Marvel’s First Family returns to the big screen after the disappointing mid-2000s franchise. This time, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing receive their powers not from cosmic rays, but from interdimensional travel mishaps. Dr. Doom threatens the group, except now he’s a computer programmer instead of an Eastern European despot.
Director Josh Trank has a fantastic stable of young talent to play with here. Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell all have long, awards-laden careers ahead of them. The trailer shows that Bell will have some good screen time in his fleshy form, but we’ve got rock-fingers crossed that his performance will be able to breathe under the Thing’s CGI form.
Certain sections of the trailer are practically indistinguishable from Iron Man, with vague dialogue about science-danger and lab jargon marking time until the heroes actually receive their powers. The new-and-improved Thing is a huge advance on Michael Chiklis’ Uncanny Valley-straddling getup in the former series. While fans have gotten worked up over changes to the mythos, the dimension-hopping angle could pump some fresh blood into the F4.
Like The Avengers before it, Fantastic Four lives and dies on the strength of the dynamic between its constituent parts. Whether the film’s main quartet can play off one another with natural ease and good humor will make or break 20th Century Fox’s insistent attempt to revive this formerly mishandled property. There’s also the matter of reported problems during filming.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 6.3
The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have made superheroes fun again, and the Fantastic Four have always had plenty of screen potential. We’re about ready to believe again, in spite of being burned, Human Torch style, over and over.
Masterminds is based on the completely true and completely insane story of a heist gone wrong. Zach Galifianakis plays David, a disenchanted armored-car driver who concocts a madcap, sloppy plan to rob the bank that employs him. Kristen Wiig is Kelly, his crush and bank-robbing accomplice. Owen Wilson is Steve, Kelly’s pal who helps the pair pull off the heist before casually hiring a hitman (Jason Sudeikis) to kill David. Mary Elizabeth Ellis is Michelle, Steve’s wife, who (in real life, at least) has a blast using her share of the stolen cash to outfit her home with leopard-print carpeting and velvet re-creations of Elvis.
Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess helmed Masterminds. Lorne Michaels produced. And reliably funny people Jody Hill, Danny McBride, Emily Spivey, Chris Bowman, and Hubbel Palmer co-wrote the script. And Wiig, Wilson, Sudeikis, and Galifianakis are some of the greatest comedic talents of our generation. No big deal.
None yet. The only hints we have about this movie are the trailer and some riveting bystander accounts of where the cast ate and drank while filming in Asheville, North Carolina. Plus these fun shots of Galifianakis roaming the streets in prison garb.
The creative team includes some of the funniest people in the biz. Even beyond the lead roles, Masterminds’ cast list reads like a who’s who of contemporary comedy: Kate McKinnon, Ken Marino, Leslie Jones, and Jon Daly all make appearances. But the trailer, replete with lines like “brace yer boobies” and “feels like it just grazed my biscuits, right there in betwixt ’em,” is underwhelming. This one could go either way. Just like that butt-bullet.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 5.7
That trailer looks like the film is probably all over the place, but with this many talented people thrown together, chances are high that at least some of the movie will hit, even if the rest of it only grazes our biscuits.
Ricki And The Flash
In what’s been billed as a dark comedy, Meryl Streep plays Ricki Randazzo, a singer who left her family behind to pursue rock stardom. Twenty years later, she’s the frontwoman of a cover band (that would be The Flash), and she has to return home to deal with a family crisis involving her daughter (played by Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer).
What more do you need to know beyond “Meryl Streep plays an aging rock goddess”? Okay, how about “directed by Jonathan Demme from a script by Diablo Cody”? Both Demme and Cody have plenty of experience bringing difficult, even unlikable female characters to screens both big and small—the former with Rachel Getting Married and some episodes of Enlightened, and the latter with the extremely slept-on Young Adult. Throw in a supporting cast that includes Kevin Kline and Rick Springfield (!!), and Ricki And The Flash looks mighty intriguing indeed.
It’s been mostly quiet on the Ricki And The Flash front, with not even a trailer surfacing yet. Some footage recently screened at CinemaCon, which was enough to get at least one outlet predicting an Oscar nomination for Streep—though with Streep, that isn’t much of a gamble. Most of the chatter surrounding the film at this point has to do with its star, who taught herself guitar and sings all her own vocals in the film, with Demme claiming there is no “sweetening up” of Streep’s singing on the soundtrack. That covers-centric soundtrack includes Streepian takes on songs by Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Lady Gaga, among others.
Streep is gonna Streep, and Demme is gonna Demme, so the real uncertainty here lies with Cody’s script. The Oscar-winning screenwriter often gets maligned for her ultra-clever dialogue, but she’s undeniably attracted to complicated female protagonists, which Ricki certainly sounds like. The question is whether Cody will be able to navigate the delicate balance of sentimentality, humor, and musical panache this premise seems to demand. If she does, this character in Streep’s hands could be a real winner—or at the very least, a conversation-starter.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 8.4
This is our most anticipated film of August by a very comfortable margin, so it’s probably lucky it’s coming out early in the month, so we can catch it a couple more times while we’re waiting for the rest of August to move it along to fall prestige season.