8   +   8   =  

Most of August still lies ahead and the Olympics are in full swing, but the summer blockbuster period is fast winding down. Given the dubious quality of many big releases this year, perhaps that’s no bad thing. Instead, this week we have mid-tier comedies, remakes and thrillers, and an original sci-fi on DVD that manages to act as a throwback to the sci-fi of the past.

The title for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates pretty much sets out the entire film. Mike and Dave, played by Adam DeVine and Zac Efron, are family hell raisers ordered to bring dates to their sister’s wedding in a desperate bid to calm them down. When they decide to advertise their quest on TV they get Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick, which might sound great if the two weren’t living a life of squalor. They scrub themselves up to fool the boys and chaos breaks loose. It’s predicable and patchy, but also very funny in parts.

The remake of Pete’s Dragon continues Disney’s latest trend by updating the original nearly 40 years after it first appeared. This version sees a young boy discovered in a forest where he’s grown up with a mysterious dragon. Various characters then come together to discover the truth behind his origins, and that of the dragon. The cast list includes Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard in a remake that updates the visuals without taking away the charm of the original.

Nerve is the latest film to worry about the perils of anonymous online communities. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco come together for a terrifying experience playing an online reality version of truth and dare. They are set increasingly difficult missions in exchange for money, and must keep accepting them or lose all their winnings. Except something goes wrong and they find themselves spiraling into a dangerously out of control situation. It may get pretty dumb, but it proves impressively exciting some of the time.

There’s been plenty of Steven Spielberg to go around this year. He’s given us a film himself and we have a Netflix show reminiscent of his work. Then there’s Midnight Special. Out now on DVD, Jeff Nichols’ film manages to mix Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. to create a hybrid with its own spark. A father, played by Michael Shannon, appears to be on the run with his kid who is either very ill, or possesses impossible powers. Information is drip-fed as tension ratchets up to a satisfying conclusion. It’s worth more than one watch.

That’s all for now. Get back to the cinema and the (hopefully) continuing Olympic gold rush and I’ll see you next week as David Brent leaves the office behind.

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