Friday, July 1, 2022

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In July (2022)

According to Cat

20 – Neon Lights (7/12)

Production/Distribution: Red Hill Entertainment, Twin Fins Productions, Entertainment One, Momentum Pictures
Director: Rouzbeh Heydari      
Writers: Dana Abraham, Nikolas Benn, Rouzbeh Heydari
Actors: Kim Coates, Dana Abraham, Jazz Brar, Trevor Smith, Brenna Coates, Brit MacRae, Erika Swayze, René Escobar Jr., Stephen Tracey, Lauren Howe
Genre: Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 30min
IMDb Blurb: Tech tycoon, Clay Amani, retreats to an off the grid location in search of meaning and peace, with disconnected siblings and their offspring, only to be caught in a bone-chilling killing spree within his new estate.
Neon Lights caught my attention for a number of reasons. At the top of my list, I noticed that Kim Coates (Cold Brook, Fantasy Island, See for Me) seems to be playing a villain-type character in this production. I’m usually down to watch anything he’s involved in. Aside from his talent, the projects tend to be interesting and he plays one hell of a heel. In Neon Lights, however, he’ll also be sharing the screen with his daughter, Brenna Coates (Ice Girls, Coroner, The Sinners), so that’s also a fun bit of trivia to have tucked away while watching everything unfold.
Neon Lights also happens to be Dana Abraham’s (Bedtime Stories for Men, The Rub, Good Sam) full-length feature debut.
The story for Neon Lights has me guessing. It’s clear that the tech mogul on the brink of losing everything is working through some issues. The big question is whether or not the murders start happening at the hands of someone else on his behalf or if Coates’ character represents an aspect of his fragmented psyche taking his therapist’s recommendation to deal with the trauma in his past a little too literally.
Either way, I’m down for a psychological thriller that dabbles in the slasher genre. Neon Lights is set for a theatrical release and will also be available for digital rental.
19 – Alone Together (7/22)

Production/Distribution: Lafayette Pictures, Yale Productions, SSS Entertainment, The Forest Road Company, LB Entertainment, Vertical Entertainment
Director: Katie Holmes
Writer: Katie Holmes
Actors: Becky Ann Baker, Derek Luke, Jim Sturgess, Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Melissa Leo, Mike Iveson, Spenser Granese, Tanner Pastore, Zosia Mamet
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 38min
IMDb Blurb: Two strangers embroiled in bad relationships wind up in the same upstate New York Airbnb.
I adore Katie Holmes (Miss Meadows, Logan Lucky, Coda). Not only is she a talented actress, but she is also a patron of the arts – such as dance.  When I learned that not only is she starring in Alone Together along with Jim Sturgess (Stonehearst Asylum, Geostorm, Home Before Dark), who is another interesting actor as well; Holmes also wrote the screenplay and directed the film. This is her first movie where she’s worn all 3 hats simultaneously.
The story in Alone Together is something fresh and new – something Hollywood needs desperately. The idea was born from this global pandemic we’re all still in the midst of, but the narrative seems to shine a positive light on the time spent in lockdown rather than spin a tale about the horrors of the illness or the like. Let’s face it, the reality of what the world has collectively experienced has been awful; but we don’t have to dwell on the negatives.
The trailer for Alone Together gave a glimpse of a story that felt organic and generally uplifting. We could all use a dose of good feels this summer.
Alone Together will have a limited theater release on the 22nd of July, and will be available for digital on-demand services as of July 29th.
18 - Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between (7/6)

Production/Distribution: Ace Entertainment, Lionsgate, TriStar Productions, Netflix
Director: Michael Lewen         
Writer: Ben York Jones, Amy Reed, Jennifer E. Smith
Actors: Jordan Fisher, Talia Ryder, Ayo Edebiri, Djouliet Amara, Emily Haine, Jennifer Robertson, Julia Benson, Nico Hiraga, Patrick Sabongui, Sarah Grey
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: TV-14
Length: 1h 22min
IMDb Blurb: After making a pact to break up before college, Claire and Aidan retrace the steps of their relationship on one last epic date, revisiting familiar and unexpected places as they question: stay together or say goodbye forever?
Netflix has a really strong lineup of movies hitting the streaming platform this July. Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is the first of several that appears on this list.
Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a teen rom-com at its core, but the trailer gave me hope that this would offer us a fresh take on the well-worn, and often repetitive, genre. Rather than a story about the lead-up to a romance, this movie gives us a tale that picks up in the middle of a well-established relationship and takes us through what the couple has set as a pre-determined ending. I absolutely adore the concept of the “last date” consisting of all the reminders of “firsts.”
I’m not entirely familiar with most of the cast; however, Jordan Fisher’s (To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, Turning Red, The Flash) star is on the rise and I’m generally excited to see his new projects as he’s transitioned out of his early Disney work.
You can bet that we’ll be offering a review for Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between shortly after its Netflix release this month.
17 - Take the Night (7/8)

