Summer movies. They promise so much, yet so many times deliver so little. Terminator: Genisys, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad anyone?
But, eternal optimist Rich Phippen takes an idiosyncratic, partially cautious look at films coming up over the summer period that may very well buck the trend and become warm weather hits.
Colossal (release: 19th May)
If you want to put your money on the sleeper hit of 2017, look no further than this monster movie with a twist. Gloria (Hathaway) has lost her job and boyfriend, and moved back to her hometown in upstate New York to lick her wounds. But when she gets there, and turns on the TV, she discovers a giant monster is wrecking Seoul in South Korea. And weirder still, the monster seems to be under her control…
It’s a batshit crazy idea, but it might just work…
King Arthur (release: 19th May)
Guy Ritchie has never been a box office guarantee, a point well made with the bombing of The Man From UNCLE. Likewise, sword-waving period dramas are no sure-fire way to make money. But there’s something about the Ritchie aesthetic we think may work here. Like his Sherlock Holmes adaptations, you can sense the grime seeping through the camera lens. Replete with his trademark rat-a-tat editing, we’re hopeful this will be Ritchie at his gritty and filthy best.
Snatched (19th May)
More than anything, we’re interested in seeing whether or not Snatched saves Amy Schumer’s stuttering career. Having dealt with accusations of plagiarism and seen her Netflix special bomb harder than Donald Trump attempting to deflect attention away from an FBI investigation, Schumer can’t afford another high profile failure.
The plot follows Emily (Schumer) and her mother Linda (Goldie Hawn’s first movie role in 15 years, we were surprised too) as they go on holiday together, and get caught up in a comedy-action ‘adventure’. Good luck Amy. Something tells us, you’re gonna need it…
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (release: 26th May)
Sadly for Disney, they can’t really call it Salazar’s Revenge in Portugal, what with the connotations that name brings due to controversial, long-serving prime minister António de Oliveira Salazar. Perhaps they’ll dub it “Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp Has Bills To Pay”. Certainly, the Hollywood legend has seen better days and putting him in the Sparrow make-up doesn’t strike us as a particularly smart move. Still, the franchise has a huge reach, advance word is surprisingly positive, suggesting a return to the crazy capers and physical stunts that made the first movie a lot of fun. Plus, with Javier Bardem hamming it up as the titular fishy villain, there should be enough interest to see an early summer success, commercially if not critically.
Wonder Woman (release: 1st June)
For some of us, the idea of an ancient Amazonian woman who stops bullets with her wrists and shield is a bit… well, let’s just say it’s not a world we’d have expected Nolan’s Batman to inhabit. Still, we’re pleased to see director Patty Jenkins get a shot at producing one of comic book’s strongest female role models. For that reason alone, we’re hoping it’s more successful than the rest of DC’s pitiful expanded universe. Without Zak Snyder calling the shots, there’s a good chance it’ll make more sense than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Extended Edition: Will There Ever Be a Version of This Film That Works?
The Mummy (release: 9th June)
Tom Cruise doesn’t do what Tom Cruise does for Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise does what Tom Cruise does because Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise.
And when Tom Cruise says “Let’s make a movie based on The Mummy”, you have to assume he’s got a plan up his sleeve, even if the idea initially seems a bit franchise-grabbing-because-Jack-Reacher-ain’t-cutting-it. But, we’re excited. The trailer suggests Tom may not be the master of his own destiny in this one, and we’ve no idea where the third act is going to take this legend (Universal are resurrecting their monsters in an effort to create a multi-verse). That Tom Cruise is even in a multi-verse picture is a surprise. We can’t wait to see how it pans out…
Gifted (release: 16th June)
Frank (Chris Evans) is a single man raising his niece Mary (McKenna Grace) on his own. Which might be a problem, because Mary is a child prodigy, and garnering the attention of her grandmother (British actress Lindsay Duncan), who sees gold in them there smarts. It’s mid-budget drama from perennial Oscar seekers Fox Searchlight, and while the schmaltzy-looking plot might undermine Evans’ efforts at ‘serious work’, it shouldn’t harm his box office credentials as ladies across the country swoon at the ultimate single dad being super sensitive.
Baby Driver (release: 28th June)
It’s Drive meets Hot Fuzz with Edgar Wright’s first movie since 2013’s The World’s End (dropping out of Ant-Man really put a dent in his output). Baby (The Fault in Our Star’s Ansel Elgort) is a young lad with acute tinnitis and exceptional driving skills, forced into working for crime boss Kevin Spacey. He can get out after one last job, but Baby knows as well as anyone, the job is a suicide mission. And he wants out now. It looks nuts, in the best possible way, with Wright’s zippy direction plastered all over the trailer. If Colossal ain’t this year’s sleeper hit, it may be because Baby Driver is pole position.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (release: 7th July)
Allowing Marvel to take over their box office-busting superhero is a rare masterstroke from Sony. Realising they’ve messed up the character one too many times, allowing Marvel to pull him back into the MCU will guarantee at least a 3-star movie and billion dollar box office minimum. If they get it right, we could be looking at the best Spidey movie since 2004’s Spider-Man 2, a high watermark for all superhero movies to this day. Homecoming’s trailer is Robert Downey Jr. heavy, and while we don’t expect Iron Man to be doing a great deal, he is the MCU’s most successful superhero, so Sony’s Spidey won’t have all the fun. Interesting to see if all involved can replicate the webslinger’s show-stealing turn from Captain America: Civil War.
Dunkirk (release: 21st July)
There are very few blockbusters coming out this year that are not part of a bigger “universe”. But, in Christopher Nolan we have a director who makes the very biggest pictures, and his movie for 2017 stands free of any franchise. The harrowing story of Operation Dynamo, where thousands of allied soldiers were stuck on Dunkirk beach and surrounded by German forces, is retold her from three perspectives (the soldiers on the ground, the planes in the air, the navy at sea) as the soldiers await evacuation from a battle they’d already lost.
A stellar cast (Hardy, Rylance, Branagh, Murphy) and Nolan’s eye for detail… oh who are we kidding, we want to LOVE this film and Nolan has a gold-standard reputation for delivering.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (release: 4th August)
When Luc Besson has a passion project, the sci-fi world goes a little weak at the knees. And the batshit crazy Valerian is pure Besson. At the very least your eyes are going to feast on the maverick director’s vision. Hopefully, the plot will stack up too, for this is as close as we’ll get get to a follow up to the brilliant The Fifth Element, stylistically, if not thematically. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, the plot follows two special agents, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), as they attempt to save their homeworld (a sprawling space city) from a ‘marauding menace’. Expect more CGI and less rubber suits than The Fifth Element, and pray it’s more like that movie than, say, Jupiter Ascending.
The Dark Tower (release: 18th August)
Most fans of Stephen King’s mystery series would rather see HBO take this on and do it justice, Game of Thrones-style. Still, if you can’t have HBO, you can probably settle for Idris Elba vs Matthew McConaughey, right? As the Gunslinger and The Man In Black respectively, they are two men crossing a barren desert to reach the titular tower. One brings death and darkness, the other is on a mission to stop him. We don’t entirely understand why… or indeed, how. But, this has the potential to be utterly brilliant.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (release: 25th August)
When Donald Trump and his cronies banned the words ‘Climate Change’ from the halls of The White House, Al Gore probably shed a single tear. The planet doesn’t need mankind to save it – it has seen far worse in it’s lifetime than us. But, if we want to stay here, we need to accept Al’s inconvenient truths, and he’s about to clip us all around the head once more and remind the movie-going public that it might actually be too late, but we shouldn’t stop trying. When he was making this documentary, he couldn’t have dreamed by the time it came out, a planet-killing buffoon would be running the (horror)show.
Logan Lucky (release: 25th August)
Steven Soderbergh coming out of retirement to direct Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Katherine Waterston and Hilary Swank in a movie about two brothers executing an elaborate robbery during a high-profile stock car race? This starts our engines…
IT (release: 8th September)
For hit Stephen King adaptation, there are more misses. So the chances of there being two great King movies in a year are pretty damn slim. Still, based on what we know so far, the odds could be upset as IT finally gets a big-screen outing (the 90s one was actually a TV series repackaged in the UK as a ridiculously long TV-movie). Tim Curry’s clown in that version was by far the creepiest thing to come out of his brilliant career, but that’s not to say nobody else can be scary while wearing a painted face and hiding in a sewer. Let’s just hope the script is structured well enough to make sense of King’s often-rambling plot.
Flatliners (release: 29th September)
Sometimes you WANT a movie to fail. Maybe you don’t like the actors, or think the director an asshole. Or maybe it’s a story you didn’t think was worth a motion-picture telling. Or maybe it’s a remake of a movie that simply didn’t need remaking. Admittedly, the studio are treating this as a sequel rather than a remake (Kiefer Sutherland is likely to pop up to reluctantly and moodily offer words of wisdom), but given that it has the same name and the same plot, we’re thinking that’s just a cunning ruse. Ellen Page, Rogue One’s Diego Luna and xXx eye-candy Nina Dobrev are the new death-searches hoping to find religion at the end of a flatline. But, will this have a pulse at the box-office?