It’s that time of year again—that time when blockbusters come out to play. However, in 2016, you’d be hard-pressed to see the summer movie-going season as any different from the rest of 2016 so far. February brought us Deadpool, March was Zootopia and Batman v Superman, (yes, despite the critical shellacking, it made money), and April has just delivered The Jungle Book. But during the summer months, these colossal movies will be coming at audiences every week.
As usual, I’ve compiled a list of the films I’m most looking forward to with some B-listers thrown in as well. The dates listed here are subject to change, but I’ve got all these films in order of release as of today. Click on the film titles to see the trailers. And as has been the case several times since I started the annual feature, it all kicks off with a Marvel movie…
Right out of the gate is the film that will likely be the top-grosser of the summer and probably the year—it all depends on how audiences respond to Star Wars: Rogue One in December. While this is the third Captain America film, it has so many Marvel guest stars, it could almost be called Avengers 2.5. The United Nations want to impose some restrictions and safeguards on the Avengers. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) thinks it’s a great idea. Captain America (Chris Evans) does not. This leads to a rift in the Avengers, which eventually leads to, shall we say, fisticuffs. Basically, all the Avengers are here except Thor and Hulk and audiences are finally introduced to Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) as well as a brand-spanking new Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who is now legally allowed to appear in honest-to-God Marvel Studios Films. If that’s not enough, the film also picks up the remaining threads of 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and delves into more of that titular character and his relationship with Cap. Early reviews have been glowing, so we’ll see if Cap 3 can keep the Marvel gravy train rolling.
And now we jump from potentially the biggest movie of the summer to a little indie film that was supposed to release last fall. It was on my list then and it’s on my list now. This is going to be a weird one, but it looks great. Colin Farrell plays a man who, by the laws of his near future society, must meet a partner in forty-five days or he will be transformed into an animal and set loose in the wild. This is the case for all singles in this society and Farrell finds himself in the same boat with John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, and Rachel Weisz. The film looks to be funny, sweet, and bizarre all rolled into one. Can’t wait.
The pedigree of this film is fantastic. George Clooney and Julia Roberts star alongside Unbroken breakout Jack O’Connell and the film is directed by Jodie Foster. What’s not to like? Well…the trailers haven’t exactly grabbed me. Clooney plays a Jim Cramer type who gets taken hostage by a gun-toting O’Connell, who lost all his money. There also seems to be some kind of financial conspiracy going on too, but the trailers are—wisely—keeping that under wraps for the most part. The talent involved makes this a must-see for me, but I’m hoping the story is better than its trailers.
Yes, there’s a new Captain America film coming as well as an X-Men film and the next entry in the DC Extended Universe, but all those films pale in comparison to my anticipation for Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. The film, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, is very much in the vein of Black’s 2005 comedy-thriller Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Crowe plays a local tough guy who must team up with Gosling’s private detective to find Kim Basinger’s missing daughter. Predictably, they get in over their heads. The trailers, as well as the viral marketing, for this film have been hilarious and it looks like Black has another winner on his hands. My most-anticipated film of the summer, hands down.
I liked the first Neighbors, but I didn’t love it. It was definitely a funny movie, but I didn’t like the main characters played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. Well, Byrne and Rogen are back to deal with a sorority moving into the house next door that’s headed up by Chloë Grace Moritz and is even worse than Zac Efron’s fraternity from the first film. In order to fight back, Rogen and Byrne recruit Efron to help and hilarity should ensue. We’ll see, but I’m definitely checking out The Nice Guys first that weekend.
What’s this? An X-Men film where Magneto (Michael Fassbender) ISN’T the main superpowered villain? Oh no wait, there he is, standing next to Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). First Class took place in the 60’s and Days of Future Past took place (mostly) in the 70’s, so naturally Apocalypse takes place in the 80’s. Director Bryan Singer is helming his fourth X-Men film and has recast the roles of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) with younger actors. This is also supposedly going to be the last film we see Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, but she has stated that she’s game to do more. The film will be suitably epic, but will fans turn up to see all the new faces? They might not, but that’s why Fox released a trailer just recently that confirms that a certain clawed fan-favorite will be back in some capacity. Find out if the X-Men still have the juice Memorial Day Weekend.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from producer Michael Bay was…not good and honestly played more like an April O’Neil (Megan Fox) origin film. However, the Turtles themselves were pretty good. Amazingly, the trailers for this sequel have looked…not terrible. It looks like the movie is tapping into more elements from the cartoon including Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) and Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) as well as Krang (Fred Armisen). It looks bonkers, but also like a whole lot of fun. Cautiously optimistic.
