by Hunter Bush
Hoo boy, it's been hot here in Philly. Welcome to Summer, I guess? More like 'Welcome to Pre-Autumn' as I like to think of it. As a kid, summer always meant a break from school, so that was nice, but I was never a big fan of the heat. I love to swim, despite how often I've seen Jaws (or Deep Rising, hahaha...) but that's about it for me, summer-wise. Even as a kid, I preferred the air-conditioned darkness of a movie theater.
So if you're like me, Everything Old is New Again is here to help! Here at EOiNA, I look into the Remakes, Adaptations and Legacy (or Long-Gap) Sequels making it to theaters in the coming months. But, before we get down to business...
If you're a regular reader of EOiNA, firstly I thank you but also, you may have noticed that I occasionally push the boundaries of what exactly falls under my purview. Well, I'm about to do that again when I mention how excited I am that Joe Bob Briggs is coming back to...well not exactly TV, but close enough for me!
Though Joe Bob had hosted assorted other, similarly-formatted shows, I first discovered him as the host of TNT's MonsterVision, which he hosted from 1996 - 2000. During his tenure, MV was a late-night showcase of cheesy, drive-in style movies that Joe Bob would tell various anecdotes and give trivia about as the bumpers between commercial breaks. Returning to form (minus the commercials), on Friday, July 13th (how perfect) Joe Bob will be hosting a slightly-more-than-24-hour marathon on horror streaming service SHUDDER called The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. Some of the titles have been announced, but y'all can look that up for yourselves.
Anyway, here are some movies you may wanna check out if you're gonna be spending some time in a theater this summer. The slate is looking pretty packed. As always, thanks for reading, please share this with your friends and stay cool. I'll see you in September.
FIREWORKS - Based on a Japanese play broadcast on television in 1993 called "Skyrockets, Should We Watch From the Side or From Below?", this lightly supernatural romantic/drama anime tells the story of a small group of school friends in a seaside town on the eve of an upcoming festival. Things seem to reach their zenith when Nazuna (Suzu Hirose) reveals that she is planning to run away. The animation looks excellent (the light effects especially!) and the low-key magic crystal ball plot device (that either messes with time or shows parallel worlds...maybe both?) is interesting in its low-key-ness (I honestly couldn't make too much sense of the trailers, so I had to do some research, or I'd have missed it entirely). Fireworks was originally released in Japan in August of last year, but is getting a limited release starting on July 4th, for obvious thematic reasons. But like, really, how perfectly sweet and cute would it be to take a date to see Fireworks on Fourth of July weekend?
ANT-MAN & THE WASP - The latest Marvel comics adaptation is a sequel to 2015's Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd as the titular crook-turned-hero with the scientifically-endowed abilities to shrinkify and growulate himself (these are science terms, you may not be familiar with them). This time he's joined in his size-changing shenanigans by Hope (Evangeline Lilly), the co-titular Wasp, whose super-suit also gives her wings and lasers! Returning cast members Michaels Douglas and Peña (personal fave) are joined by the likes of Laurence Fishburne (!) Walton Goggins (!!) and Michelle Pfeiffer (!!!) This time Ant-Man & Wasp have to contend with financial terrorist Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) as well as Goggins' Sonny Burch, a scheming businessman whose comic book history has him selling bootleg versions of various super-suits and related tech. I'm most excited for Laurence Fishburne as yet another size-altering hero, Dr. Bill Foster a.k.a. Goliath! I really enjoyed the humor, tone and unique-for-a-Marvel-movie heist film feel of the first Ant-Man and hope returning director Peyton Reed can recapture those elements here.
THE EQUALIZER 2 - Based on the TV series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim that ran from 1985-1989, this sequel to 2014's original Equalizer features Denzel Washington returning to the role of Robert McCall (the role originated by Edward Woodward in the 80's). When a close friend of McCall's is murdered, he must again...Equalize! Listen, the trailer I saw knows what's up and opened with the words "Denzel Is Back". That's not all that matters, but it is all you needed to say. I am never *not* in a mood to watch Denzel mess stuff up. Not to mention that he's re-teamed with Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua. The trailer has a lot of footage on a train, which I'm a fan of (*cough* Murder on the Orient Express *cough*) and a lot of other action besides, including what I can only presume to be the motivation murder. Once properly murdervated, McCall will have to give up his life of...watching someone else paint a house (lol)... and return to Balance The Equation! (see what I did there?) I kid, but I will definitely try to catch this.
MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN - Ten years gone sequel to 2008's Mamma Mia!, based on the music of Swedish pop giants ABBA (who have recently announced two new songs & are reportedly preparing for some kind of hologram-based tour in spring of next year), Here We Go Again sees (apparently) the entire cast return when Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) reveals that she is now pregnant and feeling unsure she'll be able to manage without her mother (Meryl Streep) around. The movie seems like it will have a lot of flashback material, with Lily James playing the younger version of Streep's character, Donna. I usually don't care for so-called jukebox musicals, but for some reason Mamma Mia is the exception that proves the rule. Maybe it's because (and I say this without fear of damaging my bulletproof punk credibility): ABBA are fucking great. Anyway, this looks like a great, fun, light, summer movie plus an appearance from Cher!
CASTLE ROCK - This might seem a little odd for the subject of an EOINA write-up, as it's a TV series AND not a direct adaptation of something specific, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it. Set in one of Stephen King's fictitious towns where all the bad stuff seems to happen (the other being Derry), Castle Rock is a veritable piñata of creepy delights set to break open at the end of the month. Henry Deaver (André Holland) is a death row attorney with business at Shawshank Prison (of Redemption fame) where Bill Skarsgård (!) is a prisoner (his character is thus-far unnamed, color me intrigued). The series seems to be following an original story that will tie back into Castle Rock's origins and at least dip a toe into the larger "metaverse" of King's fictions. While the trailers are full of visual allusions to King's numerous works, I have no idea how many "real" characters can show up or be mentioned. For instance (rights issues aside), with Skarsgård in the cast, his version of Pennywise the Clown obviously won't be showing up, but could we hear someone talk about him by name, or would they maybe just mention "that clown business over in Derry" or somesuch? Oh, and did I mention that Sissy Spacek plays Deaver's adoptive mother? Carrie White herself, returning to a King-centric work! With casting as meta and fun as that, you better believe I'm here for it!
TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES - Speaking of meta: After noticing that all the other superheroes were getting their own movies, DC comics' Teen Titans are going to Hollywood for their moment in the spotlight! Cartoon Network's Teen Titans Go! is a very fun, irreverent cartoon and their movie looks to be no different. As for how well that tone maintains spread across a feature length stretch of time remains to be seen, but voice cast additions like Will Arnett, my bae Kristen Bell and my dude Nicolas Cage (finally playing Superman!) can only help smooth things out. Arnett plays perennial Titans villain Deathstroke (here known by the less upsetting mononym Slade) making a play for world domination. The trailers are full of comic-nerd freeze frame eye candy (the influence of art director Dan Hipp) and, I think (?), every DC comics character appears in these crowd scenes. So you'll be visually stimulated by it all, if nothing else.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT - Based on the TV series that ran from 1966 - '73, this latest installment in the M:I film franchise, started in 1996, sees Ethan Hunt (Tommy Cruise) out there, kickin' ass and takin' names, proving that somebody in the gov't has no idea what the word "impossible" really means. The most recent M:I films' plots have focused on the IMF (the gov't branch that doles out your assorted Missions Impossible) collapsing from the inside, leaving Hunt as the last man standing. While Fallout's plot details are slim, apparently once again Hunt is on the run after a Mission proved to be just a skosh too Impossible, leaving the world in jeopardy. Simultaneously, other governmental branches are set to find and stop Hunt (who, again, seems to be catching all the hell for the situation). Listen, if you asked me to explain pretty much any of the Mission: Impossible movies' plots, I'd just say "Spy jazz", and I dunno about you but that's enough for me, I still really enjoy them more than most "spy jazz"-type movies. Cuz gang, say what you want about him but, Tom Cruise is *always* entertaining, especially when his character is at his wits' end. Plus, that Henry Cavill bathroom fight looks incredible! Besides Cruise & Cavill, this looks like the most star-packed Mission yet, with the likes of Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, & Vanessa Kirby joining returning franchise players like Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson & Alec Baldwin. Also, seriously, every M:I could be Cruise’s last as he keeps insisting on performing dangerous stunts himself.
