Steve Pulaski reviews seven new films to open July with Influx Magazine

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CLICK ON THE TITLES FOR THE FULL REVIEWS

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

But War for the Planet of the Apes is the best Apes film of the past and present. More than entertaining, it’s extremely well-made, with aesthetics that sometimes leap off the screen and brimful of memorable moments and gorgeous scenery. It conservatively makes us of its nine figure budget, which is still about $60 million less than Dawn, and makes it difficult (but never impossible) to not consider this a ceremonious finale that ties things together quite nicely.

WISH UPON

Well, my wish was certainly granted. John R. Leonetti’s Wish Upon, the latest in low-budget, schlocky horror to get a lucky theatrical release in North America, is a supremely entertaining, crafty thriller with a great subtext. It’s exactly the kind of film that will haunt me beyond initial impact as I will surely receive emails and comments hastily reminding me my appreciation for it the next time I give a critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated drama a negative review.

BEATRIZ AT DINNER

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) lives in a small loft and spends her days finding work out of her office as a massage therapist and career healer. She is given invaluable company by her many pets, including dogs and goats, and finds great solace and joy in bringing healing to her often stressed, tense clients. While massaging a middle-aged, wealthy socialite named Kathy (Connie Britton), she talks to her longtime client about her college-age daughter, whom she helped care for when she had Hodgkin’s disease. During these moments, Kathy gives Beatriz the cordial, if surface-level, compassion that keeps her going.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

“I can’t believe that worked,” Spider-Man mutters to himself during the inevitable climactic battle of Spider-Man: Homecoming, echoing the sentiment of his tireless but still amateur web-slinging and combat skills paying off in the knick of time. Exiting the film, I believe I caught myself muttering the same phrase to myself. Here we have the third attempt at a long-running franchise featuring the arachnid-bitten hero in fifteen years, this one also being the second reboot following the adequate but terribly unremarkable Amazing Spider-Man films at the hands of director Marc Webb. At this point, we should have given up on Spidey regardless of whether or not he finally appeared in a great film.

THE BEGUILED

Make no mistake, The Beguiled is consistently strong, right down to its pacing, which always feels precise, and foggy atmosphere, even when the film takes place in doors. Yet its lack of thematic convictions catch up to it during its climax, for it’s then you realize you’ve been spoonfed a fairly unambiguous film that has often masqueraded as something with more depth and complexities than it is. It’s all very pretty, however.

THE HOUSE

There is a biting satire about perceived notions of middle-class safety crossing with the seedy underworld of casino debt and underground racketeering, but it requires a careful hand that no one starring in or working on The House can adequately provide. Co-written and directed by Andrew Jay Cohen (Mike and Dave Need Wedding DatesNeighbors) making his debut at the latter, The House settles for the appearance of being strung together by an abundance of lame Vine videos and outtakes you’d be more content with finding during the film’s end credits, much less the actual film.

BABY DRIVER

For the most part, Wright succeeds in giving us the desired outcome, a very good movie; the kind you should see if only to punctuate the fatigue of animated films and superhero movies that has set in one’s system like butter-shock from movie-theater popcorn. It takes a slew of actors many of us should recognize by now and lets them roam free within the confines of their own loosely defined, free-range film that is fun when it’s everything but great when it’s something, and let’s just say, the latter happens enough to outweigh the former.

 

 

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