What to Watch in August 2014 - Turtles, Time Travel and Zombies
It's August 1, which means it's the last month of the biggest movie season of the year. Here's a round-up of everything you should catch in the theaters and on television this month:
There's been a near-overdose of publicity surrounding this winkingly adorable offbeat superhero movie, with new trailers, teasers, images, clips, and posters coming out every single day for what feels like months. (And, now that it comes out today, likely breaking August box office records, there is also a hubbub of reviews as well.) So let's keep this brief: we saw it last night, and while it's not going to change the world, it is, in fact, adorable. It's unambitious, irreverent, and funny, and even the jokes that fall flat are somewhat saved by Chris Pratt's immense star power.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - August 8th
To be perfectly honest, this live-action version of the beloved cartoon looks pretty creepy. Live-action versions of cartoons are almost never a good idea (see: Jim Carrey's How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the plain weird live-action Scooby Doo), but at least the rumor that the titular turtles are aliens has been put to rest. The potentially ill-advised adaptation is produced by Michael Bay and stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and Whoopi Goldberg.
[Credit: A24 Films]
A zom-com in the spirit of Warm Bodies, Life After Beth stars Spider-Man's Dane DeHaan as a teenager whose heart is broken by the death of his girlfriend, played by Safety Not Guaranteed and Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza. He's ecstatic when his girlfriend comes back to life, but chaos ensues when he discovers that she has become a flesh-eating zombie. Writer-director Jeff Baena has been quoted as saying that the film will focus more on the "emotional carnage" than the "physical carnage," and Plaza seemed to confirm this: "The whole movie is a metaphor for a bad breakup. So I connected to it on a very human level. You don't normally get to see a zombie movie that's so personal."
[Credit: The Weinstein Company]
Before The Hunger Games, Divergent, or (God help us) Twilight, there was The Giver, a sci-fi young adult novel that taught children the value of tolerance and the dangers of conformity. Now, a feature film is finally being released, and it features an all-star cast of Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and Taylor Swift. And after the controversy surrounding the first all-color trailer, it seems that the film will adhere very closely to the spirit of the book, with part of the film shot in color and part of it shot in black and white. The film comes out on August 15.
[Credit: Dimension Films]
There are about a thousand reasons to be excited about this sequel to the gruesomely violent 2005 comic book adaptation that became an underdog critical success. First, the cast, which includes every famous actor ever: Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin (replacing Clive Owen), Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Jaime King, Ray Liotta, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis. (And Lady Gaga, for good measure.) Second, the visuals look amazing, continuing the tradition of remaining slavishly faithful to Frank Miller's wonderfully dark comic series. (It likely helps that Miller is on board, along with master of action Robert Rodriguez.) Plus, the Comic Con red band trailer was moody and beautiful, possibly our favorite trailer of the year so far (the other contender being Interstellar, of course).
Based on the genre-bending Outlander novel series by Diana Gabaldon, this upcoming Starz series follows 20th century nurse Claire Randall, who time travels to 18th century Scotland. The novels were a critically acclaimed blend of science fiction, historical fiction, adventure, and romance, heralded for its "realistic characters" and "feisty, likable heroine." Early reviews of the adaptation have been positive, calling the show "gorgeous" and the "anti-Game of Thrones" regarding its portrayal of egalitarian sexual relationships. The series will premiere on August 9.
Peter Capaldi's Doctor makes his debut this month, and everything we've seen leads us to believe this is going to be the darkest season yet. His loyal assistant, Clara, laments that she "doesn't know who the Doctor is anymore," as he descends into a calculating misanthropy. Capaldi has stated in interviews that the series will have a "bit more gravity" than inprevious years: "Some situations are a bit more sombre and I think there are more rooted dramatic scenes." But he also clarifies, "We still blow a lot of shit up. That's very important…"
We don't know very much about Intruders, but everything we do know, we like. It stars Doctor Who's John Simm and Mira Sorvino, it's written by The X-Files' Glen Morgan, and it has a creepy little girl, a trusty trope that never fails. Plus, judging from the first trailer, it just generally seems dark and weird, which is right up our alley. Based on the novel by Michael Marshall Smith, it follows a police officer who has a run-in with a secret society of people who achieve immortality by taking over others' bodies. Join us on August 23 as we live-tweet and review the series premiere of this inscrutable show.