THE DARKEST MINDS - Based on the first book in the YA book series by Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds is for everyone who thought The Hunger Games would be much better if all the Tributes were X-Men. In Minds, a plague event of some kind has killed a lot of the world's kiddos but left those that remain with various types of powers: meet the Super-Kiddos! Rounded up into military camps for their own good (maybe the president is a fan?) the kids are divided into color-coded categories based on what type of powers they have & how dangerous they may be. The trailer definitely shows a group of five-or-so Super-Kiddos on the run, so I'm guessing they escape. The cast features Gwendoline Christie as (educated guess) the villain and Mandy Moore as (educated guess) the secret hero (She's too old to be one of the Super-Kiddos. so I'm guessing she works at the camp and breaks them out. Maybe she herself is a secret Super-Kiddo? Like maybe the plague doesn't work if you've already begun puberty but Mandy was a late-bloomer so despite seeming too old she, like, creates pigeons with her mind? I dunno, I'm just spitballing.) I'll be skipping this one for sure. It just looks too derivative of too many as-good-or-better concepts. Prove me wrong, Darkest Minds! Prove me wrong.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN - Based on the characters created by A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin imagines a grown up (who else?) Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) reuniting with the anthropomorphic stuffed animal friends he thought he'd said goodbye to long ago. Kind of like Hook, but without the frustrating I-don't-believe-this-is-really-happening angle. I thought I knew where this movie was going (Robin heading back to the magical lands of his childhood, like in Hook) but the second trailer I watched (which for some reason I could only find with Spanish titles and subtitles) clued me in on two things. Firstly, that beyond Robin returning to the Hundred Acre Wood for an adventure, Pooh & the others come into our world to help Robin...something about rediscovering his childlike sense of wonder no doubt. And secondly, apparently in Spanish-speaking countries, Eeyore is known as Igor. Weird. Anyway, this looks like a charming tear-jerker and, being a period piece, it avoids sad attempts to make the beloved childhood characters "current" and "hip". The extended cast features Hayley Atwell & Mark Gatiss and the voices of Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, & Wyatt Dean Hall.
BLACKkKLANSMAN - Adapted from Ron Stallworth's autobiographical book Black Klansman about his time undercover, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan while also being the first black police officer in Colorado Springs. This sounds like an amazing story and with Jordan Peele producing and Spike Lee directing (!), I have no doubt it will be thrilling and hilarious. The cast features John David Washington as Stallworth, Adam Driver as his undercover partner (and "face" of Stallworth), and Topher Grace as David Duke. The trailer is gorgeous and exciting and makes excellent use of The Temptations' song "Ball of Confusion", but honestly, if the phrase "Topher Grace as David Duke" doesn't do it for you, I dunno what will.
THE MEG - Two book adaptations out on the same day! This one is based on The Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alton. The crew of an underwater research station encounters a ridiculously too-big shark, a long thought extinct Megalodon. The trailer also shows the Meg attacking a beach teeming with swimmers and a submersible pod piloted by Bingbing Li getting attacked by a giant squid. So this is every reason to stay out of the ocean except Cthulhu and pirates. The cast also features Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, and Masi Oka, among others. This looks like all you could possibly want in a summer release movie and the special effects look really great, so you won't be getting Sharknado vibes the whole time.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS - Based on the book by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians looks like entirely unremarkable rom-com-drama fare with the notable exception of its all Asian cast, the first western film with an exclusively Asian cast in 25 years (according to IMDB Trivia). Essentially the story of Rachel (Constance Wu) flying to Singapore with her boyfriend (Henry Golding) to meet his family only to find that they're, you guessed it, crazy rich! And Asian, but I would imagine she already knew that. Rachel, not being crazy-rich herself, doesn't come from the right stock to measure up to the boyfriend's mother's (Michelle Yeoh) standards and must, presumably, prove herself in some fashion or another (like, what's that movie with the domineering mother-in-law...oh, right: all of them!) Meh. Gang, I want you to know I have nothing whatsoever against the rom-com genre, but it's gotta look like it's offering me something interesting and this story doesn't seem like it does. Also, I could give a shit about looking at the trappings of wealth, so that aspect doesn't do anything for me either.
PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH - I actually had to go back and check. I was *sure* I had covered this before, but apparently, I have not. It did some preview festival screenings earlier in the year, but near as I can tell, August 17th is the date of the limited theatrical release (? If I'm wrong, I'm wrong). The 13th (!) film to carry the Puppet Master name (the most recent being last year's PM: Axis Termination), The Littlest Reich is a soft reboot of the franchise, written by S. Craig Zahler (of Bone Tomahawk & Brawl in Cell Block 99 fame) If you are unfamiliar, Puppet Master is about a group of puppets given sentience by... actually, nobody can really agree on that. Almost every film in the series changes it. (Seriously, it's one of the most confusing franchises to try to wrap your head around, a fact that Zahler & co. try to rectify here by apparently setting it in a parallel universe to smooth all the plot holes out). Oh, but Nazis are involved. In Littlest Reich, the Puppets end up at a memorabilia convention of some kind where they undoubtedly kill people in numerous splatterific ways. The cast features a handful of notable comedians and genre mainstays like Charlene Yi, Michael Paré, Tom Lennon, Udo Kier, and Barbara Crampton (!)
DOWN A DARK HALL - Based on the novel from Lois Duncan (who also wrote the novel I Know What You Did Last Summer was based on), Down a Dark Hall follows a quintet of troubled girls sent to a creepy-looking boarding school as an alternative to doing hard time. The mansion that houses the school, of course, is rotten with creepy vibes and atmosphere that will probably turn out to be centered around the wing of the school that the students are forbidden from entering. I love a good creepy-house movie and the fact that this is a young-adult spookum movie (the pedigree credit is "from the producers of The Twilight Saga") geared to young girls is awesome! The house, by the way, looks gorgeous which can't hurt things at all. The trailer does showcase some pretty weak-looking scares, but with Uma Thurman as the headmistress, I can't see this being anything but enjoyable. My wish is that, by the movie's end, the girls have banded together to become like an updated version of The Monster Squad! That would be rad.
SLENDER MAN - Originally set to be released in May but delayed, Slender Man is adapted from the character created by Eric Knudsen. I dunno about this one, gang. Usually, I'd be theoretically all about a new spookum creation, especially one as visually unsettling as Slendy, but a few things about this bug me. Slender Man originated as the barest of bones creepypasta (two manipulated photos with brief accompanying text from Knudsen), which the internet, in all of its terrible glory, picked up and ran with. As a result, there's not really a firm base upon which to build a character, meaning we might end up with something more The Bye Bye Man than Candyman. But that's only half of my problem. As you may recall, in 2014 a twelve year old girl was stabbed by two of her friends who were apparently trying to impress Slender Man by being incredibly, dishearteningly evil. This movie began production just two years later and features a storyline about a mostly female (though older) group investigating Slender Man after their female friend goes missing. I just think it comes off as poor taste to be producing something that echoes those horrible events so closely. Normally I'd love a heaping helping of spooky spaghetti, but I think I'll pass.
LET THE CORPSES TAN - Based on the novel of the same name (but in French) by Jean-Patrick Manchette & Jean-Pierre Bastid, this trailer is batshit stylish© (it's a new term I'm coining) and full to the brim with classic spaghetti western imagery, intense color and action. The plot apparently follows a few criminals holed up with their stolen gold, some fake cops and a lot, like a LOT-lot of gunfire. Directing duo Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani (Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears) have injected a, seemingly, elegantly simple action premise with the kinds of visuals that elevate it from pure cult to art house classic. This looks like exactly my cup of tea, and if the film's score is as good as the music in the trailer, it might end up as one of my favorite soundtracks this year (but that might be getting a little ahead of myself). I hope this garners enough attention that the book gets an English translation, as I do not yet read French.
THE LITTLE STRANGER - Coming across like Down a Dark Hall for adults, The Little Stranger is also a Gothic haunted house picture, but with prestige! Based on the 2009 book by Sarah Waters, Stranger follows a doctor (Domhnall Gleeson) called to the crumbling estate of the Ayres family to oversee Roderick Ayres' (Will Poulter's) mental and physical rehabilitation after injuries he sustained in WWII. Spooky happenings abound, involving bells ringing themselves, figures seen in far-off windows and the ghostly smell of smoke. So, y'know, the usual spook house stuff. It seems like Gleeson's doctor has some kind of past with the estate that will probably tie into the apparently long-dead ghost-child Susan, but who knows? The film looks to hold even more Gothic eye-candy than Down a Dark Hall, and the main cast is rounded out by Charlotte Rampling and the phenomenal Ruth Wilson as the Ayres sisters. This looks like the perfect way to transition into the spooky moods I need to properly enjoy Autumn, so I hope it doesn't disappoint!