Media Headlines and Highlights in August 2021

"The Suicide Squad" features a team of very obscure characters from DC Comics like the Polka-Dot Man and Ratcatcher 2. I Guess the original Ratcatcher would have been too expensive to include. Photo Courtesy iMDB

August is traditionally a slower month for film and television, as we begin to move out of the summer months, on the slow road to exciting fall releases. That’s not to say there aren’t at least a few interesting films being released this month, complemented by a few standout indie releases in the video game space.

The Suicide Squad - Aug. 6

The original 2016 “Suicide Squad” film was really bad. Anticipation was high, fueled by a great cast and an incredible first trailer, but the film was a huge disappointment. I can’t believe I’m so excited for its sequel. Helmed by James Gunn, the director of both “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, this late-summer blockbuster looks spectacular. Early reactions to press screenings have been lauding the film, and the success of “Guardians” has earned Gunn a lot of credit. Also, Slyvester Stallone plays a bipedal shark. WarnerMedia seems quite pleased with the film, as they’ve already greenlit and filmed a live-action series following John Cena’s character from the film. “The Suicide Squad” will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6. 

"Twelve Minutes" is presented from a top down perspective, and set entirely within a small apartment. Players will certainly become very familiar with the space as they loop again and again. Photo Courtesy Polygon

Twelve Minutes - Aug. 19

Described as an “interactive thriller,” “Twelve Minutes” follows a man trapped in a time loop, who constantly relives a romantic evening with his wife that gets derailed when a police inspector arrives and murders them both. Featuring huge actors in its starring roles: Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe, this indie game looks stunning. Director Luis Antonio has been very clear about his inspirations in Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrik and David Fincher. I’m very interested to see the mystery unfold, in a very unique game that doesn’t seem to feature much in the way of traditional gameplay. “Twelve Minutes” will also be available for free to subscribers of Xbox Game Pass.

The world of "Kena: Bridge of Spirits" is vibrant, and the small creatures named Rot are very cute. They can even be customized with cute hats. Photo Courtesy PlayStation

Kena: Bridge of Spirits - Aug. 24

“Kena: Bridge of Spirits” caught my eye with its beautiful visual aesthetic. The stylized art evokes favorable comparisons to animated films, complete with an adorable animal sidekick in the form of the rot, small furry creatures that help Kena on her quest. Indie developer Ember Lab has promised a strong focus on story, and I’m interested to see where it goes, as trailers so far haven’t done much to show off elements of the story. “Kena” looks like a more low-impact sort of fantasy adventure, and I’m ready to do cool magic and work with cute rot monsters. This game has been among my most anticipated since its reveal in Jun. 2020, and I’m excited to finally jump in later this month.

Film Highlights

Respect,” releasing Aug. 13, is a biographical drama about the life of Aretha Franklin, a hugely successful musical icon. The cast looks great, the music is already great, and Franklin certainly has a story worth telling. I’ll tune in to the film just to see fun setpieces centered around songs like “Think” and “Respect.”

The Night House,” releasing Aug. 20, is being marketed as a horror film even though it is reportedly more along the lines of a thriller. Either way, its central mystery surrounding the secrets of a deceased husband is striking, centered around a hidden second copy of the couple’s home. Horror fans are pretty well fed in August between this, “Don’t Breathe 2, and “The Candyman,” but so far “The Night House’ has done the best job of capturing my attention. 

Gaming Highlights

Hades’ finally comes to PlayStation and Xbox Aug. 13. The game stars Zagreus,  the son of the Greek Hades, as he tries to escape the underworld. It’s a masterpiece, a 2020 Game of the Year contender with fun characters, tight action and stunning art. This was one of my favorite games last year, and I’m excited to see more players finally get hands-on. 

Psychonauts 2” looks super weird in a great way. A mind-bending platformer where the player dives into the minds of others to experience radically different worlds. Developer Double Fine is known for its unique ideas, and this game has been their passion project since 2015. The game will also be available on Xbox Game Pass at launch on Aug. 25

Streaming Highlights

Netflix looks to fill it’s growing void of television content by adding “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights.” The platform also supports its existing franchises this month with “The Kissing Booth 3” and “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.” 

Disney+ premieres its first animated series within the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “What If…?,” which looks at alternate universe takes on previous films like “Iron Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Many of the characters featured are actually voiced by their actors from the movies, including the final performance of Chadwick Boseman. “Cruella,” released theatrically in May, comes to the platform on Aug. 27. 

Hulu brings “Only Murders in the Building,” a comedic murder mystery series starring Steve Martin, Dan Fogelman and Selena Gomez on Aug. 31. Hulu also brings television premieres like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “American Horror Story: Double Feature.”