We’re almost at the tail-end of the summer movie blockbuster season. While we will not see another movie like ‘The Avengers’ which we went nuts over or the head-scratching conundrum that is ‘Prometheus’, there are still a few seat-jolting flicks that are worth spending your 10 bucks on.
Topping the list are two must-watch releases, mainly the horror mash-up ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ and Christopher Nolan’s much awaited finale to the Caped Crusader saga ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
Let’s take a look at our picks for July.
Week of 5 July
The Stars: Anthony Mackie, Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell
The Story: Based on the Seth Grahame-Smith genre mash-up novel of the same name, ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ reimagines the Civil War as a struggle between the living and the undea, and America’s 16th President as a slayer of undead fangers.
inSing says: Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (‘Wanted’) and producer Tim Burton (‘Sleepy Hollow’), with Grahame-Smith’s script took (plenty) of liberties. If you can imagine the lanky US President whacked vamps on the side, then this movie is for you. The movie, at its core, is a tale of a man’s tormented past. As a youth, Abe Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) discovers that there is something pretty nasty lurking in America’s shadows; yes, vampires. When one of the fangers murdered his mother, this sets off a chain of events that led him to be vampire hunter du jour and later the Prez. A good blend of fact and fiction, ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ is definitely a must-watch if you’re into some gonzo horror-adventure movie. We can’t wait for Grahame-Smith’s other novel, ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ to be made into a movie.
Also opening: ‘Painted Skin: The Resurrection’ is the supposed sequel to ‘Painted Skin’ (2008). Though it retains the original lead casts -- Chen Kun, Zhao Wei and Zhou Xun – the movie is another interpretation of Pu Songling's classic tale. Also opening is ‘Stricken’, from director Reinout Oerlemans, is a movie about a man who has it all. Stijn van Diepens (Barry Atsma) is a successful advertising executive, with a beautiful, intelligent wife, Carmen (Carice Van Houten), a best friend, Frank (Jeroen Willems) and a little daughter, Luna (Yfke Wegman).
Week of 12 July
The Stars: Devin Kelly, Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Taylor Dudley
The Story: Six American tourists hire a Ukrainian “extreme tourism” guide to take them on a day trip to the ruins of Pripyat, the workers’ town that was abandoned after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. We can only guess what happens next.
inSing says: ‘Paranormal Activity’ co-writer Oren Peli ventures out of familiar “found-footage” territory and the usual haunted-house tropes, and moves towards straight-up horror. Peli still keeps it real with this movie though, using minimal production values to conjure up the scares. There's still the nausea-inducing 'shaky-cam' footage which we are so familiar with. There was quite an uproar from Chernobyl survivors and nuclear activists when word of the film came out so we guess there will not be a sequel (Fukushima Diaries?) anytime soon. We also hear that Peli will be working on Rob Zombie's 'Lords of Salem' and sci-fi movie 'Area 51'.
Also opening: Our favourite prehistoric animals are back in ‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’. This fourth instalment in the Ice Age franchise finds the kooky characters attempting to survive the breakup of Pangea, when Earth’s supercontinent begins to rift.
Week of 19 July
The Story: Taking place eight years after the fall of Harvey Dent/ Two-Face (and Batman taking the blame for Dent's death), Gotham City has recovered from the Joker's killing spree, and is experiencing a time of peace. A warning from the "enigmatic" Selina Kyle foreshadows a coming cataclysm, prompting Batman to return to the city where he must stop the villain Bane and his plans to destroy Gotham.
inSing says: The final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot looks destined to be a huge hit in what seems to be a lopsided summer blockbuster season. This year we have three superhero movies; the biggest so far is ‘The Avengers’ and a pretty decent ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’. So will ‘TDKR’ live up to the hype despite concerns that nobody in the audience will be able to understand a word from Bane. We’ve already seen enough teases of the movie at this point that another one isn’t all that exciting, but we are trying to keep our enthusiasm level up as much as possible. Because, much like he’s the rescuing crusader of this franchise, Batman may be the summer’s last hope.
Also opening: It seems that the distributors here are holding out on moviegoers this week with a small release schedule – Korean drama ‘One Night Stand’ is the only other movie that’s opening in theatres.
Week of 26 July
The Story: David Gelb’s documentary tells the story of world-famous sushi chef Jiro Ono who reveals the secrets of his art.
inSing says: We all know by now that Singaporeans are just obsessed with all things sushi. If you love taking pictures of your food (sushi or otherwise) then ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ is food porn par excellence. With a title like that, you can expect 82 minutes of drool-worthy scenes of the three Michelin-starred sushi guru doing what he does best in his ten-seat restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. Other than the food, this movie is also an intimate portrait of father-son relationship between Jiro Ono and his eldest son and apprentice Takashi, the pressures of keeping tradition and the complexities of Ono’s culinary process.
Also opening: After several delays from the distributors, The Farelly Brothers returns this year with a remake of the classic slapstick trio comedy caper ‘The Three Stooges’. It stars Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso as Curly, Larry and Moe. The other movie that’s opening will certainly raise some eyesbrows and cause some good vibrations. ‘Hysteria’ is about the invention of the vibrator, or the accidental invention of it as a cure for a little known ailment known as “hysteria”.
(Note: All release dates are subject to change; all information correct as of press time.)