With most major cinema releases having been pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of films have been green-lighted for re-release in movie theatres across the country. The hope is that these films will get audiences back into the cinemas, if (and it’s a big if) it is safe for them to do so. Cinemas in England are able to open from July 4th, although not all of them will be, and the rest of the UK is set to follow soon. For those who feel comfortable going to cinemas that have suitable protective measures in place, here are ten films that have been commissioned for re-release this summer.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the god-tier Star Wars movie shockingly did not get the reception it deserved upon its release in 1980. Fans were taken aback by the dramatic shift in tone, the ending and the direction some of the characters were taken in (divisions in the fan base clearly are not a new thing). Yet it is all water under the bridge now. Empire Strikes Back is nothing short of iconic, a mesmerising second chapter to George Lucas’ original trilogy. It had everything; romance, groundbreaking special effects, a story that went above and beyond what A New Hope had started and, of course, the most famous plot twist in movie history. The prospect of seeing it again on the big screen is a delirious one, although Disney have somewhat diluted the excitement by pulling a planned 4K restoration. Even still, getting to see one of the greatest science fiction works ever made on the big screen remains a tantalising prospect.
Little Women (2019)
One of 2019’s best films, Greta Gerwig’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s novel boasted a sensational cast who all live up to their billing. It approaches this classic tale with a newfound sense of affection and relevance. Gerwig and her cinematographer Yorick Le Saux deserve special praise for the way every frame bursts with colour, life and the unique exuberance of youth. Showered with accolades upon its release, it is accessible to everyone regardless of how well they know the story. It is yet another chapter in Gerwig’s increasingly sensational career, with 2017’s Lady Bird ensuring she is behind two of the best films of the last five years. A chance to revisit what makes this film so special is a very welcome prospect. And bring some tissues – it gets emotional.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Few films have built up as legendary a status as Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King short story. It flopped badly with audiences upon its original release, not helped by competition from the likes of Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump, but over time Shawshank has emerged as the best film of a competitive year and one of the greatest cinematic dramas ever made. The growing relationship between Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman remains as impressively paced as ever. The deep bond that develops between them, staggered carefully over time as to remain believable, is the heart and soul of this all-time classic. Darabont would go on to adapt other King works like The Green Mile, an impressive film in its own right, but would never come close to the heights of Shawshank ever again.
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner did not set the world alight when it was originally released, and its tumultuous history of cuts and re-releases is matched by a continuing critique of its content. Regardless of debates around content, Ridley Scott’s movie remains as staggering in its visuals as it is with its philosophy, helped by some memorable performances (especially from Rutger Hauer as replicant Roy Batty). Scott diverged heavily from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, on which the film is based, and made what remains one of the most unique sci-fi films there has ever been. Part of the reason why Blade Runner 2049’s sheer quality came as such a shock is that nobody could envision a sequel to a film that seems so singular in its vision. The 2007 Final Cut, widely regarded as the definitive edition, remains a must watch as much for admiring its qualities as it is for picking up on its flaws.
Jim Henson’s fantasy adventure was a critical and commercial disappointment when it was released, barely raking in half of its budget at the box office. Since then it has become a cult classic in every sense, with everything from the quirky puppet designs to a rollicking performance from David Bowie ensuring the film’s place in history. It’s hilarious, dramatic and yet brought the curtain down on Henson’s directorial career. It was the last film he directed before his death in 1990, and how it was received at the time is not a fair reflection on the legendary status it has since earned. A sequel / spin-off was announced in January 2016, but this original work of eccentric genius will always be the classic that Henson’s legacy deserves.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Very few films can claim to contend for The Dark Knight’s title of the greatest superhero movie ever made. Even most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t even come close. Christopher Nolan’s breathtaking, chaotic story of authority versus anarchy has everything you could possibly want from a Batman movie, completing the move from the lighter, camper films from the 1990s. And the beating, bleeding heart of the film’s success is Heath Ledger. His performance as The Joker has rightfully gone down in history as one of the great villainous turns, but the rest of the film more than lives up to his impeccable standards. The Dark Knight proved to be the perfect film for its time, and simultaneously has proven timeless thanks to its flawless, endlessly stylish execution.
Queen & Slim (2019)
A film that has only become more relevant in the short time since its release, Melina Matsoukas blended a politically charged story with a glorious entry in the road trip genre. The staggering beauty of the framing and sets almost feels at odds with the sombre premise of the film, but this sensitive drama plays out with just the right balance between comic relief and sincere messaging. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are perfect as a couple initially mismatched, but who come together as the strength of their bond intensifies in the face of great hardship. Ethical and emotional dilemmas make the film an endlessly rewarding experience, and the emotional toll it takes on you is a testimony to the power of a cinematic story brought to life almost without a fault.
Just Mercy (2019)
A powerful, true-life story of racism and justice, Just Mercy might occasionally feel a bit by the numbers but it is still an important story to make time for. It is a story of pushing back against a systematically racist system in the name of equality, a story that benefits from some really strong performances. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx have a powerful dynamic between them, and Foxx in particular is worth catching for his performance. Brie Larson and Tim Blake Nelson also impress in their supporting roles. Just Mercy is based on the memoir of Bryan Stevenson, played by Jordan in the film, and acts as both an indicative sign of everything that is wrong and the potential there is to change things for the better.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
One of the all-time great sequels, and the highest grossing film of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career, Terminator 2 is a great representation of how James Cameron has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in film. It was the first ever film to use natural human motion for a computer-generated character, and the first partially computer-generated main character. The visual innovations however are secondary to the sheer strength of the story, one that builds on the 1984 original and beyond doubt is superior to it. Now a titan of genre entertainment, Terminator 2 is also sadly a reminder of how far from grace the Terminator franchise has fallen. Following the box office bomb of Terminator; Dark Fate, the franchise may now be dead in the water. Now is a better time than ever to remind yourself why the Terminator became such a phenomenal pop culture figure… because he will almost certainly not be back.
Onward arguably lost out more than any other film due to the lockdown. Making a pittance of what previous Pixar films have grossed in the past, cinemas went into hibernation across the world before the film could gain any real traction with audiences. Which is a crying shame, because it features everything we have come to love about Pixar movies while dabbling in a genre they have rarely set foot in before. Tom Holland, Chris Pratt and Octvavia Spencer in particular give great vocal performances in a film that pushes the limits of animation even further. There are also very few family films returning to the big screen – Onward and Sonic the Hedgehog are really the only ones. It is nothing short of beautiful, with all the emotional ups and downs that Pixar pulls off so well. It’s the perfect film to remind you just how much we have all missed the movies.