The August 2016 Movie Preview

Do Donald Trump's sinking poll numbers have you down? Are you a Bernie-or-Buster feeling blue? Are you sick and tired of hearing about her damn e-mails? Why not escape from the partisan bickering of the political theater and settle into the warm, popcorn-scented dark your local film theater to enjoy one or more of these fine* pictures? These are the movies coming soon to a big screen near you!
*Movies not guaranteed to be fine, may in fact thoroughly suck. 

In Theaters August 5

Suicide Squad

At a Glance: Set in the aftermath of "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice," the third installment in the DC Extended Universe sees the government assemble a team of criminal lunatics and superhuman killers to undertake secret missions of its behalf.

Why I'm Excited (With Eyes Wide Shut): Okay, so the reviews are in and they're bad. But as Levar Burton once said, "You don't have to take my word for it," so I'm going to see it anyway. After the disaster of "Dawn of Justice," I so want DC to right their cinematic ship and produce a good movie with these characters I grew up with. The marketing and trailer has been great; I'll cling to that until the movie breaks my heart this weekend.

Nine Lives

At a Glance: Kevin Spacey plays a bad dad who gets turned into a cat by Christopher Walken and must make amends or be stuck in the furry form forever! Will this family film be fur-ociously funny or cat-astrophe?

Why I'm (Sadistically) Excited: "Nine Lives" looks so terrible I almost have to see it. Sadly for me, my wife won't accompany me (she issued a very stern "we are not wasting money to see that trash") and if I go alone I'll look like a child predator.

The Little Prince

At a Glance: We first previewed "The Little Prince" back in March, when it was set to be released by Paramount Pictures. After a wildly successful European opening, the film was inexplicably dropped  only two weeks before its scheduled US release.  Thanks to Netflix, the mixed-animation adaptation of the classic story is finally reaching audiences this month.

Why I'm Excited: What a strange journey "The Little Prince" has had. This has been one of my most anticipated movies for the year and I'm delighted it's finally here. Critical response has been very positive in the countries, like France, where it saw theatrical release.

In Theaters August 12

Pete's Dragon

At a Glance: In this modern day retelling of Disney's 1977 original, a forest ranger seeks to unravel the mystery of Pete, a boy found after six years living alone in the wilderness, and Elliot, the dragon he claims to have protected him.

Why I'm Excited: This has been an exceptionally strong year for Disney magic. The company's studios have released seven features so far this year; five have received universal acclaim and only one ("Alice Through the Looking Glass") was received negatively. Further, Disney's string of live action remakes have a strong track record themselves. If this history is any indication, "Pete's Dragon" is sure to be a hit.

Sausage Party

At a Glance: Food has feelings in this R-rated animated picture from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. After spending their lives waiting to be chosen by a customer, groceries are thrust into the nightmarish world of the human kitchen. Frank, an uh, frank, sets out to warn his supermarket friends of the horrible truth.

Why I'm (Shamefully) Excited: I must be a thirteen year old at heart, because I laughed like an idiot at the red band trailer for this movie. It's dumb, it's immature, but I'll be damned if sometimes that isn't exactly what the doctor ordered. But is the concept enough for a feature length film or will this feel like a short stretching the joke way too thin?

Florence Foster Jenkins

At a Glance: In October 1944, a music-loving socialite capped her amateur performing career by singing a concert to a sold out Carnegie Hall. Florence Foster Jenkins was wildly popular; her public adored her. They didn't seem to care that she was objectively a terrible, terrible singer. This is her story.

Why I'm So Excited I Could Sing: For years, I've loved the real story behind Florence Foster Jenkins. There's something endearing in the woman who threw herself so completely and so blindly into her passions. There's something sincere and sweet in how her husband helped and protected her love of performing. This biopic has won glowing praise in the British press since it's release several months ago. This is a day one watch for me.

In Theaters August 19


At a Glance: A remake of 1959's Charlton Heston classic, Ben-Hur follows a man as he claws his way from slavery to revenge on the brother who wrongly accused him.

Why I'm (Not?) Excited (Maybe?): I don't know what to make of this. The director's filmography highlight appears to be "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" but the screenplay is co-written by John Ridley, the man behind "12 Years a Slave." The cast seems okay (though nothing near Charlton Heston). But the trailer looks terrible, and this is a remake of one of the most iconic movies of the 1950s - no small bit of work. I'm going to stake out a completely non-committal position on this one.

War Dogs

At a Glance: "War Dogs" is a dramatic comedy inspired by the true story of two American twenty-somethings who in 2007 won a high-dollar Pentagon contract to provide arms to US forces in Afghanistan.

Why I'm Excited: Like "Florence Foster Jenkins," this is another story I'm already familiar with; I've been looking forward to this since I learned it was being adapted. Unlike "Florence," this doesn't have an internal release under its belt to get an early gauge of quality. Miles Teller and Jonah Hill are perfectly capable leads, but the director and writers have more mixed records. But hey, there are no major warning signs and the trailer looks good, so I'm optimistic!

Kubo and the Two Strings

At a Glance: Kubo, son of one of the greatest samurai warriors ever to live, is thrown into an adventure when he accidentally summons an evil spirit from his past.

Why I'm Excited: How incredible to see two stop-motion features released in one month! This may well be my most anticipated film of the month. Laika, the production company behind "Kubo," has a strong record in animated features; previous work includes "Coraline," "The Boxtrolls," and "ParaNorman." The cast is phenomenal, featuring Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew McConaughey among others. If anything gives me pause, it's the relative green-ness of the director (this is his feature debut) and the writers, who have one completed film between them.

Hell or High Water

At a Glance: To save their family farm from foreclosure, two brothers stage a series of high risk bank robberies, racing against two Texas Rangers set to hunt them down.

Why I'm Excited: This film wasn't on my radar at all before sitting down to do this post, but now my interest is piqued. The script, written by Taylor Sheridan ("Sicario") was the winner of the 2012 best Black List script, and the film was very positively received at Cannes earlier this year. I'm glad to say there may be more to "Hell or High Water" than I first granted.

In Theaters August 26

Mechanic: Resurrection

At a Glance: Jason Statham returns as Arthur Bishop in this sequel, threatened into completing three assassinations in order to save the woman of his dreams.

Why I'm Eh: I mean, I'm 100% in favor of anything that keeps Jason Statham working, but was anyone really clamoring for this sequel? Ah well, I suppose there's no harm in dumb excitement every once in a while...but even dumb should be done well.

Don't Breathe

At a Glance: Looking to raise enough money to escape a neglectful family with her sister, Rocky and her friends break into the home of a local blind man rumored to keep a safe in his house only to find themselves trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Why I'm Excited: This looks spooky! Early reviews for "Don't Breathe" have been very positive. I tend to shy away from horror flicks unless the premise has a strong hook and this has one. There's virtually no chance I convince my wife to see this with me in theaters, though. 2spooky4her!

Hands of Stone

At a Glance: The second biopic of the month finds inspiration in the relationship between Roberto Duran, a Panamanian boxer and one of the so called "Fabulous Four," and Ray Arcel, his trainer.

Why I'm Excited: Chalk this up to another movie that was nowhere on my radar until a few hours ago. This is a film produced, written, and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, whose previous foreign language films drew awards from the British Independent Film Awards and the New York Times. "Hands of Stone" features Robert De Niro in his only other film appearance this year aside from the widely panned "Dirty Grandpa." It would be nice to see him close the year out by wiping the stain of that film away with a solid performance here.

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