Summer Movie Preview 2018

“Avengers: Infinity War” surprised us with an early release to get the summer season going. Normally, I’d be pretty stoked after that, but I have to admit that I’m not all that excited for this summer movie slate, but nevertheless I’ve gotten rid of the section of these seasonal previews that talks about movies I’m skeptical of. Let’s just say have a healthy skepticism about the films coming out this summer and only go when the weather isn’t nice and the reviews are good, ok?

20 Most Anticipated Summer Movies

Tully (May 4)

Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody reunite again (after the massive hit “Juno” and the underrated “Young Adult”) for what looks to be a brutally honest story of motherhood. “Young Adult” star Charlize Theron also rejoins them as the mother of three who gets a night nurse, Tully, (Mackenzie Davis) that dramatically changes her life. Reitman, who had three hits in a row in the 2000s (“Thank You For Smoking,” “Juno” and “Up in the Air”) has struggled in the last seven years, but hopefully this universally relatable subject and Cody’s sharp writing will deliver the summer’s first indie hit.


Deadpool 2 (May 18)

Audiences responded in a major way to the first “Deadpool,” which opened the door to more R-rated superhero movies and provided a perfect complement to the mainstream films of the Marvel and DC film universes. Thanos, err, Josh Brolin joins the cast as Cable as does hilarious youngster Julian Dennison (Taika Waitit’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”). Writers Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick return to the script (with help from star Ryan Reynolds) and David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) directs. The film looks to build on the ballsy, irreverent vibe of the original and hopefully the shtick still feels fresh.


Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)

It didn’t look good for Disney/Lucasfilm when this project lost the incredibly talented Phil Lord and Chris Miller, but Ron Howard is known as pretty competent … and Lawrence Kasdan (“The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Force Awakens”) and son Jonathan Kasdan wrote the screenplay of this Han Solo “origin story.” Hopefully the final product was salvaged; “Rogue One” went through similar challenges including a whole new ending and turned out pretty good. Alden Ehrenreich should make a well-deserved big splash with mainstream audiences if the film as a whole turns out well. Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Thandie Newton (“Westworld”), Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) join him. Fingers crossed.


Action Point (June 1)

They’re back. How Johnny Knoxville and his gang (though it’s not the original “Jackass” group anymore) have survived subjecting themselves to torture stunts for 20 years is remarkable, and they’ve snagged big box-office totals every time. “Action Point” looks to work in more of a story with an amusement park that gives people big thrills … and big crashes. Needless to say, however, that the story is not what will get butts in theaters.


Ocean’s 8 (June 8)

It’s the ladies’ time to shine, and you know Warner Bros. has high hopes for them seeing as there are two more numbers between 8 and 11. Although it feels like a gimmick to reboot a heist franchise and cast all women, there’s something that will be satisfying when this movie comes out, and people will feel empowered to show up to the theater. The director is male, oddly, but it’s Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games”) and he did real well with Jennifer Lawrence in that movie. The cast is stacked, with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway leading the charge. All this film has to do is tap into the fun of the original “Ocean’s” trilogy.


Hereditary (June 8)

This is the big-buzz horror movie of the summer. After blowing away audiences at Sundance, Ari Aster’s feature debut about a family that loses its matriarch and begins to unravel as they discover more family secrets has the potential to reel in the loyal horror audience and earn lots of praise from critics. Inevitably there will be three more “Hereditary” movies that Aster does not make as he moves on to bigger and better things. I actually cannot watch the trailer again given how creepy it is. Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and Ann Dowd star.


Incredibles 2 (June 15)

After the amazingness of “Coco,” it would be too much for Pixar to follow up with another original movie, of course, so sequel it is. “Finding Dory,” “Monsters University” and the two “Cars” sequels were unable to match the magic of their early 2000s originals, so it stands to reason that “Incredibles 2” will follow suit. Nothing about the story suggests why Pixar is returning to these characters now as opposed to any time in the last 14 years, but to their credit, Brad Bird is back and he’s the only person who touched the script, which is highly unusual, even for Pixar. So I’ll be optimistic.


