Summer’s sizzling cinematic offerings provide new versions of old favorites, a docu drama about a legendary automaker, and a compelling tale of America’s first electric company
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
THE CURRENT WAR AUGUST FORECAST (RATED PG-13)
“Long awaited” aptly describes this dramatic historical biography, shelved after an acclaimed 2017 Toronto Film Festival debut due to former connections to Harvey Weinstein and his now defunct The Weinstein Company. Variety reports it will debut in August, with Benedict Cumber batch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse who battle to be the first nationwide electric company moguls following the invention of the light bulb.
SHAFT JUNE 7 (RATED R)
Can you dig it? The late, great Isaac Hayes’s funky soul music is back, along with 1971’s original John Shaft, Richard Roundtree, in an action-packed new take on the crime-fighting legend. Our hero is now Grandpa Shaft, called back into service to assist his son, John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson), and grandson Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher) a highly-educated cyber security expert as they try to solve a murder and settle scores. The supporting cast includes Regina Hall and Method Man.
FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN JUNE 7 (UNRATED)
Readers of a certain age will recall when dashing entrepreneur John DeLorean was a fixture on front pages before his car company closed in 1982 its signature wing-door model later cast in the Back to the Future films. Alec Baldwin portrays DeLorean in this documentary-style fi lm that intersperses actual news footage with dramatic characterisation. Co-starring Dean Winters, who portrays “Mayhem” in Allstate commercials.
MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL JUNE 14 (UNRATED)
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, stars of the 1997 original and its sequels, left big black suits to fi ll. Chris Hems worth and Tessa Thompson (who appeared together as Thor and Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok) don the duds and pick up the wacky weapons for this alien-fighting foray, which focuses on a mole in the M.I.B. organization. Joining the cast are Liam Neeson, Stephen Wright, and Rafe Spall (son of Timothy Spall). Emma Thompson returns as Agent O.
THE LION KING JULY 19 (UNRATED)
IMDB did a fun, fascinating split-screen comparison of the original 1994 animated trailer side by side with the new version, soliciting goose bumps. Whether you just can’t wait to be king or love the music by Elton John and Hans Zimmer, this Jon Favreau-directed CGI update will take filmgoers on a thrilling journey through the African plains. Voices include Donald Glover as Simba, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and Beyoncé as Nala. Also lending vocal talents are John Oliver, Billy Eichner, Alfre Woodard, and Keegan-Michael Key
TOY STORY 4 JUNE 21 (UNRATED)
VEEP’s Tony Hale voices the new handmade toy in the box, “Forky,” who joins the gang in this purportedly last installment. Tim Allen (Buzz Light year) and Tom Hanks (Woody) again lead the action, with additional voices by Jordan Peele, Patricia Arquette, Keanu Reeves, and former James Bond Timothy Dalton. Voices of two beloved characters from the original fi lm who recently passed away Bud Luckey (Chuckles the Clown) and Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head) are derived from archived sound. Timely trivia: Wallace Shawn (Rex), Laurie Metcalf (Mrs. Davis), and Annie Potts (Bo Peep) all currently appear together in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory spinoff, Young Sheldon.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD JULY 26 (RATED PG-13 )
Quentin Tarantino takes on 1969 Los Angeles and the Charles Manson murders through a story focused on a fictional television cowboy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Brad Pitt). Margot Robbie plays doomed actress Sharon Tate, while Dakota Fanning is perpetrator Squeaky Fromme. Co-stars include Kurt Russell, Al Pacino, and Luke Perry in his last movie role. Damon Herriman, who portrayed Manson in the Mind hunter Netflix series, reprises the role here, while Mike Moh is Bruce Lee. The title is an homage to director Sergio Leone, a Tarantino influencer who directed Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984).