It may just be starting to feel like spring in your neck of the woods, but summer movie season is already in full effect.
What used to start in June now begins as early as April, and with each new year and each new Marvel Cinematic Universe release, that April date keeps getting earlier and earlier for the beginning of summer movie season. The movies released from April to August are typically remakes, studio tentpoles, superhero movies, sequels or all of the above.
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Spring Movie Season, and its close cousin September/October Movie Season, are traditionally derided as the calendar slots where OK movies suffer and bad movies go to die, but Summer Movie Season is where the studios look to make back all their money.
This year’s slate promises lots of money-making opportunities, from a third “John Wick” film to not just one, but two Disney live-action remakes. Grab a cold drink, crank up the air conditioning and strap in for what’s in store at the theater in the coming months.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” — May 17
Yeah, I’m thinkin’ he’s back. Keanu Reeves returns for a third outing as John wick, dog lover and former assassin. This unlikely franchise contains some of my favorite action movie moments of the last 20 years, and Reeves is perfect in the title role. I’m hyped for this, and I’m also enjoying how they just ripped off the “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” title structure.
“Trial By Fire” — May 17
Based on the 2009 New Yorker story about Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004 for arson and for killing his three children in 1991 in Corsicana despite a scientific evidence and expert testimony that backed up his claim of innocence. I’m not a fan of the Texas accents Jack O’Connell and Laura Dern are doing here, but this looks like it should make an impact, at least in my neck of the woods.
“Aladdin” — May 24
Disney’s live-action remakes work best when they re-examine the source material (“Maleficent,” “Pete’s Dragon,” “Cinderella”). This looks like a cash grab on a classic, and while I don’t think it will lose money, I don’t think it will perform as well as “Beauty and the Beast” and definitely won’t perform as well as the upcoming “Lion King” remake.
“Booksmart” — May 24
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut looks like a ton of fun. The baseline take on this is it’s “Superbad” with girls, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about this one.
“Brightburn” — May 24
What if Superman were evil? That’s the jumping-off point for this horror flick written by Brian and Mark Gunn, AKA James Gunn’s brothers. Looks like scary good fun.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” — May 24
I will go on record saying that the 2014 “Godzilla” was unfairly maligned and was a lot of fun and that I’m looking forward to this sequel that promises MORE! MONSTERS! I’m also just a fan of Kyle Chandler saying “Ghidorah.”
“Rocketman” — May 31
On one hand, this trailer (which is inescapable), looks like a highlight reel of every single music biopic that’s ever been released. Every time I see it, I half-expect to see Tim Meadows show up and say, “Give him a minute, son. Elton John has to think about his entire life before he plays ‘Crocodile Rock.'”
On the other hand, this might be a star-making turn for Taron Egerton.
“Ma” — May 31
“Octavia Spencer in a Blumhouse film” is all I had to hear. And it’s directed by Tate Taylor, whose “The Girl on the Train” wasn’t great but was lurid and pulpy fun. That sensibility should suit this movie fine.
“Dark Phoenix” — June 7
The last X-Men movie I saw was “Days of Future Past” and I liked it a lot. This one has Sophie Turner, Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender going for it. Everything else is against it, from reshoots to fan reception. I’m rooting for it, but I have a feeling it’s not going to do well.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” — June 7
A few things about this: I loved the first movie, maybe because I saw it in a cool historic theater in the middle of nowhere, Texas (Ganado, to be exact, on the first anniversary of dating my then-girlfriend, now-wife).
Another thing: This probably isn’t the first time an animated franchise has had to replace a lead actor for incontrovertible lewd behavior off set (and in this case, “incontrovertible lewd behavior” is a generous term”), but this one is notable — Louis CK is replaced here by Patton Oswalt as Max after CK’s sexual harassment and misconduct became public in late 2017. (Oswalt has a great bit about his takeover of the role in his latest standup act, by the way.) Kids who saw the first one might recognize a different voice, which might lead to some…interesting conversations for parents.
Another thing: This trailer focuses on a visit to a “behavior specialist” vet for Max. If this was intentionally meta, well done.
One last thing: This trailer uses “Walk It Out” by Unk, a song that played prominently at my sophomore year homecoming dance. This movie is my dark horse for weirdest summer movie.
“Late Night” — June 7
The vibe I’m getting here is “formulaic, but funny and feel-good.” I have no qualms there. Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson are both excellent, and the episodes of “The Office” that Kaling wrote (“The Injury,” “Niagara,” “The Sting”) are some of my favorites. Excited for her Hollywood film writing debut.
“Men In Black: International” — June 14
So far what I’ve seen of this hasn’t wowed me too much, but any chance for Chris Hemsworth to reunite with Tessa Thompson is good in my book.
