The summer movie season isn’t what it used to be. A few years ago, studios would only release big blockbusters between the months of May and September to capitalize on the fact that children have more free time in the summer to see films because they’re off from school. That just isn’t the case anymore. While many huge event movies are still released in this time frame, most studios have no trouble anymore with releasing big films throughout the rest of the year as well now that it’s been proven that movies have the potential to make truckloads of money regardless of what month they’re released. This year alone, Beauty and the Beast, Logan, Kong: Skull Island, and The Lego Batman Movie have already been released prior to the start of the summer movie season, and some of the most anticipated films of the year will be released after said season concludes, including It, Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnorak, Justice League, and – of course – Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Despite this, there is still something extremely exciting for film nerds once the summer movie season kicks off. Since we’re now a month away from its start, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the five films – and three honorable mentions – I’m most anticipating being released this year between May 1st and September 4th.
8. War For The Planet Of The Apes
“In ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.”
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of the Planet of the Apes franchise. I loved the original released in 1968 starring Charlton Heston, however I found all of the sequels it spawned extremely lackluster. Tim Burton’s remake of the original in 2001 was enjoyable enough, and undeserving of the hate it seems to attract now, and I did like the first two films in this rebooted franchise – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Both of them, however, are a bit over-hyped in my opinion (particularly the latter) and they left me wondering just how many prequel movies 20th Century Fox thinks they can churn out before capping the franchise with a well-done remake of the original 1968 film, which is what many people are waiting to see.
So if I’m so ambivalent toward the series, why does War for the Planet of the Apes make my honorable mentions list? Firstly, the trailers for this particular film look spectacular, and the cinematography that’s shown off within them looks absolutely gorgeous. Secondly, Woody Harrelson has been added to the cast this time around, and given what a fantastic actor he is, the idea of seeing him go toe-to-toe with Andy Serkis’ Caesar has me extremely excited. Then there’s the title itself and the synopsis released by Fox, both of which seem to imply this could be the final chapter we get before a full-fledged remake of the original film that started it all, and I’m curious to see how the ending of this movie could possibly lead into the beginning of that one.
The reason I’m most excited about this film, however, is because Matt Reeves both wrote (with the help of Mark Bomback) and directed it. I’m curious to see what kind of sensibilities he brings to the movie, especially in the writing department (since, judging from his past work, I know he’s a good director), considering his next project is Warner Bros. solo Batman film, which I am extremely invested in. Due to how highly anticipated the upcoming DCEU project is, and how popular the character of Batman himself is, Reeves’ work on this film is sure to be scrutinized closely.
War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on July 14th.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
“In ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, a young Peter Parker/Spider-Man, who made his sensational debut in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark. Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.”
There are many things to be excited about when it comes to Spider-Man: Homecoming, not least of which is the fact that this is Spidey’s first solo outing within the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only that, but the film will also include Robert Downey Jr.’s always entertaining Tony Stark/Iron Man, continuing in the role of a mentor figure that he played to the incredible Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, an unexpected but welcome dynamic that is ripe full of possibilities worth exploring. In addition, we’ll finally see the Vulture in live-action for the first time, which – given his popularity in the comics – many fans have been waiting to see for years now. The fact that the incomparable Michael Keaton is returning to the superhero genre, this time in a villainous role, is the cherry on top of the cake!
The reason that the film doesn’t rank in my top five is because, despite the fact that I know this film will be great – Marvel hasn’t released a dud yet! – is due to the fact that this will be the sixth Spider-Man film, the hero’s seventh appearance, and the third rebooted version of the character in a short fifteen years. Even though it’s sure to be his best appearance and a completely different take on the character due to the fact that Marvel is producing the movie for Sony, the trailers released so far makes it look like more of the same. Some shots – like Peter Parker, unmasked and bleeding from the mouth, on the ground, and the image of the Vulture lifting Spider-Man into the air with one of his mechanical wings – evoke memories of similar scenes from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Because of this air of familiarity, my excitement for this film – though still high – is slightly less great than the following movies listed below.
Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters on July 7th.
6. Rough Night
“In ‘Rough Night’, an edgy R-rated comedy, five best friends from college reunite 10 years later for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. Their hard partying takes a hilariously dark turn when they accidentally kill a male stripper. Amidst the craziness of trying to cover it up, they’re ultimately brought closer together when it matters most.”
I love a good comedy, especially ridiculously silly ones that border on the absurd yet still contain a heart beneath all of the jokes. In my mind, 2009’s The Hangover is the gold standard of what a comedy can be. Though the sequels suck, no matter how many times I see the original, I laugh my ass off. When watching the restricted trailer for Rough Night for the first time, it struck me how reminiscent it is to The Hangover – and that’s a great thing; especially since it looks different enough where it clearly isn’t just going to be seen as a female retread of that film.
Besides the similarity in tone to The Hangover, and the premise which is laugh-out-loud funny, it’s the cast of this movie that makes me truly excited to see it. I love that Hollywood is giving more women outrageous comedies that, in the past, have normally been reserved for men. The strong cast of leading ladies that director, Lucia Aniello, assembled for this movie is incredible. Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz are all remarkably talented actresses, but the inclusion of Kate McKinnon is what really has me anticipating this movie. McKinnon is one of the most versatile comedic actresses currently in show business, and the fact that she’s getting more movie roles nowadays thrills me – now I just want her to be given her own film to headline!
Props also definitely need to be given to Sony for not only producing a film that stars all women, but also giving the fairer sex much-needed representation in the raunchy comedy genre, in addition to much needed representation in terms of headlining movies in general. They also did the right thing by hiring Lucia Aniello, a woman, to direct and co-write (along with Paul W. Downs) the film, considering it’s about women and female friendships; it just wouldn’t have been right to hire a male director for such a project. Hopefully soon Hollywood gets to the point where we don’t need to single these things out anymore and it just becomes normal!
Rough Night hits theaters on June 16th.
5. Baby Driver
“A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. When he meets the girl of his dreams, Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.”
Originally, this film was supposed to open last month on March 17th, however, Sony – for whatever reason – ended up pushing the release to June 28th of this year. Despite the delay, the movie still premiered at South by Southwest on March 11th and was met with universal acclaim. Based on twenty-one reviews so far on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an impressive 100% approval rating.
I began anticipating the release of this movie long before word of how good it actually is began to emerge from SXSW. The moment I saw the trailer, I was impressed. Not only did the plot of the movie look compelling, but I was also taken by how seamless the film seemingly blends the action, comedy, crime, and thriller genres. When I learned that Edgar Wright was directing the film, it began to make sense to me and my excitement increased given the spectacular body of work he’s produced, including the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And that’s not even mentioning the talented cast he put together, including Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Jamie Foxx.
Nowadays there are so many movies designed to be seen on the big screen – such as superhero films, sci-fi spectacles, or magical Disney productions – that oftentimes, smaller dramas and comedies fall to the wayside for me. It’s not because I don’t want to see them while they’re in theaters, but with the rising cost of ticket prices, I often can’t justify spending the money to see these non-special effects productions on the silver screen. But because of how quickly the trailer for Baby Driver sucked me in, combined with the onscreen and off-screen talent, this will definitely be one of those smaller, original movies I make the time to see when it opens.
Baby Driver hits theaters on June 28th.
4. The Mummy
“Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, ‘The Mummy’ brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”
I am a huge fan of the original Universal Monster films from the 1920s-1950s. They’re still scary and relevant today. They’re so iconic, in fact, that when we picture Frankenstein’s monster or Count Dracula, the majority of us still imagine them as they were portrayed by Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. So when I heard that Universal Studios wanted to reboot all of these horrific legends and tell their stories in modern times, I admit I was skeptical. And quite frankly, the trailers released for The Mummy thus far haven’t erased that skepticism, although they’ve made me cautiously optimistic.