Tag (June 15)

When it comes to comedies, you usually get a sixth sense that something’s going to be good based on the premise and/or trailer. An elaborate game of tag that involves adults behaving badly to tag their friends is one of those rare gems of a comedy idea, and it just so happens to be based on a true story. Stuffing it with an incredible cast helps: Ed Helms, Rashida Jones, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher, Leslie Bibb, Hannibal Burress and even Jeremy Renner flexing his comedy muscles. If you’ve seen writers Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen’s 2005 cult comedy “Waiting …” you’ll understand why they make perfect sense for this movie.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)

The gargantuan success of “Jurassic World” justifies this film’s existence, but that movie was really just okay. I will admit, however, that the second trailer for “Fallen Kingdom” has piqued my interest a lot more than the first. I also like that J.A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls,” “The Orphanage”) directs and Derek Connolly (“Kong: Skull Island”) co-wrote with “Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow. The opportunity for another entertaining movie definitely exists, even if it too, ends up just being okay. One last thing: how do they end up in the hamster ball again?


Under the Silver Lake (June 22, limited)

David Robert Mitchell made the head-turning horror film “It Follows” in 2014; not everyone got into it, but I found it visually striking and sufficiently creepy. Well, his next film is nothing like that one, at least from the trailer. Andrew Garfield stars as a young man in Los Angeles who becomes obsessed with a missing woman and finding hidden messages and cracking secret codes that he thinks will lead to her. The tone is decisively dark comedy, with some crazy twists to be expected for sure. A24 distributes, which these days is always a big vote of confidence.


Sicario: Day of the Soldado (June 29)

Esteemed director Denis Villeneuve doesn’t return for this drug war sequel, but writer Taylor Sheridan does, and that matters most. Sheridan has been an incredibly reliable thriller writer (“Sicario,” “Hell or High Water” and “Wind River”) and he has to be trusted until he misses. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro reprise their frightening amoral characters.


Leave No Trace (June 29, limited)

It’s been eight years since we last got a feature film from Debra Granik, who brought the world Jennifer Lawrence in 2010’s “Winter’s Bone.” Her latest stars Ben Foster as a father living illegally in a park in Oregon with his daughter when their lives are upended after they’re caught and placed with social services. The vibe is very similar to 2016’s “Captain Fantastic.” Compared to “Winter’s Bone,” however, it looks a little less bleak and more accessible. Reviews have been positive since its premiere at Sundance.


Ant Man and the Wasp (July 6)

“Ant-Man” is my guilty pleasure Marvel movie. Not sure why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Hopefully we’ll be able to say the same for the sequel, which more prominently features Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp. Director Peyton Reed returns and the writers of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” worked on the script, as did star Paul Rudd. Joining the cast are Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyme, Walton Goggins, and Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster/Goliath.


Skyscraper (July 13)

Is there anything people wouldn’t pay to watch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson do on screen? Well, regardless, clearly watching him re-create “Die Hard” still fits the bill. Rawson Marshall Thurber, who made popular comedies “Dodgeball,” “We’re the Millers” and Rock-starring “Central Intelligence” writes and directs. Johnson plays a skyscraper security consultant who finds himself framed when the world’s tallest and presumably safest building catches fire. And of course his family is inside.


Eighth Grade (July 13, limited)

Comedian Bo Burnham co-starred in last year’s biggest indie comedy (“The Big Sick”) and might have made this year’s big coming-of-age film. It essentially follows Kayla (Elsie Fisher) going through the horrid awkwardness of the last week of eighth grade. The trailer suggest Burnham really sincerely captures the current teenage generation in a way we haven’t seen on screen before, but also all the adolescent issues that are so much deeper than anyone one generation. Oh, and look what studio picked it up, A24.


Mission: Impossible – Fallout (July 27)

Before “Ghost Protocol” came out in 2011, like most people I had written off the “Mission: Impossible” franchise as old and stale. But that film, in which everyone thought Tom Cruise was passing the torch to Jeremy Renner, and “Rogue Nation” showed Cruise ain’t done yet. Not even close. Christopher McQuarrie, who is Cruise’s preferred director (“Rogue Nation,” “Jack Reacher”) of the decade and seemingly his personal screenwriter (“Jack Reacher,” “Edge of Tomorrow,”  “The Mummy”) returns for this one as does co-star Rebecca Ferguson. Henry Cavill joins the cast and even Michelle Monaghan (“M:I 3”) shows up.