Production/Distribution: TDP FILMS, SM10 Films, Samaco Films, Saban Films
Director: Seth McTigue
Writer: Seth McTigue
Actors: Antonio Aaron, Ashwin Gore, Bobby Nish, Brennan Keel Cook, Grace Serrano, Kelvin Han Yee, Roy Huang, Sam Song Li, Seth McTigue, Shomari Love
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 22min
IMDb Blurb: When a resentful brother organizes a prank kidnapping, he unwittingly hires career criminals who have plans of their own.
While Take the Night doesn’t have name recognition for me when it comes to the cast, this isn’t really a case where that matters a lot. I was drawn to this movie because of the premise. While Selina and I were watching the trailers, I mentioned that Take the Night looks a lot like a more serious take on the concept from Game Night (2018).  Color me curious.
If nothing else, this thriller should offer some entertainment value. I’m interested to see if they play up the more serious tone to entirely flip the script from the similar film that has come before, or if they’ll interject levity with the prank-gone-wrong scenario.
It has an uphill battle for the box office numbers, however, due to its release date. With huge movies also hitting streaming and theaters at the same time, it does give me a little pause with some internal debate. Either the studio feels really strongly about the production and thinks it will get at least a piece of the proverbial box office pie, or this is a release that they’re just tossing out just because. I’m crossing my fingers for the first option, but considering this is going up against a major MCU movie, it wouldn’t be a good idea to hold my breath.
Take the Night is set for a limited theater release and will also be available with on-demand digital rental.
16 - Sniper: The White Raven (7/1)

Production/Distribution: UM Group, AMG Entertainment, Media Move, Well Go USA Entertainment, YJ Creative
Director: Marian Bushan
Writers: Marian Bushan, Mykola Voronin
Actors: Aldoshyn Pavlo, Andrey Mostrenko, Maryna Koshkina, Roman Semysal, Zakhar Shadrin
Genre: Drama, War
Rated: R
Length: 2h 0min
IMDb Blurb: After suffering a tragedy at the hand of invading soldiers in Donbas, an Ukrainian physics teacher seeks revenge. He sets his sights on an elite Russian sniper whose elimination could change the tide of the conflict.
We live in crazy times right now. The conflict featured in Sniper: The White Raven is very real and happened when Russia first began to occupy territories within Ukraine. Now, the countries are in a full-scale war with each other as Russia moved in to take over more and Ukrainians are fighting back.
Aside from the fact that the trailer teased a good movie, Sniper: The White Raven can utilize the box office as a signal boost for the plight of everyone in the war-torn areas. This story of a physics teacher taking up arms against the invaders is similar to what is happening on a mass scale in Ukraine right now. Every-day citizens are joining the fight to defend their homes and families.
Fans of military and war movies should find this right up their ally.
Sniper: The White Raven is set for release in select theaters and will be available for digital on-demand services.
We stand with Ukraine.  
15 - Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (7/15)

Production/Distribution: Moonriver Content, Superbe Films, Hero Squared, Elysian Films, Hungarian National Film Fund, Umedia, Entertainment One, Sierra / Affinity, Focus Features, United International Pictures
Director: Anthony Fabian        
Writers: Anthony Fabian, Carroll Cartwright, Keith Thompson, Olivia Hetreed, Paul Gallico
Actors:  Alba Baptista, Anna Chancellor, Ben Addis, Christian McKay, Ellen Thomas, Freddie Fox, Isabelle Huppert, Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Wheeler, Lambert Wilson, Lesley Manville, Lucas Bravo, Rose Williams, Roxane Duran
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 32min
IMDb Blurb: A widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, and decides that she must have one of her own.
Next up is something completely different!
I fell in love with the trailer for Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.  Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, The Crown) in the role of Mrs. Harris seems fairly magical – in the down-to-earth, right-place-right-time lucky sort of way. This is precisely the sort of feel-good story that the world needs right now. This tale of a housekeeper getting a chance to chase a dream – which happens to be a couture dress – is a whimsical romp, and I’m here for it. It helps that the character seems to be a bit of a spitfire, which will make the comedic elements all the more interesting.
Other notable cast members include Jason Isaacs (Operation Mincemeat, Agent Game, Good Sam) and Isabelle Huppert (Right Here Right Now, Mrs. Hyde, Frankie). I like the fact that Isaacs seems to play an amicable character who seems to have positive interactions with Mrs. Harris if the trailer is to be believed. He seems to get type-cast as a villain or just an unpleasant person so often.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is also a novel adaptation. I’ve not read this particular book, but it was written by a well-established author, Paul Gallico. The Adventures of Mrs. Harris is a series of 4 books; so there is a possibility if this first installment performs well that we may see a sequel.
As it stands now, there isn’t a lot of information about Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris where on-demand rental is concerned. This production is set for a wide theatrical release now and should appear on a streaming service at the beginning of October. It is unknown at this time which streamer will carry it.
14 - Hot Seat (7/1)

