This Month in Film: August 2018

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July was a tough month for cinema. As an endless heatwave took over and World Cup fever spread the nation, even massively anticipated releases such as Incredibles 2 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again took a while to perform. However, as we move into August, football is no longer coming home, and neither is the good weather, giving audience numbers a chance to recover in time for a whole host of exciting releases still to come this summer season.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, dir. by Peyton Reed

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Pena, Michael Douglas, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen
Release Date: 3rd August

Since Ant-Man concluded Phase 2 back in 2015, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has continued to go from strength to strength. Despite fears and concerns that arose from a various assortment of creative differences in the production process, Scott Lang/Ant-Man’s (Paul Rudd) first cinematic outing was an overwhelming success, providing something genuinely different to other hero smash-em-ups through its refreshing blend of laughs, stunts, and some surprising powers. Lang’s absence from Avengers: Infinity War, therefore, was a somewhat unpleasant surprise. Have no fear, Marvel’s funniest insect-hero has not been forgotten, and three years after his introduction to the universe, Ant-Man is back on screens with Ant-Man and the Wasp. The standout element of returning director Peyton Reed’s first effort was the effortless dynamic between characters; the relationship between Scott and his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), Scott and Hope Pym (Evangeline Lily) and Lang’s hilarious crew all brought something different to the Ant-Man universe, providing not just quick-witted banter but also functioning as a bunch of characters we could really care about. It’s a delight to see, then, that the trailer of Ant-Man and The Wasp promises all these things on a bigger scale, opening immediately with a focus on the father and daughter relationship and then plunging us straight into the gigantic spectacle that make Ant-Man’s powers perfect for the big-screen. Given that it is the bonds between characters that made Ant-Man so endearing, the most exciting draw this time around is of course the introduction of The Wasp – an inclusion that could easily prove to be a masterstroke from Marvel Studios as the on-screen chemistry of Rudd and Lily continues to develop – who doesn’t want to see two heroes for the price of one?

Christopher Robin, dir. by Marc Forster

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Mark Gatiss, Bronte Carmichael
Release Date: 17th August

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve already had a Christopher Robin-based film in recent years. After all, late last year saw the release of Goodbye Christopher Robin, a touching historical drama that focused on the life of author A.A. Milne. This month’s Christopher Robin, however, takes a completely different angle on the utterly adored story of Winnie the Pooh, plunging Pooh and co into the real world as a grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) struggles with the dull realities of adult life. Everything about Christopher Robin screams Paddington: the London setting, the tired adult protagonist, and the larger than life appearance of Winnie the Pooh, but you can hardly blame Disney for the similarities – Paddington has been a completely unexpected phenomenon, showing that there’s certainly some love left for furry friends, particularly as family audiences flock to the cinema over the school holidays. Whilst the loveable, lifelike appearance of Pooh and his friends from Hundred Acre Wood looks set to win over the hearts of children, there is no doubt that the utterly adored story of Milne is going to be a major draw for adults who grew up with his work. For all its nostalgia and cuddly love, Christopher Robin is sure to be one of the most endearing and perhaps sob-worthy releases this summer.

Slender Man, dir. by Sylvain White

Starring: Joey King, Javier Botet, Annalise Basso, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Kevin Chapman, Michael Reilly Burke
Release Date: 24th August

If your secondary school days were anything like mine, you’ll be familiar with the figure of Slender Man. Many a lunchtime was spent crowded around a cracked iPod touch, running away from a suspicious looking suited man and aiming to collect all 8 pages to complete the game. The ominous character has since been turned into a number of memes, associated with an epidemic of violent crimes and given a few more video game ventures, but if there was anything that Slender Man felt extraordinarily suited to, it was a cinematic outing. There’s no hiding that video game adaptations are rarely a success, but there are a number of things Slender Man has on its side. As a film that will clearly be centred around conventional jumps scares, nobody is claiming that the Sylvain White-directed horror will be a groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece; instead, it promises to be tons of fun, terrifying yet enthralling. The largely unknown cast appears to be a clever move, even if it was just coincidence or down to a lack of budget. As faces we don’t really know, they’re just like you and I, and therefore the perils these characters face have the potential to feel all too immersive. The mystery and fear-factor look set to be kept up until release, as little to nothing has been released about what exactly the plot will entail. Whilst it probably won’t be a particularly demanding narrative, if Slender Man is involved, it’s sure to be a scary one.

EDITOR’S PICK: BlacKkKlansman, dir. by Spike Lee

Starring: Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Alec Baldwin, John David Washington, Ryan Eggold, Laura Harrier
Release Date: 24th August

Using the word outrageous to describe the premise of Spike Lee’s latest venture seems a little bit like an understatement. And yet, BlacKkKlansman is based on a true story, following African-American Detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) as he teams up with fellow Detective (Adam Driver) to infiltrate, expose, and utterly ridicule the infamous Ku Klux Klan. As the winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes this year, there’s been a great deal of hype for Lee’s work, but it isn’t just this prestigious award that has given BlacKkKlansman such constant attention. The name of the director alone is enough to make this film something to be excited about; not only is Spike Lee one of the strongest voices in African American cinema, he’s also a huge face in comedy, and here he’s joined by the hugely talked about, Jordan Peele (director of Get Out), in a production capacity. The cast are as equally as exciting. As the lead, Washington has been handed a huge breakout opportunity; frequently appearing on our TV screens in Ballers, BlacKkKlansman acts as his big move to cinema screens and the trailer hints at a superb performance for the young actor. Man of the moment, Adam Driver, is also involved in a role that seems to push him out of his comfort zone. BlacKkKlansman isn’t the usual type of film we see the Kylo Ren actor in, but demonstrates, Star Wars aside, just why he’s so talked about at the moment. A good crime comedy is exactly what is needed to round off a superb summer movie season, and BlacKkKlansman looks to be that exact film if it proves to match the hilarious, poignant tone of its trailer.

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

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