July preview: 5 films you need to see this month

Atomic Blonde, Dunkirk, the Emoji Movie and more.
Charlize Theron stars as an MI6 spy in the '80s in the new action film, Atomic Blonde. (Focus Features)

Each month, q takes a look at the upcoming films we're most excited about. This month, the summer blockbusters continue to roll in. From an ape-led revolution to those cute little emojis we use every day on our phones, here's a breakdown on the films you need to see in July.

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

Of all the franchises in the moviesphere, the recent Planet of the Apes movies are probably among the more underrated. Reboots of the classic '70s films, the three movies making up Fox's trilogy are not only technologically more advanced (receiving two consecutive Oscar nominations for best visual effects), but they're also some of the best sci-fi films of the past six years. The third instalment, War for the Planet of the Apes, ups the ante yet again as tensions boil over between the apes and a militant population of humans. Leading the charge is not the most recognizable name, especially when compared to other contending blockbusters this summer, but he is one of the most talented CGI actors of our time: Andy Serkis. The man has played Gollum (The Lord of the Rings), Supreme Leader Snoke (Star Wars) and the fearless leader of the apes, Caesar — surely, he beats any and all Transformers, pirates and/or superheroes. — Melody Lau

To the Bone (July 14, Netflix) 

Recently, 13 Reasons Why stirred controversy for its stark portrayal of teen suicide; To The Bone, a new Netflix film about a young woman with anorexia, is receiving a similar backlash for its potential to normalize or even glamorize the brutal disease, and trigger sufferers. In the potent and darkly humorous film, actress Lily Collins — who has struggled with an eating disorder in real life — plays a 20-year-old woman named Ellen, who is in treatment for anorexia and seeking alternative remedies from a doctor played by Keanu Reeves. The film, which saw Collins reduce herself to little more than skin and bone, premiered at this year's Sundance Festival and won mostly favorable reviews, with some even saying it could save lives. — Jennifer Van Evra

Dunkirk (July 21)

Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, Inception) dips his toes into the war genre by tackling one of the most storied World War II battles in British lore: Dunkirk. Also known as "Operation Dynamo" or the "Miracle of Dunkirk," it involved the successful evacuation of hundreds of thousands of troops from the beaches of Northern France by all means necessary, including the use of civilian vessels. Of course it wouldn't be a Nolan film without some temporal trickery, so even though the story is somewhat straightforward, the structure is not. Three points of view — air, land and sea — are interwoven to tell one story, with each POV requiring different amounts of time, according to Nolan: pilots only had about an hour's worth of fuel, the rescue mission on sea took one day, but the soldiers toiled for days on the beach. The emphasis is also less on the blood and glory that is typical of war films and more on the tension and suspense of not knowing what's next, which is right in Nolan's wheelhouse. — Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Atomic Blonde (July 28)

If you're looking for a two-hour adrenaline rush then Atomic Blonde is the movie for you this month. Charlize Theron gets the radical starring role she deserves here, playing an MI6 spy who is dispatched to Berlin after an undercover agent (and ex-lover of Theron's character) is murdered. Directed by David Leitch, an experienced stuntman who did some directing on the thrilling John Wick, Atomic Blonde promises the same high-octane fun of the Keanu Reeves franchise. To get a sense of the film's action-packed urgency, take a peek at the wildly entertaining trailer. Even if it does give away a ton of the film's best fight scenes, you'll definitely want to relive them all on a big screen. — ML

The Emoji Movie (July 28) 

It was only a matter of time before the adorable emojis we use every day were brought to the big screen. Set in Textopolis, the hidden world that lives inside our phones, each emoji has one facial expression — with the exception of Gene, who has a penchant for breaking into multiple expressions, and at the most inopportune moments. Gene winds up in the "Loser Lounge" where rarely-used emojis land, and is determined to be "normal" — but then dares to contemplate: "Maybe I'm meant to have more than just one emotion." Starring Silicon Valley's T.J. Miller, James Corden and Anna Faris, as well as Patrick Stewart as the poop emoji and Maya Rudolph as Smiler, the film might have you reaching for the eye-roll emoji, but Miller compares it to The LEGO Movie for its passion and message of tolerance and inclusion. — Jennifer Van Evra

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