Summer film season is now in full swing after a somewhat lacklustre June, as the biggest movies of the year begin to roll into cinemas. There’s a new Marvel blockbuster on the way and "franchise viagra" himself – Dwayne Johnson – has a new release of his own.
Here are the ten films you should go and see before August kicks off.
10. The Purge: Anarchy (Jul 25)
The Purge was a movie that completely failed to live up to the promise of its initial concept. The fascinating notion of a society in which crime is legal for 12 hours was brimming with potential, but it never exploited it, preferring instead to feature Rhys Wakefield grinning and Ethan Hawke running around in the dark and bumping into stuff.
The sequel promises slightly more development, with a B-movie flavour, as a young couple are left vulnerable when their car breaks down just as the insanity of Purge Night begins.
The Purge: Anarchy could be an interesting sequel that finally manages to make the concept as interesting as should be. Alternatively, they might just make a lame action movie instead.
9. Tammy (Jul 4)
McCarthy plays the title character, who reacts to being sacked by a fast food place by embarking on a road trip with her hard-drinking, hard-swearing grandmother.
It’s a standard comedy setup for what will presumably be a standard comedy in just about every way. McCarthy is talented enough, however, and should produce a handful of laughs.
8. Earth to Echo (Jul 25)
Child-centric sci-fi is a staple of cinema, from Spielberg’s iconic E.T. to JJ Abrams’ Super 8. The latest entry in the sub-genre is Earth to Echo, featuring a group of kids and an adorable little alien.
Trailers have kept a lot of the storyline under wraps, but the basic premise involves a group of kids who discover an alien creature after receiving encrypted messages. They then have to defend their new friend from a series of boo-hiss adults.
It looks like mildly generic fare, but the alien seems very cute indeed and there’s a chance that it could be a really pleasant surprise.
7. The Anomaly (Jul 4)
Noel Clarke works in bursts, having not made a film since the threesome of Fast Girls, Storage 24 and The Knot in 2012. He is on writer-director-star duties for high-concept sci-fi thriller The Anomaly, which is a British entry in the mind-bender genre.
Co-starring Ian Somerhalder, the film stars Clarke as a soldier who wakes up in the back of a van and must work out how he got there. The twist is that Clarke’s character can only stay conscious for periods of precisely nine minutes and 47 seconds.
It certainly looks like the freshest movie of the month and could be a really interesting slice of British cinema.
6. Hercules (Jul 25)
If ever there was an example of no-brainer casting, it’s former professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as mythical strongman Hercules. With Bret Rattner in the director’s chair, Johnson is aiming to resurrect the swords and sandals movie after the depressing failure of 300: Rise of an Empire.
Johnson and Rattner’s Hercules casts the mighty warrior as a gun for hire when, after completing his 12 labours, he is tasked with defeating a tyrannical warlord.
Rattner’s involvement has some worried, but Johnson is the kind of guy who can lift any movie with his charisma and this is a role he was born to play. My hopes are high.
5. Boyhood (Jul 11)
Richard Linklater has put an absolute tonne of work into Boyhood, which is one of the most ambitious independent films of 2014. Linklater shot the film intermittently over the space of twelve years so that he could showcase the life of star Ellar Coltrane realistically.
It’s a great idea from a consistently innovative filmmaker that presented a number of challenges, such as constant rewrites based on real events in Coltrane’s life.
The effort appears to have paid off, with Boyhood garnering almost universal acclaim from film critics.
4. Begin Again (Jul 11)
The last time Keira Knightley popped up in a quirky little comedy, it was the utterly terrible Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, in which she abided by just about every hipster stereotype there is.
Thankfully, John Carney’s Begin Again looks like great, breezy fun. Knightley and Ruffalo play a young singer-songwriter and the disgraced music exec who wants to instigate her big break.
Trailers are funny, charming and a lot of fun. This could be the sleeper comedy of the summer.
3. How to Train Your Dragon (Jul 11)
How to Train Your Dragon might be the only movie that gets DreamWorks favourable comparisons with Pixar. The tale of Hiccup and his friendship with a deadly dragon was charming, subtly written and it really popped off the screen.
The entire cast is back for the inevitable sequel, with Cate Blanchett thrown into the mix as an important figure from Hiccup’s past. The new society established in the first movie looks set to be threatened, with Hiccup taking centre stage.
With kids enthralled by the first film, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is sure to be one of the biggest animated films of the year.
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Jul 17)
The 2011 Planet of the Apes reboot was a really pleasant surprise. Rupert Wyatt’s film was action-packed, intelligent and visually impressive with its use of innovative motion capture technology.
Cloverfield director Matt Reeves steps into the director’s role for this sequel, featuring even more motion capture as the dominant apes, led by Caesar (mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis), begin to organise their society. Their utopia is disrupted, however, when a small group of surviving humans clash with the community.
Hopefully, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes can be every bit as entertaining as its predecessor. Early reviews are positive, so the planned Apes threequel in 2016 sounds like a dead certainty.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Jul 31)
The second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is blasting along nicely, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier shaking up the established order of things brilliantly. Marvel’s biggest risk, however, is set to come in July when they release space-bound superhero team-up movie Guardians of the Galaxy.
Chris Pratt leads the cast as outlaw Star Lord, with support from Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper as a talking raccoon. There’s also the second appearance of a former wrestler on this list, as Dave Bautista portrays the formidable Drax the Destroyer.
Super director James Gunn is behind the film, imbuing it with a slightly offbeat tone that has made its trailers truly memorable. If that feel can continue throughout the movie, it could be a real hit.
Do you agree with my film choices? Which movies will you be trying to see in July, and which ones will you be avoiding like the plague?