Summer traditionally means we get a new crop of big-budget blockbuster action, adventure and comedy films, and this year will be no different. And yes, many of them will be sequels and remakes. But some look good. Here’s our annual summer movie preview:
THE NICE GUYS (opens May 20)
The Gist: Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in a violent, 1977-set buddy comedy.
Why It Could Rock: Written/directed by Shane Black, the gonzo genius behind the bloody, hilarious R-rated comedic thrillers Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Last Boy Scout. Gosling is great in comedies and Crowe was surprisingly hilarious on his recent SNL stint.
Unless: Outside of the Lethal Weapon series he created, Black’s movies are typically cult items. The Nice Guys may be too hip and brutal for mainstream audiences. While they’re typically full of funny one-liners, Black’s storylines mirror Raymond Chandler’s and can be hard to follow.
THE CONJURING 2 (opens June 10)
The Gist: Vera Fermiga and Patrick Wilson return as real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Why It Could Rock: Director James Wan is becoming a new master of horror and the original made audiences scream like banshees. With two strong leads, thick but old school PG-13 scares and a whole month before Lights Out, this could make a killing.
Unless: While reliable money makers, not everyone liked Insidious chapters 2-3. Horror movie sequels aren’t the sure thing they used to be (just ask the makers of Sinister 2). Will anything here terrify audiences as much as the Hide N’ Clap game from the original?
FINDING DORY (opens June 17)
The Gist: Dory the Flounder goes looking for her family, keeps forgetting who she is.
Why It Could Rock: Finding Nemo is the most beloved Pixar film, period. Released in 2003, a generation that grew up with it will embrace this sequel.
Unless: Pixar has been going sequel crazy, though this won’t be the movie that stops the trend. When they eventually get around to making Brave 2: Even Braver, audiences may finally cry uncle.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (opens June 24)
The Gist: Twenty years after aliens blew up The White House, they return for more. Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum star. Epic cheese-meister Roland Emmerich again directs.
Why It Could Rock: Opening exactly 20 years after the original Independence Day was a masterstroke. So was getting Goldblum and Pullman to return. Seeing this on July 4 may be essential for all Americans. Even if it’s sillier than the original, good luck resisting this one.
Unless: The trailer is cool but topping the original won’t be easy. Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher are young, handsome and in no way enough to fill the void of Will Smith’s absence. ID4 was the biggest hit of 1996 and a summer movie classic but let’s be honest: it’s as corny as My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
THE SHALLOWS (opens June 29)
The Gist: A surfer (Blake Lively) battles a hungry shark on an isolated cove.
Why It Could Rock: Like the surprise hit Open Water, this is a slick, minimalist and intense shark thriller.
Unless: Lively carries 90 percent of the movie by herself, which could be a problem. She’s lovely but has yet to prove herself as an actress. This badly needs her to step up and surprise everyone.
THE SECRET LIVES OF PETS (opens July 8)
The Gist: Turns out that when we leave our pets behind, they raid the fridge and go on wild adventures.
Why It Could Rock: The trailer has been playing in theaters for a year and is funnier than most movies playing after it. The voice cast is a hip assortment of popular comedians (Kevin Hart and Louis C.K.!) and the concept is funny. If it’s better than Minions, parents will be most grateful.
Unless: If any movie is going to get left behind by Finding Dory, likely the summer’s top grosser, it’s this one.
GHOSTBUSTERS (opens July 15)
The Gist: Who You Gonna Call?
Why It Could Rock: If it overcomes an awful trailer and toxic pre-release word of mouth, it might just work, but that’s a big if. Much of the original Ghostbusters cast turns up in cameos. That alone will bring in diehard fans on opening weekend. Director Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids and Spy were hilarious.
Unless: Everyone involved drops the ball. Sony must be kicking themselves for turning a sure-thing into a let’s-please-everybody topic of internet rage. Bill Murray anchored the originals–who’s carrying this thing? Melissa McCarthy and three SNL vets may not be enough. Looks a lot like Pixels.
STAR TREK BEYOND (opens July 22)
The Gist: The crew of the starship Enterprise takes on a new super-villain (played by Idris Elba).
Why It Could Rock: The cast has great chemistry, the franchise is thoughtful and sunny. Elba is a slam dunk as the bad guy.
Unless: This matches the mixed-to-contemptuous response to Star Trek Into Darkness. With Khan gone and Spock reborn, are there any classic Trek movie tropes left to reconfigure? Will a new director and a lack of J.J. Abrams at the helm hurt it?
LIGHTS OUT (opens August 22)
The Gist: Turn your lights off, a monster comes…
Why It Could Rock: The three and a half minute, 2013 short film this is based on will petrify you (don’t believe me? Look it up. I’ll wait). The director expanded his original short film and the concept is genuinely scary.
Unless: Audiences get enough boo out of The Conjuring 2.
JASON BOURNE (opens July 29)
The Gist: Following a trilogy, a reboot and several rip-offs, Matt Damon returns as Jason Bourne.
Why It Could Rock: Damon and MVP Director Paul Greengrass are back. Throw in the Moby song over the end credits and you have yourself a hit. Everybody now! “Oh Baby! Oh Baby! Then It Fell Apart! It Fell Apart! (repeat 40 times).” Seriously, is there a better action movie opening this summer?
Unless: Will the ludicrous pharmaceutical company subplot from the otherwise underrated but Damon-less The Bourne Legacy play a part in this one? Is Bourne still as impressive as Ethan Hunt? Or are they just making these movies to give Julia Stiles work?
THE FOUNDER (opens August 5)
The Gist: Michael Keaton stars as Ray Croc, the man who helped create the worldwide phenomenon known as McDonald’s.
Why It Could Rock: Keaton is the whole show here. He got passed up for Birdman but his tour de force as Croc might finally lead to an Oscar. Controversy via criticizing the world’s most popular fast food chain could make this the most discussed film of the summer.
Unless: Does anyone care about the origin of the Big Mac? Will critics be singing “Ba-da-bah-ba-bah, I’m Lovin’ It”? Will middle America turn against a movie that’s critical of the Golden Arches? The words “From the director of The Blind Side” do not instill confidence.
SUICIDE SQUAD (opens August 5)
The Gist: A cluster of DC Comics villains join forces and blow stuff up. From the director of Fury.
Why It Could Rock: Jared Leto’s take on The Joker is a must-see. Apparently, Batman pops up in this one, too. Also noteworthy–Margot Robie’s take on Harley Quinn is the beloved character’s cinematic debut.
Unless: It matches Batman v Superman–Dawn of Justice in desperately courting fanboy dollars. Outside of Leto’s involvement, this looks as good as Batman & Robin. Writer/director David Ayer does nihilism well but his movies are no fun. The new TMNT actually looks better.
PETE’S DRAGON (opens August 12)
The Gist: A Disney remake of an oldie but goodie.
Why It Could Rock: The cast is stronger than expected. Jurassic World survivor Bryce Dallas Howard is no surprise but Robert Redford is in this! The dragon looks more Maurice Sendak than The Good Dinosaur. Looks like Harry and the Henderson with a $300 million budget.
Unless: It lands with a thud as loudly as John Carter or The Lone Ranger. The original is well remembered but kinda lame. Will they reprise Razzle Dazzle Day?
Suicide Squad photo: Movieweb.com