Summer Movie Preview: The 12 blockbusters to see (and the ones to avoid)
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"Captain America: Civil War"

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Summer movie season officially kicks off next week with an all-out battle between the world’s mightiest heroes (yes, another one).

It won’t be the only fight: As movie theater attendance keeps slipping, studios count more and more on tentpole blockbusters that are hyped to the sky and beyond – hoping to convince folks that they simply can’t wait to see the movies at home.

Some of the season’s popcorn flicks are sure to be stinkers (here’s looking at you, Alice Through the Looking Glass), but several are promising, one’s already getting raves, and we can never discount the possibility of a Bridesmaids-style surprise.

These are the 12 movies I’m most looking forward to this summer -- among the major releases, at least. I’m hoping some smaller films sneak their way into town, but I never count on that between May and August. And I’ve also included a few to keep your eyes on – and the five movies you should avoid at all costs.


Top 12 Picks of the Summer

Captain America: Civil War

An Avengers sequel in all-but name, this eagerly anticipated latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pits Cap (Chris Evans) against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in a philosophical battle over the role of superheroes in society – with lots and lots of fighting from virtually every MCU hero who has appeared so far. And some – like Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man – who haven’t. Early reviews range from positive to ecstatic, so this could wipe the bitter taste left by Batman v. Superman from your mouth. (Opens May 6; previews May 5)


The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star as a PI and an enforcer in this buddy comedy set in the 1970s and written and directed by one of the industry’s best – Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3). The red-band trailer is profanely funny and looks right in Black’s wheelhouse. (Opens May 20)


X-Men: Apocalypse

The mutant heroes and anti-heroes face off against their biggest foe yet, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) and his Four Horsemen, in this follow-up to First Class and Days of Future Past. Director Bryan Singer sees to be on a roll since returning to the X franchise; here’s hoping that doesn’t stop. (Opens May 27)


Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

The Lonely Island guys – former Saturday Night Live writers and stars Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer – broke out with the success of “D--- in a Box” and “Lazy Sunday.” Though they haven’t had as much success in feature films, this mockumentary follows a former boy-bander (Samberg) as he is forced to reunite with his old band after his rapping career tanks. (Opens June 3)


Finding Dory

Thirteen years after the little clown fish Nemo was found, his forgetful buddy Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) gets her turn in the spotlight in this long-awaited sequel. Dory finds her way to a marine institute in search of her family, meeting a whole slew of new aquatic friends (voiced by the likes of Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba and more), while Marlin and Nemo (Albert Brooks and newcomer Hayden Rolence) take off after her. (Opens June 17)



Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story comes to life in a film directed by Steven Spielberg. The BFG, for those not in the know, is a “Big Friendly Giant” (played by Oscar-winner Mark Rylance) – an outcast among his kind because he refuses to eat children. Looks magical. (Opens July 1)


Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates

This raunchy comedy finds a pair of bros (Adem DeVine and Zac Efron) desperately looking for respectable dates to their sister’s wedding – but it turns out that the women (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) are bigger party hounds than they are. Could be stupid-funny, or just stupid, but Kendrick and Plaza are enough to get me on board. (Opens July 8)



This gender-flipped new take on the 1984 comedy touchstone has, perhaps not unsurprisingly, touched off no end of controversy – you know, ‘cuz girls and all. But count me in: I’m a huge fan of director Paul Feig and his four ‘busters: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. (Opens July 15)


Jason Bourne

The amnesiac assassin is back in action as Matt Damon returns to this iconic action role for the first time since 2007. Now, he has his memories back and is lured back to the field to take down a new threat. (Opens July 29)


Suicide Squad

I’m still not totally sold on this one, DC’s next installment in its expanding cinematic universe, mostly because (as I’ve mentioned before) I’m not a fan of the gritty, grungy style of the DC films and its bloodthirsty heroes. Maybe it helps that this one focuses on villains – they’re not expected to act heroic, after all, even when they’re being sent off on missions for the government. But it also helps that SS – which stars Jared Leto as Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and more – looks a lot more humorous than its predecessors. (Opens Aug. 5)


Florence Foster Jenkins

Meryl Streep stars as the title character, a New York socialite and legendarily awful singer whose beau (played by Hugh Grant) used their wealth to get her singing gigs anyway. (Opens Aug. 12)


Sausage Party

Image - Sausage_Party.png

(Go find the red-band trailer. My boss won't let me post it.)

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have a pretty good record for raunchy films (The Interview wasn’t perfect, though it had its moments, while This Is the End was straight-up fantastic). So despite the easy joke in the title, and the fact that it’s the major joke (at least at first) is about a sausage (voiced by Rogen) whose biggest dream is to, well, go inside a bun (voiced by Kristen Wiig), I still can’t help but look forward to this. But then, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut is one of my favorite animated movies. (Opens Aug. 12)


Also watch for:

Money Monster

Jodie Foster directs this topical thriller about an armed man (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken) who hijacks a live broadcast of a ethically questionable TV stock-market pundit (George Clooney) after losing his life savings because of a lousy investment tip. Julia Roberts co-stars as Clooney’s producer. (Opens May 13)


Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

The 2014 original was a nice surprise, but will this be too much of a good thing? (Opens May 20)


The Founder

The founding of the McDonald’s empire doesn’t sound like it was a Happy Meal, at least according to this drama starring Michael Keaton as businessman Ray Croc. (Opens Aug. 5)



I’m not sure the 1959 version can really be improved on, even with Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) as the title character or a reportedly larger subplot for Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro). (Opens Aug. 12)


Pete’s Dragon

A modern, non-musical retelling of one of Disney’s lesser (but still close to my heart) efforts? I’m not crazy about the idea, but stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford and Karl Urban help. (Opens Aug. 12)


Kubo and the Two Strings

This would be in the don’t-miss category if I were positive it would open here this summer. It’s a stop-motion animation feature from Laika (Coraline and ParaNorman) about a boy in ancient Japan who must ward off gods and monsters to protect his mother. Looks gorgeous (and I love the cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in the trailer). (Opens Aug. 19)



The Angry Birds Movie

Really? (Opens May 20)


Alice Through the Looking Glass

Tim Burton’s first Alice film was enough of an eyesore. This one doubles-down on the bad by adding Sacha Baron Cohen to the cast. (Opens May 27)


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Cowabung-no. (Opens June 3)


Free State of Jones

Another movie about a white savior (Matthew McConaughey) riding in to rescue blacks, this time in a real-life uprising against the Confederacy. Laudable intentions, to be sure, but give me a film from the slaves’ perspective, please. (Opens June 24)


Independence Day: Resurgence

They couldn’t even get Will Smith, whose taste in projects is already suspect, back for this forever-in-the-making sequel. (Opens June 24)