It’s that time of year again, where the major movie studios throw blockbuster films at moviegoers’ feet! However, with films like Logan, Beauty and the Beast, and Fate of the Furious releasing in the first third of the year, and future hits Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok, and The Last Jedi coming in the last two months, is summer still a special season for movies? Yes, and I’m about to tell you why.
As usual, I’ve listed the films I’m interested in seeing in their current order of release, as these dates are subject to change. At the end, I’ve included a short list of the films I’m iffy on and three that I’m avoiding like the plague. Click on the titles to see the trailers (if available) and here…we…go!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (5/5) – As usual, Marvel strikes first, this time with the sequel to Writer-Director James Gunn’s beloved 2014 sci-fi romp. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are all back with expanded roles for Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). The film focuses on Star Lord’s search for his father, who may or may not be Kurt Russell’s character, Ego. Newcomer to the franchise, Pom Klementieff stars as Mantis, oh and Elizabeth Debicki plays Ayesha, who is supposed to be the villain here. Early reviews are pegging this second go-around as “good, but not great.” We’ll see in a few short days.
The Lovers (5/5) – I’ve seen the trailer for Azazel Jacobs’ The Lovers a couple of times and it looks to be a charming adult story for the summer. Tracy Letts and Debra Winger star as an old married couple who are ready to move onto something else. Both are cheating with other people (Melora Walters and Aidan Gillen, respectively) and ready to ask for a divorce. Then, something strange happens: the married couple reconnects and now their lovers are on the verge of being jilted. It looks to be the perfect cure for blockbuster overload.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (5/12) – This entry is a little bit of a cheat, as I have seen an early screening and I’ll have a review soon. Director Guy Ritchie is the latest to take a stab at the legend of Excalibur and King Arthur (Charlie Hunnam). Of course, in typical Ritchie fashion (see: Sherlock Holmes), the trailers make the film look batshit crazy. The film also stars Aidan Gillen and Djimon Hounsou with Jude Law as the scenery-chewing villain. The film is fun enough, but it definitely has some problems and don’t look too closely if you’re seeking any character development.
Alien: Covenant (5/19) – Director Ridley Scott returns with the second prequel to his 1979 film, Alien, and sequel to 2012’s Prometheus. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Prometheus, but just based on the trailers, it looks like Scott fixed some of the problems with that film to craft a more defined prequel to Alien—even though I still stand by my assertion that prequels generally suck. We’ll see if he succeeds. Michael Fassbender returns as a new robot, Walter, as Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, and Demián Bichir head a crew of colonists facing off with the Xenomorphs.
Wonder Woman (6/2) – This is it, DC film fans. If Warner Bros. screws this one up, they can probably kiss all hopes for their cinematic universe goodbye. They’ve had two entries savaged by critics and a third critical failure may just prevent people from showing up for Justice League in November. Gal Gadot, one of the best parts of last year’s Batman v. Superman, returns as Princess Diana of Themyscira as Director Patty Jenkins attempts to tell the first lady of superheroes’ origin tale. Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor, while Connie Nielsen plays Diana’s mother, Hippolyta, and Robin Wright plays her mentor, Antiope. Everything we’ve seen so far looks good, so we’ll call my outlook as cautiously optimistic.
The Mummy (6/9) – Speaking of cinematic universes, Universal attempts to get their “Monster Universe” up and running after the colossal stumble out of the gate, Dracula Untold. Set in modern times, Sofia Boutella plays the title character facing off against hero Tom Cruise. Russell Crowe also shows up in a key role. I’ve liked the trailers for this, but I’m more encouraged because of Cruise’s involvement. He doesn’t tend to make a lot of crap, so I’m hoping this is good.
My Cousin Rachel (6/9) – Rachel Weisz plays the title character, who is suspected by Sam Claflin of murdering his cousin. However, the more he interacts with her, the more he falls under her spell. Saw the trailer for this period film and it looks like a great thriller. Plus, it has Weisz and I’ll see her in anything.
The Hero (6/9) – Sam Elliott stars as a washed up western actor trying to put his life back together in what looks like one of those surprising summer dramas that could turn into a dark horse Oscar contender. Krysten Ritter plays his daughter and Laura Prepon plays a woman that he connects with. It looks like another solid adult-oriented film in a sea of comic book films.
Cars 3 (6/16) – SIGH. I guess I’ll go see this. The Cars films are my least favorite in the Pixar filmography, but because it is Pixar, I feel like I have to go see this. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is struggling with whether he should retire or make one last push for glory. The trailers have felt a little weighty, which is surprising since the target audience is kids that will make their parents buy Cars toys. We’ll see how it goes, but it is with extreme trepidation.
The Book of Henry (6/16) – In 2012, Director Colin Trevorrow delivered the great indie film, Safety Not Guaranteed. Then in 2015, he helmed the middling Jurassic World and I lost a lot of faith in him. Before he takes on the monumental task of directing Star Wars Episode IX, he has wandered back into indie territory to direct The Book of Henry, which features two fantastic young actors in Jaeden Lieberher and Jacob Tremblay. Lieberher plays Henry, a genius who is trying to help his new friend and next door neighbor, Christina (Maddie Ziegler), escape a bad situation. The knockout cast includes Naomi Watts as Henry’s mother, Lee Pace, Sarah Silverman, and Dean Norris. Jurassic World did not impress me, so I’m hoping Trevorrow can deliver before taking on my most beloved movie series.
The Big Sick (6/23) – Kumail Nanjiani co-writes and stars in The Big Sick, the semi-autobiographical story of how when he began dating his wife, Co-Writer Emily Gordon, she got very sick and had to be hospitalized. During that time, Nanjiani meets Emily’s (Zoe Kazan) parents (Ray Romano & Holly Hunter) and deals with his own parents, who are keen on an arranged marriage for their son. There’s no trailer yet, but the film was a hit at Sundance and with a cast like this, you can expect big laughs around the more serious stuff. I’m a big fan of Nanjiani’s and I would love to see him have success with this one.
The Beguiled (6/23) – From Director Sofia Coppola comes the remake of an old Clint Eastwood film, but this version stars Colin Farrell as a Union officer who is wounded across enemy lines and taken in by the residents of a girls’ school. Nicole Kidman runs the school, while Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning vie for Farrell’s affections. The trailer totally sold me on this one and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll try to avoid the original until I see this one too.
Baby Driver (6/28) – Writer-Director Edgar Wright returns with his first feature film since The World’s End and his departure from Marvel’s Ant-Man. Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a getaway driver with chronic tinnitus. To combat his condition, Baby constantly listens to his iPod to drown out the ringing. He works for Kevin Spacey and works with Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, and Jamie Foxx. Things get complicated when Baby falls in love with a waitress, Deborah (Lily James), and wants out of the life. The trailers look amazing and the film won raves when it screened at South by Southwest this year. Easily one of my most anticipated of not only the summer, but the year.
The House (6/30) – Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler star as parents desperate for college money for their daughter. So, they do what any sensible people would do in the same position—open an illegal casino in their neighbor’s house. That neighbor, Jason Mantzoukas, is also a compulsive gambler. Hilarity ensues. The first trailer was very funny and Ferrell and Poehler look to make a winning team.
The Little Hours (6/30) – When the trailer for Writer-Director Jeff Baena’s latest film debuted, a lot of online whiners complained, “It’s a one-note joke, because it’s just crass.” Yeah, gloriously so. Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, and Kate Micucci play debauched, foul-mouthed nuns in the middle ages. The nuns come into the story when the adulterous Dave Franco seeks refuge at their convent in order to hide from his angry lord (Nick Offerman). John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen, and Molly Shannon also star. I watched the red-band trailer for this and found it to be absolutely hilarious. I’ll definitely be lining up for this one.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (7/7) – Spider-Man: Homecoming represents the third stab at trying to get the webbed hero right. However, this time, Sony has help from Marvel Studios as a deal was struck to hand Marvel the creative reins in exchange for Spidey to appear in a few Avengers films. Tom Holland plays a teenage Peter Parker and faces off against Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Robert Downey Jr. appears as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Marisa Tomei plays Aunt May. The trailers look good and the potential is high that we may have the best Spider-Man yet.
A Ghost Story (7/7) – Writer-Director David Lowery re-teams with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara after working with them in 2013’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. In A Ghost Story, Affleck plays a recently-deceased man who returns as a ghost to try and reconnect with his wife (Mara). The film has won raves on the festival circuit and it looks like a melancholy, but fascinating meditation.
Lady Macbeth (7/14) – Saw the trailer for this period drama and it looked like it might be good. A young woman (Florence Pugh) is sold into marriage to an older man, who severely restricts her movements and privileges. When she meets and falls in love with a man closer to her own age, they plot to rid themselves of her husband. The film looks really compelling and I’m looking forward to it.
War for the Planet of the Apes (7/14) – Rise of the Planet of the Apes was surprisingly good and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was even better, so I’m hoping that the third film in the trilogy continues the upward trajectory. Andy Serkis is back as Caesar as he leads his people against Woody Harrelson, who plays a human military man intent on wiping out the apes. This is one of my most anticipated films of the year.
Dunkirk (7/21) – Speaking of my most anticipated films of the year, we come to Dunkirk, Writer-Director Christopher Nolan’s latest film. The film will tell the story of a pivotal moment in World War II and how British soldiers escaped the Nazis at Dunkirk. The leads are played mainly by unknowns—except for Harry Styles of One Direction, but he’s not the main character—but the supporting cast is filled out by Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, and Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy. As usual with Nolan, not much is known outside of the basic plot, but the filmmaker says it’s more of a survival film than a war film and I’m excited to see what he’s cooked up.
Atomic Blonde (7/28) – Charlize Theron fully embraces her action movie heroine cred she’s been building since Mad Max: Fury Road in Atomic Blonde. In the film, she plays a spy/assassin hunting a mole in her organization. Oh, and there appears to be a whole lot of kickass action. John Goodman, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, and Sofia Boutella all co-star. This one looks fun, but hopefully not too self-serious.
Brigsby Bear (7/28) – Another film that garnered a lot of buzz out of Sundance is Brigsby Bear, co-written and starring Kyle Mooney of Saturday Night Live fame. Mooney plays a man who loved an old children’s TV show called Brigsby Bear Adventures, but when the show ends abruptly, Mooney takes it upon himself to complete the story. Everything is not as it seems though, and I have to believe that we haven’t seen a trailer yet, because just vaguely knowing a bit of the plot as I do, I think it might be very difficult to put a trailer together without giving everything away. Mark Hamill, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Claire Danes, and Greg Kinnear all fill out the great cast. The film has been said to be funny and poignant and I’m looking forward to it, considering the reviews and who’s involved.
Ingrid Goes West (8/4) – Ingrid Goes West is a dark comedy starring Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid, a disturbed young woman obsessed with a social media star played by Elizabeth Olsen. Ingrid travels west to insert herself into Olsen’s life. The trailer doesn’t show much, but Plaza isn’t afraid of edgy material, so I would expect this one to get weird and dark. O’Shea Jackson Jr. also stars.
Detroit (8/4) – Detroit represents the third collaboration between Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer Mark Boal and her first feature since Zero Dark Thirty. Set against the backdrop of the 1967 riots in Detroit, the story centers on The Algiers Motel Incident and the conflict between civilians and police that occurred there. Bigelow is on a hot streak and the film features a powerhouse cast including: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, and John Krasinski. This one has Oscar-contender written all over it and should not be missed.
The Dark Tower (8/4) – Now, I’m going to include this film in my Summer Movie Preview, but I’m going to state at the start that it is my firm belief that The Dark Tower will not see the light of day until at least October—the film has already been moved twice. Finally, after years in Development Hell, Stephen King’s epic, The Dark Tower, is making its way to moviegoers. Idris Elba takes on the iconic role of Roland the Gunslinger, which Matthew McConaughey plays the Man in Black. We’ve yet to see a trailer, which is fine for small indie films, but this is a huge blockbuster, which makes me think it’s going to move release dates—we’ve already seen a trailer for King’s It, which actually opens a month later in September, but word is,Dark Tower trailer is on the way this week. There are still plans, as of right now, for a TV series to follow the film, but we’ll see how it all plays out. I’ve never read the books, but I’m definitely interested in seeing this film. Director Nikolaj Arcel is the unlucky bastard who will get the blame if this doesn’t work out, while Ron Howard, who was supposed to direct years ago, serves as producer.
Wind River (8/5) – Taylor Sheridan wrote two of my favorite films of the last few years, Sicario and Hell or High Water, which just missed my Top 10 of 2016. Now, Sheridan is making his feature directorial debut with Wind River, which he also wrote. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, who are on the trail of a killer in the Wyoming wilderness. Sheridan is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers in Hollywood and I’m looking forward to see what he does as a first-time director.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (8/18) – Now we come to a movie that will, more than likely, be terrible, but the initial trailer is hilarious, so I’m including here and hoping for the best. Ryan Reynolds plays a corporate bodyguard hired to protect the world’s most wanted assassin, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Let the foul-mouthed hilarity ensue! The rest of the cast is pretty stacked with Salma Hayek, Gary Oldman, Richard E. Grant, and Daredevil’s Elodie Yung.
Logan Lucky (8/18) – It is indisputable that Steven Soderbergh is one of the most talented directors who has worked in Hollywood in the last thirty years. He hasn’t directed a feature film since 2013’s Behind the Candelabra, which he did for HBO, so he hasn’t had a film in theaters since Side Effects which was released earlier that year. This year, Soderbergh returns to theaters with Logan Lucky, a heist film—which Soderbergh knows a little about—set in Charlotte, North Carolina as a trio of siblings look to rip off a NASCAR race. The cast is absolutely dynamite with Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Sebastian Stan, and a host of others. Any film fan should be excited by this release. It’s high on my list.
So, those are the films that I absolutely have to see this summer – well, maybe not Cars 3. Now, let’s get into some murkier waters.
Snatched (5/12) – On paper, pairing Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn sounds like (pardon the pun) gold. Unfortunately, the trailers for this film have only been chuckle-worthy. Then, I recalled how the trailers for The Heat were awful and I loved that movie – Snatched is also written by Katie Dippold. So, I’m hoping for the best with this one. I enjoyed Schumer’s Trainwreck, for the most part – my main problem, as with most Judd Apatow films, was that it was too long – and Hawn is a national treasure, so we’ll see how it goes.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (5/26) – This one is a solid maybe for me. Why? Well, I’ve never been a huge fan of Disney’s Pirates films and was completely bored to tears by the third one. I took the fourth one off, but I’m hoping that Dead Men Tell No Tales is actually decent. Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow and Javier Bardem plays his ghostly antagonist. I’m not holding out a lot of hope, but at least it will be a spectacle.
Transformers: The Last Knight (6/23) – Longtime readers and listeners of the podcast will be shocked that I’ve included Transformers 5 on my “Maybe List.” I hate these movies, but I have a morbid curiosity about this one. The plot looks really stupid. Apparently Transformers are woven into the history of man – for some reason – and Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) returns as a foe to humanity. Somehow, Anthony Hopkins is in this thing, while Mark Wahlberg returns from the last turd, and Isabela Moner plays a key role, judging from the trailers. Also, based on the trailers, this movie looks like it will be four hours long. Remember, this is only a “maybe,” it can easily become a “hell no.”
Despicable Me 3 (6/30) – To me, the Despicable Me films have all been just “okay.” They have their moments, but they have never risen to the level of the majority of Pixar films. They are more in line with Dreamworks Animation features, which are more about pop culture references and generally dumbing things down for the audience. I like the Minions, but was pretty bored when they got their own movie. They’re good in small doses. In this third feature, Gru (Steve Carell) meets his long lost twin, Dru (also Steve Carell), and they face off against the 80’s-obsessed Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). It looks pretty dumb, but like the other films, I’m sure it will have some good moments.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (7/21) – Based on the French comic books of Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières comes Writer-Director Luc Besson‘s latest film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Based on the trailers, the visuals look amazing, but it can’t help but feel like a re-hash of The Fifth Element, which wasn’t exactly my favorite movie. Also, I’m not sure I’m sold on Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as the leads. The two of them – again, based on the trailers – don’t seem to have the charisma to carry such a visually dense film, even though I like DeHaan as an actor. And then there’s Besson, who, despite a couple of films I enjoy, I generally loathe as a filmmaker. Still, the source material has served as inspiration in several sci-fi properties – including Star Wars – so, that’s the main reason for my interest.
Baywatch (5/25) – I didn’t watch Baywatch when it was on TV and I’m not going to see this movie. Why? Well, for one, it looks like the tone is all over the place. There seems to be some high-octane action, but that doesn’t always go well with winking comedy. Even though Baywatch was a guilty pleasure on TV, from what I understand, it was still a drama through and through. This movie feels like they’re trying to take the piss out of the original Baywatch, but still want it to be serious in parts and that doesn’t really mesh. Please stop making movies like this.
Rough Night (6/16) – Starring Scarlett Johansson and Jillian Bell, Rough Night looks like someone decided to smash together Very Bad Things with Weekend at Bernie’s. I barely uttered a chuckle at the trailer, which is a shame, because I’d like to see Johansson branch out a bit more and I’m always ready for a movie featuring funny ladies (see The Little Hours above), but this comes across as really forced, based on the trailers.
Emoji Movie (7/28) – No. Just…no.
And that’ll do it for the Summer of 2017. I’m fully expecting some other movies to pop up on my radar as the season gets into full swing and as I see them, I’ll bring you the reviews. If you’d like a more comprehensive Summer Preview, please be sure to head over to Entertainment Weekly and check out their coverage. Thanks for reading and may all your summer moviegoing be grand!