Christopher Robin (Aug. 3)

Have the tissues ready. Adult Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), bogged down by his job, gets a visit from his old friend Pooh in this live-action fresh take on A.A. Milne’s beloved stories. Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland”) directs from a script by Alex Ross Perry with additional writing work from Allison Schroeder (“Hidden Figure”) and Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”). The updated and perfectly cast voices include Brad Garrett as Eeyore, Peter Capaldi as Rabbit, Chris O’Dowd as Tigger and Toby Jones as Owl.


Mile 22 (Aug. 3)

The combo of director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg has been box-office dynamite (“Lone Survivor,” “Patriots Day” and “Deepwater Horizon”), which automatically puts “Mile 22” on the map even without many plot details or a trailer. Apparently it’s about an intelligence officer backed by an elite tactical unit smuggling someone somewhere. Whatever, you know if you want to see this kind of movie or not. The only question is will it come out on schedule or be pushed to the usual Berg-Wahlberg month of January.


The Spy Who Dumped Me (Aug. 3)

Hopefully “Ocean’s 8” goes over well, because everyone behind this female-led spy comedy is depending on it. But this film has one thing “Ocean’s” doesn’t, and that’s Kate McKinnon. She’s always a joy to watch and was the best part of the “Ghostbusters” reboot. Teamed up with Mila Kunis, they play friends wrapped up in a conspiracy because Kunis’ ex turns out to be a spy. Susanna Fogel writes (along with spot TV show writer David Iserson) and directs.


The Meg (Aug. 10)

This Jason Statham-led giant prehistoric shark movie actually looks like it’s trying to turn back time and get in a dick-measuring contest with “Jaws.” Jon Turtletaub, who should be delivering on a third “National Treasure” movie right now instead of making this, directs a script from the writers of “RED” and “RED 2” and also the writer of 2003’s “Paycheck.” If I seem to be emitting skepticism, I apologize, but I am.

Honorable Mentions

RBG (May 4, limited) – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg embodies the liberal zeitgeist, so what better time to tell her life story and remind people why she’s actually awesome.

First Reformed (May 18, limited) – Also from A24, Ethan Hawke plays a pastor who lost his son in Iraq who finds renewed purpose in helping a woman (Amanda Seyfried) whose radical environmentalist husband has killed himself. Written and directed by “Taxi Driver” writer Paul Schrader.

On Chesil Beach (May 18, limited) – “Atonement” author Ian McEwan adapts his best-selling novel about a young married couple in 1962 England navigating their wedding night and all the societal pressure and sexual freedom issues that come with it. Saoirse Ronan, who had her breakout performance in “Atonement,” stars.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (June 8, limited) – I got chocked up just watching the trailer for this “Mister Rogers” documentary on Fred Rogers, who brought a new, mindful approach to children’s TV programming. His beliefs are particularly resonant in America today. Oscar-winner Morgan Neville (“20 Feet from Stardom”) directs.

Sorry to Bother You (July 6, limited) – Lakeith Stanfield of “Get Out” fame plays a telemarketer living in alternate present day Oakland who finds success when he learns to use his “white voice” (David Cross). A wild and inventive-looking film from rapper Boots Riley.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (July 13, limited) – Gus Van Sant directs this film based on the true story of John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix), a wheelchair-bound alcoholic who finds a new lease on life when he meets his sponsor on his road to recovery (Jonah Hill) and begins making crudely drawn but hilarious cartoons.

Puzzle (July 13, limited) – A suburban mother (Kelly Macdonald) finds her passion for solving jigsaw puzzles, which leads her into a life she never imagined for herself. Directed by Marc Turtletaub from a script by Oren Moverman (“Love & Mercy”)

BlacKkKlansman (Aug. 10, limited) – Spike Lee tells the story of a black police officer who went under cover with the Klan and managed to even climb the ranks. Starring Adam Driver and John David Washington (HBO’s “Ballers”).




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