The summer blockbuster season creeps ever closer with the start of April. There are plenty of films to be excited about this year, as all the major studios have at least one horse in the race. With so many interesting films coming out, it was tough to narrow the list to only the five most anticipated summer films.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
When people discuss how Marvel Studios has revolutionized the modern blockbuster scene, most are quick to bring up The Avengers or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However Guardians of the Galaxy strikes me as Marvel’s best output. It is a vibrant love letter to space opera and 1980s kitsch as well as the first Marvel film with its own voice; it hasn’t lost itself in a chorus of films competing for the coveted Best Franchise Builder title.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 already promises us more of what made the first film great, namely the irreverent sense of humor and rocking soundtrack. I was already on board with the casting of Kurt Russell as Peter Quill’s father, J’son, but we’re also getting Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooke). Director James Gunn’s humor doesn’t always work for me, but combined with this cast and his source material, I am confident he can wring another hit out of this series.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
I won’t claim that this will be the greatest Spider-Man film ever made, since Spider-Man 2 is one of the greatest comic book films. However, Spider-Man: Homecoming seems to be doing the one thing every prior Spider-Man film fails to do: make Spider-Man a kid. Putting aside the fact that Tom Holland is 20 years old, he looks barely older than 16, which makes him a more believable teenage Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield.
Furthermore, everything about the film’s concept is fresh. Instead of dredging out the Green Goblin for the third time, we’re getting Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine) and Vulture (Michael Keaton). Rather than Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy, Liz Allen (Laura Harrier) is Peter’s love interest. The Daily Bugle seems entirely absent from this film, and that’s a smart move considering nobody could top J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson.
My favorite Marvel Studios have generally been their side films like Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange, but this film might finally win me over to what is shaping up to be one of their core franchises.
3. Alien: Covenant
Ridley Scott took a lot of heat for Prometheus, but nobody can deny that the visionary director behind Alien and Blade Runner has an eye for shot composition and visual storytelling. After getting back into Hollywood’s good graces with The Martian, Scott has returned to the franchise he kicked off with Alien: Covenant, his first real return to the series after the sort-of-prequel Prometheus.
The trailers have been selling this film as a return to the franchise’s roots, a creepy concoction of 1970s slow-burn horror and pulp science fiction that make the original Alien the classic it is today. The combination of James Franco as Captain Jacob Branson and Danny McBride as Tennessee will surely make for an unconventional horror movie cast. I have my doubts, but I’m interested to see how two actors primarily associated with stoner comedies can pull off serious roles.
There also seems to be a stronger emphasis on the xenomorphs, rather than the bland mystery of the Prometheus Space Jockey. There are multiple aliens running around the ship, so we’re veering into Aliens territory as well, but you won’t find me complaining about that. I don’t know how well a gritty sci-fi horror film like Alien: Covenant stacks up against more conventional blockbuster fare, but I’m happy to see some genre diversity in the theaters.
2. The Mummy (2017)
I feel like I’m the only person excited about this reboot of The Mummy. From the first announcement of its development to the first trailer release, the internet has been angered over the supposed tarnishing of the Mummy franchise that Brendan Fraser helmed back in 1999.
I had the opposite reaction for two reasons. First, divorced from any nostalgia I had from watching them growing up, the Brendan Fraser films are not very good. They’re poorly written, clichéd and have dated CGI effects that don’t hold up nearly as well 15 years later. Second, I have no greater cinematic weakness than monster movies. Seeing a cinematic universe built around the universal monsters is my childhood dream come true.
Rather than deal with inevitable comparisons to the 1932 Boris Karloff classic, The Mummy wisely sidesteps that possibility, casting Sophia Boutella as the mummy. Since the film seems to be as much an action movie as it is a horror film, Boutella is a solid choice considering how great she is as Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Hollywood is in desperate need of well-written female villains and hopefully The Mummy can deliver on that front.
Rounding out the cast is the Hollywood’s go-to action star Tom Cruise as the lead, Nick Morton, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll. The film is likely setting the foundation for future installments in this “Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe,” so I’m eager to see what role Crowe’s character plays in this. This film probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve been looking forward for a good monster movie, and this could be it.
1. Baby Driver
Simply put, Edgar Wright is the best comedic director around. Guys like Paul Feig and Tyler Perry rake in box office numbers with questionable comedy, but nobody understands visual comedy and executes it as well as Wright. Combine that with his reverence for historical genre film and you have the master of the modern spoof. His films combine a playful lampooning of genre tropes and satire of British culture to to create comedies that are as insightful as they are hilarious.
Wright’s latest film, Baby Driver, is his second attempt at creating a film for American audiences, without the aid of his usual collaborators, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Shot and set in downtown Atlanta, the film centers around a young getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who must pull off one last heist to leave behind his life of crime and run away with his girlfriend Deborah (Lily James).
Conceptually, the plot sounds pretty generic, but Wright’s knack for genre inversion is still on display. Baby suffers from chronic tinnitus and listens to music constantly to drown out the ringing. Beyond being a quirky character trope, this seems to be a way for Wright to fuse the film with a rocking soundtrack that turns what could be an ordinary heist film into something of an action musical.
The international trailer is the most accurate representation of Wright’s comedic sensibilities: breakneck editing, rapid-fire banter and a generous spoonful of pop culture references (that Michael Myers bit in the American trailer is pretty hysterical). Action movies centered around cars are not my thing at all, if my continued dislike of the Fast and Furious franchise is any indication. But if any director could make this genre palatable, Edgar Wright will be the one to do it.