It is summer...and long past is the worthiness of January and February and Awards season (which this year came just dripping with biopics or films “based on a true story”). No, it is June and all is now fun, frolics and action....
Marvel return - like a Phoenix!
Kicking off the June line-up on 5 June is a new “Marvel” movie: X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Ordinarily, you might expect me to be looking forward to this film, but there is history here. For starters, for a long time, the body of original work created by Marvel Comics has been divided, as the lion's share of character rights were picked up by Marvel Entertainment, who were the genius behind the recent Avengers arc (all 22 films of it!): but certain characters, including the X-men and Deadpool were retained by Disney.
Now, at last, following a merger which involved Disney shelling out $4bn for the rights, all of Marvel is back under one roof. And just in time, the fans might breathe, with relief: because the history of the non-mainstream Marvel arc has been decidedly patchy over the last few years. Deadpool worked. As did Logan. But there have also been some real stinkers, such as X-Men Apocalypse.
And now this, with Sophie Turner in the title role of Jean Grey/Phoenix, and Jennifer Lawrence, Charles McAvoy and Michael Fassbender back, respectively as Raven/Mystique, Prof Xavier and Magneto.
The plot, simple enough, involves Jean gaining massive powers as result of an off-earth accident – and now posing an existential threat to the entire planet. Question: do you sacrifice one friend to save an entire species? Hmmmm..... Answers on a postcard, please.
Advance reviews of this film have been divided, so one can but hope it works out.
Emma Thompson with a difference
This is followed on 7 June by Late Night, an interesting departure in which a late-night talk show host, Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) fears she may be about to lose her long-running show, hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling) as her first female writer and the latter then makes it her mission to save Katherine's career and prove women can write comedy.
Cute idea, which, to date, has not reviewed well. But do not be put off by that. Thompson means quality in anyone's books and I suspect (cynical moi!) that low critical scores may reflect a phenomenon increasingly common of male "activists" doing all they can to sabotage women-centred films for reasons best known to themselves....but probably include a great deal of sexism and sense of entitlement.
So try this one out, as I expect it to be better received than the advance notices suggest.
Put up your arms - and all your flippers!
A week later, on 15 June, it is reboot for another old favourite. This time tis the return of Men in Black, with Men In Black: International. Expect much of the same old, same old with much enhanced special effects, larger vistas, and Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in the lead roles of Agents H and M respectively.
Again, expect a certain amount of heckling from the nay-sayers – basically, the same crowd who hated the Ghostbusters reboot and, indeed, hate anything rebooted – but remember, too, that it is now over 20 years since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones first donned the dark suits in the original MiB in 1997.
Another romp, therefore, for the summer.
To Infinity and Beyond (times 4!)
Then it's fast forward to 21 June and Toy Story 4, another reboot, or at least continuation of an old favourite. There is little information out yet around this. The basic premise involves the introduction of a new toy, Forky, who undergoes an existential crisis when he realise he is a toy, and Is helped by the other toys to understand how to be one.
Not entirely sure that “existential” is a word that should be applied within 2 miles of a child-oriented franchise: and after the triumph of Toy Story 3, very much hope that this latest instalment does not let the other films down. At least Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are back in the key roles of Woody and Buzz Lightyear – and comedian Tony Hale picks up the role of Forky.
Last but by no means least – because the trailer for this is excellent – is Yesterday, out on 28 June. The simple but different premise for this film is a freak accident that edits reality. Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) wakes from same to the discovery that the Beatles never existed and, by some fluke, he is the only person in the world to remember their songs.
Picking up and performing these as his original work, Jack becomes on overnight sensation. Love interest is provided by his childhood sweetheart, Ellie (Lily James) and a foreseeable twist: as Jack becomes world-famous, he risks losing her.
A sweet romcom with an interesting twist.
That's all for now. Back in a month with July's movies. And don't forget to check out the Letchworth Festival Film Event, this year bringing you a load of popular musicals for you to sing along with and even dress up for!