the YouTube clips or its inevitable inclusion on the DC Universe streaming app. Better yet, stay home with the kid and que up some great classic DC cartoons such as Batman: The Animated series (Amazon Prime), Superman: The Animated Series (Amazon Prime) or any number of the excellent DC Animated films now available on Hulu.