With the fireworks still going off after Independence Day, July has officially arrived. Truth is, though, we already had some fireworks after what “Transformers: Age of Extinction” has done at the box office in two weeks. And I will be the first one to admit, I never saw it coming. Sure, the last one earned over $1.1 billion with $771 million coming from overseas, but to expect a now fourth installment to follow suit and better that seemed unlikely. But, apparently director Michael Bay knows something we don’t as his film has earned over $575 million in just 10 days. That’s ridiculous and it’s not done as some box office forecasters expect it to go well over $1 billion and better its predecessor. And let’s face it; this is technically a July release given it just came out on the 27th of June, which means the “true” July films have their work cut out for them. But, to use a sports analogy in the wrong context, that’s why the play the game.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (July 11)
Sadly I start with a sequel, but at least it’s not trying to be something it’s not. That’s more than I can say for the dynamic duo that opened up poorly this past holiday weekend. Sorry, I just couldn't preview “Tammy” or “Earth to Echo,” mostly because they’re not worth it. And who knows, maybe this second "Planet of the Apes” is garbage too, but at least it’s honest about what it is. I know we have seen one too many movies about apes and the truth is, I don’t know why we needed another after the last one. Especially after both director Rupert Wyatt and James Franco decided to opt out, leaving this whole project in flux. Yet here we are just three years later with a whole new director hoping to recreate magic from three years ago. So, it will be interesting to see what Matt Reeves has done with a franchise that can’t seem to ever officially go away.
“Sex Tape” (July 18)
This just feels like one of those films that was decided one night when a few producers were sitting around a table having a drink together. And I’m sure at the time it seemed like a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it needed to go into production. This just smells like one of those films pushed hard by its two stars, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. I could be wrong, but neither have had something worthwhile in a couple years, so why not make this film. They both are funny depending on the writing, which sadly can’t possibly be good enough here. How could it when this entire concept reaches its climax (no pun intended) within 20 minutes? But, stranger things have happened, which is why it even made this list to begin with.
“Planes: Fire & Rescue” (July 18)
I’ll be honest, when I saw this I thought it was a mistake or a preview for a DVD coming out. The last one just came out a year ago, so we already have its sequel? It seemed odd to me until I started looking into it more. Despite moving into production only six months after the start of the original, the concept was in the pipeline for close to four years according to director Bobs Gannaway during an interview with Yahoo! movies. “The first film was a race film. I wanted to look at a different genre, in this case, an action-disaster film.” Well color me surprised as I never expected this to be what comes after “Planes.” But, it looks good and like the first one has a great cast and soundtrack to keep you focused while you watch the events play out on the big screen.
“Wish I Was Here” (July 18)
I doubt this film makes the list for anyone but fans like me who love Zach Braff. Listen, Braff is great and the fact is he hasn’t been as active doesn’t tell the whole story. He just picks and chooses what he does very carefully which is why I will watch this without even thinking about it; especially when you figure he launched his own Kickstarter campaign to help earn the cash to make it. Only problem is, finding it as it surely will be dwarfed by whichever blockbusters are playing down the hall. That said, the story is relatable to virtually everyone reading this, given it focuses on a struggling actor, father and husband who is trying to find “his” purpose of life. Add in the usual Braff-esque indie-soundtrack which I count on being great and I think this might be a sleeper hit in some circles.
“Hercules” (July 25)
I know what you’re thinking; how could I possibly include a film based on yet another version of Hercules. Well, it’s actually one of two films this year based on the famed son of Zeus and its simple, Dwayne “Rock” Johnson. I would watch Johnson in just about anything considering I stopped watching professional wresting when he left to pursue this movies career. That’s how much of a fan I am of him, so no matter how ridiculous it might be, I will be there to watch him dominate the big screen like only he can do. Besides, this story is based off the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, so it’s not as if its just some random flick. There is some meaning to this film and I think based purely on the trailer’s I have watched, it looks like a lot of fun and easily my own “guilty pleasure” of the month.
“Lucy” (July 25)
For those hoping Scarlett Johansson would star in her own movie without sharing a whole lot of time with anyone, your wish has been granted. Finally, we get to see what all that training as Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a. Black Widow) in the “Avengers” franchise has done for her. I mean, I doubt she would ever been cast for this role without it, so I am excited about what this film could be. Because I have no doubt in my mind that Scarlett Johansson can carry an entire film by herself. What I worry about with this film is Besson’s story and how it all works, given its something we have yet to see on the big screen. That said French writer/director Luc Besson is a talent in his own right despite not having a very large resume and if the right mix of story to action is good, this might be a film people will look back on as a hit no one expected.
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