Film discussion

Summer Movie Guide: Part 1 – May 2019

With the Summer Movie Season officially in full swing, you’re about to be bombarded with a whole heckuva lot of movies over the next several months.  All vying to become the next big thing, all vying for your limited cash.  Big, small, heavily-trailed, modestly presented, good, bad…  How’s one supposed to keep on top and not waste their time on subpar art?  Well, hopefully, that’s what The Month in Movies will manage to do!  For each month of the season, we’ll be taking a comprehensive look at the incoming releases, spotlighting the big-ticket items and drawing your eyes towards some lesser-known fare, in the hopes of steering you right!

So, and admittedly rather late given we’re already into the second week of May (that’s on me), here’s The Month in Movies for May 2019!

All release dates are UK specific, taken from the Film Distributors Association website and, whilst correct at press time, are subject to change.


Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Date: 10th May

Dir: Rob Letterman

Star: Ryan Reynolds (voice), Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton

Even with the reviews coming in more tepid than I was hoping, whoever was in charge of the marketing for this one deserves a promotion as soon as is humanly possible because, as I have been asking to anyone and everyone ever since that initial trailer dropped in November, HOW DOES THIS LOOK SO GOOD?!  I have absolutely no prior nostalgia for Pokémon – I was more Hanna-Barbera and turn-of-the-millennium Cartoon Network as a child, my brother’s the one who got back into Pokémon as he got older – and yet even I finished that first trailer yelling “IN!  SO IN!  ALL THE WAY IN!”  It looks so utterly delightful and fun and unique, with every further bit of released marketing stoking my anticipatory fires even higher.  Genuinely cannot wait for this one.  If you had told me three years ago that my three most-anticipated movies of 2019 would be two unapologetic horrors and a goddamn Pokémon movie, I would have angrily accused you of not knowing me at all and stormed off in a huff.  What a weird forkin’ timeline we’re currently operating within.


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Date: 15th May

Dir: Chad Stahelski

Star: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane

HOOK IT INTO MY VEINS!  Wild that the last Summer of the decade will provide me, an action movie junkie with a nigh-unquenchable thirst for the good good shit, with brand new confections from both Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.  That is truly spoiling me rotten, friends.  I expect this to be a minor step down from Chapter 2, in the same way that Chapter 2 was a minor step down from the damn-near perfect 2014 original, and for it to still blow almost everything else like it releasing this year off the face of the planet.  Across just two movies, the John Wick series has already established itself as the gold standard in modern Hollywood action filmmaking without betraying the surprisingly affecting character study at its titular centre and I see no reason as to why Parabellum would buck that legacy.  Stahelski also seems to have also watched The Villainess and made it his mission to show Jung Byung-gil how this shit is done, since there’s going to be his own motorcycle swordfight which is the kind of subtweeting I can very much get behind!


Aladdin

Date: 22nd May

Dir: Guy Ritchie

Star: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Will Smith

It’s going to make at least $750 million based purely off of current generation nostalgia for the 90s Disney Renaissance magnum-opus – yes, Aladdin is the best 90s Disney film and I am willing to throwdown on this hill – regardless of quality because Beauty and the Beast made $1.2 billion despite being hot stinking pointless garbage.  That’s the main takeaway from all this.  I’ll save my condensed rant over the Disney remake cycle for Lion King and because further kicking this new Aladdin whilst it’s down before release seems cruel by this point.  It initially looked horrendous and those recent trailers upgraded that pre-judgement standing to a generous “pointless.”  I have had the bare minimum of exposure marketing-wise to Ritchie’s latest bizarre trip down Hollywood filmmaking and already I just want to get it over with, like a dentist trip or a visit to your step-father’s parents.  The real question is whether I do my 500th rewatch of the animated classic, which will do maximum unflattering comparison damage to the new version, beforehand or afterwards.


Rocketman

Date: 22nd May

Dir: Dexter Fletcher

Star: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

So long as I cannot map Rocketman onto Walk Hard in any strong capacity, then I will class this one a success.  Dexter Fletcher’s directorial career so far has consisted almost entirely of taking ideas that at best sound mediocre and at worst utterly appalling and turning them into surprisingly fun and winsome slices of earnest charm: Wild Bill, Eddie the Eagle, most amazingly of all Sunshine on Leith which, need I remind you, was a Proclaimers musical!  Admittedly, Bohemian Rhapsody was still unwatchable garbage but Fletcher wasn’t brought on until very late in the game to effectively staple an abomination into something vaguely releasable, so I can’t really hold it against him or view that as a series of omens for this.  His frequent insistences that this is more a “musical” rather than a straightforward “biopic” also intrigue me since, again, that theoretically moves us well away from Walk Hard territory.  We’ll see, then.  Colour me quietly optimistic.


