Chicago - August is notorious for being a rather electric movie month, and that’s definitely true this year. As the summer blockbuster rush fades but before the fall awards season starts, you can expect oddball horror like A24’s "Bodies Bodies Bodies" and Peacock’s "They/Them," family friendly flicks like "13: The Musical" and survival thrillers galore. There’s also Brad Pitt boarding a "Bullet Train," Ron Howard directing a drama about the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, a sensitive Princess Diana documentary from HBO and a Diane Keaton body-swap comedy.
Oh and Idris Elba has not one but two films coming out this month — one where he fights a lion ("Beast") and one where he plays a genie ("Three Thousand Years of Longing"). So read on to learn more about what’s headed your way, cinematically speaking, in August 2022.
Bullet Train (in theaters August 5)
Brad Pitt stars in Bullet Train.
From "Snowpiercer" to "Train to Busan" to that one scene from "The Wolverine," there’s nothing like a train-set action movie. And "Bullet Train" looks like it’s aiming to be the biggest, most explosive train movie of them all. Based on a Japanese novel and helmed by the director of "John Wick," "Atomic Blonde" and "Deadpool 2," "Bullet Train" stars Brad Pitt as an unlucky assassin codenamed Ladybug. His latest mission puts him on a bullet train through Japan — one that just happens to be filled with an international assortment of past lethal adversaries. With a twisty central mystery to anchor it, "Bullet Train" promises to be funny, stylish, brutally violent and filled with a cast of global stars who are absolutely going for it.
Rated R. 126 minutes. Dir: David Leitch. Featuring: Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Joey King, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A Martínez Ocasio, Sandra Bullock.
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Bodies Bodies Bodies (in select theaters August 5; opens nationwide August 12)
Get ready for some summer horror fun courtesy of A24: This black comedy slasher centers on a group of rich 20-somethings who gather for a hurricane party at a remote family mansion. But when a game of "bodies bodies bodies" a.k.a. "mafia" a.k.a. "werewolf" goes wrong, the backstabbing suddenly gets very literal. With a cast featuring Amandla Stenberg, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace, "Borat 2" breakout Maria Bakalova and "Shiva Baby" star Rachel Sennott, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" is set to be one of the buzziest horror movies of the summer. As FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede writes in her review from the South by Southwest Film Festival, "The fun of this gnarly whodunit comes from how the Gen Z characters bounce off one another over petty squabbles and self-absorbed concerns, both before and after the bodies start piling up."
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Thirteen Lives (streaming on Prime Video August 5)
(L to R) Thira ‘Aum’ Chutikul as Commander Kiet, Popetorn ‘Two’ Soonthornyanaku as Dr Karn, Joel Edgerton as Harry Harris, Colin Farrell as John Volanthen and Viggo Mortenson as Rick Stanton in THIRTEEN LIVES, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Cre
Looks like 13 is Ron Howard’s lucky number. After captivating audiences with his 1995 true-life space survival story "Apollo 13," Howard looks to do the same with the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, in which a young Thai soccer team spent 18 days trapped in a flooded cave while a globe effort scrambled to rescue them. "Thirteen Lives" anchors its story around the divers who joined with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to try to rescue the 12 boys and their coach — navigating a dangerous maze of underwater tunnels in the process. The film promises to showcase "the limitlessness of the human spirit," with Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton as its central cave-diving trio. And for those who prefer to see this harrowing story on the big screen, "Thirteen Lives" began a limited theatrical run on July 29.
Rated PG-13. 142 minutes. Dir: Ron Howard. Featuring: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, Tom Bateman, Paul Gleeson, Pattrakorn Tungsupakul, Tui Thiraphat Sajakul, James Teeradon Supapunpinyo, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Weir Sukollawat Kanaros.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Viggo Mortensen parents through the apocalypse in "The Road" — get the app
Luck (streaming on Apple TV+ August 5)
This latest Apple Original Film might look like a Pixar project, but it’s actually the debut feature for Skydance Animation. "Luck" centers on a young woman named Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada), the self-proclaimed unluckiest person in the world. But when a lucky penny and a talking black cat (Simon Pegg) lead her to the Land of Luck, she finds herself caught up in a mythic quest in a thoroughly magical realm where the future of good and bad fortune hangs in the balance. As for the Pixar aesthetics? That could be because Skydance Animation is run by John Lasseter, the former chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, who left the studio in 2017 following alleged sexual misconduct towards employees and was hired by Skydance in 2019, amidst vocal pushback from Time’s Up and many others in Hollywood.
