Summer Movie Guide: 9 Movies to See in July

Two summer movie months down, two disappointing months in the bag. There have been a couple bona fide hits, a few good movies, but so far this summer has been a bit of a bust – with little to get excited for or show up at the movie theater three hours in advance so you can sit on a dirty floor and hang out next to some nerdy group of guys talking about the latest computer hardware. Enter: July.

Here are the nine movies to see in July, ranked in order of importance. Needless to say, if the top three are bad, I will have to shoot someone.

9. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – July 14, 2010 (At your own risk)

Disney failed to spark a franchise with The Prince of Persia, but the studio takes another stab at fantasy adventure with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, about a sorcerer (Nicolas Cage) and his hapless apprentice (Jay Baruchel) who must defend Manhattan from an evil bad guy (Alfred Molina).

Our take: Nicolas Cage is best when playing eccentric and weird, but casting him as a sorcerer is questionable at best. Baruchel also seems like an odd choice to play the title character. Beyond the casting, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has the potential to be mindless fun; but we’re smelling disaster.

8. The Kids Are All Right – July 7, 2010 (limited)

Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play a lesbian couple who find their perfect world thrown into disarray when their children’s father/sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) enters the family’s life. The two teenagers appreciate the presence of a male figure, while the women find themselves torn over what role he should play in their lives.

Our take: The comedy-drama looks like an interesting twist on a classic story, with a great cast to support it. The movie is receiving a limited release, and though most audiences will wait until DVD, people looking for something other than the typical summer blockbuster fare should check out The Kids Are All Right.

7. The Last Airbender – July 1, 2010

M. Night Shyamalan writes and directs The Last Airbender, based on the popular cartoon series. In the family-oriented action-adventure, a bald little kid who can control the elements rises to combat evil forces looking to take over the world. The movie promises lots of action sequences and special effects.

Our take: “Morbidly curious” describes my emotions toward this movie very well. The Last Airbender will either be loads of fun or disastrously bad, with little wiggle room in the middle. On one side, you have Shyamalan, who has directed a series of painful “movies” in recent years; on the other side, you have Shyamalan who is, for the first time in his career, adapting someone else’s work – and that work happens to be a cherished television series that is allegedly very good. I predict a financial and critical flop, but I want to see it for myself.

6. Dinner for Schmucks – July 30, 2010

Paul Rudd plays a careerist who learns that his new firm has a very strange and cruel form of entertainment: the company’s executives invite idiots over to dinner to make fun of them. Though he’s hesitant about the idea, he invites uber-moron Steve Carell over for dinner. Zach Galifianakis stars as another idiot.

Our take: Both Paul Rudd and Steve Carell – and Zach Galifianakis – are funny men, but I have a bad feeling about Dinner for Schmucks. The previews are generally funny, highlighted by a scene with Carell and Galifianakis dueling around the dinner table, but most of the jokes appear to be based on slapstick antics rather than something more substantial. Still, Rudd and Carell are not to be underestimated.

5. Despicable Me – July 9, 2010

Steve Carell, in his second movie of the month, stars as the second most evil super villain in the history of the world: Gru. In this animated comedy, Gru plans the biggest heist ever to claim his spot as #1, but three little girls stand in his way.

Our take: The previews for Despicable Me, which have been airing for what seems like forever, have been consistently entertaining and at times downright funny. A month after Toy Story 3, Despicable Me should serve as a decent replacement.

4. Farewell – July 23, 2010 (Limited)

A French-language film, Farewell tells the true story of a French engineer based in Moscow who becomes the primary contact for a high ranking KGB agent who is willing to provide crucial intelligence to the Western powers. The movie is a mix of spy thriller and drama and focuses on the relationship between the two men and the significance of their work.

Our take: Having seen this movie at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), I can say with some sincerity that Farewell is an exceptionally well-made drama that serves as “a captivating story of spies, friendship and Cold War politics.” It is only being released in limited theaters, but if you have a chance to see it… see it.

3. Predators – July 7, 2010

A so-called reboot of the Predator franchise, this movie, produced by Robert Rodriguez, returns to the original format – a bunch of soldiers in the jungle – but takes a unique angle: the soldiers have been abducted from Earth and dropped on an alien planet to be hunted by a bunch of those ugly, invisible bastards. Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne and Topher Grace star.

Our take: After two terrible AVP movies, it’s nice to see a return to the elements that made Predator popular in the first place. The original is a classic, but there’s no reason this 2010 version can’t be entertaining, action-packed and blood-soaked. Whoever thought Adrien Brody would replace Arnold Schwarzenegger?

2. Salt – July 23, 2010

Angelina Jolie stars as a CIA agent who learns that a Russian spy has infiltrated the U.S. government and is planning to assassinate the president. It also turns out that she is the one who has been named as the spy. To clear her name – or complete her mission – she goes on the run in this action-packed thriller.

Our take: Few women can carry an action movie like Jolie, and Jolie looks absolutely scorching here. The film is from director Phillip Noyce, who did Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Quiet American, so there’s clearly some potential for good action. On the other hand, the movie is written by wildly inconsistent Kurt Wimmer, who did The Thomas Cron Affair and Equilibrium, but also wrote Law Abiding Citizen and Ultraviolet. Still, Salt looks like a real blast.

1. Inception – July 16, 2010

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a corporate thief who steals secrets by developing dream worlds and tricking the victim into giving up sensitive information. Action and mind-bending special effects ensue.

Our take: For those of you who read FilmJabber on a regular basis, it should be no surprise Inception is our most anticipated movie of July (and the summer). Director Christopher Nolan, who did this little film called The Dark Knight, has never made a bad movie (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins and The Prestige) – why start now? For that matter, DiCaprio hasn’t been in a bad movie in 10 years. Inception looks like the best thing since The Matrix, and if it is anything less, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Top 10 Movie Lists
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