The Secret Life of Pets 2

Date: 24th May

Dir: Chris Renaud

Star: Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart (voices)

Siiiiiiigh…  My, how we can fall within just a few short years.  The Secret Life of Pets came out three years ago and at the time I was tying myself in knots wrestling with the conflicting emotions of laughing a heck of a lot at the film whilst also being immensely frustrated and disappointed at its resolute lack of ambition.  I kept ping-ponging between “disappointed parent who wants their burnout child to apply themselves” and “begrudging admission that it’s at least very funny,” hoping that Illumination might finally start trying in future movies.  Fast-forward three years and the world’s second-biggest animation studio – let’s be real, Pixar haven’t truly commanded the stage for at least the last half-decade – has stubbornly refused to aim any higher than passable inoffensive mediocrity to such a degree that even their joke-telling has suffered.  I want to hope that the lack of any story trailers so far means they are going for more of a vignette exaggerated-observational structure rather than “the exact same movie as Toy Story but with animals” this time, but likely not.  It’ll be fine, because that’s what Illumination relentlessly aims for nowadays, but man do I wish an animation studio with ambition and guts took on this exact same premise instead.


Booksmart

Date: 27th May

Dir: Olivia Wilde

Star: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Noah Galvin

Here’s one that’s rocketed way up my anticipation list.  About a fortnight ago, I had no awareness of its existence, but one trailer in front of Wild Rose later I am now all “YES TO EVERY BIT OF THIS THANKS!”  A teen-girl coming-of-age High School comedy written by a bunch of sitcom vets – Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman – starring two excellent fast-rising young actresses, goosed by a murderer’s row of comic ringers in the supporting cast – Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, Jessica Williams – a queer romance subplot seemingly treated as no big deal, and based around two proudly feminist nerds having an existential crisis on the eve of graduation over their commitment to academia at the expense of a healthy social life…  Shit, I feel called out, to be perfectly frank.  It’s also Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut, which is the one question mark Booksmart honestly has against it but even that’s rather tiny given that the recent track record of actresses-turned-directors has been so favourable: Greta Gerwig, Brie Larson, Alice Lowe.  Excited to see how this turns out.  Maybe it can be 2019’s Edge of Seventeen and maybe other people will actually WATCH IT THIS TIME!


Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Date: 29th May

Dir: Michael Dougherty

Star: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobbie Brown

I still stand by 2014’s Godzilla being a lot of fun with an absolutely killer final third, but the human stuff was genuinely interminable to slog through and I want as little of that bullshit clogging up my new Godzilla movie as possible.  Admittedly, I guess you can’t call any Godzilla movie which doesn’t break up the giant monster brawls with pointless uninteresting human bullshit a true Godzilla movie, since they’re remnants of the original Gojira when this franchise was an ultra-bleak parable for nuclear weapons and Japan’s imperialist philosophies before and during WWII instead of a wacky cool-as-shit excuse to tear shit up, but when a movie is promising me a series of Godzilla brawls against Mothra, Rodan and motherforkin’ Ghidorah: more smashy, less Millie.


Other Films of Note

A Dog’s Journey (Out Now) is the sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose but, despite the extremely similar name, is not related to A Dog’s Way Home from this March although all three movies share the same source writer (W. Bruce Cameron), the same thematic and storytelling mechanics, and the same Hallmark Channel directorial choices.  Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy biopic, Extremely Wicked, Incredibly Cruel and Vile (Out Now), is technically a Netflix movie yet has been pillaged for UK distribution by Sky Cinema. Speaking of Netflix, their Dead to Me is probably a far better provider of Linda Cardellini content than the film she’s starring in released into cinemas on the same day, the Conjuring-adjacent Curse of La Llorona (Out Now).  Dave Bond’s seen the Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron rom-com Long Shot (Out Now) and declared it “fine,” Brady Corbet’s parodically cynical and divisive pop-star drama Vox Lux (Out Now) finally crossed the Atlantic, whilst Tolkien (Out Now) is… certainly a film which exists.

Chris Addison’s gender-flipped Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake, with an ending that will definitely need to be changed, The Hustle (10th May) is out in just a few days even though it certainly doesn’t feel like it.  Hot on the heels of Isabelle Huppert vamping it up in Gloria, Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer gets to do her own interpretation of such material in the Blumhouse production Ma (30th May).  Heads up for the parents: the wildly-popular preschool animated series Paw Patrol is finally pulling a Peppa Pig and making the jump to theatres with Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups (17th May), so pre-book family tickets accordingly to become your tykes’ favourite guardians.  Meanwhile, Breakthrough (17th May) is a PureFlix-style slice of toothless Christian dogma which has for some reason instead been produced by 20th Century Fox.

Despite how this all appears, though, there are some great looking films scattered about May.  Brian Welsh’s feature debut, the Scottish 90s rave dramedy Beats (17th May), looks like exactly the tonic 2019 Britain needs.  The always-interesting Claire Denis makes her English-language debut with the sci-fi arthouse psychological horror High Life (10th May), whilst Josephine Decker’s acclaimed 2018 arthouse psychological drama Madeline’s Madeline (10th May) finally sees UK release thanks to MUBI, and Embrace of the Serpent’s Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego follow that up with the Native Columbian crime epic Birds of Passage (17th May).  Jim Cummings’ feature-length expansion of his acclaimed short Thunder Road (31st May) is at long last getting its official release at month’s end – I saw it at last year’s London Film Festival, it’s really good – the Oscar-winning László Nemes (Son of Saul) returns with another resonant historical drama Sunset (31st May).  Then, to close, we have Amazing Grace (10th May), the mythical Aretha Franklin concert film which even just four years ago none of us thought would actually see the light of day but, in the wake of her passing last year, has finally been completed and authorised for release.


That’s the Month in Movies for May 2019.  What are you most excited to see?  Sound off in the comments below!

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