“Shaft” — June 14
Do we need another “Shaft”? Well, we’re getting another one anyway! (With Regina Hall, no less.) Here, John Shaft Jr. (Jesse T. Usher) has to join forces with Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) and Uncle Shaft (Richard Roundtree) to…solve a crime, I guess. And, despite sharing the same as the the 2000 remake from John Singleton (RIP), this is a sequel to the 2000 film and not a remake.
“The Last Black Man In San Francisco” — June 14
I know nothing about this movie except what’s in the trailer above and that the score sounds phenomenal. It looks beautiful, and, a rarity in the summer, an original film from a new talent.
“The Dead Don’t Die” — June 14
I thought the zombie movie trend was done, but then Jim Jarmusch went and made a zombie flick starring (deep breath) Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Selena Gomez, Carol Cane, Caleb Landry jones, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Rosie Perez and RZA. Sign me up.
“American Woman” — June 14
Like “Last Black Man in San Francisco,” I’m excited for this one because it’s a rarity in the summer movie season: An adult drama that’s not a remake, sequel or reboot and isn’t attached to any existing intellectual property. Sienna Miller stars as a grandmother who has to raise her grandchild after her daughter goes missing. I’m expecting “Manchester By The Sea,” but with a younger kid. Cue the waterworks.
“Toy Story 4” — June 21
First: How DARE Pixar use “God Only Knows” against me. Second: There is no reason, story-wise, for this to exist. And given that the plot looks like the same plot as the last two movies, this feels like a cash grab to me.
“Child’s Play” — June 21
Chucky is back, and he’s voiced by Mark Hammill, who, in addition to being Luke Skywalker, is a scif-fi/horror voice acting legend in his own right (his Joker is so, so creepy).
This time around, Chucky is an Alexa-like toy that can pair with all of your technology via Bluetooth. I’m surprised it took this long for a mainstream horror film to use that premise.
“Them That Follow” — June 21
No trailer for this one, but all you need to know is: Walton Goggins is a snake-handling preacher in Appalachia. If you’ve seen his turns in “Justified” or “Vice Principals,” this is a no-brainer. Also, this stars “The Favourite”‘s Olivia Colman and “Booksmart” and “Short Term 12” actress Kaitlyn Dever.
“Yesterday” — June 28
For everyone who ever asked “How would The Beatles’ music be received today?” comes this crowd-pleaser from director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curtis (who also gets a “story by” credit along with Jack Barth). My cynical heart be damned, I’m excited to see this.
“Spider-Man: Far from Home” — July 5
THE MULTIVERSE! MYSTERIO! NICK FURY SAYING “BITCH, PLEASE”! Technically, Phase 3 of the MCU ends here. “Homecoming” was a delight, and I’m enjoying how for two years in a row, this franchise has done a huge, overwrought hero opera followed by a smaller-scale story.
“Midsommar” — July 5
Ari Aster’s follow-up to 2018’s “Hereditary” looks just as chilling and unsettling as that horror film. Florence Pugh stars as a woman who reluctantly goes on a camping trip with her boyfriend to a nine-day festival that only happens once every 90 years. William Jackson Harper (Chidi from “The Good Place”), Will Poulter and Jack Reynor costar.
“Stuber” — July 12
Kumail Nanjiani is L.A. cop Dave Bautista’s Uber driver. That’s it, that’s the plot. Here for it. Ever since Bautista was in “Guardians of the Galaxy” I’ve been excited to see whatever he does next. This looks fun.
“21 Bridges” — July 12
Chadwick Boseman doing his best Denzel Washington in a crime movie directed by the Russo Brothers that reminds me a lot of a Liam Neeson Spring Movie Season Movie? Yeah, I’ll probably see this one.
“Crawl” — July 12
This looks like glorious, pulpy trash (not a bad thing!). A woman and her hurt father must defend themselves against a group of alligators in their flooded house during a Florida CAT 5 ina film directed by Alexandre Aja (the “Piranha” remake). Potentially the “47 Meters Down” or “The Shallows” of this season.
“The Farewell” — July 12
A family discovers that its matriarch has cancer and only has a little time left. Instead of telling her, they keep her in the dark and schedule a wedding so the whole family can gather before she dies. Awkwafina looks like she’s going to steal the whole film in her first dramatic role. I cried through this whole trailer. I hope this does great at the box office.
“Sword of Trust” — July 12
There’s no trailer for this one yet, but it premiered at South By Southwest this year to good reviews. Marc Maron stars as a pawn shop owner who helps a couple (Michaela Watkins and Jillian Bell) try and prove that the sword one of their grandfathers left them in a will is a sword that proves the South won the Civil War. Largely improvised and directed by improv/mumblecore legend Lynn Shelton (“Your Sister’s Sister,” “Laggies,” “Humpday”), the casting here looks spot-on, with an intriguing premise.
“The Lion King” — July 19
Nothing will compare to the original but this will make a ton of money. Not “Endgame”-level money, but it’ll help pad Disney’s insane 2019 balance sheet.
