Yesterday, we took a long, hard look at the most anticipated movies of May and June, noting how each would prepare its audience for the true film of the summer, the upcoming horror reboot Leprechaun: Origins. Today we inch ever closer to salvation with a preview of July and August’s major movies—all of them leading, like a rainbow to a pot of gold, toward the year’s most foolproof blockbuster. (Note: The A.V. Club is not responsible for any unfulfilled expectations should Leprechaun: Origins get pushed to October, or suck or something.)
Tammy (July 2)
Magically delicious premise: A down-on-her-luck woman (Melissa McCarthy) catches her husband cheating, which leads to a probably hilarious road trip with her elderly mother, played by Susan Sarandon. The teaser trailer finds McCarthy robbing a fast-food restaurant, with her usual physical silliness.
Worth your pot of gold? If McCarthy hasn’t worn out her welcome, this will probably be the one to see her in, since it’s a passion project written by her husband. If her mugging and shticking have already worn you down, this looks like more of the same, so stay away.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Leprechaun has made a lot of movies in which he pretty much does the exact same thing, not unlike Melissa McCarthy.
Deliver Us From Evil (July 2)
Magically delicious premise: NYC police sergeant Eric Bana teams up with renegade priest Édgar Ramírez to fight “real evil”—not the run-of-the-mill kind that, say, drug kingpins do, but that heavy-duty Exorcist evil. Superstitious viewers should take the supposed veracity of the material—pulled from Beware The Night, which details an NYPD officer’s real-life cases and has a much cooler title—as either incentive or warning.
Worth your pot of gold? Actually, maybe. There’s nothing remarkable about the trailers, which promise the usual possessed toys and devil-inside imagery. But director Scott Derrickson also made the genuinely scary Sinister, and there’s something enticing about the film’s unique spin on buddy-cop convention. Also: Joel McHale!
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: It’s an unusually light summer for horror, so this will be one of the only chances for scare junkies to get their fix before Leprechaun relaunches.
Earth To Echo (July 2)
Magically delicious premise: Aliens have arrived… and they’re texting. That sounds like farce, but it’s actually a plot point of this found-footage family film, about preteen adventurers who have a close encounter of the third kind after tracing the source of some cryptic text messages.
Worth your pot of gold? Still too early to say, especially given how little of the story has been revealed. Found footage is pretty played out, but there’s a definite Explorers vibe to the trailers. Millennial parents who grew up on Spielbergian sci-fi fantasies may end up enjoying the film more than the cell-phone-savvy kids they accompany.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: If there’s a little green man in this film, he’ll be safe for the whole family, not vicious and foul-mouthed.
Begin Again (July 4)
Magically delicious premise: A promising musical duo splits up when the guy (human stain Adam Levine) gets famous and dumps the girl (Keira Knightley). She teams up with a disgraced record-company executive (is there any other kind?) to guerrilla-record an album that will surely top the charts by the end of this heartstring tugger.
Worth your pot of gold? Maybe, if you like heartwarming and can buy Knightley as a major singing talent. Mark Ruffalo—the drunken exec—is usually charming, and director John Carney pulled a music story off once before, with Once.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: They practically share a title, and certainly an ethos. Origins is a reboot, and Begin Again is about starting over. Also, the Leprechaun did rap in Leprechaun: In The Hood, so he’s no stranger to the business.
Life Itself (July 4)
Magically delicious premise: Hoop Dreams director Steve James explores the life and career of the late Roger Ebert, surely the most famous and influential of film critics. (The doc borrows information and a title from the author’s bestselling memoir.)
Worth your pot of gold? Yes—not to mention two thumbs up. Ebert granted James almost complete access to his hospital room during his final weeks, making Life Itself not just a fine overview of its subject, but also a heartfelt goodbye. Perhaps only Roland Emmerich could manage to keep his eyes dry during the film’s backstretch.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: It doesn’t appear that Ebert ever reviewed a film in the Leprechaun series. Honor the man’s legacy by seeing Life Itself, then heading out to catch Origins a month later, pad and paper in hand, thumb poised to point up or (more likely) down.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (July 11)
Magically delicious premise: Years after the events of 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, a super-virus has pushed humanity to the brink of extinction; instead of playing nice with the hyper-intelligent apes now living among them, the survivors make the boneheaded move of declaring war. This is why we can’t have nice things, like the Statue Of Liberty.