Production/Distribution: BondIt Media Capital, Buffalo 8 Productions, Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films, Grindstone Studios, Verdi Productions, Grindstone Entertainment Group, Highland Film Group, Lionsgate
Director: James Cullen Bressack         
Writers: Leon Langford, Collin Watts
Actors: Anna Harr, Eddie Steeples, Kate Katzman, Keith Jardine, Kevin Dillon, Lydia Hull, Mel Gibson, Michael Welch, Sam Asghari, Shannen Doherty
Genre: Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 39min
IMDb Blurb: An ex-hacker is forced to break into high-level banking institutions, another man must try to penetrate the booby trapped building to get the young man off the hot seat.
In any other year, Hot Seat might be a contender as a summer blockbuster action flick. This year, with MCU dropping a huge title this month, it’s not going to get the traction it would have otherwise. All the same, this hostage-by-hacker thriller has all the elements of a great popcorn movie.
While I have to side-eye some of this director’s prior work, I have hope for Hot Seat based on the trailer and the fact Mel Gibson (Machete Kills, Boss Level, Agent Game) is attached to the production. There weren’t any red flags that jumped out at me, and Gibson – while not quite the headliner he used to be – has been involved with solid projects in recent years.  I was feeling a little nostalgic callback to his role in the Lethal Weapon (1987) franchise with his new bomb squad character.
Hot Seat does sport at least a couple other notable cast members such as Shannen Doherty (90210, Undateable John, Fortress) as a law enforcement shot-caller and Kevin Dillon (How to Be a Gentleman, Buddy Games, A Day to Die) as the man in the titular Hot Seat, itself.
Hackers, explosions, and S.W.A.T teams – oh my!
Hot Seat is set for a limited theater release starting today, and will also be available for digital on-demand rental. It is unclear at this time when it will be available on streaming services, or when it will release on a platform.
13 - Rubikon (7/1)

: Samsara Filmproduktion, Graf Film, Carinthia Film Commission, Filmfonds Wien, Filmstandort Austria, ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen, Österreichisches Filminstitut, IFC Midnight, Filmladen, Signature Entertainment
Director: Magdalena Lauritsch
Writers: Magdalena Lauritsch, Jessica Lind, Elisabeth Schmied
Actors: Daniela Kong, George Blagden, Hannah Rang, Jonas Gerzabek, Julia Franz Richter, Konstantin Frolov, Ljubisa Gruicic, Mark Ivanir, Nicholas Monu, Stephanie Cannon
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 50min
IMDb Blurb: Following a catastrophe on Earth, the planet is covered in a toxic fog. The crew in the space station, must decide whether to risk their lives to get home and search for survivors, or stay safe in the station's "algae symbiosis system."
I am very excited about the release of Rubikon. In the wake of the trailer, I have so many questions that I desperately need answers for. What causes the toxic gas on Earth? Do the astronauts stranded on the space station actually head back to try and save what’s left of the planet’s population or do they spiral and self-destruct along with Earth’s last hope?
You just can’t beat a good Sci-fi space epic.
While I don’t recognize the cast, the fresh faces reinforce the story’s concept that this narrative takes place in the future. The production quality also looks phenomenal. Rubikon is the full-length feature debut for the writer and director, so take that for what you will. I, however, have a good deal of hope for this movie.
Rubikon is set to release in theaters for a limited run and is also available for digital on-demand rental. Streaming service details are unclear at this time.
12 - Not Okay (7/29)

Production/Distribution: Makeready, Searchlight Pictures, Disney+, Hulu
Director: Quinn Shephard        
Writer: Quinn Shephard          
Actors: Brennan Brown, Dylan O'Brien, Embeth Davidtz, Gwyneth Anne Trumbore, Karan Soni, Mia Isaac, Nadia Alexander, Negin Farsad, Peter Patrikios, Sarah Yarkin, Zoey Deutch
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
IMDb Blurb: An ambitious young woman (Zoey Deutch) finds followers and fame when she poses as the survivor of a deadly attack, but she soon learns that online notoriety comes with a terrible price.
This contemporary dramatic comedy looks to be a good cautionary tale about being honest on social media. The trailer wasn’t available yet when we went through our list for streaming, but as soon as it came out, I knew that Not Okay was definitely going to be on my Top 20  list. 

Zoey Deutch (Buffaloed, Zombieland: Double Tap, The Outfit) and Dylan O'Brien (American Assassin, Love and Monsters, Infinite) have worked together before on The Outfit (2022) and will be able to tap into that shared screen chemistry and comfortability factor for Not Okay. That will definitely come through in their performances. Further, Karan Soni (Deadpool, Trolls 2: World Tour, Miracle Workers) is absolutely hilarious. 

I am curious as to what happens to the lead after she posts the fake vacation that gets her into hot water – and whether or not any action elements come into play, considering the terrorist attack that she has to lie about. 

Not Okay will release on Hulu for subscribers. 
11 - 1UP (7/15)

Production/Distribution: Buzzfeed Studios, CR8IV DNA, Just Entertainment, Leonine Distribution, Amazon Prime Video, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Lionsgate
Director: Kyle Newman
Writer: Julia Yorks
Actors: Aviva Mongillo, Hari Nef, Jordan Madley, Kyle Newman, Lolita Milena, Naomi Kyle, Nicholas Coombe, Paris Berelc, Ruby Rose, Taylor Zakhar Perez
Genre: Comedy, Sport
Rated: R
Length: 1h 22min
IMDb Blurb: Follows a gamer who quits her college esports team due to sexism from her male counterparts.
I am super excited to see gaming and E-sports rising into more mainstream awareness. Not that long ago, being called a “gamer” wasn’t always a glowing recommendation about a person. In current times, someone can become almost a household name by playing video games – whether by streaming or by participating in competitive game-play. Schools have developed E-sports programs. It’s very promising for the future. Gaming is such an inclusive activity. Just about anyone can do it, if you have some aptitude – and hey, it’s fun! I digress.
1Up tackles sexism in the gaming community in a fun way. It’s a real issue, unfortunately. That being said, this is exactly the sort of “sports” comedy that is right up my lane. Imagine, if you will, Pitch Perfect (2012) – but with video games instead of singing. There are some key differences in the plots, of course, but I got the impression from the trailer that the overall vibe is similar.
Director, Kyle Newman (Spartacus: Blood and Sand - Motion Comic, The Crazies, Barely Lethal), was at the helm of Fanboys (2009).  With that, he established that he has the ability to give us a funny story that is entertaining while still being respectful of the geek culture being represented.
I am also jazzed about the cast involved with 1Up. Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2, The Meg, The Doorman) is a badass that always seems to be effortlessly cool. From what I gathered from the trailer, her role as a professor and coach feels like a good fit. Paris Berelc (Confessional, Alexa & Katie, Hubie Halloween) and Taylor Zakhar Perez (Embeds, The Kissing Booth 2, Minx) definitely have good on-screen tension and chemistry as leads of the respective teams in this ensemble cast.
The trailer for 1Up had me cracking up. Just keep in mind that while video games take a center seat in the story here, this is definitely not a movie for kids.
You can bet I’ll be watching this as soon as possible and you can bet that we’ll be providing a review for you, too.
1Up is releasing directly to Prime Video subscribers.

10 - Vengeance (7/29)

Production/Distribution: Blumhouse Productions, Divide/Conquer, Focus Features
Director: B.J. Novak
Writer: B.J. Novak
Actors: Ashton Kutcher, B.J. Novak, Boyd Holbrook, David Hight, Dove Cameron, Eli Bickel, Grayson Berry, Isabella Amara, Issa Rae, Ivan Hernandez, J. Smith-Cameron, Lio Tipton, Melissa Chambers, Nathaniel Augustson, Ryan Hammond, Sarah Minnich, Sean Dillingham, Zach Villa
Genre: Comedy, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 34min
IMDb Blurb: A radio host from New York City attempts to solve the murder of a girl he hooked up with and travels down south to investigate the circumstances of her death and discover what happened to her.
Vengeance is a movie that feels close to home. Not in the conspiracy-riddled death and revenge sort of way but in the fact that Texas is my ‘neighbor.’ If I were to drive about 20 minutes West of where I live, I’d hit the border. I don’t think you have to be a resident of Texas, or even the South to understand the humor derived from the culture shock involved in a lot of the comedy within Vengeance. I was giggling during the trailer, however. You’d think that some of the scenes referenced in the teaser are too over-the-top to be real… but it’s not terribly far from the ‘way things actually are.’
B.J. Novak (Saving Mr. Banks, The Office, The Mindy Project) has set himself up as a triple-threat in the movie industry as writer, director, and leading man with Vengeance marking his full-length feature debut in the director’s chair. If the trailer is a true indication of the overall experience for Vengeance, I’m definitely going to want to see more of his storytelling in the future.
The plot looks interesting and engaging, and there’s a great ensemble cast on board. Issa Rae (Little, The Lovebirds, Insecure), Dove Cameron (The Angry Birds Movie 3, Schmigadoon!, Good Mourning), Lio Tipton (Better Start Running, Continue, In Space with Markiplier Part 1 & 2), Ashton Kutcher (Personal Effects, Jobs, Annie), and Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl, Narcos, Logan) are just a few of the noteworthy cast members.
Vengeance will be releasing in theaters initially. It is unclear when the film will be available for on-demand services or streaming.
9 - American Carnage (7/15)

Production/Distribution: Xolo Productions, Saban Films
Director: Diego Hallivis
Writers: Diego Hallivis, Julio Hallivis
Actors: Jenna Ortega, Eric Dane, Allen Maldonado, Andrew Kaempfer, Beau Billingslea, Bella Ortiz, Brett Cullen, Camila Fabra, Catherine Hannay, Catherine McCafferty, Cristian Paredes, Dorothy Lawrence, Jorge Diaz, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Yumarie Morales, Paloma Bloyd, Michael Batista, Tiffany Brown, Lluís Febrer, Philip Harvey, Troy James, Ana Isabel Mena, Matthew Moreno, Mauricio Pedroza, Suni Reyes, Pepín Tre, Ileana Wilson, Phil Young
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 38min
IMDb Blurb: After a governor issues an executive order to arrest the children of undocumented immigrants, the newly detained youth are offered an opportunity to have their charges dropped by volunteering to provide care to the elderly.
American Carnage took me by surprise with its trailer. The beginning feels like it sets up for a drama with heavy social commentary regarding immigration policy. Then everything suddenly goes sideways into some sort of dystopian alternate reality. I think my mouth dropped open and I jumped when the shenanigans really kicked off in the latter part of the teaser. I just wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen and it caught me entirely off guard.
I really enjoy movies that subvert your expectations – especially when it looks like it’s going to cover a heavy dramatic topic and the concept gets flipped on its ear as in American Carnage. The message is still there underneath it all. There’s just a more insidious horror landscape beating the concept over the viewer’s head with the undertones.
The production team has done a fabulous job of casting for American Carnage. Brett Cullen (The Dark Knight Rises, Under the Dome, Reminiscence) is no stranger to playing an elected official, as he’s portrayed a governor in The West Wing (1999-2006) and a congressman in another project. I’ll watch just about anything that Jenna Ortega (The Babysitter: Killer Queen, Scream, X) is in, as well. It’s been a lot of fun to watch her stretch her proverbial wings now that she’s transitioned into projects aimed mostly for adult viewers rather than Disney Channel’s target audience. She’s becoming quite the horror movie staple lately.
American Carnage is set for theater release, as well as digital on-demand rental on the same day.
8 - The Sea Beast (7/8)

Production/Distribution: Netflix Animation, Netflix
Director: Chris Williams         
Writers: Nell Benjamin, Chris Williams
Actors: Baraka May, Benjamin Plessala, Dan Stevens, Jared Harris, Karl Urban, Kathy Burke, Kaya McLean, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Zaris-Angel Hator
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 55min
IMDb Blurb: When a young girl stows away on the ship of a legendary sea monster hunter, they launch an epic journey into uncharted waters - and make history to boot.
I was almost bouncing in my seat when I first watched the trailer for The Sea Beast, and I’m still excited every time I’ve seen it since. I want one of those little blue monsters! I hope that the little girl in the movie gets to keep it. I digress…
The Sea Beast looks absolutely amazing. This animated movie looks like it could have come straight from Disney or Dreamworks – but it’s Netflix. The writers and director on board for this film are at the top of their game. Director, Chris Williams (Bolt, Big Hero 6, Moana), helmed some of my favorite animated movies of the last decade or so.
Honestly, someone could have told me that Karl Urban (Star Trek Beyond, Thor: Ragnarok, The Boys), Dan Stevens (Lucy in the Sky, Blithe Spirit, Earwig and the Witch), and Jared Harris (Chernobyl, Carnival Row, Morbius) are in a movie together. I would have watched without even knowing what it was. That is one awesome talent combination. Of course, the rest of the cast isn’t anything to sneeze at – these were just the names that caught my immediate intense attention.
I can tell you I’ll be watching The Sea Beast with my family and we’ll be reviewing it soon here on Trust the Dice.
The Sea Beast releases exclusively on Netflix.
7 - Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (7/15)

