PREVIEW: The biggest movies coming your way this summer

'The Lion King' will hit cinemas on July 18. (Supplied)
Updated 07 July 2019

PREVIEW: The biggest movies coming your way this summer

  • From the return of an action legend to an Egyptian war epic - here are this summer's blockbuster releases

Spider-Man: Far From Home

July 4

“Avengers: Endgame” transformed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, marking the end for one of the franchise’s central characters, Iron Man. Now, two-months later, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) returns to grapple with the loss and to try to fill his mentor’s shoes, however impossible that may be. While on a school trip with his closest friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon), Spider-Man is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) to team up with a new hero from another dimension, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), in order to take down elemental monsters that have been wreaking havoc across the globe. Balancing light-hearted teenage road-trip hijinks with big-budget CGI-filled action set pieces, “Far from Home” captures the same character-driven spirit as its acclaimed predecessor, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”


Al Mamar 

July 4

While Egypt is not known for its historical war epics, “Al Mamar” (The Passage), has already become one of the most popular films of the year in its home country. The film looks back 50 years to a number of Egyptian special forces fighting in the War of Attrition, Egypt’s conflict with Israel that lasted from 1967 until a ceasefire in 1970. “Al Mamar” has been praised for its grit and realism, and features some of the top stars in Egypt, including Hend Sabry, Ahmed Ezz, Sherif Mounir and Eyad Nassar. Directed by Sherif Arafa, the film is a patriotic ode to Egypt’s past struggles in order to help define its national identity today.


The Lion King

July 18

Disney’s ongoing project of remaking its beloved animated films for a new generation continues with perhaps its most anticipated release yet, “The Lion King.” A quarter of a century after the original became the highest-grossing traditionally animated film of all time, the 2019 edition recounts the same story of a young cub who flees after his father, the king, is killed by his maniacal uncle, only to return as an adult to take back his throne, this time reimagined with photorealistic computer animation. Much like 2019’s hit “Aladdin” remake starring Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, “The Lion King” will feature a more diverse cast than the original, boasting top stars from music and film including Beyoncé as Nala, Donald Glover as Simba, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. While director Jon Favreau, who also shepherded “The Jungle Book” remake in 2016, has promised there will be divergences from its source material, many irreplaceable aspects of the original will return, including reworked music from Elton John, and James Earl Jones reprising his role as the king himself, Mufasa.


Fast and Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

August 1

The “Fast and Furious” franchise gets its first spinoff with “Hobbes & Shaw,” starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jason Statham. Johnson reinvigorated the main series when he appeared in 2011’s “Fast Five” as federal agent Luke Hobbs, while Statham who joined up for 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6” as the villainous assassin Deckard Shaw. While their team-up will feature less of a focus on car culture, the two will make use of their action credentials and penchant for comic relief as they try to prevent newcomer Idris Elba — who plays a cyber-genetically enhanced terrorist named Brixon Lore — from releasing a virus that could mark the end of the human race.


The Angry Birds Movie 2

August 8

Since Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds” game took over mobile phones across the globe in 2009, the birds have never migrated far. “The Angry Birds Movie” was a success in 2016, and three years later their nemesis King Mudbeard is back to get his revenge against the foul-mood fowl that destroyed his island home. While the English cast includes comedy stars such as Jason Sudekis (“Horrible Bosses”), Josh Gad (“Frozen”) and Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”), the film will also be dubbed in Arabic exclusively for the region, with voice actors including “Arabs Got Talent” host Raya Abirached as Matilda.


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood  

August 15

Quentin Tarantino, the legendary director behind “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction,” is back for his penultimate film. Reuniting with Leonardo DiCaprio (“Django Unchained”) and Brad Pitt (“Inglorious Basterds”), Tarantino once again spins an alternate history, this time surrounding the infamous 1969 Manson Family murders that changed Los Angeles forever. Pitt and DiCaprio play an actor and his stunt double who are trying to make their mark in Hollywood, coming into contact with Sharon Tate, one of Manson’s victims. The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival 25 years after “Pulp Fiction” won the top prize, and garnered near universal acclaim.