Worth your pot of gold? Probably. Rise was a reasonably entertaining reboot of the Planet franchise, and this sequel jettisons its most useless component—yes, that would be James Franco, whose character apparently died in the plague. Also, tapping Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Cloverfield) to direct seems like a wise move.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Maybe by making you wish that Andy Serkis, who returns as primate leader Caesar, had scored the lead in that reboot, too. No offense to Hornswoggle, but Serkis should probably be cast as every monster, animal, humanoid thing, etc.
Boyhood (July 11)
Magically delicious premise: Richard Linklater spent a dozen years shooting this three-hour drama between his other projects, a little bit of footage each year, allowing it to observe a child (newcomer Ellar Coltrane) actually age from a kindergartner to a college freshman over the course of the story. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette also age a dozen years, albeit less dramatically, as the boy’s parents.
Worth your pot of gold? Absolutely. Ever marveled at time-lapse footage of an insect, showing it metamorphose from the larval stage to finally emerge from its chrysalis? Boyhood is—paradoxically—a slow-motion version of that in human form, with Linklater shrewdly avoiding the expected big events in his young protagonist’s life in favor of glancing, offhand moments that register more keenly. A must-see.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Origins are what this film is all about. View it metaphorically, with Coltrane’s growth to adulthood representing the Leprechaun series’ two-decade journey to this inevitable reboot.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
Magically delicious premise: Matrix masterminds the Wachowskis try their hands at space opera, orchestrating the epic story of an Earth custodian (Mila Kunis) who makes the staggering discovery that she’s heir to the entire planet. Channing Tatum is her genetically engineered bodyguard, which explains those washboard abs. Eddie Redmayne co-stars as Gary Oldman in The Fifth Element.
Worth your pot of gold? With the incredibly uneven Wachowskis behind the camera and at the keyboard, who the hell knows? The siblings’ latest ambitious experiment certainly looks shiny, though only Donald Trump could swoon for a sci-fi saga in which individual people own entire planets. The real question is how the filmmakers behind mega flops Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas can still secure a six-digit budget.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: By the time Origins opens, you may look back on Jupiter Ascending with a certain fondness; good or bad, it’ll be one of the only original, non-franchise tales told this summer.
The Purge: Anarchy (July 18)
Magically delicious premise: Last summer’s The Purge was a surprise hit, pulling in more than $30 million on its opening weekend. So, naturally, here’s a sequel, set in the same alternate America in which all crime becomes legal for a single night every year. This time, the mayhem unfolds over a much larger canvas; in place of the original’s home-invasion scenario, Anarchy strands a couple out in the street during the 12-hour stretch of sanctioned bloodshed.
Worth your pot of gold? Probably not. The first film was no gem of the genre. And while the plot of this follow-up seems to better exploit the possibilities of the dystopian premise, the sequel lacks its predecessor’s decent cast. (Instead of Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, Anarchy features, uh, Frank Grillo and some actress from The Glades.)
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: If you can buy that something like the purge would actually diminish the crime rate in this country, accepting the story of an evil leprechaun should be a cinch.
Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18)
Magically delicious premise: The DVD that Disney created from Pixar’s Cars CGI engines, then helpfully put up on movie screens for divorced dads to take their kids to, gets a sequel focused on other talking vehicles. Dane Cook’s talking crop duster must once again learn self-worth, this time with way more cartoon smoke.
Worth your pot of gold? Do you have a better way to keep kids quiet in an air-conditioned room on a hot July afternoon?
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Compared to a sequel of a spin-off based on drawing wings on an already overtaxed franchise, a reboot of Leprechaun will seem positively groundbreaking.
Wish I Was Here (July 18)
Magically delicious premise: Ten years after writing, directing, and starring in the feature-length Shins video Garden State, Zach Braff finally gets around to a sophomore feature. He’s again cast himself as a struggling actor facing the loss of a parent. This time, however, his character is also a parent himself. Also, he has heavily metaphorical dreams about chasing robots across a sci-fi landscape. (Hey, it is summer, after all.)