Production/Distribution: Nickelodeon Movies, Align, Aniventure, Blazing Productions, Flying Tigers Entertainment, GFM Animation, Huayi Brothers Media, Huayi Tencent Entertainment Company, Paramount Pictures International, Shaw Organisation, United International Pictures, Huayi Brothers Media, Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Animation, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures do Brasil, Sky Cinema, The Searchers
Directors: Mark Koetsier, Rob Minkoff, Chris Bailey
Writers: Ed Stone, Nate Hopper, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Alan Uger, Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor
Actors: Aasif Mandvi, Cathy Shim, Djimon Hounsou, Gabriel Iglesias, George Takei, Kylie Kuioka, Mel Brooks, Michael Cera, Michelle Yeoh, Ricky Gervais, Samuel L. Jackson
Genre: Animation, Action, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 37min
IMDb Blurb: Hank, a loveable dog with a head full of dreams about becoming a samurai, sets off in search of his destiny.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the writers’ room for Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. The conversations that took place to get this end-product story as an animated remake of the Mel Brooks (Hotel Transylvania 2, Leap!, Toy Story 4) classic Blazing Saddles (1974) had to be pure comedy gold. Initially, I thought for sure that this was an update and reboot for Hong Kong Phooey (1974-1975) – considering the character design…right down to the bathrobe-like attire. Alas, that would be incorrect.
I looked it up, though. Articles confirmed the source of the inspiration. More recent articles, however, have used the word ‘homage’ rather than ‘remake.’ That seems more appropriate. At the very least, the production clearly has Brooks’ blessing since he’s credited among the writing staff and voices the Shogun character in the actual film.
I digress…
Regardless of where it came from, the premise is silly fun, and will be entertaining for families. Aside from that, the cast is absolutely insane. In addition to the legendary Brooks, the cast includes Samuel L. Jackson (The Hitman's Bodyguard, The Last Full Measure, What If...?), Michelle Yeoh (Boss Level, Star Trek: Discovery, Everything Everywhere All at Once), George Takei (The Terror, Love Monster, Hit-Monkey), Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel, A Quiet Place Part II, The King's Man), and Gabriel Iglesias (Mr. Iglesias, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Maya and the Three)… and that’s not even all of the big names.
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is set to release directly to theaters. It is unclear at this time when it will become available for digital on-demand rental; however, it will become available on Paramount+ in 45 days.
6 - Minions: The Rise of Gru (7/1)

Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment, Cinemundo, Toho-Towa, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures International
Directors: Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, Jonathan del Val
Writers: Matthew Fogel, Brian Lynch
Actors: Alan Arkin, Danny Trejo, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Julie Andrews, Lucy Lawless, Michelle Yeoh, Pierre Coffin, Russell Brand, Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson, The RZA
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 27min
IMDb Blurb: The untold story of one twelve-year-old's dream to become the world's greatest supervillain.
My family and I absolutely adore the Minions movies. We’ll watch them all, regardless of how many they make. (Probably.) This one looks absolutely bananas, and I’m here for it. Its appearance on this list pretty much goes without saying.
Minions: The Rise of Gru is set to release exclusively to theaters initially. The date it will become available as a digital on-demand rental is unclear. There is confirmation, however, that 4 months after theater release, Minions 2 will appear on the Peacock network and then 10 days later on Prime Video.
5 - DC League of Super Pets (7/29)

Production/Distribution: Warner Animation Group, DC Entertainment, Seven Bucks Productions, A Stern Talking To, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros., Karo Premiere, Kinomania, Warner Bros. Pictures Germany, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Singapore
Directors: Jared Stern, Sam Levine
Writers: Jared Stern, John Whittington
Actors: Ben Schwartz, Dascha Polanco, Diego Luna, Dwayne Johnson, Jameela Jamil, John Krasinski, Kate McKinnon, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Conroy, Kevin Hart, Marc Maron, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Middleditch, Vanessa Bayer
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 40min
IMDb Blurb: Krypto the Super-Dog and Superman are inseparable best friends, sharing the same superpowers and fighting crime side by side in Metropolis. However, Krypto must master his own powers for a rescue mission when Superman is kidnapped.
When my daughter was younger, Krypto The Super Dog (2005-2006) was a show she really enjoyed. We’re a comic-loving household and really got a kick out of it. When we saw the first trailer in the theater, she grabbed my hand and whispered intensely to me that we NEEDED to see this one.
My answer? Well of course!
Let’s be real, though. The minute it became clear that Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: The Next Level, Red Notice, Young Rock), Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence, The Secret Life of Pets 2, The Man from Toronto), and Keanu Reeves (John Wick, Replicas, The Matrix: Resurrections) were all going to be in a movie together, it became a must-see situation.
I expect some good feels and a fun summer movie for families to enjoy and laugh together.
DC League of Super Pets is also releasing exclusively to theaters initially. Digital on-demand information is unavailable at the time of this article, however, because this is a DC property, it will likely land on HBO Max within 45 days of release.
4 – The Princess (7/1)

