June ended with a blockbuster that encapsulated everything wrong with most summer movies. Bloated, thin, self-indulgent, mean-spirited, and incomprehensible are a few ways to describe Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Age of Extinction. It’s not the worst film of the series, but it’ll definitely go down as one of the worst films of the summer.
Still, audiences love Bay’s brand and the film made more money domestically in its opening weekend than Edge of Tomorrow has thus far stateside, which is just heartbreaking. Thankfully, we have summer movies like Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to remind us not all blockbusters are run-of-the-mill studio products.
Besides Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or another viewing of Edge of Tomorrow there’s plenty of other movies to check out this month. Here are the must see movies of July 2014:
Deliver Us from Evil
Now in theaters
Director Scott Derrickson is about to take a crack at Doctor Strange for Marvel. It’s a tough character to adapt, but, based on The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and his newest horror film, Deliver Us From Evil, Derrickson knows how to create an atmospheric world and mythology, meaning he’s well-suited to handle one of Marvel’s lesser known heroes.
This procedural horror film is based on NYPD sergeant/demonologist Ralph Sarchie’s (Eric Bana). Fans of Derrickson should find plenty to enjoy in this noir horror picture.
Now available on VOD, opens in limited release July 4th
Whether you appreciated Roger Ebert or not, there’s no arguing he isn’t the face of film criticism. His status won’t change anytime soon, and that’s not only because we’re about to see a lovely documentary about the Chicago Sun-Times critic from director Steve James. Even Ebert’s detractors have fallen in love with this doc, including our own Christopher Campbell. If Chris’s affection for the film doesn’t convince you Life Itself will be more than a backpat for Ebert, then maybe Kate Erbland’s thoughts on the film will: “Yet, for all the tears and wrenching moments, Life Itself is a film about, well, life itself, and an uplifting and warming one at that. Towards the end of his life, Ebert reminded James, via email, ‘this is not only your film.’ Instead, Life Itself is a film for everyone.”
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Opens in theaters July 11th
Matt Reeves‘ sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a thrilling, emotional and intense experience. This chapter in Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) life perfectly embodies the spirit of the Apes series. This occasionally brutal and dark picture doesn’t pull its punches. When the humans and apes go to war in this movie it’s painful to watch. It’s expertly crafted, of course, but what makes the action in Reeves’s film truly crackle is the drama. The strongly written apes and humans, played by the likes of Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman, make this a rare summer blockbuster full of heart and humanity.
Opens in limited release July 11th
Director Richard Linklater has been working on this near-three hour epic for over a decade, filming actor Ella Coltraine every few years to portray a boy’s life. The end result, which also stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, was apparently worth all the time and effort, because more than few critics have praised the film as a massive achievement. Even if the early buzz for Boyhood was toxic it would still need to be experienced for its undeniable ambition. Linklater’s creatives risks — Waking Life, the Before trilogy, and A Scanner Darkly — generally make for his finest efforts. We should expect no less from a film already being labeled a masterpiece.
Wish I Was Here
Opens in theaters July 18th
After ten years of waiting, Zach Braff has finally directed his follow-up to Garden State. Diehard fans of that 2004 drama will likely find Wish I Was Here a successful return to that world. This is, in many ways, a companion film to Garden State. Wish I Was Here also follows an actor, Aidan (Zach Braff), pursuing his dreams, despite having a family to support. He also has a shaky relationship with his father, played wonderfully by Mandy Patinkin, so there’s another connection for you Garden State fans hoping for plenty of father-son drama.
While Braff’s script comes dangerously close to treading all too familiar territory, there’s enough deft touches that make Wish I Was Here stand apart from Garden State. It’s more of a continuation of what he explored in 2004 than a retread.