A few big things happened in July. I turned 28 near the end of the month, and even closer to the end of the month I reached seven years at the job that I would leave soon after. I did a lot of rewatching as preparation for the 300th week of my other blog, which came in August. However, I managed to sneak in eight first time watches. That’s right. There were only eight. This post is going to be a little bit shorter than some of the other recent ones.
This post will be about those eight first time watches from July. You’ll get to read my thoughts about each of them. I’ll get to leave them here as a record of my opinion. It’s something for you and something for me. A give and a receive. For all of us.
As for the movies, the eight movies had a variety of themes and genres. There was a horror movie about American politics that took things to extremes. There was a short film about some holiday horror. There was a non-stop action sequel, and a stand-up comedy special from a comedian that I enjoy. All of this and more will be coming up. Why don’t we get started?
Now You See Me 2
There was a lot to take in with Now You See Me 2. After the twists and turns of the first one, it was going to be hard to top that with the sequel. It would be like a magic trick if they could pull it off a second time. They almost did. For the most part, the movie was successful in everything it was doing. The cast worked well together again and I was entertained the whole way through. The problem was that the twists and turns were playing upon the previous film’s twists and turns. Though they mostly worked, they were getting a tad convoluted. That said, I would love to see more sequels so that this franchise could become the Saw of magic franchises, going right up its own butt with the twists and turns. It would be great fun.
Doing my normal Twitter thing, I stumbled across someone discussing this Christmas horror short, so I thought I’d give it a glance. Christmas in July, anyone? It took place after the events that would normally happen in a Christmas slasher movie. An evil Santa had killed a bunch of people in a house, and the last two were getting ready to kill the not-so-jolly bringer of presents and pain. The short was about that final moment where the two survivors were finishing the nightmare. It showed the reluctance that a person could have with killing someone, even though that someone was the killer of all of their friends. The idea was humourous, though the short didn’t completely stick the landing. It was a good idea, though, and it would be interesting to see it tackled again.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Marvel’s second phase ended on Ant-Man. I enjoyed that first foray into Scott Lang’s superhero life, but it was underwhelming, considering the movies that had come before it in that phase. Ant-Man and the Wasp was very much the same way. The two movies prior to its release were Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, two serious Marvel movies with heavy themes. It was a nice refresher to have a simple little heist movie. The problem was that it felt very light, to the point that it seemed like there could have been much more done with it. It’s still a good movie. It just feels misplaced when it comes directly after the snap. The cast is good, the action is fun, and the story is solid. It’s just a case of poor timing.
Jim Jefferies: This is Me Now
Every time Jim Jefferies comes out with a new comedy special, I get excited to see it. The guy’s style works well for my comedic sensibilities. I enjoy his performances. This is Me Now may have been the weakest of his three Netflix specials, but that’s only because it spent a good chunk of time playing off of things that he had riffed on in the previous specials. He was following up the bits that had made him popular. It’s not that his follow-ups were bad or anything. They were still good. They were still funny. The problem with it was that it didn’t feel as original as what had come before. When he had been giving his own opinions on common topics of discussion, it felt fresh and new. As he followed up and elaborated on what he had previously said, it wasn’t as fresh or new, and took something away from it. Still a solid comedy special. Just not as special as the others.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the month, this sequel to Jumanji flipped the expectations of the first movie and told a completely different story. Instead of the game bleeding into the real world, the characters were transported into the world of the video game, becoming their avatars. Each of their avatars was the opposite of their personalities, which allowed them to learn new things about themselves. That part was fine. The action and comedy also worked, for what it was. The underwhelming thing was that the game bleeding into the real world had been taken out of the story. One of the best parts of the original Jumanji film was seeing the jungle elements coming into their town. The hunter, the child turning into a monkey, the stampede… Each of those things were a part of their town until they finished the game. That wasn’t the same in the sequel, which just transported the teens to a jungle as their jungle counterparts. It’s a shame that they couldn’t have kept it in the real world.
The First Purge
Having watched The Purge evolve from a home invasion movie to a politically charged racial violence horror franchise, I was excited to see where the prequel to the whole thing would go. The protagonists of the first three installments had been mostly white Americans, and it was interesting to see The First Purge go with a black cast for the leading roles. It made the racial material hit home even more because there wasn’t a white man and/or white woman saving everyone from the atrocities. I love me a good Frank Grillo action movie, don’t get me wrong. But when the themes of the franchise have come to be racial injustice, it seems odd that he would be the lead actor since the race thing doesn’t really affect him. The race stuff was at the forefront throughout The First Purge, with direct references to Donald Trump and the Charleston church shooting. They got even more apparent when the black heroes of the movie went up against government mercenaries dressed as the KKK and dressed as Nazis. The action was good, too. Everything about The First Purge worked flawlessly. It was one of the best experiences I had in the theater all year.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In terms of pure action, no franchise comes close to the Mission: Impossible franchise. The quality of the action throughout the franchise, particularly since Mission: Impossible III, has been some of the best to ever grace our screens. Fallout brought Henry Cavill into the fray to add some tough muscle to Tom Cruise’s unrelenting, life-threatening antics. Though the story may have left something to be desired, the action was so good throughout the movie that it was hard not to enjoy it. The bathroom fight was one of the best bathroom fights to ever be recorded. The motorcycle and car chases in the middle were full adrenaline. Tom Cruise also outdid himself in the running department, basing a whole scene around his signature movie move. All in all, one of the best action movies of the year, if not the decade.
1950s science fiction and horror is a relatively big blind spot for me. There aren’t a lot of movies in that specific area of film history that I’ve seen. One step in the direction of having a feel for those movies was Teenage Zombies, which was about a group of teens stranded on an island being kidnapped by a mad scientist who lived there. There wasn’t too much too it. The one thing that really stood out was that the teenagers managed to fight back and escape on their own. All of them. They outsmarted the bad guy. It wasn’t that they waited for the villain to mess up. They planned an escape, and followed through on it, for the most part. There were a few minor twists and turns that made the protagonists adapt their plan to the new situation, but they outwitted the villain, which was nice to see in a 1959 horror science fiction movie.
And with that, July came to a close. Like I said at the beginning, this was a shorter post than normal for these. There were only eight movies to discuss because much of July was devoted to rewatching a bunch of movies. The eight movies were pretty good, though. Some of my favourites of the year, and a few that weren’t so great but were still interesting to watch. It was another good month of watching movies.
August had more first time watches than July did. The rewatch project was done with, which meant that I could see more movies I had been intending to, but hadn’t gotten around to yet. Movies like I, Tonya and Your Name. There were a few theatrical releases including The Happytime Murders, BlacKkKlansman, and The Meg. And there were some other shark movies, such as the Mega Shark franchise. Those are for the next post, though. This one’s about done now.
The only thing left to do is to plug some other writing stuff. As always, you can find me on Twitter here and here. I write about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers sometimes, and write the Sunday “Bad” Movies posts every week. Check that stuff out. Also check out @JaimeBurchardt, a great guy on Twitter. He’ll be doing his Horrorfest again next month, and for the second post in a row, I’m going to plug what he wrote about it. Finally, check out Talk Film Society, who are always writing interesting stuff about movies. They recently wrote about a couple of lesser known horror movies. That’s all for now. See you soon for August.