Saturday, April 30, 2016
It feels like it’s been summer at the movies for about three months now, what with “Deadpool,” “Batman v Superman” and “The Jungle Book” dominating marquees.
But the movie season officially begins this week with “Captain America: Civil War.” The latest installment in the Marvel machine is the movie of the summer. Possibly the highest-grosser of 2016. Definitely a good way to kick off the season.
There’s a lot coming out over the next few months, and much of it doesn’t look too promising — cough "Warcraft" cough.
But let’s accentuate the positive. Here are our 10 most-anticipated big summer movies (and five under-the-radar indies to look out for).
1. “Captain America: Civil War”
In theaters Thursday
Premise: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are fighting, and the Avengers must pick sides.
Promise: A part of me is skeptical, still. This is the 13th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and looks to be nearly as crowded with costumed combatants as either of the two “Avengers” films. But the reviews are unanimously ecstatic, with longtime fans and superhero-fatigued critics alike calling it the best Marvel movie yet.
Reportedly, the conflict between our two heroes is thoughtfully handled and ultimately gut-wrenching. And the action sequences and humor are firing on all cylinders. And the new-to-the-MCU characters Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) are welcome company.
If it’s as good as they say, and as good as its trailers suggest and as good as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (same directors here) was, it will be not only the summer’s biggest blockbuster but also its best.
2. “The Nice Guys”
In theaters May 20
Premise: A private eye (Ryan Gosling) and an enforcer (Russell Crowe) buddy up to untangle a criminal conspiracy in 1970s L.A.
Promise: Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”) directing those two in a joke-dense caper from a script he co-wrote — that would be enough. But the film also stars Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, Ty Simpkins and Hannibal Buress as a giant killer bee.
3. “The BFG”
In theaters July 1
Premise: A young girl befriends the Big Friendly Giant (newly minted Oscar winner Mark Rylance).
Promise: Steven Spielberg adapts Roald Dahl’s classic book from a script written by Melissa Mathison, who penned “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Big-budget, computer-animated pillagings of children’s entertainment are de rigueur at the moment — and on the brink of growing loathsome. But if anyone can bring some freshness back to the family-friendly film, it’s Spielberg.
4. “Suicide Squad”
In theaters Aug. 5
Premise: The baddies of the DC Universe — including The Joker (Jared Leto), Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) — get enlisted by a shadowy government agency to save the world.
Promise: This could be hot garbage — it’s getting reshoots, which isn’t usually a good sign. But “Suicide Squad” appears to have some stuff that “Batman v Superman” lacked. Such as levity, comedy, Robbie playing Harley Quinn, Viola Davis playing Amanda Waller, David Ayer (“Fury,” “End of Watch”) directing. Even if it’s a dumb and overstuffed mess, it can probably eke out a few moments of joy. The marketing so far at least indicates that it’s not taking itself too seriously. And it doesn’t seem to have half the smug self-satisfaction of “Deadpool.”
5. “The Shallows”
In theaters June 24
Premise: A surfer (Blake Lively) gets attacked by a great white shark and stranded on a big rock 200 yards from shore. She has to outwit the beast to get to safety.
Promise: Yeah, this is an absurdly high ranking for a Blake Lively shark movie. My excitement stems in part from a lifelong love of shark movies released in the summertime — “Jaws,” of course, but also “Deep Blue Sea,” “Open Water,” even the risible “Shark Night 3D.” All critics have a bias. Mine is shark movies. I am for them.
But “The Shallows” has plenty to recommend it, otherwise. For one, it was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, a craftsman of high-quality genre pics like “Orphan” and the Liam Neeson vehicles “Unknown” and “Non-Stop.” “The Shallows” is also one of the few major releases this summer that’s not a sequel, prequel, remake or based in some shared universe. So there.
6. “Jason Bourne”
In theaters July 29
Premise: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) returns to find more answers and just generally be the most awesome guy on the planet.
Promise: Not only are we getting back our original star, we’re getting back Paul Greengrass. The director who made the latter two Bourne films starring Damon is back in the driver’s seat. That means more pulse-pounding hand-to-hand combat and a city-destroying car chase or two. The trailer is appropriately thrilling and promises beefier thrills than the weightless computer-generated spectacle of most modern blockbusters. Julia Stiles returns as Nicky. Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassel hop along, as well.
In theaters July 15
Premise: A series reboot with a new crew of paranormal exterminators (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon).
Promise: The female cast was just a good idea. As was hiring director Paul Feig, whose “Spy,” “The Heat” and “Bridesmaids” are all varying degrees of uproarious. Feig co-wrote the script with “Parks and Recreation” alum Katie Dippold. Other pluses: cameos from the surviving cast members of the original film, Chris Hemsworth playing secretarial eye candy. The trailer falls a bit flat, but I’m trying to stay optimistic.
8. “Independence Day: Resurgence”
In theaters June 24
Premise: They’re back!
Promise: Will Smith is not back, which is a shame. But Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner and Vivica A. Fox return to battle the angry aliens, who re-invade Earth to finish the job they started 20 years ago. Sela Ward is now the president. Jessie Usher is flying fighter jets as the late Steven Hiller’s son. Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe are in love in war.
Most crucial to the movie’s success is that Roland Emmerich, the original director, is on board. Emmerich is the master of stupid yet satisfying entertainment that you can’t help but cheer for. This summer’s “Jurassic World.”
9. “Pete’s Dragon”
In theaters Aug. 12
Premise: Disney’s reimagining of its own 1977 film, about the adventures of a boy and his dragon.
Promise: This just looks lovely in a rustic, folksy sort of way. Disney enlisted indie filmmaker David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”) for directing duties, and it appears to be a good fit. As family-friendly product goes, this looks truly artful. Newcomer Oakes Fegley plays Pete. Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban and Oona Laurence (so good in last year’s “Southpaw”) co-star.
10. “Money Monster”
In theaters May 13
Premise: George Clooney is the Jim Cramer-like host of a financial TV show who gets held hostage on air by an angry investor (Jack O’Connell).
Promise: O’Connell (“Starred Up,” “Unbroken”) is a force of nature still looking for the role that makes him a movie star. And the rest of the cast is stacked. Julia Roberts plays Clooney’s producer. Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito and Dominic West fill various supporting roles. Jodie Foster directs. The trailer looks like this could maybe go either way. But if it delivers, it could be a welcome burst of grown-up entertainment in the heart of cinema’s silliest season.
The full summer schedule
Our highly analytical prediction (or just our best guess) of what will make the most money at the domestic box office this summer.
1. “Captain America: Civil War”
2. “Finding Dory”
3. “Independence Day: Resurgence”
4. “Suicide Squad”
5. “X-Men: Apocalypse”
6. “Jason Bourne”
7. “The BFG”
9. “The Secret Life of Pets”
10. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”
THE SMALL ONES
Not all summer movies have to be massive. Here are five smaller titles worth looking out for these next few months.
1. “The Lobster” (May 13 limited)
The director of “Dogtooth” makes his English-language debut with an absurd comedy set in a near-future where single people who can’t find a partner within a specified amount of time are turned into animals. Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw and Léa Seydoux star.
2. “Love & Friendship” (May 13 limited)
Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan”) directs Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella “Lady Susan.” Expect romance. Expect a joyous parade of classy barbs.
3. “De Palma” (June 10 limited)
A doc on the career of filmmaker Brian De Palma (“Carrie,” “Blow Out,” “Scarface”) as told by the old master himself.
4. “Dheepan” (May 13 limited)
A former Sri Lankan warrior now works as a caretaker outside Paris, where his fighting skills come to good use. Won the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes. From the director of the superb French prison epic “A Prophet.”
5. “Swiss Army Man” (July 1)
The bizarre comedy in which Paul Dano gets stranded on a desert island and befriends a farting corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) who might be his salvation — or at the very least a good friend. Who says there are no new stories to tell?
Dates are subject to change
“A Bigger Splash” (limited): A crime drama starring Tilda Swinton as a vacationing rock star. Matthias Schoenaerts and Ralph Fiennes co-star.
“Captain America: Civil War”
“The Darkness”: A family comes back from their Grand Canyon vacay with a supernatural being in tow. Jennifer Morrison and Kevin Bacon star.
“High-Rise” (limited, now on video on demand): Based on the J.G. Ballard novel, this weirdo drama is about a futuristic-ish house block that devolves into chaos. Stars Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller.
“Last Days in the Desert” (limited): Ewan McGregor plays Jesus as he fasts and prays for 40 days in the desert.
“The Lobster” (limited)
“Love & Friendship” (limited)
“The Angry Birds Movie”: The film adaptation of the popular app.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”: Zac Efron’s frat bro teams up with former nemeses Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne to take down a sorority house.
“The Nice Guys”
“Weiner” (limited): A documentary covering the mayoral campaign of disgraced politician Anthony Weiner.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass”: Alice returns to Wonderland. Terrifying wig returns to Johnny Depp.
“X-Men: Apocalypse”: The latest in the series has the X-Men uniting to defeat the world’s first and most powerful mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac).
“Me Before You”: A woman (Emilia Clarke) falls in love with a recently paralyzed man (Sam Claflin). Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes.
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”: Andy Samberg plays a spoiled Bieber-esque popstar in this music mockumentary from the Lonely Island crew.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”: In which the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come out of the shadows. Krang is in this.
“The Fits” (limited): An adolescent dance troupe begins to suffer spells and fits in this acclaimed indie drama.
“The Conjuring 2”: Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) head to north London to help another family plagued by evil spirits.
“Now You See Me 2”: Now you don’t.
“Warcraft”: The wildly popular video game franchise gets its very own movie.
“De Palma” (limited)
“Central Intelligence”: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart buddy up for an action comedy.
“Finding Dory”: Pixar’s sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” one of its very best films.
“Free State of Jones”: Matthew McConaughey stars as a farmer who leads American slaves to freedom in this fact-based historical drama.
“Independence Day: Resurgence”
“The Legend of Tarzan”: Me, Tarzan. You, Jane. Movie, Tarzan movie. Stars, Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgård.
“The Purge: Election Year”: The third “Purge” movie is set in the world of politics.
“Swiss Army Man”
“Our Kind of Traitor” (limited): This espionage thriller was adapted from a John le Carré book and stars Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Stellan Skarsgård.
“Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates”: Omaha native Adam DeVine and Zac Efron star as screwup brothers who take two crazy best friends (Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick) to their sister’s wedding.
“The Secret Life of Pets”: An animated family film that explores the world of our furry friends once we leave them alone. Louis C.K. voices a very good boy.
“The Infiltrator”: Bryan Cranston is a U.S. Customs official who breaks up a drug money-laundering scheme in this fact-based thriller.
“Ice Age: Collision Course”: The fifth “Ice Age” movie.
“Lights Out”: In this horror film, Teresa Palmer is stalked by a creature who only appears when the lights go out.
“Star Trek Beyond”: “Star Wars” stole J.J. Abrams from the “Star Trek” series. “Fast & Furious” director Justin Lin takes control of the bridge.
“Bad Moms”: Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Christina Applegate play three overstressed moms who let their freak flags fly.
“The Founder”: Michael Keaton plays McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc in this biopic from the director of “The Blind Side.”
“Nine Lives”: Kevin Spacey plays a businessman who gets trapped inside the body of his family’s cat in this movie that I’ve confirmed is actually real.
“Cafe Society”: Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart bring their neurotic chemistry to a Woody Allen period comedy.
“Florence Foster Jenkins”: Meryl Streep plays the titular New York heiress who had a terrible voice but dreamed of being an opera singer nonetheless.
“Sausage Party”: This R-rated animated comedy is basically “Toy Story” but with food products trying to discover the purpose of their existence. Co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
“Spectral”: A special ops team fights supernatural beings. Like “Ghostbusters” but not funny.
“Ben-Hur”: Because you know what the kids will like? A “Ben-Hur” remake!
“Kubo and the Two Strings”: In this animated film from the folks behind “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” a boy awakens a spirit and must do battle with a series of gods and monsters. He’s aided by a monkey and a beetle, voiced by, respectively, Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey.
“The Space Between Us”: The first person born on Mars (Asa Butterfield) goes to Earth for the first time to find his father and also, maybe, his first girlfriend.
“War Dogs”: Arms dealers Jonah Hill and Miles Teller supply weapons to U.S. allies in Afghanistan in this wartime comedy from the director of “The Hangover” movies.
“Southside With You” (limited): A romantic dramedy about Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date in the summer of 1989.
“Don’t Breathe”: Another horror movie from the director of the 2013 “Evil Dead” remake, this one about a group of friends who break into the house of a blind man. Neither the house nor the man are what they seem.
“Hands of Stone”: A bio film of the boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) and his trainer, Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro).
“Mechanic: Resurrection”: A new Jason Statham movie franchise, apparently. In this entry, Statham’s hit man is coerced into performing three impossible assassinations. Jessica Alba and Tommy Lee Jones co-star.