Prey (2022) available on Disney+ is my top pick for August. It’s a Predator film originally released on Hulu, a service that’s not available in the UK, and it really deserves a cinematic release in my opinion. It’s a great looking action movie, really well shot and atmospheric. The fact that it’s got the alien out of the other Predator films is kind of secondary really as the star of the show is undoubtedly Amber Midthunder who plays Naru a Comanche hunter wanting to prove her worth among her male-dominated tribe.
Naru’s journey aside, the crux of the film I guess is quite how an axe and bow and arrow wielding hunter is going to overcome the technologically advanced alien intruder. The end of the film actually felt a bit silly to me, but I was rooting for the Comanche’s all the way, especially for Naru and it’s a satisfying film in that respect. For fans of the franchise there’s a few Easter eggs – reused lines of dialogue and one really big one linking it to Predator 2. But you’ll get no spoilers from me here!
I could see Midthunder’s potential from her role in FX’s underrated Marvel TV show Legion, and it’s great to see her do such a fine job in the lead role of such an enjoyable film. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s on a par with the original Arnie film.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022) is an extended advert for the Navy but not the boat people, the plane people. I never had much interest in the original film, despite my interest generally in aircraft (I was more into WWII type stuff), so didn’t have much of a hard-on for the film beyond enjoying some of the clips I saw of the in-cockpit footage.
I enjoyed Maverick but it does dwell a bit too much on paying homage to the original and revisits the usual macho-bullshit clichés of the original with slightly less homo-erotica but just as much dismissal of women as interesting characters. There’s three of them and yes one’s a pilot, but it’s still about men’s egos at the end of the day. Oh and about Tom Cruise being an old fart but with still enough grit to get the job done, quelle surprise.
Yes the VFX and the real footage of the aircraft and aircraft carrier in operation is bloody marvellous, especially when the squad finishes training and embarks on the mission proper. Tom Cruise is annoyingly good in the title role, has a jolly Hollywood run at one point, and it was nice to see an age-appropriate love interest in the form of Jennifer Connelly. But… the script is pretty dang awful, despite a couple of genuinely funny lines, and very similar to the original Star Wars movie’s trench run. Plus they didn’t play Take My Breath Away. Boo!
Lightyear (2022) is supposedly the film that Andy’s toy was based on in Pixar’s Toy Story movies. So that’s that explained. Chris Evans (Captain America, not the British radio DJ) voices the hero instead of the other chap who I think got kind of cancelled for some reason I can’t recall or be bothered to look up, but to be honest it could’ve been anyone doing the voice and indeed with the exception of Taika Waititi that’s the case for all the animated characters in this film.
The main story revolves around the idea that if only Buzz would learn to work as part of a team then the dream (of getting off the planet he’s stuck on) might work. Dreamworks… nope Pixar… hold on… anyway he learns another lesson along the way which seems quite obvious to the adult viewer but maybe is useful for the kids watching. It’s a kid’s film after all. The quality of animation is spectacular at time and the robot cat sidekick helps smooth out the annoyance generated by the character of Buzz Lightyear, who as usual is a bit of a dick until Act 3 – who saw that coming?
The House of Gucci (2021) is currently on Amazon Prime Video and is about the rise and fall of the fashion house. The film boasts an impressive cast including Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons (with the worst Italian accent I’ve heard in a long time), Jared Leto (almost unrecognisable as Paolo Gucci) and Salma Hayek. Gaga and Driver have most screen time as Patrizia Reggiani/Gucci and Gucic heir and lover/husband/ex-husband Maurizio Gucci, and are both great.
It’s a Ridley Scott film and his track record has been a bit patchy of late, so it was nice to find that the 2h 38m runtime flew by unnoticed as we got immersed in the ‘spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge’ ending in the memorable assassination in 1995 of one of the family. There’s a feeling of The Godfather throughout the film and I’m sure that’s intentional. It’s not on a par with Francis Ford Coppola’s classic but could be mistaken perhaps for one of Martin Scorsese’s later films.
Day Shift (2022) is a new Netflix film following the trials and tribulations of a pool cleaner (Jamie Foxx) who has a secret job as a vampire killer. He gets paired up with a rookie (Dave Franco) and together they go through all the usual action / buddy movie tropes. It’s quite a funny and exciting film with some connections to the people who made the John Wick movies, so the action is good, and there’s a particularly well filmed car chase.
Snoop Dogg is in the movie too and plays himself basically, pretending to be a bad-ass contemporary of Foxx’s character who helps him battling the vampires with a big-ass gun. Martial arts expert turned action movie star Scott Adkins is also in it for a bit. Siggy has met the guy. She reminds me about this every time we see him in a film. Anyway, Day Shift is a good fun ‘Netflix film’ in a long line of Netflix films and on the higher end of the spectrum of quality that is a feature of their home brand films.
The Addams Family 2 (2021) is currently on Amazon Prime Video and was a disappointment compared to The Addams Family (2019) which I enjoyed a lot. In this animated sequel, Charlize Theron reprises her role as Morticia Addams along with Oscar Isaac as husband Gomez, and Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) as Wednesday. But the road trip setting combined with Wednesday doubting her lineage isn’t a particular interesting story and is all rather predictable.
Nick Kroll (Sausage Party) is only marginally funny as Uncle Fester and Snoop Dogg as Cousin It doesn’t help much. The animation was pretty nice looking, especially the water simulations, but wasn’t as eye-poppingly detailed as Lightyear.
The New Mutants (2020) is a long-delayed movie with a chequered production history and an identity crisis which landed with zero fanfares on Disney+ recently. It’s 20th Century Fox film made in association with Marvel and based on the vaguely X-Men related comic book. I think it is supposed to be a horror thriller but the horror scenes feel PG-rated and there’s very few thrills in this plodding and mundane film which has a great cast and some brilliant VFX. Shame it’s so bad really.
It is mostly set inside or around an isolated psychiatric hospital where five teenage mutants are being held captive and are under constant surveillance. Their nightmares begin to encroach on their reality as the secrets of their captivity are revealed. The setting of the story reminded somewhat of Sucker Punch but while the older (and far from perfect) film had some magic moments, this movie is just another dreadful Marvel offering from Fox in a long line of mediocrity.