The reason that I have high anticipation levels for this film is because it’s kicking off a Universal Monsters shared universe, similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. And like those two other shared universes, this Universal Monsters one will have its iconic characters crossing over into one another’s solo films with the implication being made that eventually there will be a huge event film somewhere down the line that features all of them.
Frankly, I’m a cynic, and I believe that Universal’s main motivator in embarking on this endeavor was money more so than any specific creative reasons. But knowing that the studio’s tapped Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to develop movies for all of their classic monster characters – including The Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein’s Monster, Count Dracula, The Wolf Man, Gill-Man, The Invisible Man, Van Helsing and the Bride of Frankenstein – instills me with a bit more faith than I normally would have that these projects will turn out well. After all, Kurtzman and Morgan are successful writers, directors, and producers in their own right, and have worked on enormously successful franchises in the past that have passionate fans (including Star Trek and the Fast and the Furious), so if anyone could breathe new life into these old monsters, it’s them.
The talent assembled so far – not just for The Mummy, but the entire fledgling universe – is also extremely impressive. Not only did Universal manage to score Tom Cruise to star, Russell Crowe to play Dr. Jekyll, and the extraordinary Sofia Boutella to play the titular mummy, but they also managed to score Johnny Depp to star as the Invisible Man in the upcoming film of the same name, are in talks with Javier Bardem to play Frankenstein’s monster, and are eyeing Angelia Jolie for the Bride of Frankenstein. All of this bodes extremely well for The Mummy, for they probably had to sell these incredible Hollywood stars on the strength of that script, in order to sell them on signing on for yet-to-be-written movies to be set in the same universe.
Time will tell whether The Mummy actually ends up being any good or not, but it’s the potential of what will follow after if it is – or what might never be if it’s not – that makes me the most excited (and admittedly nervous) for this film.
The Mummy hits theaters on June 9th.
3. Alien: Covenant
“’Alien: Covenant’ follows the crew of a colony ship bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy that discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.”
Sir Ridley Scott could direct a movie about paint drying, and I’d buy a ticket to watch it. The man is one of the most prolific directors there is, and has always been a favorite of mine. Look at some of the movies in his filmography! Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Hannibal, American Gangster, and The Martian are all classic and unforgettable films that are only as good as they are due to the mastery that Scott brings his craft. Of course, he also directed the two films that most directly affect the upcoming Alien: Covenant – the original Alien, released in 1979, and the Alien prequel Prometheus, released in 2012.
Alien is one of the most seminal films ever made, still impacting and influencing both the science fiction and horror genres all these years later, and it’s one of my all-time personal favorite movies. Unfortunately, none of the sequels – including, in my opinion, Aliens (even though that’s still a great film) – or crossovers with the Predator franchise even come close to touching the original, and that’s in large part due to the fact that they were missing the guidance of Ridley Scott. It’s why when Prometheus was released, it resonated so much with fans of the franchise and critics alike.
Luckily, Scott is on board for Covenant, the trailers for which make it look as scary and action-packed as the original Alien. I cannot wait for this film because not only does it serve as a direct sequel to Prometheus, but also more of a prequel to Alien than that film did. If it performs well at the box office – which, I have no doubt that it will – Ridley Scott has also said that he has ideas for two more sequels to follow it, the second of which will serve as a direct prequel to Alien. I say, bring it on!
Alien: Covenant hits theaters on May 19th.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
“Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2’, Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.”
As I mentioned in a recent article, the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie is far and away my favorite Marvel film. Not only that though, I’d even go so far as to say it’s probably my favorite comic book film of all time after The Dark Knight trilogy. The sense of fun and adventure, the incredible soundtrack, the dazzling effects, and the enormous amount of heart the movie contains makes for an awesome viewing experience, no matter how many times I’ve already seen it. After watching it for the first time, and knowing that a sequel was inevitable, all I did was hope that when it was made, it would replicate all of these elements to make a second film that was just as good.
