Planes: Fire & Rescue
Dusty Crophopper, the anthropomorphic cropduster who desperately wanted to be a racer in the thoroughly mediocre Cars spinoff Planes, now joins an elite aerial firefighting unit.
Like Planes before it, this film takes place in the world of Pixar’s Cars and Cars 2, but it’s from DisneyToon Studios, the subsidiary used to crank out direct-to-DVD Disney sequels and Tinker Bell CGI movies. It’s directed by Disney vet Roberts Gannaway, who has plenty of experience in Disney TV (House Of Mouse, Timon & Pumbaa) and directed one of the Tinker Bell sequels and a Lilo & Stitch sequel. Dane Cook returns as the voice of Dusty Crophopper.
For what it’s worth, the animation showcased in the initial Fire & Rescue trailers looks more ambitious and sophisticated than the first Planes, which was a relatively modest hit for Disney. (It brought in more than $200 million internationally on a $50 million budget; on the other hand, Cars 2 passed the half-billion mark on a $200 million budget.) Production numbers on the second Planes film haven’t been released, but just judging from the visuals, it’s possible Disney is pumping more money into these films in hopes of a bigger payday; with at least one more Planes film and even more Cars-world films in planning, it may seem like a reasonable long-term investment to try to make these movies at least slightly appealing to grown-ups.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 1.7
This averaged out to our least-anticipated film of the entire summer. Granted, none of us are 4-year-olds obsessed with vehicles and cartoons.
The Purge: Anarchy
In a world where all crime is legal for one 24-hour period of mayhem and murder every year, one nice young couple somehow hasn’t figured out that taking a drive in an unreliable car right before Purge night starts is a bad idea. They wind up seeking shelter with other innocent victims-to-be, plus a man planning to use his one night of law-free killing to avenge his son.
2013’s The Purge was a heavy-handed, moralizing, but profitable home-invasion horror feature that echoed everything from The Desperate Hours to Panic Room. Writer-director James DeMonaco returns for this sequel, which leaves Purge stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey behind to focus on new characters played by Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, and Kiele Sanchez. This film seems more in debt to Judgment Night instead.
Purge: Anarchy hasn’t screened for audiences yet, and it remains to be seen whether it’ll even screen for critics; the first film took a shellacking in the press before finding its fan base, and when sequelizing a popular film that the critics hated, there’s every reason to skip the journalists and go straight to the grinning violence-enthusiasts.
Producer Jason Blum recently said he’d be up for the idea of cranking out a new Purge movie every year, as he does with his Paranormal Activity franchise. That isn’t actually the worst idea—the idea of a night of societally sanctioned violence certainly could spark a wide and compelling variety of stories—but it remains to be seen at this point whether the films themselves can even muster one really good, well-told tale.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 3.5
Fortunately, this is the one night per year when all dismissiveness about an upcoming film is legal.
Wish I Was Here
Ten years after Garden State, Zach Braff finally returns to the director’s chair with another comedy-drama about a Braff-type in crisis. Braff stars as a struggling 35-year-old actor who’s married with children, but still looking for direction. He finds it by attempting to home-school his kids and—wait for it—learning about himself in the process.
It can be hard to remember that Garden State was a massive indie hit, given the swift and brutal backlash that engulfed it, but the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for Wish I Was Here suggests that Braff still has his fans, even if they aren’t as vocal as his detractors. Based on the trailer, Braff’s love for The Shins hasn’t diminished in 10 years, either.
Reviews from the film’s Sundance debut were mixed to negative, with Variety’s Scott Foundas calling it “a cloying compendium of follow-your-dreams platitudes, new-agey spirituality and mawkish, father-son deathbed bonding.” Screen International’s Tim Grierson, a Dissolve contributor, admits to “succumb[ing] to this comedy-drama’s tear-jerking assault, even if at the same time acknowledging the movie’s navel-gazing limitations.”
Does support for Braff extend beyond his Kickstarter donors, or will audiences be more inclined to stare at this GIF for 90 minutes instead?
ANTICIPATION RATING: 2.9
Here’s where we reluctantly admit that we didn’t contribute to Braff’s Kickstarter, and when he asked, we uncomfortably mumbled something about being a little overextended this month. Blame us for him not necessarily hitting all his stretch goals.