Franchise blockbusters such as Universal’s F9 and Marvel’s Black Widow understandably suck up a lot of the oxygen when it comes to the pop culture conversation. Big budget tentpole films are practically the lifeblood of Hollywood these days. They make the big bucks and they get all the spinoffs, sequels, and prequels. It’s no wonder why they garner the most attention. But not every film fan is overanalyzing every frame of the latest superhero or Star Wars trailer. Many have no need for grand shared cinematic universes or headlining crossovers.
So in an unusual summer movie season that still boasts a strong supply of blockbuster franchise features, don’t forget about the worthy non-blockbusters heading our way in the near future as well. In particular, these three upcoming pictures have caught our attention.
Gunpowder Milkshake (July 14—Netflix U.S.)
Sam (Karen Gillan) was only 12 years old when her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey), an elite assassin, was forced to abandon her. Sam was then raised by The Firm, the ruthless crime syndicate her mother worked for. You know how these things go.
Now, 15 years later, Sam has followed in her mother’s footsteps and grown into a fierce hit-woman. She uses her “talents” to clean up The Firm’s most dangerous messes. She’s as efficient as she is loyal. But when a high-risk job goes wrong, Sam must choose between serving The Firm and protecting the life of an innocent 8-year-old girl—Emily (Chloe Coleman). Classic tale of assassin meets ingenue. With a target on her back, Sam has only one chance to survive: Reunite with her mother and her lethal associates, The Librarians (Michelle Yeoh, Angella Basset and Carla Gugino).
A multi-generational assassin story with a host of talented badasses trading gunfire and quips? It’s the perfect summer movie. Bonus points for being unburdened by the weight of a multimedia franchise’s world building.
The Green Knight (July 30)
A24 is best known as the boutique studio that puts out stellar low-budget tales of humanity, coming of age journeys, and stylish passion projects. But the little studio that could is hungry for more and this oft-delayed fantasy adventure is a big step into beefier prestige fare.
Based on Arthurian legend, The Green Knight revolves around Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s brash and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to prove himself worthy and honorable by confronting the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger. In his travels, Gawain contends with all manner of beings from legend and reality in what soon transforms into a deeper journey to find himself.
Visionary filmmaker David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete’s Dragon) provides a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table. The Green Knight promises to be a dark fairy tale with a vision in sharp contrast to the recent weary attempts to turn King Arthur into a cinematic franchise.
CODA (August 13)
Apple (AAPL) acquired CODA out of the Sundance Film Festival for a record $25 million. But the moving and lyrical trailer immediately explains why the tech giant moved so aggressively to pick up the film.
Gifted with a voice that her parents can’t hear, seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones), is the sole hearing member of a deaf family—a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams.