Moviegoers, our favorite auteurial time of the year is upon us: Summer blockbuster season. People everywhere seem reinvigorated by film 2018. Ticket sales are up, butts are in those seats and Americans are ready to escape. To be held close to the bosom of American heroism through Tom Cruise’s guileless patriotism. To feel weathered at the brow of Benicio Del Toro. To worship at the baroque altar of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. To that end, fellow voyeurs, studios have delivered.
There’s a cornucopia of options. For those feeling doomed at the state of things and needing a pick-me-up, there’s Ant Man and the Wasp or The Incredibles. For those who think humans need to go about their business, there’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Of course, there’s action. So much action. From our favorites and from newcomers, too. Rooftops are now our favorite places and, depending on where you are, you can scream “Yerr” into the night and you will get a “Yerr” back. Such is the transformative power of summer and of cinema.
So before we wither at the nipple of this world, let’s chat about how you should spend your tender moments in the dark with a bunch of strangers.
We get it. The summer started two fortnights ago and here we are. The fourth has just past, too, giving us only nine solid weeks of summer left to work with. Here’s your indulgence, then. The flicks you may have missed.
Come Sunday (April 13)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) plays a preacher who shocks his flock when he ushers in an idea so antithetical to the black church that if it were uttered on any given Sunday you’d be able to hear the gasps from Montgomery to Oakland: there is no hell. Directed by Joshua Marston.
Avengers: Infinity War (April 27)
If somehow you’ve managed to miss this one I’ll provide a light teaser. After nearly two-decades of the MCU, Thanos finally shows himself to be the epic badass we knew he was. Our heroes are backed up against a wall and, with the villain’s plans in full swing, we’re left with only a part two to see how things eventually flesh out. Can Thanos be stopped? You’ll be asking yourself that question throughout.
Deadpool 2 (May 18)
Another installment of the ‘Merc with the mouth’. The real question, though, is who’s Peter?
Fahrenheit 451 (May 20)
This Ray Bradbury classic gets an adaptation as Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan plays a firefighter whose job is to burn books. This premiered for HBO and was directed by Ramin Bahrani.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)
This fun prequel to the Star Wars lineage finds us rooting for a new Han Solo in his battle to secure his soul mate Wookie and the Millennium Falcon. Alden Ehrenreich steps into Harrison Ford’s large space boots with aplomb, but the swaggering newcomer has found it a bit tough to secure his place in the pantheon. Even with Donald Glover playing a charming, sensitive rogue in Lando Calrissian.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor (June 8)
This Fred “Mr.” Rogers documentary directed by Morgan Neville is certified 99 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. What’s more, the film is a salve for our present moment. Filled, as it were, with decency and basic humanity. At the very least go and let the film moor you to your fellow homo sapiens again. Even if you don’t think that people are capable of implicit good, then you’ll at least be convinced they’re capable of being good-adjacent.
Hereditary (June 8)
Toni Collette susserates as a career gallerist suffering at the hands of familial misfortune beginning with her recently passed mother. But it isn’t just a horror flick angling for jumps. Like Get Out and The Babadook, the film weaves psychological mayhem into the mix. By the end, you either won’t sleep for weeks or you’ll be lining up for another go-round. And this one comes from first time writer-director Ari Aster.
Ocean’s 8 (June 8)
You know the routine, but instead of Clooney’s jaw jutting into the netherworld we’ve got Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and a gang of resplendent stars running the jewels.
The Incredibles 2 (June 15)
Mr. “Woman, where’s my super suit!” has returned. This time, Mrs. Incredible (Elastigirl) is off saving the world while the family stays at home with their super, super incredible little one. Events, though, soon to take a turn that forces the family back together. Plus, it’s drawn so well one New Yorker critic got an internet spanking for talking thick cartoon moms in tight outfits.
SuperFly (June 15)
This remake finds a remodeled cast sweating up Atlanta instead of Harlem but the score remains the same. Trevor Jackson takes over the role of SuperFly, a drug dealer looking for one last score to propel him out of the game. Director X (Christopher Lutz) of music video fame is a the helm here. And they even brought out Future to give the soundtrack the kind love Curtis Mayfield gave Gordon Parks Jr’s original.
Now that the housekeeping is out of the way we can move on to the films coming out after the summer solstice. From here, the days only get shorter.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)
History is constantly repeating itself. What’s made the Jurassic franchise such a hoot is that it constantly acknowledges that notion. The films burst with an anti-human sentiment. Why are we always playing with fire, it asks? Why does the capitalist imperative drive us all completely mad? This one is no different. So if you’ve got a hankering for some ‘I told you so’ wrapped in dinosaur slaughter this one’s all yours. Also, the deeply lovable Chris Pratt returns as a raptor tamer, which is just kind of cool.
