This Month in Film: July 2018

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It wouldn’t be unreasonable to worry that the summer blockbuster season of 2018 has already reached its peak; after all, how can the excitement of Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom be topped? Luckily, July is here to squash such fears. From sunshine-filled musical, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, to the latest thrilling adventures of Ethan Hunt, Mission Impossible: Fallout, July seems set to take what is already a phenomenal season for big-screen entertainment to new, dizzying heights. There’s something to excite every kind of viewer this month (look no further than indie-gem and awards-tipped drama, First Reformed, if blockbusters aren’t your thing) and that’s without even mentioning one of the most hyped releases of the past ten years, Incredibles 2!

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, dir. by Ol Parker

Starring: Lily James, Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Cher, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters
Release Date: 20th July

Nobody ever really expected a sequel to Mamma Mia, but they also never expected quite how much of a hit the all-singing, all-dancing Abba affair would be back in 2008 and the news of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again thus came as a very welcome surprise. This time around, the events focus on a young Donna (Lily James) as she sets off on the summer of a lifetime, meeting the three possible fathers of her daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), an individual who is keen to learn something from her mother’s escapades as she too gets to grips with pregnancy in present day. If director Ol Parker can re-create the dream combination of endearing characters, enthralling musical numbers and luscious Greek scenery that makes you want to jet off instantly, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is sure to provide the summer musical soundtrack of the next ten years, just as its predecessor managed. Luckily, the trailers seem to suggest that Parker has managed exactly that, as the film is once again set to be filled with a whole host of loveable stars, dreamy landscapes, and some serious sing-a-long bangers – you’ll most definitely be forgiven for getting up and cutting some shapes during this one.

Mission Impossible: Fallout, dir. by Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin
Release Date: 26th July

Back in 2015, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation gave a new lease of life to what many deemed a saturated franchise. Its been 22 years since Ethan Hunt first raced onto our screens, but if the explosive Rogue Nation proved anything, it was that the much-loved Tom Cruise led adventures still have plenty more to give. Thrills and catastrophe are once again the central elements of Hunt’s world, as he returns in Mission Impossible: Fallout, a film that appears to have all the ingredients of summer success. Alongside all the usual faces, Fallout adds Henry Cavill as the villain, and, in turn, ramps up the stakes to higher and darker levels than the series has have ever been seen before. We’re very aware from his previous roles that Cavill is the perfect option to play the super-strong, and as his character looks determined to kill Hunt, Fallout has the potential to be an astonishing spectacle – whether or not our hero survives. The project’s in safe hands, too, as director Christopher McQuarrie is back in the driving seat. Even prior to his impressive work on Rogue Nation, McQuarrie was no stranger to working with Tom Cruise delivering a solid adaptation of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. He appears best placed then, to get the best out of the seasoned star and, providing he pulls it off once again, Mission Impossible: Fallout is sure to be tons of rip-roaring blockbuster fun.

First Reformed, dir. by Paul Schrader

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles
Release Date: 13th July

There’s no hiding that the summer months are dominated by roars, explosions and laughter, but the latest directorial effort from the man who created the screenplays of some of Martin Scorcesse’s most popular works is ready to fill the indie-shaped hole in July’s release schedule. Distributed by A24, the distributors behind practically every hidden-gem of the last few years (The Florida Project, Ex Machina, The Lobster), First Reformed certainly couldn’t be further away from the thrills of practically everything else being released this month. The film follows Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) as he comes to terms with crippling grief following the death of his son in the same year that his New York church celebrates its 250 year anniversary. As the year progresses, Toller scribes his thoughts in a journal he intends to be destroyed, battling faith and morality along the way. Amanda Seyfried and Cedric Kyles make up the supporting cast of First Reformed, both of whom are attracting some serious buzz for their performances here. It’s Hawke though, that looks set to get all the plaudits, already being tipped as one of the names who will be in and amongst all the hype come awards season at the end of the year. The cast themselves act as a mark of quality for any doubters, but when combined with the directing and writing talents of Schrader and subject matter with real depth, there’s plenty to be intrigued and excited about in equal measure. First Reformed provides an incredibly welcome break from all the mindless action of July.

EDITOR’S PICK: Incredibles 2, dir. by Brad Bird

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird
Release Date: 13th July

This month’s editor’s pick quite simply couldn’t be anything else. The one we’ve all been waiting for, Incredibles 2 is finally hitting our screens and to say the excitement levels are high would be a massive understatement. There’s no hiding that Pixar is associated with a little bit of a sequel problem, showcased most obviously by the downward spiral of the initially endearing Cars series, but Incredibles 2 appears to enter territory that those before it failed to pluck up the courage to move into and really shake up our expectations by placing female hero, Elastigirl/Helen Parr (voiced by Holly Hunter), at its centre. All the core elements that we fell in love with all those years ago remain though, as the Parr family are once again joined by their hilarious mates, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and Edna Mode (Brad Bird), ready to pick up exactly where the first film left off, battling the illusive Underminer and starting to come to terms with their kids’ spectacular powers. If the fresh take on the characters we know and adore wasn’t enough to persuade you not to worry, reviews from across the pond seem to suggest that director Bird has finally pulled off the seemingly impossible and created a sequel that matches, if not tops, The Incredibles – the perfect outcome for all involved as audiences are never going to be forgiving if he somehow manages to ‘ruin’ such a wonderful bunch of characters. The Avengers may have delivered the most spectacular superhero showdown of the summer thus far, but the Parr family have certainly got the potential to top that – Incredibles 2 is sure to be worth the wait.

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Film Editor 18/19 and third year film student. Self-professed Ryan Gosling expert.

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