I’m a sucker for Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and her latest film, Me Before You, looks like it will be a sweet tearjerker and probably a major date movie for the summer. Clarke stars as a quirky woman who takes a job caring for a wealthy quadriplegic played by Sam Claflin. Predictably, sparks fly between the two, resulting in a sweet love story. Author Jojo Moyes adapts her novel for the screenplay. Not normally my fare, but again, I’d watch Clarke read the phone book.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The Lonely Island presents their first theatrical feature with Andy Samberg playing a clueless popstar in this mockumentary. The film looks like it will do a good job skewering the music industry and pop stars in general. I wasn’t a huge fan of Samberg on Saturday Night Live, but I like him a lot on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so I’m hoping for the best here. My only fear is that the film runs the possible risk of being too insider.
And now for something completely different. Colin Firth stars as Max Perkins, a literary editor who worked with authors like Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West), and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce). I saw the trailer and found the film to look very interesting—a palette cleanser before heading deeper into blockbuster territory. It’s a strange movie to release in the summer, but I hope to see it nonetheless. Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney also star.
The first Now You See Me was a fun little diversion that made absolutely no sense. It looks like the sequel is bringing us more of the same. A year has passed and three of the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco) are back to do magic. Of course, they’ll have to explain how Franco is now alive after they publicly faked his death. Oh, and they’ll also have to explain why Mark Ruffalo is no longer an FBI agent. And why is there a new character played by Lizzy Caplan in place of Isla Fisher? Kind of defeats the purpose of a secret magic society. From what I can gather from the trailers, the sequel will play a bit like Ocean’s Twelve, where someone has caught up with our loveable crooks and wants revenge on them. Daniel Radcliffe shows up here as an adversary, while Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman return as well.
Based on the massively popular PC game, Director Duncan Jones brings the World of Warcraft to the screen with a liberal use of CGI. Humans and orcs are thrown together in a fantasy world when the orcs try to escape their dying world. The two races come into conflict, while representatives from each race try to bring their peoples together in peace. While many are expecting jaw-dropping special effects from this film, the trailers honestly haven’t really wowed me. I’ve liked Jones’ previous films, but I’m not sure I care enough about the property to love this film. Also, the orcs still look cartoonish to me. I’m wondering if the filmmakers would have been better off using practical makeup and perspective shots to increase the size of the orcs. We’ll see how the finished product looks in June.
The long-awaited(?) sequel to Pixar’s Finding Nemo finally hits theaters this summer and focuses on the forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) as she searches the ocean for her family. Marlin (Albert Brooks) is back as well, but I’m nervous about this one. Pixar sequels can be hit or miss and Finding Nemo feels like a film that didn’t really need a sequel. Hoping this is more like Toy Story 2 and less like Cars 2, because based on the trailers, it’s starting to feel more like the latter.
I wasn’t a fan of the first trailer for Central Intelligence, but the second one sold me. In Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, we could be looking at the next great comedy duo. The plot sounds suitably dumb in that a CIA agent (Johnson) needs help from his old high school friend (Hart), who is an accountant. Based on the flashback sequences in the trailers, I wonder if Johnson’s character is gay, which would be a fantastic twist on the genre. As long as the film is funny, I’ll forgive a stupid plot, but I have to like the characters too. Looking forward to see if Johnson and Hart deliver, because Hart and Will Ferrell let me down last year.
First off, I’m not a huge fan of the original Independence Day. I like it up until the aliens finally attack, but then it becomes too stupid for words. Second, did anyone really want this sequel—twenty years later? Judging from the trailers, Resurgence will be more of the same—a possibly interesting premise followed by a rash of stupidity. Will Smith is out, but Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman are back along with Liam “The Less Talented” Hemsworth. I’m sure this will be schlock, but I hope that it’s at least fun. Don’t ask me why they felt the need to cast Jessie Usher as Smith’s son. The producers do understand that the aliens are attacking the world, right? Not just one guy. Whatever. This may be the Transformers 4 of the season.
Very surprised this one is a summer movie. Matthew McConaughey stars as Newton Knight, a southern farmer who fights for the Confederacy in the Civil War until someone close to him is killed. Seeing the futility of it all, Newton chooses to secede from the Confederate States and founds the Free State of Jones. The Confederates, clearly unable to see the irony, clash with him. It looks great based on the first trailer and has Oscar contender written all over it, which is why it’s odd that the decision was made to release in the summer. It looks like a fairly independent production, so it’s possible the producers wanted to get it out into theaters and out on DVD in time for the Oscar race. Hoping this one is good.
If I’ve come to trust any adaptations over the last few years, it’s those that adapt the works of spy novelist John le Carré. From Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to A Most Wanted Man to AMC’s current adaptation of The Night Manager, John le Carré’s novels are on a roll. That brings us to Our Kind of Traitor starring Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris. An ordinary man gets inadvertently wrapped up with a Russian gangster (Stellan Skarsgård) who wants to defect. The British Secret Service, represented by Damian Lewis, is leery of trusting the gangster and uses McGregor’s character as a go-between. The film looks to be full of le Carré’s typical twists and turns, which will hopefully result in another thinking man’s spy tale.
Will Hollywood have any luck adapting the heroes of yesteryear? In the 1990s, adaptations of The Phantom and The Shadow flopped, while Disney lost big on both John Carter and The Lone Ranger. Even a Conan reboot fizzled. Now, here comes The Legend of Tarzan starring Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan and Margot Robbie as Jane. However, judging from the trailers, this film takes place after Tarzan returns to civilization, kind of like Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. However, Tarzan must return to the jungle to rescue Jane from the movie’s villain played by Christoph Waltz. Sam Jackson also stars in a film that Warner Brothers is hoping will show that the old pulp heroes can draw some box office.
The Purge movies are not good movies—at all. That being said, the second one was better than the first, which was godawful. The concept is inexplicably both ludicrous and intriguing at the same time. One night a year, the United States legalizes all crime, including murder. This movie—the third in the series—will have Frank Grillo back from the last one. The plot will, I’m sure, be laughable, but this one focuses on a politician who is running for office on a promise to end the annual Purge. A cabal of powerful people wants her out of the way. Enter Grillo as her bodyguard. It’ll be stupid, but hopefully fun, (that sentiment is coming up a lot this year).
The BFG, based on the book by Roald Dahl, represents the first feature film directed by Steven Spielberg for Disney. The story centers on the relationship between a giant (Mark Rylance) and a little girl (Ruby Barnhill) when he sees her as a kindred spirit and whisks her away to Giant Country. I’ll see anything that has Spielberg’s name on it and I’m sure this film will be entertaining, but I’m concerned about the look of the giants. While the titular BFG (Big Friendly Giant) resembles Rylance, he and his giant brethren still look fake and cartoonish to me, much like the giants in Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer. Modern computer effects have nailed animals like in The Jungle Book and the recent Planet of the Apes films, but human-looking or fanciful characters such as these giants or the orcs in Warcraft still have that “uncanny valley” feel to them. I’m wondering if Spielberg should have also just done makeup and perspective, especially since the BFG looks so much like Rylance. We’ll see how it all turns out on July 4th weekend.
This animated film comes from the studio behind the Despicable Me films. It centers on what our pets do when humans aren’t around, so it’s essentially Toy Story for animals. The film stars Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet as two dogs who don’t get along in the house and then end up on an adventure in New York City. In fact, after watching the latest trailer, it sounds exactly like Toy Story. I’m hoping for the best, because the Despicable Me films were decent and there’s a funny cast assembled here. However, the parallels to Toy Story are so close, it’s a wonder Disney doesn’t sue these guys.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave Stangle (Zac Efron) make a huge mess at every family event they attend, so for their sister’s wedding in Hawaii, their parents demand that they bring dates to keep them in line. The boys put it out publicly that they’re looking for dates and Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) see them on TV. The girls see a free trip to Hawaii in their future and attempt to trick the guys into taking them to the wedding. Hilarity ensues. The film is a bit high-concept and ridiculous, but it looks incredibly funny. I’m hoping the finished product lives up to the trailers.
And now we come to probably the biggest gamble of the summer. Sony wants a Ghostbusters franchise and they have turned to the team behind The Heat—Director Paul Feig and Writer Katie Dippold—to reboot the whole thing. The Ghostbusters are now a quartet of funny ladies (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones), which is great, but the problem with this film—as was the case with The Heat—is the trailers. Based on the trailers released thus far, it is impossible to tell if this is a sequel, reboot, or remake of the original Ghostbusters. I’m definitely looking forward to this due to the talent involved, but I would have preferred this be a spinoff of Ghostbusters instead of…whatever it is Sony’s making here. The Heat was absolutely hilarious and I’ve enjoyed Feig’s other recent films, so I’m very hopeful this will be really good.
