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Summer Movie Preview 2018!
Posted By: Sam, on host
Date: Monday, April 16, 2018, at 17:31:04

The summer movie season is upon us! As usual, there are scores of franchise
films, genre films, and other expensively-produced entertainment, with
occasional works of originally and/or prestige slipping through the cracks
to get a jump on the awards season at the end of the year. Here's an
overview of what there is in store.

But before I get to that, I'll lead with what I'm personally most
anticipating. It's not what I think the top films of the summer will be,
just what I'm most keen on seeing, good or bad.

10. Tully
9. Ocean's 8
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
7. Johnny English Strikes Again
6. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
5. Avengers: Infinity War
4. Mission Impossible: Fallout
3. Incredibles 2
2. The Happytime Murders
1. The Predator

April 27 - Avengers: Infinity War

The long-awaited confrontation with Thanos begins here. It's the first of
a two-film denouement to the 10-year cycle of Marvel superhero films that
began with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk back in 2008. It's been a bumpy
road getting here, but where many (including me) have been predicting that
superhero fatigue would have set in as the quality of the films inevitably
dropped, well, we were wrong on all counts. Both quality and popularity are,
if anything, on the rise, with Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok at least
matching the old high water marks, and the former in particular pulling in
record numbers.

Infinity War, as befitting the culmination that this is, packs in just about
every single Marvel character to date. In the past, that's spelled the
beginning of the end for superhero series, the 1989-1997 Batman series in
particular, but the Avengers has built up such great chemistry between its
characters that they're often better together than apart. I still say there
has got to be a limit, some point at which this ever-expanding thing just has
to collapse in on itself. Right? But I am all done guessing when that might
happen, and I have no reason to suppose it might happen now.

May 4 - Tully

No, it's not a sequel to Sully! Let's let the IMDb handle the plot synopsis:
"The film is about Marlo, a mother of three including a newborn, who is gifted
a night nanny by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo
comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes
challenging young nanny named Tully."

That might suggest that this is an icebreaker for Mary Poppins Returns (about
which I have very strong feelings, but never mind). But I doubt it. This
is Jason Reitman's latest film. Reitman the Younger has worked pretty much
exclusively in the comedy-drama spectrum, drifting strongly toward the
latter in recent years. But no matter where he is on that spectrum, his films
have usually told insightful and compassionate human stories. Juno might be
the best known, and I'm going to be careless and call Young Adult Charlize
Theron's best ever role and performance. An aside on Theron: While she is
not at all uncelebrated, do we take her for granted? Surely between this,
Monster, and Mad Max: Fury Road, future generations will look back on her
characters as some of the present age's greatest portraits of, not only
womanhood, but humanity.

I elaborate on Charlize Theron because she plays the title character here.
Time will tell if she's aptly cast: at first blush, it seems like Theron
would play the troubled mother of three, not so much the mysterious stranger
that sets them all aright -- but maybe I am assuming too much about what this
film really is.

The film's major hurdle is that it needs to get Reitman back on track: after
five good or great films in a row, he stumbled hard with "Men, Women, and
Children," which is frankly appalling.

May 11 - Life of the Party

Melissa McCarthy teams up with her husband, director Ben Falcone, again for
this story about a woman whose marriage unexpectedly falls apart. To regain
her footing, she goes back to college and winds up in the same class as her
daughter. McCarthy comedies are in a state of "If it ain't broke, don't fix
it" right now. Sometimes they're fine, and sometimes they misfire, but they
cut good trailers and consistently deliver what her fans are looking for.

May 11 - Breaking In

James McTeigue directs this home invasion thriller. I'm afraid I kind of
hate the home invasion genre as a rule, largely because it seems to be built
entirely on sadism and helplessness. But the fact that this entry is more
of a thriller than a horror movie and seemingly concentrates more on the
victim fighting back than being oppressed, make me wonder if I shouldn't keep
an eye on this. McTeigue has an oddly varied yet short directorial history:
the very noteworthy V For Vendetta, followed by a few much lesser known

May 11 - Dark Crimes

I mention this one primarily due to the unusual casting: Jim Carrey plays
a very serious role in this dark, psychological murder mystery. It doesn't
seem far removed from the bizarre turn Robin Williams took with One Hour
Photo, though in this case Carrey is playing a detective, not a perpetrator.
After The Quiet Place (which is outstanding, by the way), is 2018 the year
for comedians stretching their wings?

May 18 - Deadpool 2

Test screenings for Deadpool 2 were notoriously poorly received. That
doesn't necessarily mean anything. Movies can be made, unmade, and remade in
the editing room, and for sure there will have been some rework of the
editing in the wake of those first test screenings.

