After a raft of summer blockbusters, what can we look forward to as the hot weather continues?
From horror to heroic action: 10 summer films worth seeing in the UAE
It’s been a blockbuster couple of months for cinema in the UAE, with huge movies like The Avengers: Infinity War, Rampage and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom taking over screens and senses with their big budgets, bombastic action and eye-popping special effects. In fairness, there’s not too much out-and-out blockbuster fare due on screens over the remainder of the summer, Mission: Impossible – Fallout excepted, but there are still plenty of great films due to release over the rest of the season to keep audiences out of the heat and in theatres. Here are some of the biggest releases that are yet to come.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Meryl Streep Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard are back for more musical romance, inspired by the West End musical featuring the music of Swedish pop legends Abba. We’re still unsure about which of the trio of male leads is the father to the daughter of Streep’s character Donna, and the cast are still belting out Abba tracks with glee. Julie Walters, Cher and Amanda Seyfried are among a strong female supporting cast.
A Prayer Before Dawn
The two big releases this week couldn’t be more different if they tried. There’s little light musical release in Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s brutal tale of life in Thailand’s notorious Klong Prem prison, based on the memoirs of Liverpudlian boxer Billy Moore, who was jailed for 15 years in Thailand due to his heroin addiction. There’s blood and violence aplenty as Joe Cole’s Moore boxes his way to the top of the prison’s hierarchy.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
The final true blockbuster of the summer season, Tom Cruise returns as special agent Ethan Hunt in the latest instalment of the stunt-tastic franchise. As is always the way with the MI franchise, plot details are sparse at the moment, but we do know that old adversary Solomon Lane, played by Sean Harris, will be escaping custody. Hunt, naturally, will give chase. The reviews haven’t dropped as yet, though social media reactions to last week’s first screener were almost universally positive, with some viewers calling it “the best movie of the year”. The Abu Dhabi desert also plays a role in one of the movie’s biggest stunt sequences, though, from the trailer, it looks like you won’t actually recognise it after a CGI makeover.
Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell star in director Marc Forster’s part live-action extension to the Disney-owned Winnie-the-Pooh characters, created by AA Milne. The film sees the book’s central little boy, Christopher Robin, all grown up, and in the process he’s completely lost his imagination. All your favourite characters from Hundred Acre Wood, including Pooh, Piglet and Tigger have to come to life to help Christopher Robin rediscover it. The film won the Audience Choice Award when it was screened at last year’s Dubai International Film Festival.
Shock and Awe
Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones and James Marsden head an all-star cast in Rob Reiner’s damning indictment of the Bush administration’s tenuous, and at times even fictional, reasons for invading Iraq in 2003. The film follows a group of journalists investigating the administration’s claims of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, which was used as the main premise for the war, and which we now know was demonstrably false. The film mixes drama and archive footage, and although you sometimes can’t help wonder if Reiner might have been wiser to make a documentary rather than simulate one, the film’s revelations are damning.
Jason Statham, Li Bingbing and Rainn Wilson star in this Chinese/American co-production that will be fun at the very least if it’s as silly as it sounds. Two hundred miles off the Chinese coast, a 95-foot-long prehistoric shark known as the megalodon, thought to be long extinct, rises from the depths of the ocean and attacks a research submersible, leaving its crew stranded. Diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) – who has encountered the monster before – is called into action to help rescue the crew and stop the meaty monster before it attacks the mainland. You’ve seen Sharknado, now it’s time to feast on super Jaws.
Spike Lee is on form in this incredible true story of a black Colorado police detective who successfully infiltrated the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan and, incredibly, rose to become the chapter’s leader in the process of bringing them down. Surely an abject lesson for extreme racist groups the world over: pointy-hatted, body- covering shrouds are not the best outfits if you want to avoid infiltration and being taken down from the inside. John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace star, and Get Out’s Jordan Peele is among the film’s co-producers.
The Equalizer 2
There’s been no shortage of movie remakes of eighties TV shows in recent years, and frankly, most of them are terrible (see Miami Vice, The A-Team or Baywatch for evidence). Antoine Fuqua’s 2014 take on the crime-fighting The Equalizer was rare in that it was a remake of an eighties TV show that didn’t make you feel abject pity for a show you loved as a kid. Fuqua returns for this sequel, alongside Denzel Washington as the equalising ex-special ops soldier Robert McCall to put an even darker spin on what was already a fairly dark TV show, particularly by glossy eighties standards. This time around, McCall is called into action when an old friend is murdered, and it’s safe to assume revenge will not be pretty.
The Happytime Murders
The son of popular American puppeteer, Jim Henson, Brian Henson’s puppet/human crime comedy has already attracted plenty of publicity thanks to Sesame Workshop’s legal objections to the use of the film’s tagline “No Sesame. All Street.” A judge ruled in May that associating the much-loved show with an adult comedy would not damage the original brand – whether the film itself can generate as many headlines remains to be seen. The movie is set in a world where humans and puppets coexist, but puppets are treated very much as second-class citizens. Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) reunites with her disgraced puppet ex-partner Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) to track down a serial killer who is picking off the cast of eighties TV show The Happytime Gang.
Another film that’s been generating headlines even before its release, Sylvain White’s Slender Man is a low-budget horror based on Eric Knudson’s supernatural character who first appeared online in 2009. The character was prone to stalk, abduct and traumatise children, fictionally, and began to creep from the online world into real life, causing moral panic when fans of the online fiction were linked to a string of violent events. The film’s release comes four years after the Slender Man stabbing in Waukesha County, Wisconsin in 2014, and following the trailer release, Bill Weier, the father of one of the attackers Anissa Weier described the film as “extremely distasteful”, and urged local theatres to not screen it.