Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's BFG plus a new Jason Bourne and a new Star Trek: movie highlights for the next four weeks.
Out 22 July. Cert: PG
Two great storytellers – director Steven Spielberg and novelist Roald Dahl – come together for the first time. Based on Dahl’s 1982 tale about the friendship between young orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and an oversized humanoid – the Big Friendly Giant, as she nicknames him – it’s a charmer full of silliness and soppiness that really sums up what great family films are all about. With the help of some computer wizardry, Mark Rylance is superb as the BFG – a soulful turn that embodies the film’s theme of loneliness. Others deserving of credit include Penelope Wilton, who plays Queen Elizabeth II (notably in a riotous scene where Her Majesty and her royal attendants all drink a flatulence-inducing potion). Good old-fashioned mischievous fun.
Star Trek Beyond
Out 22 July. Cert: TBC
After J.J. Abrams rebooted the classic sci-fi with two well-received movies, Fast & Furious director Justin Lin comes into the hot-seat for this third updated Star Trek. If that means you should expect high-octane outer-space action, the filmmakers have also taken the wise step of promoting from within. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, has co-written the script, using all that in-built geek knowledge of his to craft a story that sees the USS Enterprise – once again led by Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk – attacked by a seemingly unstoppable wave of aliens. The ever-muscular Idris Elba stars as Krall, the ruthless alien nemesis they must contend with. But the release of the film has marred by the recent death of co-star Anton Yelchin – aka the Enterprise’s Pavel Chekov – in a freak motoring accident.
Born To Be Blue
Out 25 July. Cert: 15
Ethan Hawke delivers his best performance in ages as troubled jazz maestro Chet Baker in this tantalising effort from Canadian director Robert Budreau. Far more cohesive than the recent Don Cheadle-directed film about Baker’s contemporary Miles Davis, this picks on some key events – not least the horrible beating he took, losing his front teeth – without ever feeling like a box-ticking biopic. Co-starring Carmen Ejogo as a composite of the women in Baker’s life, the song may sound the same, with violence, self-destruction and excessive drug use all contributing to his decline, but Hawke’s soul-crushing vulnerability wins you over. Layered and stylish, devoted fans and newcomers to Baker’s West Coast jazz sound will be left dazzled by the film’s free-spirited storytelling.
Out 29 July. Cert: 12A
Nine years after The Bourne Ultimatum brought Jason Bourne’s story (we thought) to a natural conclusion, Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are back for a further outing. So what to expect – apart from the use of Moby’s ‘Extreme Ways’ on the soundtrack again? This time, the memory-addled CIA agent re-emerges in a “post-Snowden world” with the world in crisis, armed with mountainous abs and further questions about his identity. With the story boasting old friends (Julia Stiles) and new enemies (French star Vincent Cassel), the cast is pure class – with Tommy Lee Jones the gruff-faced CIA director and recent Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander a fellow agent. Damon, pumped up to the nines, looks fantastic in what has become his signature role. Don’t miss.
Out 29 July. Cert: 15
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, last seen behind the camera for his excellent Thomas Hardy adaptation Far From The Madding Crowd, returns with his most personal film yet. Co-written with his sometime partner Tobias Lindholm, The Commune is inspired by Vinterberg’s own childhood, living in a bohemian collective with his parents. You might be expecting a hippie-led haze of sex, drugs and left-wing politics, but Vinterberg’s 1970s-set film is more original, finding emotional keys as parents-of-one Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) and Anna (Trine Dyrholm) invite several friends, and a couple of strangers, to live in their newly-inherited house. Funny, sad and at times devastating, it also has the best use of an Elton John song you’ll ever hear on film.