It: Chapter 2

September 5

Pennywise the Dancing Clown has awakened, and “It: Chapter 2” is nearly here. After the Loser’s Club — a group of seven children in a small town in Maine — failed to kill an ancient monster that had murdered their schoolmates, the Club must reunite as adults to finish the job and save their hometown. Based on the 1986 horror novel by Stephen King — a true doorstopper at 1138 pages — “It” (2017) became a phenomenon, grossing over $700 million worldwide and riding a cultural wave that began with Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” itself strongly influenced by the classic King tale. While Bill Skarsgård is back as the monster Pennywise, the grown-up gang will be played by major stars, with James McAvoy replacing Jaeden Lieberher, Jessica Chastian filling in for Sophia Lillis, and Bill Hader taking over for Finn Wolfhard, himself a star of “Stranger Things.”


Rambo: Last Blood

September 20

While the ongoing “Rocky” franchise has defined Sylvester Stallone’s career as both a star and a filmmaker, the “Rambo” series — which began in 1982 with “First Blood” — cemented him as an action hero. While the first film was a dark tale about a man grappling with the traumas of his military past, each subsequent film has turned John Rambo into a super-soldier who stalks jungles across East Asia to take out the latest fictional communist threat. In the fifth installment, “Last Blood,” the troubled Vietnam veteran returns, this time to save a young woman from a Mexican cartel. Despite the finality the title implies, “Last Blood” is not where Stallone would like to end the series, and he has promised it will continue if this latest film is a success.

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

Updated 11 min 40 sec ago

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

  • The Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage”
  • She said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager

QUEBEC CITY: After living and crooning for years in Las Vegas, French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion returned home to Quebec to kick off her first world tour in a decade on Wednesday.
At 51, the Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage,” which will be her 12th in English and is due out on November 15.
The first single “Flying On My Own,” featuring her powerful vocals backed by techno beats, has already hit the airwaves, while three more dropped Wednesday: “Courage,” “Lying Down” and “Imperfections.”
Known for her blockbuster ballads, Dion said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager Rene Angelil.
“When I lost Rene, he wanted me back on stage. He wanted to make sure I was still practicing my passion,” she said. “I wanted to prove to him that I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re going to be OK. I’ve got this.”
So, after more than 1,140 concerts for 4.5 million fans over 16 years in Sin City, she bid adieu to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace with a final two-hour show.
“Courage is exactly the way I feel,” she told public broadcaster CBC at the time, talking up the upcoming tour of the same name.
“In the past three years, it has been difficult for me to talk to my children, to raise them, to lose my husband, wondering am I going to sing again... so much has happened, but at the same time I feel that I’m in control of my life.”
Some 60 dates in North American have been confirmed so far, her label said, with two arena shows in Quebec City on Wednesday and Saturday kicking off the tour, which will run through April 2020, and will be her first world tour since 2008-2009.
Her show was almost two hours of mastery, as she performed some of her greatest hits — from “I’m Alive” to “My Heart Will Go On” — as well as new material to an ecstatic crowd of roughly 20,000.
“It was really impossible to miss Celine at home,” Nicolas Delivre, a French university exchange student in Montreal, told AFP.
Donald Berard, from Quebec City, said he had grown up listening to Dion. “We love her like a member of our family.”
“Courage” marks the first album and tour in Dion’s long career without Angelil, who steered her success beginning in 1981 when he mortgaged his house to finance the young teen’s debut album.
The pair began a personal relationship in 1988 when she was only 19 years old, and married in a lavish ceremony in 1994. Angelil died of throat cancer at age 73.
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Dion revealed that she longs for the hugs and laughs that come with a relationship, but added, “I’m not ready to date.”
The youngest of a family of 14 children raised in the suburbs of Montreal, Dion has sold 250 million copies of 23 studio albums in English and French, including collaborations with French singer-songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.
Back in Canada, she told the Montreal Gazette that the tour schedule was “a little crazy,” but that she had found time in advance to take in life’s small pleasures.
At a press junket last Friday, Dion told Radio-Canada: “There are good wines that age well, and there are good wines that age badly. I hope to be a good bottle of wine.”
“I’m not a new Celine,” Dion added. “I’m a continuity of myself.”