May 25 - Solo: A Star Wars Story

There was a similar phenomenon happening in the news with Solo, too: not
test screenings but the early previews and footage prompted some alarm.
Prior to that, the lack of any of that stuff was prompting alarm. Basically
any time you do anything in advance of a highly anticipated film, you're
either prompting alarm or rapture.

I'm generally in favor of what Disney is doing with the Star Wars universe,
though a part of me wishes the original three films had been left alone
forever. All the same, how can I not be interested in what other directors,
in this case Ron Howard, bring to the table?

June 1 - Action Point

This is basically Jackass in a theme park. The trailer is unrelentingly
stupid -- and exactly what anybody who cares about Johnny Knoxville is
looking for. To be honest, I wouldn't even mention this title, except that
it's a great way to plug a better exploration of the idea. Bear with me
here, but the direct-to-video feature-length Tiny Toons episode "How I Spent
My Vacation" is generally terrific, and particularly terrific in the subplot
where Plucky Duck and Hamton J. Pig visit a theme park called Happy World

June 1 - Adrift

Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin set sail and wind up into one of the most
catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. It purports to be based on a
true story, but the trailers suggest a less harrowing and tragic story than
what really happened. As for the film, it looks like it might be effective,
though it is difficult to imagine it breaking new ground.

June 8 - Ocean's 8

Director Steven Soderbergh steps aside for Gary Ross to continue this
heist/con game franchise with this all-female spin-off. Sandra Bullock
and Cate Blanchett fill the Clooney/Pitt roles, and Anne Hathaway is the
target. I thought the trailers were poorly done, but not in a way that
necessarily indicates a poor film. I love the genre, the cast, and the
director, so I won't be missing this.

June 15 - Incredibles 2

In general, I want Pixar to do originals, not sequels. So far, the only real
exception is the Toy Story trilogy, which is one of the most perfect movie
trilogies ever made. (I'm skeptical about a 4th, because the 3rd ended so
perfectly, but I'll reserve judgment for now.)

But The Incredibles almost feels incomplete without sequels (not unlike
Unbreakable did for so long). Provided Incredibles 2 is *about* something,
and not merely a continuation for its own sake, I'm excited to see what
director Brad Bird, returning to animation after a decade in live-action,
comes up with.

June 15 - Tag

Former classmates have grown up and established adult lives but not quite
moved on from their adolescence: they're still playing the same annual game
of Tag, which requires them sometimes to travel around the country and show
up in unexpected places to tag each other It. Advertising for the film
boast "Based on a true story. We're not kidding."

It sounds juvenile and dumb, and there's no way this movie is going to work
unless its tone lands precisely in a very narrow window: it's got to be broad
and ridiculous enough to be funny, but not so much that the characters aren't
still somehow real and human. The fact is, there's just nothing funny about
adults playing Tag. But characters who have personalities interesting enough
to accommodate an epic game of Tag...that has promise.

I have to admit, the trailer won me over. I don't really think it's likely
that this will be a good movie, but, against all odds, it sure *might* be.

June 15 - SuperFly

Super Fly (1972) was one of the defining blaxploitation movies, a short-lived
genre that also gave us Shaft, Coffy, Blacula, and directly inspired such
films as Live and Let Die and Jackie Brown.

Blaxploitation films are so much a product of their time that I'm skeptical
about remakes. Some liked the 2000 remake of Shaft well enough; I didn't,
but never mind. Time will tell if Super Fly will turn out similarly or
find its own groove.

June 22 - Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

It took a long time before anybody figured out how to do a Jurassic Park
sequel properly. Even Steven Spielberg hadn't cracked that nut, but Jurassic
World was everything we could have ever hoped for. But was that a calculated
success, or a shot in the dark that happened to land? I don't think we know
yet, which means this one, installment number 5, could go either way.

June 29 - Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Was anybody asking for a sequel to Sicario? Sure, it was exceptionally
well-received, but wasn't it a pretty self-contained thing? I can't be
optimistic about this: I don't think people actually know why Sicario had
the impact it did, and for sure I don't trust a film studio and a new director
to get it, let alone be capable of recreating it. This just feels like sequels
always used to, before movies started being conceived as franchises in advance:
a movie did well, so some exec decided they better figure out how a sequel
could be shoehorned in. Without director Denis Villeneuve, who was ultimately
the reason Sicario wasn't just another run of the mill cops-and-druglords
thriller, I'm making the early call that this will be disappointing and

June 29 - The Hustle

This is positioned as a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but what nobody
seems to be saying (because, okay, there is probably no marketing value in
doing so) is that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was itself a remake of a 1964 film
called Bedtime story, with David Niven and Marlon Brando.