Worth your pot of gold? Well, technically, some of you have already bequeathed your pot of gold to the film—Wish I Was Here was funded entirely through Kickstarter. Whether that investment was worth it depends on your tolerance for sentimentalism, slow-motion(al) moments, and the previous decade’s indie rock. Garden State fans won’t be disappointed.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: We wish we was there when Braff pitched his movie idea to skeptical studio execs, presumably acting out the big cathartic moments while some Band Of Horses song blared from a nearby… what did people use to play music in 2006? In any case, should we ever catch a leprechaun, we’re wasting one wish on being a fly on the wall during that meeting.
I Origins (July 18)
Magically delicious premise: In the new high-concept indie sci-fi flick from Mike Cahill (Another Earth), Michael Pitt plays a scientist hoping to disprove intelligent design by tracing the evolution of iris patterns. His studies lead to a shocking discovery—but not before he locks peepers with both a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and his nerdish lab partner (Brit Marling).
Worth your pot of gold? If Another Earth blew your mind, I Origins will, too. But the punny title betrays the obviousness of the material—including an ending shrewd viewers will see coming a good hour before the characters do.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: By reminding you that movies with Origins in the title might not be worth the wait?
Mood Indigo (July 18)
Magically delicious premise: Based on the 1947 novel Froth On The Daydream, Michel Gondry’s latest release, made in his native France, chronicles a tumultuous relationship between a man and a woman. The latter, in a bid to be the Gondriest possible heroine, has a flower growing in her lungs and is played by Audrey Tautou.
Worth your pot of gold? It probably depends on your feelings toward Gondry—or which Gondry you prefer, as he bounces around between formats, genres, and languages. Mood Indigo seems to find him closer to Science Of Sleep mode: whimsy with dashes of discomfort and sadness.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Like the Leprechaun, Michel Gondry is a magical creature with some unexpectedly dark impulses.
Hercules (July 25)
Magically delicious premise: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson takes a break from rescuing other franchises and tries to start one of his own, inhabiting a role he seems born to play: Hercules, whose brawn is sought by the King Of Thrace (John Hurt). Because a classic mythological character isn’t really a brand until someone makes a comic book about it, Hercules is based on a graphic novel; and because life isn’t fair, it’s directed by Brett Ratner.
Worth your pot of gold? On the basis of Ratner’s previous movies, probably not. On the basis of The Rock fighting mythical creatures and bellowing his way into massive battles, maybe.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: By reminding you that once in a while, a pro wrestler does make it in real movies. Maybe Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl, the wrestler tapping in to replace Warwick Davis in the Leprechaun series, is the next Dwayne Johnson, and Hercules will function as a peek into Hornswoggle’s illustrious future.
Sex Tape (July 25)
Magically delicious premise: Hoping to spice up their marriage, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) film themselves performing The Joy Of Sex, cover to cover. Their pride and exhausted satisfaction curdles into horror when they discover that the resulting three-hour chronicle of their bedroom exploits has basically gone viral.
Worth your pot of gold? We have our doubts. There aren’t a ton of laughs in the trailer, and director Jake Kasdan’s previous forays into big-screen comedy include Bad Teacher (also starring Segel and Diaz) and Orange County. On the other hand, he also directed several episodes of New Girl. Maybe the funniness of that series rubbed off on him.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: In the age of the Cloud, a psychopathic leprechaun is way less scary than the possibility that some private home video might get uploaded into the public ether. Get your real dose of dread from this “comedy,” and then laugh merrily through Origins.
Step Up: All In (July 25)
Magically delicious premise: Stars of several previous Step Up movies (but not Channing Tatum) come together for some kind of Las Vegas-based dance battle; the winning crew gets their own Vegas show.
Worth your pot of gold? Probably, as many of the Step Up films have been surprisingly delightful. All In aims to become the all-star Fast Five of the franchise; Briana Evigan and Adam G. Sevani fans, rejoice! Sorry Tatum fans, but there are two other movies you can see this summer.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: You may better understand how there could be seven movies in the Leprechaun series if you first accept that there are five movies in the Step Up series.
Magic In The Moonlight (July 25)
Magically delicious premise: It’s a Woody Allen movie, so beyond the fact that it’s set in the 1920s on the French Riviera and stars a whole mess of famous people, we won’t really know much about the premise of Magic In The Moonlight until the first trailer is released. The smart money is on a long credit sequence in Windsor typeface.
