Dog’s Movie House: July Has Been A Killer Month For Movies!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog!
After a ho-hum month of June in which the phrase that pays was “franchise fatigue” with such duds as “Transformers 5” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean 5” and that misguided Mummy film, I’m here to say that the Hollywood machine is not truly devoid of creativity. It just took them a little while to get going. Yes, there are a couple of franchise pictures in July, but guess what: they’re actually great films and entertaining as hell. So strap in and prepare yourself for a whirlwind tour of recommendations for the films you should see in July!
Let’s start with “Baby Driver,” one of the most unique and entertaining films I’ve seen in years. Edgar Wright writes and directs this heist film about a young man named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who serves as an incredibly talented getaway driver for a crime lord named Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby has nearly paid off his debt to Doc and is in the process of getting on with his budding relationship to the beautiful Deborah (Lily James) but Doc ropes him in for one last job and Baby realizes it’s up to him to get out from under.
What makes “Baby Driver” so compelling is Wright’s use of music throughout the film. Baby’s hearing is partially impaired due to a childhood car accident, so he’s constantly wearing earphones and pumping music from his Ipod to drown out the buzzing. This is a terrific narrative device as it allows for some terrific music and it also gives the audience insight into Baby’s character. This film is also unique in that it’s a heist film in which you don’t see any of the heists. It’s all about the getaway and the car chases are wonderfully choreographed to the aforementioned terrific score.
In addition to the headlining trio of actors, you also get fine supporting performances from Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Elza Gonalez, and especially Jamie Fox as an unhinged crook who hates leaving witnesses. This is old-school filmmaking with a up-tempo beat. A pure triumph of energy and entertainment from Edgar Wright. 5 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!
Next up we have “Spider-Man: Homecoming” which probably serves as the best Spider-Man film on the big screen to date. It helps that Marvel’s most popular hero is now part of the might Marvel Cinematic Universe and is able to interact with folks like Thor, Iron Man, and The Hulk. This particular film starts right after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” Peter Parker (the excellent Tom Holland), after getting a taste of being an Avenger during the battle at the Berlin airport, wants to do the job full time, but since he’s still a fifteen year-old high school student, his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) wants the web slinger to keep training with low-level crime. Things get complicated with Spidey runs afoul of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). Known as The Vulture, Toomes runs a crew of weapons dealers who are fusing alien technology with human engineering to create powerful weapons for the black market. Peter gets in over his head and has to find the hero within to not only stop The Vulture and his gang, but also win the trust of Tony Stark. He also has to find a way to ask his high school crush Liz (Laura Harrier) to the prom.
This is the Spider-Man comic fans have been waiting for. It ditches the origin story and drops us right in the middle of a high school film, albeit one with superheroes in it. Holland is the perfect Peter Parker: an endearing nerd outside the costume, a confident wiseass while in the suit. Holland’s matched by Keaton’s Vulture, a fully formed villain who inspires a bit of sympathy while still being a vicious bad-ass. Downey Jr. is his usual terrific self as Stark, although he’s not in the movie to the extent you might think. Loved Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan and Marissa Tomei as Aunt May. The various schoolmates of Peter’s are a rich and diverse cast, with Jacob Batalon as Ned and Zendaya as Michelle being the standouts.
This movie is as funny as hell, action packed and extremely clever in the way it depicts the trials and tribulations of our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. It’s over two hours but flies by and is worthy of multiple viewings. Hint: stay through the end credits for a couple of truly memorably add-on scenes, especially the last one. You won’t be disappointed. 5 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!
Finally we get to “War Of The Planet Of The Apes,” the last of the acclaimed prequel trilogy that started with 2011’s “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” and continued with “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes.” In this final installment, the ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) is trying to move his community of intelligent apes to safety after the events of 2014’s “Dawn.” He doesn’t want to fight the humans, but the fight is brought to him when the ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) commits an act of aggression that results in profound tragedy for Caesar. The ape leader vows to hunt down and kill the Colonel, but becomes conflicted when the Colonel’s forces ambush and capture his ape brethren, forcing Caesar to choose between vengeance or the salvation of his species.
To tell you any more would be spoiling the fun and wonder of this film. It’s a dark movie, to be sure, with shades of “Full Metal Jacket” and “Apocalypse Now” running throughout the narrative, but it is beautiful to behold. The motion capture technology, along with Serkis’ incredible performance, makes Caesar a character for the ages. The rest of the apes are also incredibly designed. They look like real apes, with the Orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) among the most impressive of the bunch. Harrelson’s Colonel may seem a little one dimensional at first, but Harrelson plays him with hidden layers that result in a nice payoff by the end of the film. Special mention must go to Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape who, while serving as much needed comic relief, has a somewhat redemptive arc of his own.
“War For The Planet Of The Apes” is an absolutely terrific film that is not only one of the best science fiction films of the year: it’s also one of the best movies of the year period. Another 5 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!