Media Matters: Will’s Summer Movie Preview: Part One
With major blockbusters now premiering in March and October, the big budget studio tent poles staked in the summer and holiday months are no longer the “all or nothing” gambles they once were. Nevertheless, this summer is stacking up to be a particularly busy one at the multiplex. With so many movies premiering between May and September and a new, high-profile trailer landing on YouTube every other day, I thought it might help to map out all the notable releases. This issue will cover everything coming out through the second week in June. Check back in the next issue for a breakdown on the second half of the cinematic summer season.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5, Not Yet Rated, but surely marked for a PG-13)
I seem to deviate from popular opinion when it comes to the Marvel movies. I prefer the first Captain America film to the second and the second Thor to the first. I even loved Iron Man 3, and I would probably peg the original Guardians of the Galaxy as one of my least favorite in the connected universe despite its general appeal. So, while nearly everyone else is cooing over little Baby Groot, I’ve been shrugging my shoulders and keeping my expectations in check. Even still, if the fact that my two-year-old son dances around the room every time the trailer starts automatically playing on YouTube is any indication, I’m sure the movie’s mix tape soundtrack will be another platinum hit and I am always excited to see Kurt Russell in just about anything he does.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12, PG-13)
Speaking of pop soundtracks, Guy Ritchie is looking to bring his anachronistic sensibilities to the classic story of the sword in the stone with this groaner that I am nearly convinced will be a commercial and critical failure on par with his second crack at Sherlock Holmes. Actually, that came off much more negatively than I intended. The trailer elicits no strong feeling from me, though I did come away impressed with the striking cinematography. If anything, I suppose I’m preemptively disappointed in the waste of good camera work in service of a film I have no confidence will be any good.
Alien: Covenant (May 12, Not Yet Rated, but almost certainly marked for a R rating)
I am a huge fan of Ripley and the xenomorphs, but the telescopic jawed overgrown bugs haven’t been in a halfway decent movie since 1992, and to make matters worse, this is a follow-up to the willfully incoherent and utterly disappointing mess that was Prometheus. Ridley Scott is behind the camera again, and this time he’s working on a script from a new (but equally dubious) set of writers. This one appears to be more on point in that it at least features a proper turn from the aliens, but I think you could argue that the trailer shows them far too much. Michael Fassbender’s return to play not one, but two anti-social androids wandering through the ruins of an ancient civilization also doesn’t fill me with confidence that this film will make any more sense than the last.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (May 19, Not Yet Rated, but probably aiming for a PG rating)
As a former ninety-pound middle schooler myself, I’m tempted to feel solidarity with this titular set of wimps, but the trailer for the mid-May release is horrendous. I had hoped that this might have some of the same broad appeal as 2014’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but its below-the-belt humor and prominent use of “the trailer voice guy” make it feel like the unholy return of 90s-era Jim Carrey. Like my parents were at the time, I fear this one might make me go catatonic while watching.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26, Not Yet Rated, but you can bet on a PG-13)
And the hits just keep on coming. Goodness gracious, I’m feeling pretty negative about the whole summer up to this point. Now, full disclosure, I haven’t seen a Pirates movie since the first one came ashore while I was in college. I didn’t understand what my classmates saw in Johnny Depp’s effeminate performance then and I still don’t get it now. The gruesome trailers for this…What, fourth or fifth?…entry in the series are absolutely off-putting. I’d be happy to be wrong, but this overblown production has all the markings of a box office bomb that will join Disney’s The Lone Ranger on the ash heap of history.
Baywatch (May 26, R)
I highly doubt I’ll be seeing this raunchy comedy in the theater, but I suppose it could draw in young adults who were lads like me when the television showfirst premiered (though I always preferred the ridiculous X-Files rip-off Baywatch Nights). Perhaps it will be a fun rental for an evening when Henry is spending the night with his grandmother, but I’m not holding out much hope.
Wonder Woman (June 2, PG-13)
Now here, at long last, is my great hope for the summer and the DC Extended Universe as a whole. The trailers for Wonder Woman feature some remarkable cinematography and look to have a winning mix of appealing humor and exciting action. It all reminds me a lot of Captain America: The First Avenger and, if it works, it could help DC carve a path toward female-driven comic book movies with follow-ups like Gotham City Sirens and Joss Whedon’s Batgirl.
The Mummy (June 9, NR but I’m sure it will land a PG-13)
If you’ve read my column for a while, you probably know that I have a huge soft spot for the Universal Monsters, so maybe it is my nostalgia for Saturday afternoon movies on AMC talking, but I actually think the idea of a shared universe can certainly work, and the notion of setting it in contemporary times and staffing it with such a talented roster makes the whole idea much more interesting and viable. So, if this is to be the start of a broader story, what are the common elements? We know Russell Crowe is playing Dr. Jekyll (and presumably Mr. Hyde), but is Tom Cruise going to be some sort of Van Helsing? And if that’s true, (please, Lord, let it be true) then perhaps Dracula is the ultimate evil?