Worth your pot of gold? Woody Allen hasn’t made a habit of releasing two good films in a row, and given that last year’s Blue Jasmine earned some of his best reviews in a decade, history suggests that Magic In The Moonlight is going to be an unholy nightmare. On the other hand, Emma Stone—Allen’s latest muse—should bring a little something different to the equation.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: The latest film in the immortal Leprechaun franchise stars wrestler Dylan Postl, and a new Woody Allen movie will give you a chance to wrestle with your feelings regarding how important an artist’s alleged actions are to his work.
Happy Christmas (July 25)
Magically delicious premise: Joe Swanberg’s latest improv potluck stars Anna Kendrick as an aimless young woman who comes to Chicago to spend the holidays with her older brother’s family.
Worth your pot of gold? Swanberg scored a minor crossover hit with last year’s Drinking Buddies, which also starred Kendrick. This one seems to bridge the gap between that movie—his first with big-name actors—and the smaller, micro-budgeted projects on which he made his reputation. Plus, there’s the novelty of seeing Swanberg, a filmmaker whose career was made possible by the rise of cheap digital video, shooting on 16mm for the first time.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Most of Happy Christmas’ cast and crew were in elementary school the last time a Leprechaun movie was released to theaters, a fact that should give one a deeper appreciation for the franchise’s long exodus in the direct-to-video wilderness—a journey that took it to Las Vegas, space, the hood, and then the hood again.
A Most Wanted Man (July 25)
Magically delicious premise: Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) adapts spy novelist John Le Carré’s 2008 story of a Chechen Muslim immigrant who moves to Hamburg and gets caught up in the War On Terror. In his final starring role—though he’ll make partially digital appearances in the last two Hunger Games films—Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the weary intelligence officer running the investigation.
Worth your pot of gold? Mostly. While much less gripping than the last Le Carré adaptation, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Corbijn’s film perfectly captures the cynical, resigned spirit of the author’s writing. And, again, it’s hard to resist seeing Hoffman on the big screen while we still can.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: A Most Wanted Man could serve as a preemptive rebuttal to the xenophobia of Origins, demonstrating that immigrants—be they Muslim expatriates suspected of ulterior motives or Irish storybook monsters suspected of homicidal rage—deserve a chance to prove their good intentions.
Also opening in July:
Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down (July 11) brings together a quartet of strangers—Pierce Brosnan, Rosamund Pike, Imogen Poots, and Aaron Paul—on New Year’s Eve. Dickish realtor Michael Douglas cares for the granddaughter he never knew he had in And So It Goes… (July 11). The bawdy Icelandic road-trip comedy Land Ho! (July 11) was a hit at Sundance in January. James Franco and Kate Hudson steal from a dangerous thief, with predictably disastrous consequences, in Good People (July 25). And Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning are Very Good Girls (July 25), whose BFF pact to lose their virginity after college is complicated when they fall for the same guy.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (August 1)
Magically delicious premise: The Marvel Cinematic Universe gets a few galaxies larger as it introduces the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), an American pilot who steals a treasure from a space villain of some kind and is forced to team up with a motley crew of intergalactic rejects in order to survive the ordeal. The ragtag bunch of heroes in the making include Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a genetically engineered raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, and—in his most autobiographical role yet—Vin Diesel as a mobile humanoid tree.
Worth your pot of gold? Mileage will likely vary depending on your remaining tolerance for Marvel movies, but writer/director James Gunn (Slither, Super) should bring a sardonic edge to a film franchise in desperate need of some new flavor.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Peter Quill’s out-of-this-world adventures will transport you back to the franchise’s glory days of Leprechaun 4: In Space, thus reminding you of the heights that a leprechaun can achieve.
Get On Up (August 1)
Magically delicious premise: A young man works his way out of a difficult, impoverished childhood to become one of popular music’s most enduring voices: Chadwick Boseman plays James Brown in this biopic, directed by The Help’s Tate Taylor. To put it mildly, Brown’s life wasn’t exactly smooth, and—at least based on the trailer—the movie looks like it won’t pull too many punches.
Worth your pot of gold? Possibly, especially if the performance scenes come anywhere close to capturing Brown’s charisma. Early word is that Boseman—who played Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42—does a fine job channeling Brown, though he’s also a full six inches taller than the real Mr. Dynamite was.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: James Brown was a diminutive superstar who worked his way out of South Carolina, battling demons all the way and creating a treasure trove of music. Lubdan The Leprechaun is a diminutive demon who made his way out of Ireland, battling those who would deny him his treasure. It’s practically the same story!
