At the movies
A guide to the summer’s potential bests and worsts
Oh, man … we can use some good, escapist fare by now, right?
The first few months of the year have been nothing short of a downer, mired in a political cesspool.
Enough is enough. We need a palate cleansing. It’s time to watch moving pictures with big, bright colors, much laughter and, yes, things that blow up.
I say it every year, and I will say it again: The blockbuster season starts earlier every year. March was sort of an early summer blockbuster primer, with Logan and Kong: Skull Island brightening up a month that used to be vacant of the big stuff. The Fate of the Furious was released fairly early, too, but let’s all just forget about that one, shall we? We must block the Theron-Diesel spit-swapping from our heads if we are to go on as a nation without frequent vomiting.
Last year’s blockbuster season was a bit of a bust. I still get occasional muscle spasms and fainting spells as a result of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. My physician says it’s a permanent condition that will be aggravated by further exposure to Henry Cavill as Superman, asbestos or Trump.
Here’s a list of cinematic extravaganzas coming our way. It looks like it could be a lot of fun, with some decent brain fuel/indie offerings to boot.Now playing
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: It’s that place in movieland where we can all love Vin Diesel as the beloved Groot (and proceed to hate him everywhere else). The crew is back with Tango & Cash (Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell) in tow. Dave Bautista’s Drax has been killer funny in the trailers.
Snatched: How long has Goldie Hawn stayed away from moviemaking? Her last role was in The Banger Sisters … 15 years ago. So, Goldie has been in hiding for a decade and a half (a good indicator of how much The Banger Sisters sucked). Amy Schumer pulled her out of retirement for a story about a mom and daughter having a tough time out of the country. It looks pretty nasty, in a good way.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Guy Ritchie takes a crack at the legend of King Arthur, with Charlie Hunnan playing Arthur and Jude Law playing yet another bitchy British guy.The rest of May
Alien: Covenant (May 19): Prometheus was a very good movie despite the plot holes. (Man, there were more plot holes in that thing than the entire Star Wars franchise, the Rocky franchise, and every other movie ever made put together.) It did, however, lack in gory alien content. Director Ridley Scott looks to revisit his abilities to scare the shit out of you with this Alien prequel that features hardcore action and lots of blood. Also exciting: It’s a Pineapple Express reunion, with Danny McBride along for comic relief—or what passes for comic relief when there’s an alien injecting its seed into your face—and James Franco playing the ship’s captain.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (May 19): This is one of those films designed for the likes of me to not give a single damn about.
Wakefield (May 19): Bryan Cranston plays a man who drops out of society without telling his family, retreating to an attic on his property and getting his food raccoon-style at night. The question is: Will he cook? Will he cook one last time?
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26): Johnny Depp is a whore! A filthy, shameless whore!
Baywatch (May 26): Dwayne Johnson is in something like 53 upcoming movies. This one, a cinematic R-rated reboot of the despicably horrible TV show, features the likes of Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach running around in bathing suits. I’m sure the producers—Johnson being one of them—are sweating balls over the recent R-rated failings of CHIPs.
War Machine (May 26): Brad Pitt is the latest star to lend his talents to that ever-growing entertainment behemoth, Netflix. Adam Sandler, Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., and now the Pitt! Netflix is going to take over the world.June
Wonder Woman (June 2): Before we get another chapter of Zack Snyder’s DC Universe with Justice League, a prospect that has me planning to build a bomb shelter, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) gets her own vehicle. It’s directed by Patty Jenkins, who led Charlize Theron to Oscar glory with Monster 14 years ago. That’s an interesting choice.
The Mummy (June 9): Tom Cruise does his screaming, running-around thing for the latest Universal monster reboot. Cruise finds the title character, puts it on a plane ride with him, and basically brings Armageddon upon the Earth. I enjoy the sights and sounds of Cruise in a full sprint screaming his ass off. I like to pretend his fiercest Scientology critics are chasing him with pitchforks and sticks.
It Comes at Night (June 9): Director Trey Edward Shults, who delivered the excellent Krisha last year—a film seen by no one—journeys into post-apocalyptic horror with the mighty reliable Joel Edgerton in his cast.
Cars 3 (June 16): Pixar has gone a little sequel-heavy as of late, and the results are often less than stellar. Cars 2 was pretty bad. Heck, Cars wasn’t all that great to begin with, but the ride at Disneyland is awesome, and these movies hopefully will keep that ride relevant and hip. As a Disney junkie, this is very important to me.
All Eyez on Me (June 16): Demetrius Shipp Jr., a man with an uncanny resemblance to Tupac Shakur, stars in this biopic about the late rap star.
Rough Night (June 16): Scarlett Johansson goes for laughs in this raunchy bachelorette-party comedy.
47 Meters Down (June 16): This summer’s shark movie, starring Mandy Moore trapped in a shark cage. Thank you, Sharknado franchise, for bringing back the shark movie, and giving the dude from Beverly Hills 90210 something to do.
The Book of Henry (June 16): Colin Trevorrow gives us a dramatic thriller starring Naomi Watts—hooray!—before he runs off to make a little indie film called Star Wars: Episode IX.
Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23): Well, Michael Bay had claimed the prior Transformers chapter would be his last. He’s made two decent films since then (Pain & Gain, 13 Hours), neither of which were a big success. So it’s back to the transforming robot car doodads for a big paycheck and a whole lot of slow motion and 360-degree shots.
The Big Sick (June 23): Director Michael Showalter, one of my heroes, follows up the well-received Hello, My Name Is Doris with this romantic comedy that is already getting extremely positive buzz (97 percent on the Tomatometer).
Baby Driver (June 28): Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Shaun of the Dead) was supposed to direct Ant-Man. When that fell through, he took on this project about a getaway driver. I still want Wright’s Ant-Man! Do-over please!