They/Them (streaming on Peacock August 5)
THEY/THEM -- Pictured: -- (Photo by: Josh Stringer/Blumhouse)
Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Logan ("Gladiator," "Skyfall") makes his directorial debut with this slasher horror flick set at an LGBTQIA+ conversion camp. Kevin Bacon plays camp founder Owen Whistler, who promises to help queer and trans campers "find a new sense of freedom." But it’s not long before the campers must band together to protect themselves from Whistler’s psychologically unsettling methods — and a potential killer on the loose. This Blumhouse-produced flick promises to be "an empowering slasher film," which sounds like a genre we can get behind. Especially since it showcases exciting up-and-coming talent like Theo Germaine ("The Politician") and Austin Crute ("Daybreak.")
I Love My Dad (in theaters August 5; VOD August 12)
Patton Oswalt and James Morosini in I LOVE MY DAD, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The time his estranged dad catfished him in an attempt to reconnect. Morosini writes, directs and stars as a version of himself while Patton Oswalt plays his hapless dad and Claudia Sulewski embodies the fictional dream girl "Becca." And though FOX Digital film critic Allison Shoemaker found the film a bit uneven in her review from the South by Southwest Film Festival, she notes, "Oswalt’s excellent work hinges on [...] empathy; it’s hard to think of an actor better equipped to play a deeply flawed, if well-intentioned man making a series of catastrophically bad decisions out of love and fear."
Prey (streaming on Hulu August 5)
Photo: 20th Century Studios/Hulu
Here’s a fun twist on a legacy franchise reboot: Instead of continuing the "Predator" series with another present-day military story, "Prey" is set 300 years ago in the Comanche Nation. It follows a young woman named Naru (Amber Midthunder), who’s bucked gender norms to become a fierce, highly skilled warrior and hunter. But when an extraterrestrial predator begins stalking her village, she faces her biggest threat yet. Interestingly enough, director Dan Trachtenberg ("10 Cloverfield Lane") initially hoped to keep the "Predator" connection a secret from the film’s marketing. But now that the alien trophy hunter is out of the bag, at least "Predator" fans will know to check this one out.
13: The Musical (streaming on Netflix August 12)
13 The Musical. (L to R) Ramon Reed as Eddie, Frankie McNellis as Lucy, Eli Golden as Evan, Shechinah Mpumlwana as Cassie, Gabriella Uhl as Patrice, Khiyla Aynne as Charlotte, Luke Islam as Carlos in 13 The Musical. Cr. Alan Markfield/Netflix © 2022.
Look, a big cheesy musical about tweens isn’t going to be for everyone. But the theater-loving kid in your life is likely to absolutely adore this adaptation of the 2008 Broadway show that (fun fact!) first gave Ariana Grande her start. "13: The Musical" centers on a middle schooler named Evan (Eli Golden) who’s devastated to move from New York City to small-town Indiana. So he decides to win new friends by throwing the coolest Bar Mitzvah party ever, only to discover that the social hierarchies of eighth grade are a whole lot more complicated than he anticipated. With toe-tapping songs from "The Last Five Years" composer Jason Robert Brown and a cast of talented young people, "13: The Musical" hopes to liven up summer with a little musical theater exuberance.
Rated PG. 92 minutes. Dir: Tamra Davis. Featuring: Eli Golden, Debra Messing, Rhea Perlman, Josh Peck, Peter Hermann, Gabriella Uhl, JD McCrary, Frankie McNellis, Lindsey Blackwell, Jonathan Lengel, Ramon Reed, Nolen Dubuc, Luke Islam, Shechinah Mpumlwana, Kayleigh Cerezo, Willow Moss, Liam Wignall, Khiyla Aynne.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis sing and dance their way through "Annie" — get the app
Fall (in theaters August 12)
From the producers who brought you the "Mandy-Moore-faces-a-shark" movie "47 Meters Down" comes the latest story of two young women facing impossible odds. Thrill-seeking best friends Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner) climb to the top of a 2,000 foot abandoned radio tower only to find themselves stranded with no way down. Now they must survive the elements, deal with a lack of supplies and use their expert climbing skills to somehow make it back down to the ground in one piece in this vertigo-inducing thrill ride.
Mack & Rita (in theaters August 12)
Diane Keaton in "Mack & Rita". Courtesy of Gravitas Premiere.
In this unlikely riff on "Big," a 30-year-old writer and influencer named Mack (Elizabeth Lail) accidentally unleashes her "inner 70-year-old" when she makes a wish to embrace her old-soul personality and wakes up as her future self (Diane Keaton). Posing as Mack’s "Aunt Rita," she winds up becoming an unlikely social media sensation — all while flirting with a cute dog-sitter and learning to let go of the constraints of other people’s expectations. Like 2018’s "Book Club" and 2019’s "Poms," "Mack & Rita" is the latest comedy to mine some fizzy fun from Keaton’s septuagenarian years. Only this time around she gets scene-stealers like Taylour Paige, Patti Harrison and Wendie Malick as scene partners.