Calvary (August 1)
Magically delicious premise: Writer-director John Michael McDonagh and actor Brendan Gleeson, who worked together on the quirky policier The Guard, re-team for this darker tale of a priest forced to answer for the sins of a fellow clergyman. It sounds a bit like High Noon, but with Chris O’Dowd and jokes about felching.
Worth your pot of gold? If the reviews from Sundance are to be believed, absolutely. John Michael isn’t as accomplished a screenwriter as his brother, the playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), but both know how to get the best out of Gleeson.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: A seriocomic, occasionally profane tale of a vengeful Irishman promising violence? Call this one a dry run to Origins—though you probably shouldn’t do that to McDonagh’s face.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)
Magically delicious premise: It’s all there in the title, isn’t it? In case it’s not: Four turtles get mutated, grow to human size, and are trained as ninjas by a similarly mutated rat. They’re discovered by reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and take on the evil Shredder (William Fichtner). Fights and pizza consumption ensue. Michael Bay produced but didn’t direct this franchise restart, leaving the reins to for-hire guy Jonathan Liebesman.
Worth your pot of gold? We’re a little afraid to find out. Nostalgic TMNT fans seem to be both excited and nervous about the film; though Bay’s supposed plans to make the Turtles adult-aged aliens apparently didn’t come to fruition, this is still a version of the characters overseen by the director of the Transformers films.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Despite whatever makeover they’ve received, the trailer indicates that the Turtles are still green and wisecracking. Best to build up a tolerance for both before the new Leprechaun movie.
Lucy (August 8)
Magically delicious premise: Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced to work as a drug mule, and when the drug she’s carrying leaks into her system, she becomes a superpowered dynamo who can kick ass and possibly alter space and time. It should come as no surprise that this is all Luc Besson’s idea; he’s writing and directing, not just coming up with an outline and hiring Liam Neeson to execute it.
Worth your pot of gold? Probably. Johansson is having a great year, and Lucy looks like it combines Under The Skin-style European alienation with Captain America-style action—albeit with probably more of the latter than the former.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: You may need 100 percent of your brain to figure out how a widely ridiculed horror film whose main claim to fame is featuring a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston somehow inspired six sequels.
Into The Storm (August 8)
Magically delicious premise: A town somehow becomes Tornado Central for a single day, being ravaged by twisters nonstop. Some people get scared; some are brave. The trailer features basically none of the stars—The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies, The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage—unless you count the tornadoes, which you probably should.
Worth your pot of gold? The trailer is a disaster, and not in the way it’s intended. Into The Storm looks like a high-rent SyFy movie, and the very definition of “disaster porn”—especially the shot of huge airplanes being tossed around the sky. It makes Twister look positively Shakespearean.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: With your disbelief firmly suspended, you will have no trouble sliding into a zone in which a story about an ancient Irish creature makes his way from the old country to America, and then eventually into space and the ’hood. (That’s assuming the Leprechaun reboot follows the original series.)
Let’s Be Cops (August 13)
Magically delicious premise: New Girl roomies Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. go to a costume party dressed as cops, and quickly discover the benefits of being mistaken for the law. They keep masquerading, until their extremely illegal play-pretend gets them mixed up with some decidedly real criminals.
Worth your pot of gold? Johnson and Wayans make an outstanding comic team, and it will be fun to see them cut loose in an R-rated comedy—though directing duties were handled by Luke Greenfield (The Animal, The Girl Next Door), which is a bit of a buzzkill.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: We’re guessing that both films will play significantly better under some kind of influence. Drink or blaze up, then make it a double feature.
The Expendables 3 (August 15)
Magically delicious premise: The third entry in the Sylvester Stallone-led AARP action franchise adds Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, and Harrison Ford to its roster of aging stars making corny jokes about their screen personas. Somewhere, Steven Seagal is sitting cross-legged, waiting for his agent to call. Tears well up in the corners of his eyes.
Worth your pot of gold? The lame, cameo-choked cash-in Expendables 2 killed whatever goodwill was created by Stallone’s eccentric first film. Expendables 3, however, swaps out director Simon West for relative newcomer Patrick Hughes, who wrote and directed the above-average Australian quasi-Western Red Hill. We remain, as ever, cautiously optimistic.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Many of the movie’s stars hit their commercial peak sometime around 1993, the year that Leprechaun was first unleashed on to the world.