Do we need a third version of the story? "Need" is a strong word, but there
are plenty of ways in which a third would be welcome. Unlike many classic
films that get remade over and over again, it's not the story that makes
this material so interesting but rather the playground it provides for a cast
to work some magic with chemistry. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels works because,
and only because, Steve Martin and Michael Caine knew exactly how to draw
their characters and how to play off each other. If a new cast can do so
differently, but to similar success, that's more reason than most remakes
have to justify themselves.

Is that the case with The Hustle? You be the judge: the cast is led by Anne
Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. I think both actresses are in periods of the
inexplicable and unjustified backlash that actresses (not so much actors) so
often endure. But I love them both; put me down in the Yes column.

July 6 - Ant-Man and the Wasp

Evangeline Lilly joins the MCU as The Wasp. It's a fine bit of casting.
Better is the inclusion of Michelle Pfeiffer, elusive these days but always
great, which lands her in the exclusive ranks of performers who have worked
in both the DC and Marvel Universes.

July 13 - Skyscraper

The Towering Inferno was a formative movie for me: it's a 70s disaster
movie about a skyscraper on fire. Steve McQueen and Paul Newman made up
possibly the coolest double billing in history, but the thing that made the
movie to me was that I saw it at a very particular age when it triggered
a lot of thoughts about our own mortality.

Skyscraper seems not to be a straight remake but rather uses the same premise
and layers on an "innocent man wrongly accused" subplot, which sees Dwayne
Johnson simultaneously trying to rescue his family and clear his name.
Clearly this is more a work of escapism than cautionary tale about the
march of progress, but like almost anything, it'll work if it can strike the
right tone.

June 20 - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Speaking of shoehorned sequels...?

June 20 - The Equalizer 2

This one, on the other hand, the original being based on a television series,
has an already established precedent. I liked the first film quite a bit and
look forward to what returning director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington
have in store for the next installment. I have to admit, though, I'm a
little surprised it's happening. Has anybody talked about the film since
2014 when it came out?

July 27 - Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The Mission: Impossible series is a rarity: after three so-so episodes,
suddenly the fourth and fifth entries in the series were spectacular. For
number six, Christopher McQuarrie returns for his second in a row, but
allegedly Tom Cruise is not just the star but the man behind the curtain.
Either way, I'm looking forward to this.

August 3 - Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin has grown up! But he encounters his childhood friend,
Winnie the Pooh, "who helps him to rediscover the joys of life." We sort
of had this idea with Hook, back in 1993. There's another connection to
Peter Pan: director Marc Forster also directed Finding Neverland, an
absolutely terrific movie about Peter Pan's author, J. M. Barrie.

Forster is a really interesting director with a varied filmography ranging
from World War Z to Stranger Than Fiction. He's at his best with quieter,
more human stories, which would suggest he could do an outstanding job here.

August 3 - The Spy Who Dumped Me

Two women wind up in an espionage plot after one of them discovers her ex
was a spy. The callout to James Bond couldn't be clearer, although the trailer
does not suggest that the film is really a Bond parody -- certainly not one
as on-the-nose as the title.

I'm going to tentatively put this in the Ocean's 8 category: the trailer
is neither good nor bad, but there's enough potential here that I'll be
checking it out.

August 17 - The Happytime Murders

The IMDb description: "When the puppet cast of an 80s children's TV show
begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private
eye puppet takes on the case."

The film is directed by Brian Henson, the late Jim Henson's son, and while the
world does not appear to be directly related to The Muppets or Sesame Street,
it's pretty clear that an oblique connection is to be inferred. I love the
idea and that somehow this was allowed to be made.

September 14 - The Predator

Shane Black takes the reins of the Predator franchise. The film apparently
retcons the sequels out of existence and picks up from the original film.
I'm excited, not because I particularly care for the Predator as a franchise
(however great the original film was) but because Shane Black is a terrific
writer, and one of the few smart, unique voices allowed to work in blockbuster
films without being watered down by committee. Back in the day, he wrote all
the Lethal Weapon films, among other oddball experiments, but he didn't start
directing until Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Then he dipped into the Marvel Universe
with Iron Man 3, before moving on to my personal favorite film of his, The Nice
Guys, which is pretty much a nonstop oddball hilarious takeoff on...well, not
so much film noir as the 70s-era noir revival. Anyway, if he's doing a
Predator movie, we can be pretty sure it'll be sharp and clever and a lot of

September 21 - Johnny English Strikes Again

Rowan Atkinson plays Johnny English for a third time. Atkinson is brilliant,
but so far the Johnny English films, it must be said, have remained solidly
in the "okay" category. I'm in, though, because I'm always in for a Bond
spoof, or indeed anything Atkinson ever does. As a bonus, Olga Kurylenko
stars in this one. Kurylenko was the female lead in the real Bond film
Quantum of Solace. She was terrific there and now joins a presumably short
list of women (which includes Ursula Andress and...anybody else?) who have
appeared in both a proper Bond film and a Bond parody.

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