Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to August


Summer is winding down, and with it goes the last vestiges of the blockbuster season. But there are still a few tentpole movies left which, along with some offbeat choices, make for an interesting August at the theaters. There’s only one sequel and two remakes in this month’s offerings, and the rest are refreshingly off-kilter originals that hold a lot of promise for entertainment. Laika returns to deliver astonishing visuals with their latest, while the DC Comics movieverse tries to rebound from “Batman v Superman” with “Suicide Squad.” And the whole thing is capped off by one of the most enjoyable, intense thrillers released this year. It’s an intriguing and original list of films for August, so let’s get to it!

“Suicide Squad”

Who: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
What: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute a dangerous black ops mission in exchange for clemency.
When: August 5th
Why: “Suicide Squad” looks like an absolute barrel of fun that mixes everyone’s love of antiheroes with a dash of “The Dirty Dozen.” Based on the hit comic book of the same name, the film finds a bunch of colorful supervillains riffing off each other while trying to save the world (or just themselves). The trailers make it look like a promising blockbuster, though writer/director David Ayer (“Sabotage,” “Fury”) isn’t exactly known for delivering fun films, usually preferring the grittier side of things. Perhaps he’s found the perfect balance between the ultraviolent, grim world he normally inhabits and a more heightened experience that’s actually enjoyable to sit through.

“Hell or High Water”

Who: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Katy Mixon and Jeff Bridges
What: A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s farm in West Texas.
When: August 12th
Why: It’ll be interesting to see if director David Mackenzie can follow up the very good “Starred Up” with this southern-fried thriller written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”). Combined with a talented cast, that’s a pretty good pedigree for a two-fisted tale of bank robbing and a cat-and-mouse chase with law enforcement. Film soleil movies aren’t made very often these days, but they can be some of the harshest and most engaging films, as the action and duplicity takes place under the blazing hot sun. It’ll be fascinating to watch this collision of different sides of the law taking place in the bright light of day.

“Pete’s Dragon”

Who: Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Robert Redford and Oakes Fegley
What: The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.
When: August 12th
Why: The original “Pete’s Dragon” is a fun family film that boasts a nice blend of animation and live-action with some impressive (if hokey) practical effects. The remake eschews the Disney-style cartoon look for a CGI approach, but it has also stacked the cast with some great talent. Director David Lowery has proven he has a great cinematic eye with his previous feature, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” which showcased strong acting performances as well. It’ll be interesting to see if Lowery can transition to a family film without going too saccharine and create a movie that’s as enduring as the original.

“Sausage Party”

Who: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader and Danny McBride
What: An animated movie about one sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence.
When: August 12th
Why: An adult animated film that takes a child-like premise to its most perverse and darkest extremes? This could be a sleeper hit that becomes a cult comedy, or it could just be a one-joke film with most of the good parts ruined in the trailer. The buzz on “Sausage Party” has been mixed; some say it’s a hilariously messed up and purposefully offensive animated film, while others have decried it for being lazy and going for lowest common denominator jokes. Obviously, your mileage may vary depending on how much you tolerate certain things, but most likely, it falls somewhere in the middle as an occasionally inspired but also intermittently lazy comedy that tweaks the Pixar formula in just the right way.

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

Who: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey and Rooney Mara
What: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.
When: August 19th
Why: Laika is three for three so far with the likes of “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls,” offering up darker tales with complex storylines and relatable characters, all while being told in exquisite stop-motion animation. Will this be the film that breaks the streak or a continuation of their winning formula of incredibly original stories rendered in unique but beautiful ways? The trailer offers up signs that, if nothing else, this will be a gorgeous film to watch and will create new worlds and mythos to consume the minds of viewers who wish to live in these magical realms well after the end credits have finished.


Who: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi and Morgan Freeman
What: A falsely accused Jewish nobleman survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his Roman best friend, who betrayed him.
When: August 19th
Why: It’s pretty audacious to remake a classic like “Ben-Hur.” While the novel by Lew Wallace has endured and been loved by many, it’s the 1959 film adaptation that has stayed in the public’s conscious ever since the chariot race exploded on the big screen. But then, if there’s one thing about director Timur Bekmambetov, it’s his willingness to do outrageous things and attempt to realize them with film. The mad Russian is definitely facing an uphill climb to outdo the spectacle of the original, but it’s possible that he will find a way to update it with his signature style and flair.

“War Dogs”

Who: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper and Ana de Armas
What: The true story of two young men who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.
When: August 19th
Why: Armed with some very talented actors in morally dubious roles, director Todd Phillips’ latest film has the potential to be a fun, dark comedy that shines a light on the absurdity of the war machine and various efforts undertaken by governments to control affairs. Or it could just be a mess; there’s really no way of knowing which Phillips audiences will get. He’s had films that work tremendously well and feel vital and fresh, and he’s churned out some boring pabulum that felt like paint-by-numbers attempts at originality. Hopefully, the former Phillips is the one that shows up, because this looks like an intriguing cross between “Three Kings” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” that could yield spectacular results.

“Mechanic: Resurrection”

Who: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh
What: When his most formidable foe captures the love of his life, Arthur Bishop must complete three impossible assassinations and make them look like accidents.
When: August 26th
Why: The first “Mechanic” film was a surprisingly fun and effective action-thriller that delivered prime Statham in a very good role (originated by Charles Bronson). It’ll be interesting to see how this sequel is able to work with Bishop’s coming out of retirement plot to make it seem natural and not manufactured. Without Ben Foster, some of the charm of the first one is missing, but with Michelle Yeoh and Tommy Lee Jones along for the ride, this film should have more than its fair share of badass moments. And while the director is largely unknown, it’s just nice to get a Statham film that’s not some DTV tripe but instead a big budget action movie with the occasion for some fun set pieces.

“Don’t Breathe”

Who: Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto
What: A group of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the perfect heist. They’re wrong.
When: August 26th
Why: Director Fede Alvarez exploded onto the horror scene with some excellent short films and the “Evil Dead” remake. While that movie was greeted with mixed results by audiences, “Don’t Breathe” shows that he’s an incredibly capable director with an excellent ability to crank up the tension. The film has a number of surprising twists, and one of the most shocking and crowd-pleasing moments seen all year, but it’s deftly handled and never feels like a gimmick or an artist trying to outdo himself at every turn. It’s a fun ride that will surprise audiences and freak them out in equal measure, and it should be sought out by anyone likes a good thriller.

“The Hollars”

Who: John Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Sharlto Copley
What: A man returns to his small hometown after learning that his mother has fallen ill and is about to undergo surgery.
When: August 26th
Why: The logline of this movie sounds very familiar, like it was actually made in the Sundance channel/indie film incubator. But director/star John Krasinski has assembled a murderer’s row of talent to star in the drama (his second feature after the David Foster Wallace adaptation of “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”), which could elevate this from indie dramedy cliché to something watchable and affecting. Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins are two of the best character actors working today, so seeing them together will probably be worth the price of admission alone. Though it’s uncertain if this is just a Zach Braff-ian quarter life crisis movie or something more, there is just enough talent for drama and comedy to elevate it beyond its clichéd roots.