Luckily, judging from the trailers, Marvel has once again succeeded. All of the staples that made Guardians of the Galaxy such a great film are present, and the characters that we all know and love have returned, this time aided by a few new faces. What I love about the marketing of this movie so far is the fact that, despite seeing a lot, we still really have no idea what the main plot of the film is going to be. That’s fine by me because, nowadays, oftentimes too much is given away in trailers, so the less I know going into a movie, the better. Regardless, I have no doubt in my mind that I will like this movie. If it actually goes full on bonkers and manages to show Kurt Russell’s character Ego in his living planet form like in the comic books, I have no doubt that I’ll love this film.
I’m also incredibly excited to see where the film leaves the Guardians at the end of it, since this is the last time they’re confirmed to appear before Avengers: Infinity War. Personally, I’m hoping they get wind of the fact that Thanos may be heading to Earth and head off to intercept him, thus setting the stage for their upcoming meeting with the Avengers.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5th.
1. Wonder Woman
“Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.”
Even if I wasn’t more of a DC fan than a Marvel fan, I would be greatly anticipating this movie. If there was a Mount Rushmore of superheroes, Wonder Woman’s face would be there right alongside the faces of Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. Not only is she the most iconic female superhero of all time, she’s one of the most iconic heroes period. It shouldn’t have taken her this long to get her own movie. Luckily, when the character finally made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot was universally praised for her take on the Amazonian princess. Now that she’s finally, after all of these years, getting her own film, I am praying that it’s as highly acclaimed when it flies into theaters.
Wonder Woman is such an incredibly important movie for a number of reasons. The iconic character has never received a live-action movie since her creation in 1941. More than that though, women have been under represented in superhero films for years, and it is absolutely vital that little girls have just as many heroes to look up to that are the same gender they are as little boys do. Think of how much it will mean to girls and women of all ages to see Wonder Woman saving the day in her solo film; and going toe-to-toe with Superman, Batman, and the boys in Justice League this November. Think of the positive message that will send to everyone, regardless of age or gender. It’s about time superhero films began showing the world what most of us already know – everything that a boy or a man can do, a girl or a woman can do just as well, if not better.
This will be the first time a major superhero blockbuster will have a woman in the starring role as the titular hero. This is the first time a major superhero blockbuster has a woman behind the cameras directing it. If Wonder Woman fails, there is a very real chance that movie studios will take note and pause, hesitating even more than they’ve already been doing before bringing another superheroine to the big screen in her own movie. If Wonder Woman succeeds, it could signal a shift in studio thinking, helping them to come to terms with the obvious – people will pay to see a major, comic book blockbuster starring a woman in the lead role; people will pay to see any movie with women in the lead roles.
In addition, the fate of the DCEU as it’s proceeding currently rests, in large part, on Wonder Woman’s shoulders. Not one film in Warner Bros.’ shared universe has a “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, despite the fact that it has many passionate and adoring fans, including myself. If Wonder Woman scores as low of a rating as Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad did, and it can’t get positive buzz, not only will it bode badly for future superhero films led and directed by women, but it will also bode badly for the reception Justice League is likely to get when it’s released in November. And if that film fails in addition to Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. is likely to radically shift course in how it executes DC Films going forward, as I speculated about in a previous article.
Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on Gal Gadot and director, Patty Jenkins, with this film. Because of this – as excited as I am to see one of my favorite comic book heroines receive her own movie in a film universe that I’ve personally enjoyed so far – it’s also the film I’m most nervous about. But I also know that walking into the theater on opening night to witness Diana Prince become Wonder Woman and save man’s world for the first time, I’ll be more eager than anxious, and hopefully my expectations and hopes – and the expectations and hopes that so many are holding for this movie – are not only met, but exceeded.
Wonder Woman hits theaters on June 2nd.
So there you have it – those are the 2017 summer movies that I’m most looking forward to! Which films are on your list? Leave a comment below and let me know!