- I’m not even sure James Earl Jones recorded any new dialogue for this; if he just told Disney, “Nah fam, use my old recordings and I’ll take the paycheck” I wouldn’t be surprised, and would respect it
- These animals are computer-generated, not live-action
- I am still not convinced Beyoncé even speaks in this movie, I need confirmation
- If you listen closely you can hear Seth Rogen’s “he-huh” laugh at the end
- This will not come close to capturing the awe I felt at seeing the original in the theater for the first time, but I will definitely be seeing this.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” — July 26
I have no idea how this ties into the Manson murders, but I am intrigued. I liked “Hateful Eight,” really liked “Django Unchained” and generally think Quentin Tarantino is a talented filmmaker, albeit one who has his pretentious head so far up his ass he can see out of his mouth.
I was already sold on it, but Dwayne Johnson leading a haka and then charging toward an army of assassins is Summer Movie personified.
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” — Aug. 2
First, there’s no Spanish. And no Swiper, although IMDb tells me that Benicio Del Toro will voice him. But Boots (voiced by…Danny Trejo) is still there, and this thing has Michael Peña and Eva Longoria as Dora’s parents. And Dora carries a knife now? Oh, and the trailer song is Kesha’s “Boogie Feet” (as in…dancing boots, heh).
I’m old enough to have been out of this show’s target demographic when it first aired and young enough to have put it on in the background whenever I was watching my little cousins, so seeing this is kind of jarring. But hey, if they’re not going to make an “Uncharted” movie any time soon, this looks like “Uncharted” for Kids.
“Artemis Fowl” — Aug. 9
Had this come out years ago, when I read the original books as a preteen, it might have been better-looking. Now it just looks plastic and fake and this trailer says virtually nothing about what the movie is about. This deserved better than the lackluster rollout here.
“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” — Aug. 9
R-rated Goosebumps, produced by Guillermo del Toro.
“The Kitchen” — Aug. 9
No trailer, but did you like “Widows,” but wish there was more laughs? Then this is for you, as the wives of some 1970s New York gangsters have to keep their husbands’ Hell’s Kitchen rackets operating after the men die.
“Good Boys” — Aug. 16
Looks like the same company edited the trailer for this and “Booksmart.” Both are coming of age stories, both use Run the Jewels’ “Nobody Speak,” both feature kids getting up to shenanigans and both look hilarious and heartfelt, a lot like “Blockers” or the back half of “Superbad.”
“Blinded by the Light” — Aug. 16
“Bruce is the direct line to all that is true in this shitty world.” So says one character to Javed, the title character who discovers The Boss’s music in 1987 in England. I like Springsteen more than most and not as fanatically as some, but seeing just this two-and-a-half minute trailer and remembering what it was like when I discovered music that spoke to me for the first time in my life just put a big smile on my face.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” — Aug. 16, moved back from March 22
Four things in this film’s favor: Richard Linklater. Cate Blanchett. Billy Crudup. Judy Greer.
One thing against this film: Whoever made this trailer seems to not know what tone to strike, and picked the blandest shots to promote.
I guess that’s 4-1 odds, so this should be good. A new Linklater is always worth a watch.
“Overcomer” — Aug. 23
Aside from “Breakthrough” and barring any other end-of-year contenders, this will be the film that will get the most American churchgoers into the theater this year. It looks like it checks all of the boxes: Kendrick Brothers (“Facing the Giants,” “Flywheel,” “Courageous,” “Fireproof,” “War Room”). A plot that lends itself to Christian metaphor (finishing the race, fight the good fight). Black characters that seem to exist solely to help the white protagonist. A trailer featuring a song by Lauren Daigle, the Adele of the CCM world.
I try not to bash, I really do. This film is about cross country, a sport that I hold dear to my heart. And I actually really liked “Courageous” and “Facing The Giants,” and I know these peoples’ hearts are in the right place. And when I see this I may even give it a favorable review. But when your hero’s identity crisis is…having to coach the cross country team instead of the basketball team because the town’s manufacturing plant closed, eliminating most peoples’ jobs (timely), and then complaining that he “doesn’t even like running”…it ain’t a good look, chief.
I often wonder if I’m too hard on the Christian films I’ve reviewed or talk about. I try to be fair, but if I’m too critical, it’s because I’m tired of seeing my faith portrayed to the outside world through lazy plot devices and thin excuses to preach. You’re always most comfortable criticizing of the things you love the most, right?
“It: Chapter Two” — Sept. 6
The only entry in September marks the end of Summer Movie Season for me, as the Loser’s Club returns to Derry 27 years later to defeat Dat Boi Pennywise. I loved the first film and its preference for coming-of-age material over jump scares. The second part of the old Tv miniseries is where it began to falter, though, so hopefully this will be better. If anything, after seeing Bill Hader flex his dramatic chops in “Skeleton Twins” and “Barry,” I’m confident he can do well here.