Rated PG-13. 95 minutes. Dir: Katie Aselton. Featuring: Diane Keaton, Taylour Paige, Elizabeth Lail, Loretta Devine, Simon Rex, Dustin Milligan, Amy Hill, Lois Smith, Wendie Malick, Patti Harrison, Martin Short, Addie Weyrich, Aimee Carrero, Nicole Byer.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Diana Keaton robs a bank with Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes in "Mad Money" — get the app
Emergency Declaration (in theaters August 12)
Photo: Well Go USA Entertainment
"Parasite" star Song Kang-ho leads this South Korean disaster thriller set onboard an airplane. One crisis unfolds when authorities discover a terrorist suspect has recently boarded the international flight. Another comes when an otherwise healthy passenger suddenly dies a gruesome death of unknown causes. With fuel decreasing and other countries refusing to offer aid or let the plane land, the captain and crew must take "unprecedented emergency measures" to save the lives of their passengers.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: The South Korean zombie thrills of "Train to Busan" — get the app
Secret Headquarters (streaming on Paramount+ August 12)
L-R: Walker Scobell as Charlie, Owen Wilson as Jack, Keith L. Williams as Berger, Abby James Witherspoon as Lizzie, and Momona Tamada as Maya in Secret Headquarters from Paramount Pictures.
Here’s some superhero fun for the whole family: Everyday kid Charlie Kincaid ("The Adam Project" star Walker Scobell) is shocked to discover a secret headquarters under his house. Is it possible that his dad Jack (Owen Wilson) is actually a superhero?? When bad guys come looking for Jack’s advanced tech, Charlie and his friends must team up to save the world. Playtime’s over, but the family-friendly action has just begun.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Jackie Chan in the family flick "The Spy Next Door" — get the app
The Princess (streaming on HBO and HBO Max August 13)
Courtesy of HBO
Just a few weeks before the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, HBO premieres this original documentary all about "the people’s princess." Made up entirely of archival audio and video footage, "The Princess" promises an "intimate and immersive look" at the key events in Diana’s life as they happened. As film critic Clint Worthington writes in his review from the Sundance Film Festival, "‘The Princess’ never pretends to impart any scandalous new information. But it offers a front-row seat to Diana’s experiences. We witness the merciless media campaigns to interrogate her private life as well as Diana’s attempts to turn that obsessive scrutiny into a tool for her many humanitarian efforts; we bear witness to the public’s subsequent reduction of a complex woman to a stereotypical camera-hungry fame seeker. More than anything, ‘The Princess’ interrogates how the public’s need for a fairy tale dovetails with their need to destroy it."
Rated TV-14. 106 minutes. Documentary. Dir: Ed Perkins.
Beast (in theaters August 19)
Photo: Universal Pictures
Look, if you ask us, Universal Pictures missed a trick by not calling this movie "Idris Elba vs. a Lion." But that’s what you can expect from this R-rated survival thriller set on the savannah. Elba plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently widowed father who decides to take his two teenage daughters to visit a South African game reserve. But what he didn’t anticipate was the giant lion with a murderous hatred of humans. This is the latest survival story from director Baltasar Kormákur, who previously delivered "Everest" and "Adrift." But while those films adapted harrowing true-life stories, "Beast" looks to be a more heightened affair. One that features Elba punching a lion in the face.
Breaking (in theaters August 26)
Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Chris WittAll photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/
"Star Wars" star John Boyega puts his dramatic skills to excellent use in this thriller based on a harrowing real-life event: It’s 2017, and former US Marine Brian Brown-Easley (Boyega) walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and hands the cashier a note explaining that he has a bomb. What follows is a tense hostage crisis with grievous consequences. As FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede writes in her Sundance review, "It really can’t be overstated how much Boyega holds the film together in a role that strips him of his showman’s charisma and replaces it with a nervy, capricious, empathetic intelligence that’s counterbalanced by flashes of paranoia and frustration." You can also expect strong supporting turns from Nicole Beharie and the late Michael K. Williams in one of his final film roles.
