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Friday, 5 August 2022

The summer of sequels

This could be a better summer for film after a long, pandemic-induced winter for new releases. Cast your mind back around two years and cinema-going seemed under serious threat of extinction. Now big new releases are driving footfall back to movie theaters — and with studios looking for a sure thing at the box office, sequels are key to this summer’s blockbuster roster. Here’s the best of what to watch on the big screen this summer.

The worst first: The final film in the Jurassic World trilogy — the second trilogy in the Jurassic Park franchise — has been widely panned (try “overwhelmingly mediocre” and “a sign of imaginative exhaustion”). But a sneery critic or ten won’t deter many of us from flocking to see Jurassic World Dominion (watch, runtime: 2:51). This is essential viewing for those with dino-loving kids who need entertaining through the long summer holidays, those who remain nostalgic for the brilliant original movies, and we who refuse to miss anything featuring Laura Dern (yes, she’s back — and with Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, too.) The plot doesn’t matter, but in a nutshell, the dinosaurs are no longer confined to the park and now roam the Earth. That means the monsters and the heroes must negotiate an uneasy coexistence — but which is which?

Not-so-controversial opinion: Few can beat Tom Cruise for action. We don’t know if the real Tom Cruise is the man who never owns up to his mistakes or the guy who can’t stop sending people his favorite cake. What we do know: Cruise is peak action hero, and Top Gun is peak Cruise. So it’s no surprise that remake Top Gun: Maverick (watch, runtime: 2:30), has become the highest earning movie of 2022 so far. Cruise is back as US fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, doing everything that made the film a hypersonic hit back in 1986. This time, Maverick confronts the ghosts of his past as he trains fresh Top Gun pilots, including the son of his late best friend.

Hot on Cruise’s heels, another all-time action superstar is out with a big hitter: In Bullet Train (watch, runtime: 2:43), Brad Pitt plays a hitman who boards a train in Japan for an assignment, only to discover that there are four other assassins on the job for other clients. Deadpool: 2 and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw director David Leitch brings us more pacey action-comedy fare in this. It’s just out in cinemas.

More Thor: Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder (watch, runtime: 2:15) promises to deliver at least as much as 2017’s solid Thor: Ragnarok. This time around, god of thunder Chris Hemsworth has hung up his hammer and retired — until he finds dragged back into battle with a villainous Christian Bale, who is set on bringing about the extinction of all the gods. King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) join forces with Thor to bring Bale’s character down.

Let’s speak minionese: We won’t blame this one one on the kids: We are shameless suckers for these loony yellow creatures. Minions: The Rise of Gru (watch, runtime: 2:26) is our recommendation for a slice of silliness this summer. The story gives us the backstory to the Despicable Me franchise’s villain, as an 11-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is starstruck by a supervillain group and enlists the minions to help him become evil enough to join them. It’s stupid and it’s fun.

Going highbrow: Jordan Peele, director of Get Out and Us, brings us his latest supernatural yarn in the form of Nope (watch, runtime: 3:01), which is getting plenty of positive ink from critics ahead of its theater release later this month. The one and only Daniel Kaluuya joins Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea as the keepers of a California ranch where strange things start happening, in a film that traverses Western, indie, horror, thriller, and comedy, all with Peele’s trademark humor and sharp social commentary. It’s out in cinemas toward the end of August.

Also worth noting: Other big ticket releases this summer include biopic Elvis, Sylvester Stallone superhero flick Samaritan, the adaptation of bestselling novel When the Crawdads Sing, and Ryan Gosling as a CIA agent in The Gray Man.

Closer to home: Kira & El Gin (watch, runtime: 2:50) has shot to the top of the box office this summer to become one of the highest-grossing Egyptian movies of all time. The story follows Karim Abdel Aziz and Ahmed Ezz as they lead the fight against the British occupation during the 1919 revolution. Written by star author and scriptwriter Ahmed Mourad and directed by Marwan Hamed, the film promises heavy doses of action and patriotism.

We’re hearing some mixed reviews of Tamer Hosny’s film Bahebek (watch, runtime: 2:32). The star is the writer, director, protagonist, and all-round creative force behind this apparent love story, in which Hosny’s character faces the dilemma of choosing between two women. We haven’t seen it.

Hesham Maged’s new movie Tasleem Ahaly (watch, runtime: 1:37) just hit cinemas. Featuring Donia Samir Ghanem and written by Sherif Naguib (behind 2010 action-comedy La Taragoa Wala Esteslam), this is sure to bring the laughs this summer.

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