Despicable Me 3 (June 30): In a summer that looks to be surprisingly slight when it comes to animated movies, this third in the series brings back Steve Carell playing the repentant evil Gru and his twin brother. Please, anything to take the spotlight off the annoying Minions.
The House (June 30): Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler start an illegal casino in their basement to pay for their daughter’s college tuition. Ferrell comedy coming! Ferrell comedy coming!
Amityville: The Awakening (June 30): For the umpteenth time, this long-shelved movie has a release date. I think they might want to keep this one on the shelf collecting webs.July
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7): Tom Holland was marvelous opposite Naomi Watts in The Impossible, and he appears to be a good choice for Peter Parker—he’s one heck of a gymnast—in this “reboot again” installment of Spidey. Michael Keaton plays the Vulture, a bad guy role originally slated for John Malkovich in Sam Raimi’s abandoned Spider-Man 4 project. Hey, Marisa Tomei plays Aunt May. That’s crazy stuff!
A Ghost Story (July 7): Casey Affleck, coming off his recent Oscar win, co-stars with Rooney Mara in what looks to be one of the summer’s more daring, more experimental ventures. Affleck spends a lot of the film under a white ghost sheet, and it’s not a comedy.
War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14): Woody Harrelson goes up against Caesar (Andy Serkis) in the battle of humans versus motion-capture CGI apes. This franchise started in 1968, the year of my birth. It featured Charlton Heston in a loincloth and humans dressed in prosthetic makeup that was considered state-of-the-art at the time. Forty-nine years later, Charlton Heston is super dead, the apes are gigabytes, and coffee costs $4 a cup. Get off of my porch! (Bob reloads shotgun, takes a shot of Geritol and resumes whittling.)
Dunkirk (July 21): The latest from Christopher Nolan, a World War II epic, looks freaking amazing. A large portion of it was previewed at an IMAX screening I attended recently, and it’s still the coolest thing I’ve seen on a screen this year. Early prediction: major Oscar contender.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21): From the director who brought you The Fifth Element comes a movie that looks an awful lot like The Fifth Element!
Atomic Blonde (July 28): Charlize Theron’s bid to be an action star looks to be a fun one, with David Leitch, the man picked to direct Deadpool 2, at the helm. Remember her awesome fight scene with Teri Hatcher in 2 Days in the Valley? This looks like a whole movie of Charlize kicking butt … Theron-style!
An Inconvenient Sequel (July 28): A scary sequel to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Is anybody out there as weirded out as I am over Al and Tipper Gore not being together anymore? I mean, that was a power couple for the ages, or so I thought. Remember that whole PMRC thing, when Tipper tried to get ratings on music albums? Remember how condescending they sounded during that whole fiasco? Remember when they had congressional hearings, and Frank Zappa made them both look like a couple of blooming idiots? Oh, and don’t forget, the planet is dying.August
The Dark Tower (Aug. 4): This is my brother Mike’s favorite Stephen King thing ever. He’s been trying to get me to read it for years, but I refuse to for some reason. In return, Mike refuses to watch Breaking Bad all the way through even though I beg him to do so almost every time I speak with him. It seems we will never be able to share our views on these two entertainment entities. This leaves a dark, deep hole in my soul.
Detroit (Aug. 4): This return of director Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) focuses on civil unrest and riots in Detroit during the summer of ’67.
Annabelle: Creation (Aug. 11): This is a sequel about the possessed doll from The Conjuring that got its own spinoff/prequel in 2014.
Next up in the series: a prequel/spinoff/sequel featuring one of the evil sweaters the little girl wore in The Conjuring 2. It’s a really evil sweater. It’s so evil that when you pull on one of its loose threads, it creates a hole—a virtual vortex of evil—in the middle of the sweater, and the garment becomes self-aware and finds a way to drain your bank account by purchasing home appliances at a shopping mall 2,000 miles away from your dwelling. Instead of possessing your soul, it possesses your financial identity. This requires a trip to the tailor, or basically just throwing the stupid, evil, shamelessly spending sweater away. It’s the stuff of wardrobe nightmares.
Unnecessary horror sequels chap my nads.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Aug. 18): Ryan Reynolds plays a bodyguard to Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman, and the marketing team is having a whole lot of fun with the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston parallel.
Logan Lucky (Aug. 18): This is director Steven Soderbergh’s first feature film since announcing his retirement from movies in 2013, after directing Behind the Candelabra. Happy as heck to have him back, with the likes of Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Hilary Swank in tow in this story about a NASCAR race heist.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (Aug. 18): Yes, we are all champing at the bit for this animated sequel. Summer truly dies hard in August when it comes to quality of releases.… and one September mention
It (Sept. 8): Yeah, it falls in September, but it’s worth noting because it’s still summer, and it sort of caps off the season for Stephen King.
Confession: I was never a huge fan of the Tim Curry, John Boy/Jack Tripper, goofy-looking spider TV version of the novel. Actually, I wasn’t a big fan of the novel, either. Actually, screw this movie. Actually, I shouldn’t actually say that until I see the film, for it’s unprofessional. Actually, it’s my summer movie preview, and I can say whatever I want, so screw this movie. Actually, it does kind of look cool, so I am going to pull back that last comment and head toward it with a scent of optimism and a general fear of evil clowns.Yet to get a release date … please let it be this summer
The Disaster Artist: James Franco directs and stars in this movie about the making of The Room, one of the worst movies ever made and also one of the greatest movies ever made. Franco plays the legendary Tommy Wisseau, who directed and starred in The Room. I am looking forward to this movie more than any other movie this year. It got a standing ovation at South by Southwest. Movie honcho people … get this movie out this summer!