Under The Silver Lake (June 22)
Director David Robert Mitchell gives us Hollywood noir with a twist, as Andrew Garfield turns over every rock in search of his poolside hookup gone missing played by Riley Keough. It’s one part Hitchcock and one part slapstick running down a zany web of misadventures that lead to an outcome you may not have been expecting.
The Hustle (June 29)
Anne Hathaway takes over the iconic Michael Caine role in this fairly guarded remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Rebel Wilson plays her off-kilter partner, two con artists looking for a mark worthy of their talents.
Sicario: Day Of The Soldado (June 29)
“Sicario” is, of course, Spanish for “hitman”. It comes from the Latin “Sicarii” and in later usage simply meant “murderer”. I say all that because this film is perhaps only good for one thing and I’d like you to guess what that is.
Leave No Trace (June 29)
People are broken in ways the mouth cannot move to pronounce. Leave No Trace is an examination of that brokenness as an ex-vet father and now teenaged daughter live off the wilds of Oregon. After a brief reintroduction into society, the pair head back out on the road to parts unknown. Well, to us. This journey of a film is directed by Debra Granik, who is also the director of Winter’s Bone. That film introduced Jennifer Lawrence’s much argued about acting chops to the world.
The First Purge (July 4)
This prequel to the popular Purge series gives us Marisa Tomei convincing the government that people are really coiled springs waiting for a chance to pounce. Whether you agree or not, the fourth installment in the franchise is ready to test your views on both yourself and your neighbors.
Ant Man & The Wasp (July 6)
Even with the Avengers doing their avenging, the MCU still has room to show you how a few side characters fit into the overall universe. Paul Rudd returns as Ant Man here, but this time he gets a partner in Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne (The Wasp). He’s all over the place, she’s a pro, and somehow, the studio hopes, they make for an entertaining pair.
Sorry To Bother You (July 6)
Finally, LaKeith Stanfield gets the prescient comedic film vehicle he deserves. After Danny Glover tells him to use his “white voice” at his call center job, the sky seems to be the limit for the once broke “woke” brother living with his parents. As he gains in wealth, however, he comes to understand the limits of human ambition. At least I hope that’s what happens.
Skyscraper (July 13)
Look, I don’t know what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has against buildings, but in his new film, he’s basically fighting one. Maybe it speaks to the brutal nature of our existence now that skyscrapers must be renegotiated, but I suppose the evil of urban sprawl isn’t going to cure itself.
Blindspotting (July 20)
Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal star as two buddies who witness a murder in this film about how a rapidly gentrifying Oakland ups the odds for some and lowers it for others. Nuanced and closely written, the two co-stars also co-wrote the film as two creatives watching Oakland turn like two-week-old bread. It asks questions — something you may not be used to out of a summer film — but they’re ones more than worth asking.
The Equalizer 2 (July 20)
Denzel Washington returns as Robert McCall, a retired special agent who’s got a whole lot of ass kicking for the bad guys. Antoine Fuqua somehow got Washington to reprise the role — his first ever sequel — and we’re glad he did.
Mission Impossible: Fallout (July 27)
Tom Cruise is the best at certain things. He negotiates space like no other action star in the genre, and he does his own stunts like a madman. Scientology or no, this sixth installment in the Ethan Hunt saga is one of the best action film franchises of all-time for a reason.
The Burial of Kojo (August 2, maybe)
Ghanian director Sam Blitz Bazawule pens and directs this off-kilter beauty about a man who accidentally gets into a car accident that kills his brother’s wife on their wedding day. When the brother comes back for revenge, the man’s daughter heads out into the wilds to save him.
Night Comes On (August 18)
Fresh out of juvenile detention on her 18th birthday, Angel Lamere (Dominique Fishback) embarks on a coming of age journey that’s sure to put a few bumps-and-bruises on both her and her 10-year-old sister. At times harrowing, Night Comes On is gripping and potentially important. Jordan Spiro directs.
Searching (August 3)
John Cho stars as a father who’s trying to track down his missing daughter. That’s a fairly standard storyline, but the twist is that the film is shot entirely through the lens of smartphones and laptops. The kink adds froth to this distinct thriller directed by Aneesh Chaganty.
BlacKkKlansman (August 10)
Raved about when it premiered at Sundance, the newest Spike Lee joint is based on the true story of detective Ron Stallworth who answered a 1978 ad in the paper looking for new Klan members. The film stars David Washington — Denzel’s progeny — as the detective who becomes a member of the Klan over the phone and Adam Driver (Star Wars) as the one who actually has to show up.
Crazy Rich Asians (August 17)
Fresh Off The Boat alum Constance Wu and Queens emcee Awkwafina star in this hilarious, knockout novel turned film. Wu is, well, wooed by Nick Golding and as they’re set to be wed, he introduces her to his wildly eccentric, fabulously rich relatives who want to make life difficult for the newcomer.
Yardie (August 31)
Idris Elba directs this adaptation from a 1993 novel of the same name about a Jamaican youth who rises to become a drug kingpin. Or is it falls?