Production/Distribution: 20th Century Studios, Original Film, Altitude Film Entertainment, Disney+, Hulu
Director: Le-Van Kiet
Writers: Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton
Actors: Joey King, Olga Kurylenko, Antoni Davidov, Katelyn Rose Downey, Alex Reid, Ed Stoppard, Kristofer Kamiyasu, Fergus O'Donnell, Dominic Cooper, Vasil Toshev, Dawn Sherrer, Veronica Ngo
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy
Rated: R
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: When a strong-willed princess refuses to wed the cruel sociopath, she is kidnapped and locked in a remote tower of her father’s castle. With her vindictive suitor intent on taking her father’s throne, the princess must save the kingdom.
I am really looking forward to watching The Princess. In fact, it has steadily climbed up the ranks in my list ever since we watched the trailer on-stream. It keeps growing on me and I’ve found myself enjoying the overall concept of the movie more and more. Jamming out to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” with the trailer is also epic. I digress…
This is a departure from the typical roles that we’ve seen Joey King (Radium Girls, Slender Man, The In Between) in, and I’m all here for it. She rules the trailers like an absolute badass. I can’t wait to see her bashing heads and taking names in this fantasy flick. I love that the role isn’t a ‘damsel in distress’ and that her character isn’t afraid to take a stand for what she believes, and moreover take matters into her own hands to fix the situation rather than waiting for someone to come to the rescue.
I am also a fan of Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Seven Psychopaths, Black Widow) and Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold, Agent Carter, Preacher). It will be fun to see them on the villain team.
A hearty thank you goes out to Hulu for creating this content for adults with an R rating to give the story of The Princess the free reign to be as violent as it needs to be. The only concern that has me giving The Princess a little side-eye is the fact that the production is directed by Le-Van Kiet (House in the Alley, Furie, The Ancestral). This is the same director responsible for The Requin (2022). I had such high hopes for what we jokingly dubbed ‘raft: the movie’ – and it was an absolute disaster. Please oh please don’t let the awesomeness of The Princess come down to the editing. (I have a good feeling, though.)
As I mentioned, The Princess is releasing directly to Hulu so you won’t have to wait to watch if you have a subscription. You can bet we’ll be bringing you a review ASAP, as well.
3 - NOPE (7/22)

Production/Distribution: Monkeypaw Productions, Universal Pictures, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures International
Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Actors: Barbie Ferreira, Brandon Perea, Conor Kowalski, Daniel Kaluuya, Donna Mills, Jennifer Lafleur, Keith David, Keke Palmer, Mark Casimir Dyniewicz, Michael R. Busch, Michael Wincott, Sophia Coto, Steven Yeun, Terry Notary, Wrenn Schmidt
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Rated: Unrated
Length: 2h 15min
IMDb Blurb: The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.
Simply put, Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us, Candyman) is a mad genius when it comes to the horror genre. Watching one of his movies really goes without saying. Peele plus aliens is a dream combination. I can’t wait to see what happens with NOPE. (Also, what is up with the face of that lady wearing a hat with a veil?!)
The fact that Daniel Kaluuya (Kick-Ass 2, Sicario, Queen & Slim), Keke Palmer (Alice, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, Lightyear), and Steven Yeun (Mayhem, Sorry to Bother You, Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans) is really icing on the cake. Excellent actors and a phenomenal production team add up to the promise of one hell of a scary movie.
NOPE is set for an exclusive theater release. It is anticipated that the film will become available for on-demand rental approximately 16 days later and will land on Peacock within 45 days.
2 - The Gray Man (7/15)

Production/Distribution: AGBO, Netflix, Roth Films, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, Stillking FilmsDirector:
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Mark Greaney, Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Actors: Alfre Woodard, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Callan Mulvey, Chris Evans, Dhanush, Jessica Henwick, Julia Butters, Rege-Jean Page, Ryan Gosling, Scott Haze, Wagner Moura
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 2min
IMDb Blurb: When the CIA's most skilled operative-whose true identity is known to none-accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins.
Netflix is firing all cylinders this month. The Gray Man is exactly what you would expect a summer blockbuster action movie to be – and subscribers will be able to stream it from anywhere as soon as it releases. I, honestly, can’t wait.
The trailer is packed wall to wall with a showcase of this movie’s outstanding production value and highlights of the back and forth between Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Blade Runner 2049, First Man) and Chris Evans’ (Gifted, The Red Sea Diving Resort, Lightyear) characters. It looks like even Ana de Armas (The Informer, Knives Out, No Time to Die) gets to join in on the banter. I nearly lost it at the mention of “trash stache” and the “…if you want to make an omelet, you’ve got to kill a few people…” lines. I have a feeling that The Gray Man will be full of memorable moments like that. Moreso, it’s refreshing seeing Evans getting a chance to have fun by playing an antagonist character.
The fight choreography and stunts look amazing, and the elements of a spy thriller are on point. I see this riding the top of the Netflix watch-list for a good while.
1 - Thor: Love and Thunder (7/8)

