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Dead policeman battling demons, giant monsters taking on equally elephantine robots, true crime, documentaries, and lots more CG kid fare. That’s what July has in store for us, including a return of a certain masked man and his faithful ‘Indian’ companion.


 

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The Lone Ranger

Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter
3 July
The Lone Ranger

It’s an insane idea, actually. Who, in the wide expanse of post-millennial culture, was clamoring for a return of the famous masked man, his faithful Indian companion, and a bunch of old school Wild West vigilantism? Apparently, someone put this bug in superstar Johnny Depp’s ear, and as the idiosyncratic actor would have it, he wanted to play Tonto, not the title hero. No matter, as the movie has been made and is poised to perplex a population unfamiliar with Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels, or the character’s early radio origins. In their place will be an amazing act of cinematic chutzpah, a surreal exercise in Western revisionism that will either flop or soar like a silver bullet.


 

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Despicable Me 2

Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong
3 July
Despicable Me 2

Hits don’t come any bigger than Despicable Me. Made in France for a mere $69 million, it raked in nearly ten times that amount worldwide, mandating a sequel (and in the case of the beloved yellow creatures called The Minions, their own offshoot movie). Now the follow-up has arrived, and it’s guaranteed to please the under-age set with its sophomoric approach to humor and narrative. Nothing that made the first movie so memorable remains. In its place are numerous fart jokes, a penchant toward stereotypes and ethnic exaggeration, and a dulling sense of déjà vu. The original was just that. This is nothing more than a calculated cash grab.


 

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The Way, Way Back

Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, Liam James
3 July
The Way, Way Back

Here’s a warning to all of you anticipating this latest from Oscar winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. This is not The Descendents good. Not even close. As a matter of fact, a similarly styled film from a few years back, Adventureland, did more with its coming of age story than this angry, often unfunny mess. Sure, Sam Rockwell shows up every once in a while to save things from going completely south, but when your idea of raucous comedy is Allison Janney acting like a loud drunken whore or your notion of drama is someone having an affair, you’re getting Screenwriting 101 at its worst. This should have been so much better. 


 

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Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Director: Leslie Small, Tim Story
Cast: Dwayne Brown, Tonya George, Kevin Hart
3 July
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

At some point in every stand-up comedian’s career, they fancy themselves Richard Pryor (or to update it a bit, Eddie Murphy). They see the long lines of fans wanting to witness their verbal histrionics and think, What better way than a concert film? Captured during a sold out show at Madison Square Garden, it’s now Kevin Hart’s time to play laugh rock star. The diminutive comedian, who made a name for himself in movies and TV, has also had quite a lot of success on stage. This bigger arena, filmed for posterity by Leslie Small and Tim Story, offers the comic a chance to connect with a wider audience.


 

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Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Director: Drew DeNicola
Cast: Rick Clark
3 July
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star remain a model for all indie pop combos to come. They earned their ‘legendary’ reputation long after the founders had split and settled in as musical myths. Now, after the deaths of leading lights Alex Chilton (in 2010) and Chris Bell (way back in 1978), the group is poised to be discovered by those without a working knowledge of their catalog, their career, or their continuing influence. This documentary, part overview and part all star rock ‘n’ roll celebration, hopes to turn Big Star’s status from cult to commercial behemoth. Early reviews suggest it can do just that.


 

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Stuck in Love

Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell, Liana Liberato, Nat Wolff
3 July
Stuck in Love

Apparently, this movie will focus on a writer who can work out the problems of his popular literary characters but has difficulty dealing with the intricacies of people in the real world. Greg Kinnear is the star, with Jennifer Connelly plays his put-up ex. Add Lily Collins as his older daughter and Nat Wolff as their romantically tormented teen son and you’ve got all the makings of yet another been there, done that indie cinema experience. Maybe movie novice Josh Boone can bring something new and original to this otherwise tired motion picture trope. Judging by the trailer, one thinks not.


 

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Hammer of the Gods

Director: Farren Blackburn
Cast: Charlie Bewley, Clive Standen, James Cosmo
3 July
Hammer of the Gods

Vikings have been making a comeback of sorts over the last few years, appearing in everything from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising to various Capital One commercials. Here, we have another tale of family fraught with issues and one son searching for the other to help save the clan. Apparently, this minor movie has none of the scope or majesty of others on the subject. Similarly, some have complained that gore and bloodshed has replaced character and narrative drive. Whatever the case, those who are interested can check it out once it hits theaters and VOD. Others can make do with Hagar the Horrible.


Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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