The Giver (August 15)
Magically delicious premise: For years, preteen readers have used Lois Lowry’s YA classic—about a sanitized future society, free of both pain and beauty—as training wheels for the darker dystopias of 1984 and Brave New World. An adaptation has finally arrived, with Brenton Thwaites as the boy charged with shouldering the painful memories of old civilization and Jeff Bridges as the elderly mentor figure of the title.
Worth your pot of gold? Shouldn’t this movie be in black and white, at least for its first half? Also, Thwaites is far too old to play the main character, and we have the strong suspicion that the Weinsteins will insist on a less-bleak ending. On the plus side, Phillip Noyce is directing. He’s made some solid movies.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Many viewers may require a visit to the Giver to access any memories of this horror franchise, which has been dormant for more than a decade now.
The Trip To Italy (August 15)
Magically delicious premise: In 2010’s The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, traveled across France to dine at fancy restaurants, needle each other, and do hilarious celebrity impressions and other comic bits. This sequel—edited down, like the original, from a longer BBC TV series—offers more of the same, except this time they’re traveling across Italy.
Worth your pot of gold? Depends on how much you liked the first film and whether you’re eager to see another just like it. Apart from the new country, Coogan and Brydon don’t change a thing; they even do some of the same impressions, to diminishing returns. There are enough laughs to justify the trip, but also even more of the superfluous material about the fake personal lives concocted for “Steve” and “Rob.”
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: It will remind you that giving viewers something familiar in a marginally new package is the raison d’être of virtually every sequel.
Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22)
Magically delicious premise: Some of the cast of Robert Rodriguez’s ultra-violent noir pastiche returns for this belated sequel/prequel, shot in the same black-and-white-with-splashes-of-color style as its 2005 predecessor. Two of the four stories are adapted from Frank Miller’s original comic; the other two are original yarns written by the author himself.
Worth your pot of gold? If you liked/could stomach the nonstop brutality of the original, this looks like more of the same. Mickey Rourke was easily the highlight of that movie, so it’s nice to see that Rodriguez and Miller have found a way to work his character back in.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: It looks as though Nick Stahl’s repulsive Yellow Bastard will not be making a reappearance in A Dame To Kill For. Fill that void with Leprechaun: Origins, featuring a little monster who’s almost as disgusting (albeit not as pedophiliac).
If I Stay (August 22)
Magically delicious premise: Chloë Grace Moretz has a wonderful life, with a budding relationship and a great family—but fate snatches everything except the boyfriend, leaving her in a coma. Her spirit wanders the earth, trying to decide whether to let her body die or fight for her young love.
Worth your pot of gold? If dying teenagers and the beginnings of beautiful relationships cut short by the merciless hand of fate are your bag, fill it with this. Also, if you really liked What Dreams May Come, the treacly 1998 film starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: One of Moretz’s first notable movie credits was a dreadful horror movie, the 2008 remake of The Eye. Maybe the new Leprechaun will boast the first appearance of some new, talented starlet. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Love Is Strange (August 22)
Magically delicious premise: After being in a committed relationship for 39 years, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are finally able to get married thanks to recent advances in New York’s civil laws. Unfortunately, the fallout from their nuptials complicates their living situation in a number of unforeseen ways, challenging their relationship and burdening Ben’s family.
Worth your pot of gold? Love Is Strange is certainly Ira Sachs’ broadest film, but it’s also arguably his best. A key figure in contemporary queer cinema, Sachs has now recovered from a mid-career dip (Married Life) with two consecutive romantic dramas, each spectacular and shattering in their own way. While Love Is Strange is a touch gentler than 2012’s Keep The Lights On, this delicate nocturne is every bit as moving, a graceful portrait of how the same love can be both a beauty and a burden.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Ben and George’s love story will remind you that every kind of rainbow has its own pot of gold at the end.
The November Man (August 27)
Magically delicious premise: Erstwhile James Bond Pierce Brosnan is a former CIA agent who must battle his protégé in this film, based on a series of books by Bill Granger. The Russian president-elect is also somehow involved, and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko stars as well. (“I’m still Bond, even if you say I’m not!” screams Brosnan at his pillow.)
