Summer Movie Preview '18: Ranking 30 must-see films of the summer, Pt. 1
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By Chip Chandler — Producer
With films like Black Panther ripping up the box office in February and regular Star Wars releases in December, there's really no such thing as a summer movie season anymore.
Blockbusters are a year-round business these days, but as you'll see, the next few months are overflowing with wannabe box-office behemoths.
The season's kicking off this year with the mother of all blockbusters: Avengers: Infinity War, scheduled to release April 27. So, before the theaters are inundated with mega-movie after mega-movie, let me share my entirely subjective rankings of the movies you can expect or hope to see on screens this summer.
Release dates are always subject to change, and there's no guaranteeing when (or if) some of the smaller releases will screen here. Keep reading my weekly Movie Watch posts for the most up-to-date information about theatrical releases.
I'd love to get your feedback, so tweet me or comment on Facebook with your most-anticipated films. And join our Play Here Movie Club on Facebook and join in the discussion there: The group's consensus pick for most-eagerly-awaited film of the summer is, no surprise, Avengers: Infinity War.
30. Deadpool 2
"Deadpool 2" trailer
To be honest, I'd probably rank this one lower, but 30 felt like a manageable number, and since this one is so certain to cause a splash this year, I felt like I had to at least include it. But the anti-hero has never appealed to me, and the smug original film didn't amuse me in the least. Add in co-star T.J. Miller's very presence, and it's a hard pass for me. (May 18)
29. Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
"Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado" trailer
Up until 2015's drug cartel thriller Sicario lost interest in Emily Blunt's character Kate Macer, I was totally into it. Once she left, the film's focus turned to a far less compelling character, Benicio del Toro's hitman Alejandro. So I'm not too wild about the fact that it's Alejandro, not Kate, who's back for this sequel, and I'm certainly not happy that the previous film's director, Denis Villeneuve, isn't back, either. Still, Josh Brolin is usually reason enough to check out a film (aside from Deadpool 2, naturally). (June 29)
28. Action Point
"Action Point" trailer
Despite my better judgment, perhaps, I always find Johnny Knoxville to be endearing in some way. The Jackass films are great, if stupid, fun, and Bad Grandpa was an enjoyable goof (and totally deserved its unexpected Oscar nomination for best makeup). In this one, Knoxville's back in old-age makeup for at least part of the film, as a grandfather who's telling his granddaughter about the good old days when he ran a janky theme park. Knoxville and his crew incorporate plenty of Jackass-style stunts into the narrative, too. (June 1)
27. Disney's Christopher Robin
"Disney's Christopher Robin" trailer
No lie, I thought this movie came out last year, but that was Goodbye Christopher Robin, a biographical drama about author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson). This one is another live-action Disney film, with a grown-up C.R. (played by Ewan McGregor, and no, I don't know if anyone actually calls him "C.R.") getting a reminder of happier days gone by from his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. It may wind up being too mawkish, but I'm a sucker for hearing Jim Cummings voice Winnie the Pooh. (Aug. 3)
26. The Spy Who Dumped Me
"The Spy Who Dumped Me" trailer
Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) get caught up a globetrotting spy game thanks to Audrey's ex (Justin Theroux) in this new action comedy. If McKinnon's in it, it's always worth a look, and Kunis was the highlight of the otherwise lackluster Bad Moms movies. (Aug. 3)
Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin star in this based-on-real-life drama as young lovers whose sailing trip across the ocean is interrupted by a massive hurricane. I have a love-hate relationship with films about people lost at sea (don't even get me started on Open Water), but like Robert Redford's All Is Lost, this survival tale looks to be more compelling than sheerly terrifying. (June 1)
24. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" trailer
The Colin Trevorrow-directed first installment of this rebooted trilogy was a major disappointment, mostly because Trevorrow (who was later fired from Star Wars IX) proved to be pretty inept as an action director. He's thankfully not in the director's chair this time (J. A. Bayona is), but Trevorrow still co-wrote the script. Bayona's The Impossible was a magnificent disaster film, though, and since this one appears to be in that mold, my hopes are at least somewhat high. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard doesn't appear to have to run in high heels this time, so that's a plus. (June 22)
23. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
"Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" trailer
I wouldn't say that I actually liked the 2008 adaptation of the ABBA jukebox musical; my eardrums are still recovering from whatever caterwauling Pierce Brosnan was doing. And I don't think for a second that a 10-years-later sequel/prequel hybrid is even a little bit necessary (a feeling, perhaps, shared by original star Meryl Streep, whose return certainly appears to be on a limited basis here). But c'mon, it's got mother-freaking Cher in it, and I am literally powerless to resist. It's Cher. (July 20)
22. Life of the Party
"Life of the Party" trailer
This one may actually be ranked a little too low, because the trailer for this Melissa McCarthy comedy still makes me giggle. She's working a distaff Back to School vibe here, which works for me, so I'm hoping she and husband/director/co-writer Ben Falcone have sharpened their game since Tammy and The Boss. (May 11)
21. The Happytime Murders
Fingers crossed that this one, another comedy starring McCarthy, actually gets released as scheduled since it's been in development hell since 2008. Described as a "neo-noir puppet comedy thriller," it features puppet P.I. Phil Phillips, who's tracking down a serial killer who murdered his brother and how appears to be after the cast of the (fictional) 1980s TV series The Happytime Game, including Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), Phil's ex. McCarthy co-stars as a detective and his ex-partner, with Maya Rudolph as his secretary Bubbles. It's like a Who Framed Roger Rabbit, only with puppets, and sight unseen (no trailer yet), I'm all in. (Aug. 17)
20. Hotel Artemis
"Hotel Artemis" trailer
Another potentially weird offering is this crime thriller about a secret lair / hospital / hotel for bad guys in a dystopian near-future world. Jodie Foster stars as The Nurse, with Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) among the crooks. Plus, Jeff Goldblum costars as "The Wolf King." One caveat: It's getting some flak for some resemblance to John Wick, which I haven't seen yet. (June 8)
19. Hearts Beat Loud
"Hearts Beat Loud" trailer
Filmmaker Brett Haley's track record (I'll See You in My Dreams, The Hero) is quite solid, and his new family dramedy looks to be another winner. Nick Offerman stars as Frank, a record-store owner harboring dreams of musical stardom with his college-bound daughter (Kiersey Clemons), who would rather move across the country for a medical degree. When a single Frank uploads becomes an unlikely viral hit, their relationship is tested. Plus, Ted Danson plays a bartender who likely knows everybody's name. (June 8 in limited release)
18. American Animals
"American Animals" trailer
Documentarian Bart Layton (The Imposter) turns to narrative film for the first time for this well-received heist film that plays with perception, subjectivity and facts even though it's based on a true story. A quartet of young men (played by Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Jared Abrahamson and Blake Jenner) decide to steal a rare copy of John James Audebon's Birds of America from the university library, and Layton allows the four actual men who were accused of the crime to comment about the film on screen as it all plays out. It sounds audacious, and its Sundance reviews were pretty hot — and Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dunkirk) is one of the most intriguing young actors working today. (June 1 in limited release)
Another high-concept film based on a true story, Tag looks to be playing more for laughs than American Animals. But the backstory is still instantly compelling: A group of friends (Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Burress and Jake Johnson) have been playing a high-stakes game of tag for one month a year for the past 30 years. (June 15)
16. Eighth Grade
"Eighth Grade" trailer
Comedian Bo Burnham makes his directorial debut in this film, another Sundance sensation, about a middle schooler (newcomer Elsie Fisher) whose brash personality in her YouTube videos is nothing like her true, lonely self. It got picked up by distributor A24, which proved to have a discerning eye for coming-of-age stories about young women with last year's Lady Bird. (July 13 in limited release)
Up next: Avengers: Infinity War, The Incredibles 2, Hereditary, Ocean's 8 and more!