Three Thousand Years of Longing (in theaters August 31)
Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
How do you follow up a once-in-a-lifetime blockbuster achievement like "Mad Max: Fury Road"? With a genie story starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, of course! Director George Miller is back with another curiously eclectic installment in his all-around electric career (in addition to directing all the "Mad Max" movies, he’s also the man behind the "Babe" and "Happy Feet" franchises). Swinton plays a lonely academic named Dr. Alithea Binnie who travels to Istanbul and accidentally unleashes a Djinn (Elba) who offers to grant her three wishes. But the logic-minded Alithea needs some convincing that the offer isn’t too good to be true. The trailer for "Three Thousand Years of Longing" looks trippy, inventive and totally original. So consider this a late summer treat for cinema lovers.
Rated R. 108 minutes. Dir: George Miller. Featuring: Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton, Aamito Lagum, Nicolas Mouawad, Ece Yüksel, Matteo Bocelli, Lachy Hulme, Megan Gale, Zerrin Tekindor, Oğulcan Arman Uslu, Jack Braddy, Burcu Gölgedar.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Tilda Swinton in the mind-bending period fantasy "Orlando" — get the app
Screenshot: "Orphan: First Kill" trailer
FOR ROMANCE: "Wedding Season" (Netflix, Aug. 4) follows an Indian-American duo who pretend to date in order to survive a summer of weddings — and the pressures of their parents. Elsewhere, "Riverdale" star Lili Reinhart gets her own "Sliding Doors" story in "Look Both Ways" (Netflix, Aug. 17).
FOR HORROR: Robert Patrick is a vengeful father with buried secrets in the Southern Gothic mystery "What Josiah Saw" (Shudder, Aug. 4). J.K. Simmons lends his voice to a horror movie set entirely in a bathroom in "Glorious" (Shudder, Aug. 18). Isabelle Fuhrman’s infamous Esther returns in the prequel "Orphan: First Kill" (in select theaters and Paramount+ Aug. 19). And Nathalie Emmanuel attends an eerie family reunion in "The Invitation" (in theaters Aug 26).
FOR COMEDY: Comedian Jo Koy leads the big Filipino-American ensemble comedy "Easter Sunday" (in theaters Aug. 5). Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza share the screen in the Italian-set dark comedy "Spin Me Round" (in theaters and AMC+, Aug. 19). And Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg team up in the buddy comedy "Me Time" (Netflix, Aug. 26).
FOR FAMILIES: Pixar’s "Lightyear" arrives on streaming (Disney+, Aug. 3) and turtle power gets a time travel twist in "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie" (Netflix, Aug. 5).
FOR COMING-OF-AGE STORIES: In "Sharp Stick" (in theaters Aug. 5; VOD Aug. 16) writer/director Lena Dunham charts a late bloomer’s sexual awakening. [Read FOX Digital’s review of "Sharp Stick" from the Sundance Film Festival.] Meanwhile, "Summering" (in theaters Aug. 12) offers a gender-flipped riff on "Stand by Me" as four young girls/best friends find a dead body during the last summer before middle school. And A24’s "Funny Pages" (in theaters and VOD Aug. 26) follows an offbeat teenager who leaves his suburban life to try to make it as a cartoonist.
FOR ACTION: "Carter" (Netflix, Aug. 5) is a South Korean action thriller about an amnesiac agent on a hostage rescue mission. Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco and Snoop Dogg lead the stylish vampire hunting thriller "Day Shift" (Netflix, Aug. 12). And Sylvester Stallone is a grizzled former superhero in "Samaritan" (Prime Video, Aug. 26).
FOR INTENSE DRAMA: Gemma Arterton tries to take down James Norton’s villainous conman in the chilling true story "Rogue Agent" (in theaters and AMC+, Aug. 12). Aubrey Plaza turns to crime to pay off her student loans in "Emily the Criminal" (in theaters Aug. 12). Emile Hirsch and Kate Bosworth put their marriage to the test in the psychological thriller "The Immaculate Room" (in theaters and VOD, Aug. 19). Ed Harris captains a tense sailing trip in the intimate relationship drama "Get Away If You Can" (in theaters and VOD, Aug. 19). And "Downton Abbey" star Hugh Bonneville faces off against "1917" star George MacKay in the contemporary British thriller "I Came By" (Netflix, Aug. 31).
FOR DOCUMENTARY FANS: "Forced Change" (VOD Aug. 2) is a Hurricane Katrina retrospective filmed over the course of 14 years. "Mija" (in select theaters Aug. 5) follows two daughters of undocumented immigrants as they navigate the music industry. [Read FOX Digital’s review of "Mija" from the Sundance Film Festival.] And "The Territory" (in theaters Aug. 19) explores how Indigenous environmental activists are fighting back against deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she spent four years lovingly analyzing the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her column When Romance Met Comedy for The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
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