Worth your pot of gold? The answer is as murky as a Leprechaun’s eye. Brosnan is frequently involved with interesting films—The Matador, The Ghost—and he’s been trying to get November Man made for years. But he’s teamed up with the spotty Roger Donaldson, who’s done everything from Cocktail to No Way Out to the laughable Nicolas Cage movie Seeking Justice.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: The November Man will attempt to condense 13 books’ worth of mythology into one two-hour film. Leprechaun: Origins’ task is smaller, having only six films to honor.
The Loft (August 29)
Magically delicious premise: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Bullhead’s Matthias Schoenaerts, and a few other married bros go splitsies on a loft space where they can bring their mistresses. This cheaters’ paradise becomes a den of paranoia when the men find a woman’s dead body inside the apartment one night. Is one of them the killer? Or they are being set up?
Worth your pot of gold? The Loft is a remake of a Flemish thriller, whose director (Eric Van Looy) also helmed this version. It looks faintly ridiculous, but that cast is solid.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Given its end-of-August release date, there’s a possibility that The Loft may actually open after Origins. In that case, why bother with it, right? You don’t chase the movie of the summer with some thriller not featuring a murderous leprechaun.
One Chance (August 29)
Magically delicious premise: Paul Potts (Tony winner James Corden) is an English misfit who wants desperately to be an opera singer. He gets an unexpected break via an audition for the Simon Cowell-produced Britain’s Got Talent, in an inspiring true story also produced by Simon Cowell.
Worth your pot of gold? It’s a movie produced by Simon Cowell about the potentially life-changing event of appearing on a TV show produced by Simon Cowell. If that doesn’t set off some alarm bells in your head, keep in mind that it was supposed to open back in March, before being unceremoniously banished to the end of summer.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: By reminding you that many great underdog stories begin in the U.K. If Paul Potts can become a star, maybe Lubdan The Leprechaun can bounce back from Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood.
Leprechaun: Origins (August)
Magically delicious premise: The most diminutive cinematic killer this side of Chucky is reborn in a reboot from WWE Studios, featuring pro wrestler Hornswoggle as the rage-filled runt. He has, er, big shoes to fill: Warwick Davis, of Willow and Harry Potter fame, played the character in seven prior installments. Producers promise a “dark, hard-R horror film,” which seems totally appropriate for a movie about a killer leprechaun.
Worth your pot of gold? For the sake of preserving the integrity of this feature’s gimmick: Of course! But anyone thinking about splurging on a night at the movies should probably watch a few minutes of one of the other Leprechaun films, just to get a sense of the “magic” that they’re in for.
How it will prepare you for Leprechaun: Origins: Your journey is complete! Prepare no longer, for the Leprechaun has returned! Check back with us next summer, when we’ll celebrate the lead-up to 2015’s most anticipated blockbuster, Wishmaster Rising.
Also opening in August:
James Franco’s quest to adapt every un-adaptable novel continues unabated with Child Of God (August 1), his take on the acclaimed Cormac McCarthy book. The comedy What If (August 1)—which is not based on the speculative Marvel comic-book series, unfortunately—features Daniel Radcliffe as a med-school dropout. Middlebrow maestro Lasse Hallström helms The Hundred-Foot Journey (August 8), about an Indian family that opens a restaurant in France. Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini mans the wheel of the thriller The Two Faces Of January (August 8), a Patricia Highsmith adaptation starring Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac, and Viggo Mortensen. As Above, So Below (August 15) discovers some ancient evil in the catacombs of Paris. Dane DeHaan has some choice words for undead girlfriend Aubrey Plaza in Life After Beth (August 15). Frank (August 22) is a very strange let’s-make-a-band comedy, beginning with its decision to hide co-star Michael Fassbender’s face under a giant plastic mask. Jim Caviezel plays famed football coach Bob Ladouceur in the sports biopic When The Game Stands Tall (August 22). The Spanish animated film Underdogs (August 27) finds foosball players coming to life to help a zero become a hero (or whatever). Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman turns to fiction with The Congress (August 27), using animation to adapt Stainslav Lem’s “The Futurological Congress.” Jessabelle (August 27) is a ghost story from a veteran of the Saw franchise. David Mackenzie (Spread, Young Adam) has made a prison drama, Starred Up (August 29). And Jennifer Aniston, the star of the original Leprechaun, appears alongside Mos Def and John Hawkes in Life Of Crime (August 29), featuring younger versions of many of the characters from Jackie Brown.