July is traditionally big studio film territory, and that is what we have this year. Four films…
First up, Terminator Genisys is yet another entry in a franchise that should be facing its own Judgement Day. The film immediately sets to ripping apart the timeline to great effect, but quickly squanders its boldness with a plot about an evil Facebook-like company. There are some great set pieces, but they’re undermined by the clunky exposition and bad acting (Jai Courtney is especially flat). It’s a better film than its immediate predecessor, but that wouldn’t be hard. Fun, but not a classic. (See my Terminator Genisys Twitter review).
Seth MacFarlane certainly has his style of comedy and, as in Ted 2, it’s starting to wear a little threadbare. Even if you like his heavily referential/gross-out jokes, here they’re presented as a loosely connected series of sketches barely held together by the thinnest of plots. There are a few funny moments, but it’s largely devoid of anything to hold your interest. Avoid this movie, there are many better options. (See my Ted 2 Twitter review).
When Ant-Man was first announced, it wasn’t clear how they’d fit a character who is more grounded in the golden age of comics, despite his relative latter day importance. This film manages it with a few knowing winks and a fairly unique heist. When it’s being light and breezy, Ant-Man does very well. The small scale set pieces work surprisingly well, with both action and comedy moments aplenty. It doesn’t, however, earn a few of the main character beats. The relationship between Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne feels particularly unearned. Light-hearted and fun. (See my Ant-Man Twitter review).
Finally, Southpaw is built on every boxing cliche that you can imagine, from the rise-fall-rise structure, to the external struggles (family, drugs), and the training montages. We’re not getting originality so what are we getting? Well, another jawdropping performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, who couldn’t look more different than he did in Nightcrawler, and an absolutely gut-wrenching plot involving his daughter. Some of the emotional moments are genuinely affecting, even if some of the relationships are by the book. It’s a mixed bag, but a solid film. (See my Southpaw Twitter review).
It’s difficult to pick a winner this month, with a serious film and a fun film that could win other months, but I think Ant-Man edges out for the simple fact I’d watch it again sooner than later.