In case you missed it, a little film called Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opened this past weekend and quite a few people went to see it, signaling the official start of the 2017 summer movie season. It’s a time of animated cars with something to prove, apes who don’t mess around, and tales of Arthurian legend (including one featuring robots in disguise)! But while it’s tempting to write off summer as solely the turf of sequels, reboots, and franchise starters, that’s unfair for a couple of reasons: 1) There are smaller, more interesting films mixed in if you look hard enough. 2) Some of those sequels, reboots, and franchise starters can be pretty good. If anything, this summer looks better-than-usual on both fronts, bringing everything from Wonder Woman’s solo debut to the return of Steven Soderbergh to the offbeat-looking Edgar Wright action movie Baby Driver to a promising new start for Spider-Man. So let’s give the summer a look. Here’s what’s coming and when, for your calendar-marking needs.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law
The Story: The early years of the man who will become King Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) get another retelling, this one reimagining the story as a Hamlet-like struggle put into motion when the evil Vortigern (Jude Law) kills Arthur’s father, leading Arthur to grow up without a clue to his royal lineage.
The Story Behind The Story: This is the first in a planned series of King Arthur films directed by Guy Ritchie, and he’s bringing his signature flash to the story. (Read our review of the film here.) The last time someone attempted that was in 2004, when Antoine Fuqua attempted a reinvention of the Arthur legend filled with a lot of stylistic flourishes but without much thought to the characters or story. That didn’t work out so well, but Ritchie proved a surprisingly smart choice for a pair of Sherlock Holmes films a few years back, so maybe he’ll fare better.
Snatched: Amy Schumer teams up with a long-absent and much-missed Goldie Hawn as a mother and daughter who get kidnapped while on vacation.
The Wall: Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) returns with an Iraq War movie starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as American soldiers matching wits with a sniper.
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, James Franco
The Story: It’s the future, and what better way to spend it than trying to colonize another planet? At least that’s the plan for the crew of Covenant, a spaceship filled with happy couples and a mission to make a new home on a world far away. The problem: They don’t realize they’re in an Alien movie.
The Story Behind The Story: This gets tricky: Alien: Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus, a kind-of stealth prequel to the Alien films. And Prometheus… well, it looked good. Let’s stay positive. The film doesn’t seem to want to pussyfoot around its relationship to the Alien films; it’s right there in the title. And original Alien director Ridley Scott is back behind the camera, as he was with Prometheus. So for now let’s just hope for the best. (Read our review of the film here.)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul: The fourth (!) film in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series doubles as a soft reboot with no major cast members returning from previous entries. This one, as the subtitle suggests, involves a road trip.
Everything, Everything: Young actors from Jurassic World and the Hunger Games films star in a YA adaptation about the romance between a teenage boy and a girl whose illness keeps her confined to her home.
Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, David Hasselhoff, and Pamela Anderson
The Story: Two rival lifeguards, Mitch (Johnson) and Matt (Efron), put aside their muscular differences to solve a crime involving a dead body. Expect lots of slow-motion.
The Story Behind the Story: With all due respect to the beautifully dumb excess of Transformers: The Last Knight, Baywatch looks like the summer movie. It has very attractive people wearing next to nothing while running on the beach, an easy-to-root-against villain (a drug kingpin played by Chopra), and it’s based on an existing property that you’ve heard of, but only vaguely remember. The only downside to Baywatch’s cotton candy mix of comedy, violence, and nostalgia: It will make you feel bad about your body the next time you’re at the beach.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Javier Bardem joins Johnny Depp and the returning Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley for more highly CGI’d swashbuckling adventures. Also, ghost sharks. (May 26th)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Connie Neilsen
The Story: Diana of Themiscyra (Gadot) leaves her island, protected by the Greek gods, to explore the world of man. And also stop Ares from intervening in World War I, since the Greek gods are jerks.
Story Behind The Story: Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad made piles of cash, but didn’t wow critics. The question fans are wondering about is whether the first major mainstream movie featuring a superheroine will continue that trend, or manage to be good in theaters as well as on balance sheets.
Captain Underpants: The beloved kids’ book series about a grown man running around with no clothes gets an animated feature.
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Stars: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe
The Story: After being buried alive 2000 years ago, an ancient Egyptian princess (Boutella) is awakened when her tomb is discovered by American soldiers. Chaos ensues.
The Story Behind the Story: The Mummy is to the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe as Iron Man is to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the first in a proposed long line of interconnected films, including future installments with Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster. That’s what Universal is hoping for, at least. If The Mummy bombs, then all bets are off the table. Fortunately for the studio, things look promising so far. Casting Cruise as the lead is a good start (Universal saved so much money on stuntmen!) and Johnson is a natural fit as his wise-cracking right-hand man, while Boutella is a rising action movie star thanks to her physical roles in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond. Best-case scenario: Scorpion who? Worst-case: #BringBackTheScorpionKing.
It Comes at Night: Writer/director Trey Edward Shults follows up his microbudgeted breakthrough Krisha with a post-apocalyptic horror film starring Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, and Riley Keough.
Director: Brian Fee
Stars: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry The Cable Guy
The Story: Famed race car and Radiator Springs resident Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is on the top of the world… but doesn’t stay there long in a sequel that sees him attempting a comeback after a horrible crash.
The Story Behind The Story: For a good, long stretch Pixar was the studio that could do no wrong, producing classic after classic. Even their sequels were great. Then came Cars 2, a pleasant-enough but deeply inessential follow-up to a 2006 hit. Since then, Pixar’s been a little less reliable, producing one bona fide classic, 2015’s Inside Out, but mostly releasing a mix of pretty good efforts and so-so sequels and prequels. Will Cars 3 reverse the trend? It seems unlikely, but then again, it also seems like Pixar’s going for something other than a typical sequel here. It’s probably best to take a wait-and-see approach.
Rough Night: Frequent Broad City writer and director Lucia Aniello makes her feature debut with the story of some college friends (Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz) whose bachelorette party reunion takes a dark turn.
All Eyez on Me: The long-gestating biopic on legendary rapper Tupac Shakur finally hits theaters.
The Book Of Henry: Colin Trevorrow last directed Jurassic World and will soon direct Star Wars: Episode IX, but in between he’s releasing this smaller project about a gifted kid (Room star Jacob Tremblay) who teams up with his mom (Naomi Watts) to rescue a neighbor from an abusive stepdad (Dean Norris).