Production/Distribution: Fox Studios Australia, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Forum Hungary, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Argentina, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Germany, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Japan, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Norway, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Italia
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Taika Waititi, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, Stan Lee, Jason Aaron
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Christian Bale, Karen Gillan, Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy, Natalie Portman, Russell Crowe, Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson, Bradley Cooper, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, Pom Klementieff, Jaimie Alexander, Vin Diesel, Luke Hemsworth, Dave Bautista, Sean Gunn, Clariza Vicente, Akosia Sabet
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 59min
IMDb Blurb: Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make the gods extinct.
Was there even any doubt that the MCU movie was going to be my #1?
Thor: Love and Thunder has so many elements to be excited about. Chris Hemsworth’s (Bad Times at the El Royale, Men in Black: International, Spiderhead) Thor is among my top 3 favorite current MCU characters. Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, JoJo Rabbit, The Mandalorian) has a firm grasp on the material and is a masterful storyteller. When you put that together with an amazing cast that has worked together on oodles of films in the same characters, you get magic.
That’s what I expect to see on the screen – magic.
Of course, Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Dark Knight Rises, Ford v Ferrari) is the newcomer to the MCU scene. Though, Bale is like a chameleon in the best of ways. He utterly transforms himself for his roles, and it’s eerie. His villain character for Thor: Love and Thunder is just ominously sinister – just from his appearance in the trailers.
Thor: Love and Thunder is set to release in theaters and will be available for on-demand rental. It goes without saying that this Thor installment will land on Disney+ for streaming, though that won’t happen until August 24th.
Movies to Look out For
According to: Selina
Minions: The Rise of Gru .20
Hot Seat .19
She Will .18
Don't Make Me Go .17
1UP .16
Alone Together .15
Where the Crawdads Sing .14
Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between .13
Mr. Malcolm’s List .12
DC League of Super Pets .11
Pursuasion .10
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris .9
Anything's Possible .8
The Sea Beast .7
The Gray Man .6
The Princess .5
Vengeance .4
American Carnage .3
Thor: Love and Thunder .2
 What makes a movie eligible for Trust the Dice’s Top 20?

Monday, June 27, 2022

The Long Night (2022)


Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Long Night (2022)
Genre: Horror
Length: 1h 31min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Sprockefeller Pictures, Adirondack Media Group, El Ride Productions, Hillin Entertainment, Well Go USA Entertainment, Shudder
Director: Rich Ragsdale
Writers: Mark Young, Robert Sheppe
Actors: Nolan Gerard Funk, Scout Taylor-Compton, Bobby Davis, Deborah Kara Unger, Erika Stasiuleviciute, Jeff Fahey, Kevin Ragsdale,  Russ Gladden, Scott Daniel, Wendy Oates
IMDb Blurb: A devoted couple's quiet weekend takes a bizarre turn when a nightmarish cult and their maniacal leader come to fulfill an apocalyptic prophesy.

Selina’s Point of View:
The Long Night was a chore to sit through. By 20-minutes in, nothing had happened. There had been one jump scare, and it was removed from context to be used as a transition from the boring prologue to the boring first chapter.
Expecting that first scene to be slow and full of conversational exposition, is a given. In any world with a supernatural twist, that’s probably what’s going to happen. I can forgive that. The 5-minute driving scene that tells us about something we could have been shown, the 5-minutes quietly walking around in nature, along with all the other moments that could have been left on the cutting room floor, added up to a whole lot of desire to fast-forward.
When the horror did start, it was super basic. At least when it made it sense. There were these little deviation scenes that were bizarre and, also, out of context.

I have nothing good to say. I even hated the cinematography.
Everyone knows that flipping the picture makes for an acceptable representation of the main character’s life being turned upside-down.  It’s not my favorite, but I can get passed it. This movie, however, utilized the tactic more than an entire season of Stranger Things (2016-). Usually when it wasn’t necessary.
Even the big unmasking scene was not shocking. Anyone watching for any length of time could have called it.
I’m sorry, there are better cult movies and much more interesting flicks to see on Shudder. 

Cat’s Point of View:
I struggled a bit while watching The Long Night. It was a compound issue, really.
Try as I might to maintain focus, the story didn’t grab me effectively enough to keep me invested and ward off the fidgets. I considered it a win, though, that I didn’t fall prey to narcoleptic fits during my viewing.
Another factor that kept me disconnected from the production was that it was hard to keep from rolling my eyes at all of the stereotypes that The Long Night leaned on heavily in regards to the South. It was as if the story fell out of the trope tree and hit most of the branches on the way down. It seemed like the production team only had an understanding of the region based on films just like this one.

That being said, one of my few positive notes about The Long Night was the location chosen for filming. The historical property in South Carolina which was used was actually rather stunning and The Long Night benefited greatly from its remote and eerie antebellum charm.
Try as I might to relate to these characters, I just couldn’t manage to invest in their plight. There were only a few really effective moments that succeeded in sparking some dread, as a horror movie should – it, unfortunately, wasn’t consistent. The film as a whole could have benefited greatly from a more aggressive edit.
The Long Night wasn’t the worst cult-related movie I’ve seen, but there are certainly many that are far better. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 36%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –32%
Metascore – 41%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.6/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating –1/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5
Movie Trailer: