Summer Movie Preview: 25 Films You Don’t Want to Miss
The calendar may have four seasons, but Hollywood’s calendar only really has two: Summer and awards, and summer seems to last longer and longer ever year. Though the start of May has long been the unofficial kickoff of the summer movie season, 2017 has already seen a King Kong movie, a ghost in a shell, and the fate of Fast & Furious franchise. The change from April to May is something of a formality in 2017. Once the Oscars are over, the summer begins.
Forgive us, though, for still being excited about the movies headed to theaters in the weeks ahead. 2016 may have been one of the worst summers at the multiplex in history, but this year’s slate is as promising as any in recent memory. It starts this Friday with one of the most anticipated Marvel movies to date and carries right through to the end of August, when one of the most promising young directors in the country unleashes his first horror movie. In between, we’ll see more action, more comedy, more pirates, more superheroes, more aliens, and more ... well, more more. It is the summer, after all, where quantity is quality. Here are the 25 can’t-miss summer movies headed your way this year:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Summer begins in mighty Marvel fashion this year, with the sequel to the beloved cosmic adventure about a bunch of superheroic a-holes. The entire original Guardians roster is back — Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel as the now baby-ized Groot — along with Karen Gillan’s Nebula and Michael Rooker’s Yondu. Plus Pratt’s Star-Lord finally meets his father, played by Kurt Russell, who turns out to be a space god (and living planet) named Ego. Writer/director James Gunn is back too, and he hasn’t messed with the formula that made the first Guardians such a massive hit in 2014; there’s even a Volume 2 of Star-Lord’s “Awesome Mix” cassette, and new old-school radio hits like “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. Without a doubt, this team will be linked together for many more movies. (May 5)
Read our full Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review here.
Amy Schumer stars as a woman who convinces her neurotic and over-bearing mother (aren’t they all, though?) to join her on the exotic vacation she was planning to take with her boyfriend just before he dumped her. But after meeting a talk, dark, and handsome stranger, things take a dangerous turn. An action-comedy from the writer of The Heat, produced by Paul Feig, and starring Goldie Hawn and Schumer as a mother-daughter duo? You really shouldn’t need much more convincing than that, but just in case: Snatched is also directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and co-stars immensely funny humans like Ike Barinholtz, Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni, Randall Park, and Wanda Sykes — the latter of whom has the funniest line in the trailer, and basically sold us right then and there. Forget Baywatch. If we had to see only one big action-comedy set at the beach this summer, it would be Snatched. (May 12)
In this atypical war film, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena play a pair of U.S. soldiers pinned down by an Iraqi sniper. Injured and alone, Taylor-Johnson’s character must find the other sniper before Cena’s character, who’s been seriously injured, is killed. Think Phone Booth crossed with The Hurt Locker, and think about the fact that this micro-thriller is directed by Doug Liman, whose last effort was the awesome Edge of Tomorrow. (Excuse me: Live. Die. Repeat.) While we remain dubious that any enemy combatant would be able to see Cena, we’re excited to see the wrestler-turned-actor taking on a more serious role after a string of outstanding supporting turns in comedies. His time, as a great man once said, is now. (May 12)
More Alien prequel than Prometheus sequel, Ridley Scott’s newest installment in the prolific sci-fi horror franchise follows a crew on their mission to colonize a seemingly uncharted paradise — emphasis on seemingly. Once on the ground they encounter unspeakable terrors courtesy of our old mischievous droid pal David (Michael Fassbender) and his collection of “experiments.” Covenant promises new xenomorph mutations and a whole new crew of characters for them to snack on, including Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Amy Seimetz and Billy Crudup. We also get double the Fassbender, with the actor taking on dual roles as both the antagonistic synthetic David and the (allegedly) more docile Walter. Whatever your feelings about Prometheus, Covenant looks absolutely stunning — not particularly surprising given the director at its helm. (May 19)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Sure, the Pirates franchise went downhill with the fourth movie, but anyone who enjoyed the wild adventures in the first two films (and the totally nutty sea witchery of At World’s End) should be excited for the fifth installment. The new movie takes place about two decades later, and follows Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Javier Bardem is the latest bad guy, a ghost who vows to kill Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and every pirate at sea. Beyond the promising visuals from Kon-Tiki directing duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, Dead Men Tell No Tales also features the return of the old Pirates gang, including Knightley, Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush’ Captain Barbossa. And hey, there’s ghost sharks too! What more do you want? (May 26)
In War Machine, Brad Pitt plays a blonde-haired four-star general whose cockiness leads to his own downfall. Animal Kingdom’s David Michod directs the film, which is a war satire of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan based on Michael Hasting’s 2012 non-fiction book. Pitt plays Gen. Dan McMahn, based on Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, and if his wide range of bizarre facial expressions in the first trailer aren’t enough to entice you, the film has a stellar supporting cast: Tilda Swinton, Anthony Michael Hall, Ben Kingsley, Lakeith Stanfield, Emory Cohen, RJ Cyler, Topher Grace, Scoot McNairy, and Will Poulter. Netflix dropped a hefty $60 million on the film, so it’s sure to garner some attention. (May 26)
The boys club of superhero cinema gets a welcome injection of femininity with Wonder Woman, the first big-screen adaptation of the classic DC Comics character. Gal Gadot, the lone standout in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, gets her own showcase as Princess Diana, the Amazon emissary who leaves her home on the island of Themyscira to try to bring peace during World War I. Star Trek’s Chris Pine plays Diana’s love interest Steve Trevor, and David Thewlis is Ares, the God of War. (Not to be confused with the dude from the PlayStation games.) Director Patty Jenkins previously made Monster and worked on the TV shows The Killing and Betrayal, and everything we’ve seen from this movie makes it look like the most visually striking DC Extended Universe flick to date. You could tie us up in a Golden Lasso of Truth, we’d still find a way to the theater to see it. (June 2)
I was about to board a plane just moments before watching the first trailer for the new Mummy reboot, and beyond feeling terrified of a potential crash, I was hyped. Tom Cruise rolling around a crashing cargo jet and then miraculously coming back to life is all I ever want from an action movie. (Plus, of course, more of Cruise running.) That’s what you’ll get in Universal’s The Mummy from director Alex Kurtzman, best known as a screenwriter (Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). This new film, scrapping everything from the Brendan Fraser movie, will kick off the studio’s new monster movie universe. Sofia Boutella is a mummified princess, while Russell Crowe, Courtney B. Vance, Jake Johnson, and Annabelle Wallis fill out the supporting cast. (June 9)
It’s tough to argue that Rough Night’s darkly comedic premise makes it sound like a gender-swapped take on Very Bad Things: A rowdy bachelor(ette) weekend goes horribly wrong when the (male) stripper ends up dead and the characters desperately attempt to cover it up. But even if you despised the concept of Peter Berg’s film, there are plenty of reasons to get stoked for Rough Night, not the least of which is an insane roster of comedic talent headlined by Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer, all debauching it up for your entertainment. The red-band trailer was absolutely stacked with humor, which might lead some to worry that we’ve already seen the best stuff Rough Night has to offer. But that seems highly unlikely with a film from Broad City geniuses Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs. (June 16)
Sofia Coppola’s highly-anticipated new film is a remake of Don Siegel’s wild 1971 thriller starring Clint Eastwood, replaced in 2017 by Colin Farrell — an actor who’s only grown more compelling in recent years. In The Beguiled, Farrell plays a wounded Union soldier who seeks refuge at a Confederate girls’ boarding school run by Nicole Kidman’s headmistress, who has kept her charges isolated from the outside world. The arrival of Farrell’s soldier — whose enemy status may be defined more by his gender than his uniform — inevitably sparks sexual tension and rivalry among the women, sending them hurtling toward a startling conclusion. The Beguiled also features Coppola favorites Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, along with Oona Laurence and Angourie Rice (the breakout star of The Nice Guys). A dark, period-set, female-driven thriller is far from typical summer movie fare, which makes Coppola’s latest all the more intriguing. (June 23)
The Big Sick
If you love Kumail Nanjiani but aren’t sure if he’s leading man material, just wait until you get a load of The Big Sick. We loved this hilarious, heartfelt, and atypical rom-com at Sundance and SXSW, and soon you’ll see why. Co-written by the Silicon Valley star with Emily Gordon, and loosely based on their own relationship, The Big Sick tells the story of Kumail, a comedian who meets the girl of his dreams (Zoe Kazan), but there’s just one problem: His traditional Pakistani family disapproves. Okay, maybe there are a few problems, as in all things — and that’s part of what makes this film so remarkably relatable. Produced by Judd Apatow, directed by the great Michael Showalter (Hello My Name Is Doris) and featuring Holly Hunter and Ray Romano in great supporting roles, The Big Sick is one of those really special comedies where everyone involved is operating at their highest level. You don’t want to miss what could easily turn out to be this year’s best comedy. (June 23)
Read our full The Big Sick review here.
We were denied the pleasure of seeing Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, but at least the co-creator of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is finally back with a new movie, his first in four years. With each new project, Wright leaves his mark on a popular genre; Baby Driver lets him put his spin on the classic car chase movie. Ansel Elgort a getaway driver named (you guessed it) Baby, who falls for a beautiful waitress (Lily James) and agrees to take part in a doomed heist with a bunch of criminals. The cast also features Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm, and the soundtrack was chosen with meticulous care by Wright. (Baby listens to tunes while he drives to help him focus.) It would have been great to see Edgar Wright’s superhero movie, but if we get his badass chase movie instead, that’s a decent trade. (June 28)
Read our full Baby Driver review here.
A new film from filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. Tilda Swinton talking about pig nightmares. Jake Gyllenhaal singing in safari attire and short-shorts. Just in case Okja didn’t already skyrocket to the top of your most anticipated list, I’ll tell you more. The latest from the Snowpiercer director is about a supernatural creature made by Swinton’s scientist. The young Mija (An Seo Hyun) has been taking care of the animal for 10 years, but must rescue Okja when Swinton’s crazed CEO tries to take control of the beast. Paul Dano, Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun, and Lily Collins also co-star. Okja will compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes this month before it hits Netflix. (June 28)
When ScreenCrush visited the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming last year, we saw tons of cool stuff; great concept art, cool costumes, a massive recreation of the base of the Washington Monument. But the best thing we saw was the sheer enthusiasm from members of both Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, who’d formed an unusual partnership to make a solo Spidey adventure that takes place inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Homecoming, the MCU’s Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggles to readjust to a normal life after a taste of superheroics in Captain America: Civil War while chasing the trail of the Vulture (Michael Keaton), a scavenger stealing alien technology. No Gwen Stacy this time around, but there is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who begs Peter to leave the crime-fighting to the professionals. Clearly Tony hasn’t heard about what comes with great power. He’ll learn soon enough. (July 7)
Read our full report from the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming here.
A Ghost Story
The best movie the ScreenCrush staff saw at the Sundance Film Festival last January was A Ghost Story, from Pete’s Dragon director David Lowery. This bold film upends all the clichés of the classic haunted house movie. A man (Casey Affleck) dies in a car accident, leaving behind his beloved wife (Rooney Mara). Affleck’s body is brought to the hospital, where his spirit, covered in a white sheet, rises from his body and returns to his home, where he silently watches over Mara as she grieves. The twists from there should not be spoiled, but we promise they will make you rethink the way you look at ghosts and the very nature of time itself. The movie demands attention and patience; some stretches are slow (in one scene Rooney Mara just eats a pie until she pukes). But A Ghost Story rewards viewers who stick with it, delivering a transcendent and mind-altering cinematic experience. (July 7)
Read our full A Ghost Story review here.
To the Bone
Marti Noxon is a TV vet whose impressive resume boasts writing and producing credits on some of our favorite shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, and (the first and best season of) UnREAL — which makes her transition to film directing both long overdue and highly-anticipated, particularly when the subject matter is so personal for Noxon (and her leading lady). To the Bone stars Lily Collins as Ellen, a young woman struggling with anorexia. She enlists the help of Dr. Beckham (Keanu Reeves), an unconventional physician who pushes Ellen to overcome her disorder. If Noxon’s prior works are any indication, then we’re in for a film that packs a brutal, beautiful punch with razor-sharp wit and characters whose flaws are achingly familiar. (July 14)
War for the Planet of the Apes
Filmmaker Matt Reeves picks up where he left off in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with the third installment in the sci-fi franchise revival. In War for the Planet of the Apes, Andy Serkis’ Caesar must lead his kind through the next chapter in the ongoing battle between man and primate, an apocalyptic odyssey that forces Caesar to confront his inner heart of darkness — and yes, that phrasing is intentional: Woody Harrelson joins the fray for the sequel, playing a zealous Colonel reminiscent of Marlon Brando’s iconic Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. War promises to bring us even closer to the classic Planet of the Apes, but with Reeves attached to helm The Batman, we’ll be waiting a pretty long time for his next Apes movie. Hopefully this one gives us plenty to chew on in the meantime. (July 14)
Few things are more exciting than a new Christopher Nolan feature. Dunkirk will chronicle the evacuation of the Allied forces in France during World War II in the spring of 1940. And while it’s enticing that the man behind The Dark Knight and Interstellar is breaking into the historical realm, the filmmaker has insisted Dunkirk isn’t exactly a war movie. It will adopt an unusual structure, following three perspectives, including soldiers in the air, on land, and at sea. It also stars a fantastic cast that includes Tom Hardy, Mary Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, and Harry Styles. And since this is a Nolan movie, you can expect it to look pretty amazing. Shot by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk includes about 100 minutes of footage shot on 65mm IMAX cameras. Make sure you see it on a truly big screen. (July 21)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
If you love The Fifth Element you’re in luck this summer. Luc Besson is back with another sci-fi space adventure that looks even bigger and wackier than his 1997 cult classic. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne are Valerian and Laureline, two special operatives sent to defend the city of Alpha. The film’s first trailer gave a preview of the giant space station and its colorfun, luminous aliens. Besson told us the new movie has nearly 14 times the special effects as Fifth Element, with more than a hundred different alien species. The film, based on a French graphic novel, also stars Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, and Rihanna. At the very least, we can count on this to be one of the most best-looking movies of the summer. (July 21)
What if we told you that the co-director of John Wick made a movie with Imperator Furiosa? Would that be something you’d be interested in? We thought so. This movie is real, and it is coming to a theater near you this summer to pummel your eyeballs into submission. Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, a tough-as-nails spy on a deadly assignment in Reagan-era Europe. Expect much butt-kicking, face-punching, and head-shotting in the style of director David Leitch. The cast also includes James McAvoy and Sofia Boutella, who becomes a love interest for dear Lorraine. Now if we could just get an Atomic Blonde vs. John Wick crossover sequel, that’d really be something. (July 28)
Read our full Atomic Blonde review here.
The Dark Tower
We’re still not entirely convinced that The Dark Tower is real, or that it’s actually hitting theaters in August. There isn’t even a trailer! And yet, we’re still anxious to see this ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s seemingly impossible-to-adapt epic, a sci-fi fantasy Western take on the eternal battle between good and evil. Idris Elba is Roland Deschain, a stoic gunslinger (and the last of his kind) from a distant world on a daunting mission to find the titular tower before the sinister Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) can destroy it — and the entire universe. Director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) has promised a version of the story that’s neither sequel nor reboot, but a continuation, of sorts. If successful, his clever and somewhat meta approach should be accessible to newbies and veteran Dark Tower fans alike, while appealing to the latter on a much deeper level. (August 4)
It’s been five years since Kathryn Bigelow was last behind the camera. Detroit marks the director’s return to feature filmmaking; this drama chronicles five-days of violence during the Detroit riots of 1967. The movie will hone in on the Algiers Motel incident, an episode that ended in local cops and the National Guard raiding a motel room that left three black teenagers dead. John Boyega stars as a local police officer, alongside Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, Jack Reynor. The film is not only arriving at a pivotal time politically, but with Bigelow on board as director and Mark Boal as screenwriter, it’s bound to get some some awards season buzz. (August 4)
The Trip to Spain
The greatest ongoing franchise on the planet continues with The Trip of Spain, the third installment in this series of food tours featuring actors, comedians, and mortal frenemies Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Playing loosely fictionalized versions of themselves, Coogan and Brydon visit great European restaurants on assignment from a British newspaper. Mostly, though, the premise is used by the two stars as an excuse to trade impressions and thinly-veiled insults while struggling to come to grips with middle-age malaise and personal and professional disappointments. This time, Coogan and Brydon search for food and self-loathing in España, which should provide some magnificent scenery and gourmet food porn. But really it doesn’t matter where these two men go as long as they get to snipe at each other and talk like Michael Caine. (August 11)
Read our full The Trip to Spain review here.
Steven Soderbergh’s kept busy with The Knick and watching and logging an ungodly amount of film and television, but the beloved director of Traffic and Ocean’s 11 has technically been “retired” from big-screen filmmaking since 2013’s Side Effects. He returns to theaters with Logan Lucky, the latest sequel in the long-running Wolverine franchise ... what’s that now? Oh okay, it has nothing to do with Wolverine. It does have Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Riley Keogh, though, all playing siblings out to pull off the heist of this century. Wait, the three Ocean’s movies all came out this century too? Okay fine, the fourth-biggest heist of the century. Whatever the score, it’s just great to have Soderbergh back. Let’s raise a glass of Singani 63 to his continued success. (August 18)
It Comes at Night
Krisha was one of the best movies of 2016, with first-time filmmaker Trey Edward Shults showcasing his ability to capture the harrowing chaos of addiction in a faltering family. If you found that film unnerving, just imagine how terrifying a straight horror movie from Shults will be. In It Comes At Night, Joel Edgerton plays a husband protecting his family from a mysterious evil lurking outside their cabin. But the “it” that lurks remains unknown, hinting at a threat residing inside their locked doors. Girls star Christopher Abbott plays Edgerton’s son, Riley Keough plays a woman with black goo dripping from her lips in the trailer, and Carmen Ejogo plays the mother of another family staying with them. The film’s surprise screening at the Overlook Film Festival has already garnered rave reviews, and it looks like we’ve found the next great (and not to mention smart) horror movie of the year. (August 25)