This is a film that just popped onto my radar after seeing the trailer online. Set in the 1980s, Bryan Cranston plays an undercover U.S. Customs official trying to take down Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. The trailer looks great and Cranston is always worth the price of admission, so I’m definitely game to check this one out.
Since J.J. Abrams departed for Star Wars, the new Star Trek franchise turned to Director Justin Lin to helm the third film in the series. Lin looks to be bringing his Fast and Furious experience to this one as the trailers have made it look like an all-out action fest. Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk faces off with Idris Elba’s villain. The rest of the Enterprise crew is all here and the possibility of seeing a real Star Trek movie seems to be lost forever. There were reshoots done recently where an entirely new character was added, so that bodes well for the final product. I loathed Into Darkness, but the good news is that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman—the writers of the first two Trek movies—are off this picture, so I’m hoping for the best, but as of right now, it feels like there is zero buzz on this one.
The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner, did not go over so well with audiences, so Universal managed to lure Matt Damon back to the role that made him a superstar. Director Paul Greengrass is back as well to bring Bourne into a post-Edward Snowden world. The trailer looks action-packed and it’s going to be great to see Damon back in his most famous role. Really looking forward to this one.
The second film in the DC Extended Universe hits theaters in August and this one focuses on many DC villains who are put on a team by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to conduct impossible missions for the government in exchange for pardons. The trailers have been great, but have not clued audiences into what mission the Squad will undertake. They will run into the Joker (Jared Leto) at some point, though, as he looks to be the real villain in this film. Villains on the team include Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). Also, be on the lookout for a certain Dark Knight (Ben Affleck). The film looks like a lot of fun and will hopefully get the DCEU rolling after Batman v Superman’s false start.
The Founder will tell the story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), the man who helped franchise McDonald’s after essentially cheating the brothers who opened the first McDonald’s restaurant—at least that’s how it looks in the trailer. This is another film that seems strange to release in the summer, because it has Oscar potential written all over it for Keaton. This looks to be a fascinating story and I’m really looking forward to it. Keaton has been on a tear as of late and I don’t see it slowing down with this one. Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, and Laura Dern also star.
From Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this is another animated film that seems to borrow from the Toy Story formula, but will have much more R-rated results. A bunch of anthropomorphic food goes home with some humans over a holiday weekend, but when the foodstuffs see the horrors of what humans do with food in order to prepare it, they plot to escape. The trailer for this was absolutely hilarious and a rough cut shown at festivals went over like gangbusters. Could be a gateway to more R-rated/adult animation.
Disney has been doing well with their live-action remakes of their classic animated films and while the original Pete’s Dragon wasn’t fully animated, the dragon was. This new iteration has a fully CGI Elliott (the dragon) working alongside a pretty star-studded cast with Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, and Robert Redford. The boy, Pete, is played by Oakes Fegley and in this version, he is a wild boy living in the woods by himself with Elliott. Then the town is turned upside down when the truth comes to light. The teaser trailer doesn’t show much, but audiences can probably expect a sweet film that is, hopefully, not too saccharine.
Laika Studios—the animation studio behind some critically-acclaimed and invented animated films the last few years—returns with Kubo and the Two Strings. The film looks absolutely stunning and the trailers promise a great and imaginative adventure. I’ve yet to go back and watch Laika’s other films, but I’ve always been impressed with their stop-motion animation style on most of them. Kubo appears to be all CGI, but it also looks to be a hell of a lot of fun.
Based on a true story, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller play in over their heads gun runners that won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon by low-balling their competition. From the trailer, the film looks to be Wolf of Wall Street meets the Middle East. This film has the potential to be totally hilarious or a complete flop. It will all rest on the chemistry between Teller and Hill. Here’s to hoping it works.
And that’ll do it. There are, of course, a load of other movies releasing this summer, but the ones I’ve listed here are the ones I’m definitely planning to see over the next few months. If you would like a more comprehensive preview, I recommend you head over to Entertainment Weekly and check out their Summer Preview. Thanks for reading and see you at the movies!