We’re past the half way point of the year and it’s a wonder how the recent release of Hollywood hits such as Furious 7, Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and Mad Max hasn’t saturated the movie market. In fact, this July continues the blockbuster run with a wealth of must-see films which, when whittled down to the finest, excludes even the Magic Mike sequel. You know you’re having a good year of cinema when a shirtless Channing Tatum doesn’t make the cut. Seriously though, if another 90-minute strip-sesh of your favourite A-List actors is something you’ve been fantasising over since the first installment in 2012, Magic Mike XXL reveals itself (in more ways than one) on July 3.
Now let’s get to this month’s top film picks. From a topless Channing Tatum to a bare-chested Jake Gyllenhaal, our first must-see movie for July is Southpaw (July 24). In Antoine Fuqua’s latest, the method-acting Gyllenhaal had to pack on an insane amount of muscle due to his skeletal appearance in the critically lauded Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal plays light-heavyweight boxing champ Billy Hope, who loses his wife (Rachel McAdams) after she’s shot in an altercation with another boxer. To make matters worse, his daughter is taken away by child protection, leaving him with no option but to fight back to the top, both of his weight division and his life. The Hollywood heartthrob puts in a stellar performance in everything he does, and with one of the most competent directors of this gritty genre behind the lens, you can’t miss Jake’s latest round in the cinema ring.
Just as gritty but decreasing in seriousness as the franchise goes on, Terminator is back as Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role in the fifth installment. By default, Genisys (July 2) has to be on this list no matter how disappointed the critics are. From the trailers it looks like Schwarzenegger is at least more self-aware with this one and isn’t afraid of taking a few jabs at himself – quite literally it would seem, as his character confronts a younger 1984 version of himself. If pure entertainment and a few quippy lines are what you’re after, you probably won’t get better than Terminator this month. If it helps, the most popular actress on Earth right now – Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke – swoops in as Sarah Connor. Did I mention she wears tight leather?
Also out on the action front is Ant-Man (July 17), the latest release in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Paul Rudd takes the lead in what must be the first Marvel film to prove size doesn’t matter. Sorry Hulk. The Ant-Man’s capability of shrinking in size while increasing in strength is apparently a desired effect when trying to pull off a heist that will save the world. As corny as the premise may sound, there’s no doubt that this new chapter of the MCU could be the best thing to see at the cinema this July. The movie is penned by an ensemble of hilarious writers – Edgar Wright probably being the most notable (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), so it promises a good script as well as some cool visuals. If you haven’t yet grown tired of the superhero genre (and really, who has?), then definitely go see Ant-Man when it comes out this month.
Also small in stature yet larger-than-life, is a foul-mouthed, weed-smoking teddy bear. Everyone’s favourite talking teddy is back in Ted 2 (July 8) – Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s incredibly brilliant idea to take something so pure and innocent and turn it into the most offensive thing you’ve ever seen. In this comical sequel, Ted and his girlfriend Tami-Lynn decide they want a baby. The only problem is that Ted can’t exactly impregnate her, what with being a plush toy and all. So Ted talks to his best friend, John (Mark Wahlberg), about donating his sperm. Although John is happy to help out a friend in need, Ted must first prove in court that he’s human in order to have custody of his newborn child. With the help of Amanda Seyfried’s bong-smoking lawyer, the trio get up to much of the same shenanigans as our leads did the first time around, minus Mila Kunis. If laughter is what you’re looking for this month, look no further than this shit-head bear!
If MacFarlane’s particular brand of humour isn’t your thing but you still like to laugh, then let the genius minds at Pixar tickle your funny senses with Inside Out (July 24). Delving inside the human brain, Pixar personifies and satirises all those little voices and emotions that stick with us on the day-to-day. Anger is a grumpy red monster that looks like a cross between the red M&M and Mr Strong, whilst Fear is this lanky purple guy with a nerdy knitted sweater and tie not unlike the attire worn by Wallace in Wallace and Gromit. In classic Pixar fashion, the story follows a young kid who has her life uprooted when her family relocates to San Fransisco, forcing all these emotions to scramble together to cope with the big change. Pixar always deliver well-crafted and thoughtful commentaries on the many ups and downs of real life, and Inside Out is no exception.
Our last pick this month takes a more biographical standpoint on the challenges in life. Asif Kapadia’s Amy (July 3) tells the untold story of the late music icon Amy Winehouse. It’s no secret that the English singer / songwriter had a troubled personal life, but on stage she was a true artist; behind the drug and alcohol abuse was a genuinely relatable person you didn’t often see in the press. Regardless of the controversy surrounding her lifestyle, Amy’s image is one that truly deserves to be told lovingly and honourably, and who better than the man behind the powerful and profound Senna? With archival footage and audio never seen or heard before, Kapadia seems to have constructed another deep and sentimental tribute to one of the industry’s most influential young stars.
So there we have it, a varied selection for all you movie lovers. We’ve covered all the bases – comedies, thrillers, action dramas and thought-provoking documentaries. If none of the above takes your fancy though, there’s always Magic Mike XXL, Dear White People and Love & Mercy, which are all worth at least one watch.