The summer box office schedule is looking hotter than poolside floors in July…

After a very calm 12 months of studio releases, things look set to heat up at your local multiplex over the next few months.

Big animation features, films with multiple Hollywood A-Listers on the same billing, Marvel and DC movies, sequels, prequels, spin-offs and legacy-endangering reboots. There’s no doubt about it. We’re ready to get popcorn stuck in our teeth again…

Luca, June 17

Pixar’s latest animated tale follows Luca and Alberto, two sea monsters that disguise themselves as humans in order to explore and carb-load in the Italian Riviera town of Portorosso. They befriend a local girl, Giulia who helps them live out their best bipedal lives whilst trying to conceal their fishy little secret. Because it’s Pixar, you can borderline bank on this being a wholesome, fine-artfully told caper with a heartwarming score and *gestures wildly in Italian* magnificently pitched sense of humour.

Black Widow, July 8

This movie marks Marvel’s return to the big screen, two years on from the ugly cry fest that was Avengers: Endgame, and the teasing cliffhanger of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Avenger, gifted assassin and leading expert in the field of yasss kweenery, Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) took a Thanos snap nap at the end of MCU Phase Three. But thanks to some Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) timeline jiggery-pokery, she’ll be back on our screens for a prequel this summer. Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff AKA, Black Widow is forced to confront unsettling events from her past, and we hope, do whatever is necessary to make an uncontrived return to MCU Phase Four.

Space Jam 2: A New Legacy, July 15

A lot has happened in the world since the release of the original Space Jam movie. Pokemon Go for example, what was that all about? Space Jam 2, as the name suggests, serves as a sequel to the original intergalactic Warner Bros. live action/animation hybrid. Michael Jordan has been subbed out for modern-day balling GOAT LeBron James, who together with his son, and a ragtag group of Loony Tunes characters must win a high-stakes game of basketball by dunking on a sentient AI programme and an elite crew of digitised net swooshers. What’s Up Doc? Well, from the trailer, the CGI and animation looks leagues ahead of the original, and the acting… Suffice to say you’re not buying your ticket in hope of catching Oscar-winning monologues are you?

The Suicide Squad August 5

With the grudging exception of Shazam! and possibly Wonder Woman, the release of Justice League: The Snyder Cut this year was a rare high point for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). And whilst the 2016 Suicide Squad movie was filled with disjointed scenes, rambling narratives and a disappointing (lack of) the Jared Leto Joker, this sequel carries with it some reasons to be optimistic. It’s helmed (and written by) the superhero story Midas man, James Gunn; Margot Robbie reprises her highly watchable incarnation of Harley Quinn; and Idris Elba is donning the shrinkwrap to portray Bloodsport; the dialogue excerpts in the trailer are exactly the sort of genuinely witty comic interactions that have been forever missing from DC Movies; and the premise of bad guys gone good, albeit temporarily and for the wrong reasons, just has so much potential. We’re also genuinely excited to see what John Cena does with his role as the nuanced anti-hero Peacemaker, not least because there are whispers of a spin-off series down the line.

Old, August 12

Written, directed, produced and downloaded from the mind of one of modern cinema’s most mercurial creatives, M. Night Shyamalan, Old looks to be a trademark Shyamalan piece of fever dream suspense theatre. The premise has us following a family holiday on a secluded tropical beach, where all the inhabitants start, inexplicably, rapidly aging. Real talk: never go lower than SPF50. If it manages to avoid trite purgatory cliches of the Lost finale and steers closer to Sixth Sense than The Happening (for which we still haven’t forgiven either Shyamalan or Mark Whalberg), this could be a surprisingly good watch.

Free Guy, Aug 12

Our anticipation for this movie has been impatiently loading ever since the first trailer was released back in December 2019. A different time. The film tells the story of Guy, played by Ryan Reynolds — who, after intervening in a bungled bank heist, arrives at the realisation that he’s actually a non-player character (NPC) in a brutal free-world videogame. Bang on topic for 2021’s unofficial Black Mirror theme. Guy must step up and become a true hero, if he’s to save his virtual world from being unplugged. Expect an expansion pack full of videogame-based humour and Reynolds at peak Reynolds. He’s not a good Guy, he’s a great Guy.

Paw Patrol, Aug 19

 

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Parents, we hear you. We’re not fans of the kid’s TV series either. The show that features the infuriating earworm of a theme song; the most punchable animated dog in cartoon history (Chase); and the unmitigated horror of what happens when you defund emergency services in favour of outsourcing to a calamitous team of hyper-specialised tongue-showering canines. But attempting to avoid getting dragged along to this will likely be as fruitless as fighting gravity. Just yelp for help.

Respect, Aug 19

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson takes on what could be the biopic role she was born for, portraying Aretha Franklin. This film charts the trials and troubles of the Queen of Soul, in her ascent from humble beginnings, crashing through cultural boundaries, civil rights struggles and battles with forces that seek to control her genius for their own benefit. Aretha was undeobtedly a natural woman that demanded R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Reminiscence, Aug 19

Directed by co-creator of epic sci-fi Western series, Westworld — Lisa Joy (fun film trivia, she’s also the sister-in-law of director Christopher Nolan), this movie is set in a near-future dystopia where real-time memory exploration is the latest tech fad. Lead practioner Nicolas Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is caught in a professional dilemma when a memory from one of his clients implicates his love interest (Rebecca Ferguson) in a brutal crime. And whilst there will no doubt be a temptation to draw parallels with Nolan’s Inception or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this movie looks like it has more than enough to stand on its own two feet. Or maybe the trailer incepted us. We’ll find out in August.

Shang-Chi: The Legend of the 10 Rings, September 10

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Perhaps the most exciting thing about this comic book adaption, is that it will be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie to feature an Asian lead, Simu Liu as the titular character Shang-Chi. The story will likely draw from Marvel’s Secret Wars comic book saga, where Master of Kung Fu: Shang-Chi faces off against the Mandarin and his Ten Rings organisation. In the comics, the name Ten Rings actually comes from a set of alien-manufactured finger bling, and we all know how devastating extra-terrestrial jewellery can be in the MCU.

Dune, 16 Sep

This philosophical sci-fi caper is director Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation of the classic Frank Herbert science fiction novel of the same name and serves as a reboot to the 1984 movie. The cast of this version is headed up by the brilliant, and deliciously emo Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, and Jason Momoa. The story follows Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a young man thrust into a power struggle on the distant planet of Arrakis, home to giant murderous sand worms, scheming ne’er-do-wells, indigenous eco-warriors and a battleground for control of the galaxy’s most precious resource, a performance-enhancing ‘spice’ called Melange. Bit of local movie trivia for you, part of the movie was actually shot here in Abu Dhabi’s empty quarter.

Venom: Let there be Carnage, 16 Sep

The critics and audience were split almost precisely down the middle on whether 2018’s Venom was any good. It might not be official MCU canon, but we’re unashamed to say we found it highly enjoyable. This time round journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his cantankerous lobster-swallowing interstellar symbiote Venom will have to face off against comic book nemesis Carnage (Woody Harrelson). Expect chaos, expect venom, expect carnage, and expect, with resolute certainty, delightfully cringey lols.

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