The summer stretch is on for Movie America! August usually means a last push for a number of big-ticket box-office hopefuls. Being storytellers ourselves, Steven James will give you a rundown of the stories that are coming to screens coast-to-coast for the month of August. There are 16 nationwide releases with many more coming in limited runs and to independent theaters.
The first Friday of the month brings four movies . The Darkest Minds stars Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie. It’s a sci-fi story about teens who have developed strange and powerful capabilities. They are deemed a threat and eventually caught in a battle of resistance against a government and society that has betrayed them. Maybe X-Men meets Hunger Games meets teen angst?
Disney’s Christopher Robin is a family film starring Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, and Jim Cummings. It brings to screen the famous relationship between the young boy and his beloved crew of stuffed animals in Hundred Acre Wood. But there’s a twist: Mr. Robin is now a man living in London who is caught up in the flow of modern life – and, sadly, it’s not suiting him well. To the rescue come his childhood friends to help him find his way back to the truly important things in life.
The Spy Who Dumped Me is an action comedy with Kate McKinnon, Mila Kunis, and Sam Heughan in the lead roles. When Audrey and Morgan, who are best friends from L.A., are snared in an international web of intrigue, a hilarious and intense chase ensues in Europe. And, of course, the fate of the world hinges on the outcome of the plot.
The Death of a Nation is a documentary from well-known right-wing filmmaker Dinseh D’Souza. It attempts to parallel President Lincoln’s 19th-century quest to save the United States from Democrats and what the producers contend is the current U.S. President’s similar mission.
The second weekend in August finds four more coast-to-coasters representing a variety of genres. Slenderman is a supernatural thriller with Joey King, Julia Goldani-Telles, and Annalise Basso. High school girls decide to test fate and attempt to expose the myth of the Slenderman. But one of the girls disappears from their small Massachusetts town, and suddenly the others begin to wonder if they should have left well enough alone.
The Meg is a sci-fi adventure starring Jason Statham, Jessica McNamee, and Ruby Rose. A pre-historic creature of the ocean has trapped a deep-sea exploration team and there is a race against time to reach the crew. Statham plays a rescue diver who must try to save the trapped crew – and ultimately himself – from the 75-foot shark that is called Megalodon.
A.X.L. changes pace. It’s a family picture which tells the story of a teen named Miles played by Alex Neustaedter who discovers a military experiment in the form of a robotic dog, named A.X.L., that possesses artificial intelligence. The relationship between boy and robot dog wasn’t something in the military’s plans – nor something about which it’s thrilled. The search is on to retrieve A.X.L. while Miles does everything in his power to save his unlikely new bestie!
Dog Days is another canine-based story, but this one is a rom-com featuring Nina Dobrev, Finn Wolfhard, and Vanessa Hudgens among others as dog-owners in L.A. The lives of the pooches and their people begin to intersect in interesting ways that hilariously but profoundly impact each of them.
There is a mid-week opening on Wednesday, August 15th, with the politically incorrect title of Crazy Rich Asians that is based on a novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, and Henry Golding star in this romantic comedy that tells the tale of a native New Yorker (Wu) who travels to Singapore for the first time with her longtime boyfriend played by Golding. She learns that he conveniently forgot to mention to her that he is from one of the wealthiest families in the country and is one of its most treasured bachelors – with a lot of high-society women interested in him. And she thought her biggest worry was simply what dress to wear to the wedding!
Alpha is an adventure thriller with Kodi Smit-McPhee, Leonor Varela, and Natassia Malthe. And when we say it’s a period piece, we’re not kidding. It’s set in the last Ice Age, 20,000 years ago: a survival story of a young hunter injured and deserted in a treacherous and unforgiving environment. The hunter bonds with a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, and the two face their similar fates together against the weather and wildlife in their quest to make it home alive.
Mile 22 has an interesting cast that includes former MMA champion fighter Ronda Rousey, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, and stars Mark Wahlberg as a CIA officer caught in the midst of far-reaching political corruption scandal. He teams with an Indonesian officer and a secret elite force to try to quell the corruption before the damage is irreversible.
The weekend of the 24th only has one nationwide release, but the week does have a follow-up Wednesday release, too, on the 29th. The Happytime Murders is a bold experiment that combines human actors with puppet characters. But before you write it off, note that the director is Brian Henson. Yes, that Henson family, son of Jim, the Muppets creator. This has a chance to be extremely entertaining if they pull it off, although it’s definitely a high-wire act. The talented trio of Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Elizabeth Banks leads the cast (along with the puppets) that tells the behind-the-scenes problems of the stars of a famous and wildly popular family show. As the title reveals, murders most foul occur and one human detective (McCarthy) and one puppet detective — who decidedly don’t like each other — must solve the crimes on the tough streets of L.A.
As mentioned, there is a release Wednesday of this week, August 29th. Operation Finale is the anticipated film that tells the thrilling true story of the mission by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to secretly enter Argentina to capture notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Final Solution genocide attempt against the Jewish population. Oscar Isaac stars as legendary Mossad agent Peter Malkin with Sir Ben Kingsley in the role of Eichmann.
The Little Stranger is an adaptation of the 2009 Gothic novel by Sarah Waters. Set in 1948, it tells the tale of a country doctor called to the estate where his mother once worked as a housemaid. The once well-to-do family that still inhabits the grounds seems haunted by something. Whether their torments are of this world or another is what the good doctor must find out. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, and Will Poulter.
Juliet, Naked is another adaptation, this one starring Megan Dodds, Rose Byrne, and Chris O’Dowd, and featuring Ethan Hawke. Based on a novel by Nick Hornby who has had previous success with books-to-movies (High Fidelity, About A Boy), this story focuses on the relationship between long-time lovers who are stuck in a rut, and how an encounter with an old rock-n-roller has far-reaching repercussions on their lives.
One more sci-fi flick rounds out the month’s nationwide releases. This one is Kin, with a stellar cast including Jack Reynor, James Franco, and Zoe Kravitz. Franco portrays a criminal on a revenge mission against Reynor who desperately tries to stay one step ahead of him. Joining Franco in the pursuit of Reynor are government agents and alien soldiers, all bent on obtaining a powerful weapon he has in his possession.
The month’s offerings are wide-ranging from comedies to politics to thrillers to doggy movies to a good dose of science fiction. Whatever your cinematic flavor, August has something for you! And whatever your multi-media needs may be, Steven James has a service to offer!