Arts, Movies

Summer on the Silver Screen

This summer’s most anticipated movies include a mix of sequels and brand new films. Some are action films, some animated, others musicals. Within a few months, there is a summer film for everyone coming to theaters soon.

Hot Summer Nights – Kaylie Ramirez

Timothée Chalamet, who skyrocketed to stardom after appearing in two Oscar-nominated films (Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird) last year, stars in Elijah Bynum’s upcoming Hot Summer Nights. Set for a July 27 release, the actor finds himself in the same bad boy pot-smoking heartthrob role for a summer set in Cape Cod, Mass. Co-starring Alex Roe as Hunter Strawberry, Daniel (Chalamet) and his older friend get caught up in drug dealing at the famous vacation spot during the 1990s.

Hot Summer Nights will be Elijah Bynum’s directorial debut, but audiences can expect the familiar indie character of films such as Moonlight, Lady Bird, and The Disaster Artist as a film produced by independent production studio A24. The trailer features striking cinematography with bright neon lights originating from carefree carnival scenes and car chases involving the cops. While the film’s plot may seem simple and predictable, the film appears to have the right combination of rising actors, balance between heart-pounding action and romance, and production oversight to make it a summer blockbuster. Having been released at SXSW festival in 2017, the film already has an 80 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is sure to heat up theaters this summer.


Ocean’s 8 – Bradley Smart

Especially in this day and age, moviegoers are often confronted with the battle of balancing opinions about movies from before the 1990s with those on the modern-day, rebooted versions. One can only imagine the feeling someone who grew up a few decades earlier has when they look at a list of upcoming releases and are confronted with an onslaught of reboots, sequels, prequels, and so on. Enter Ocean’s 8, a spin-off off the iconic Ocean’s Eleven movie from 2001, which was in itself a modernized remake of Ocean’s 11, which starred Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin way back in 1960. Take a breath, continue. This year’s heist movie centers around criminal mastermind Debby Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who, like George Clooney’s Daniel Ocean, spent several years in jail planning a perfect heist. Joined by Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett), Ocean rounds up a crew of six other female thieves to rob a $150 million necklace at the New York Met Gala. The cast is star-studded, featuring Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Mindy Kaling to name a few.To succeed as a standalone movie and not follow other reboots into failure, Ocean’s 8 has to check several boxes, including three straightforward ones. First, it needs to have comparable talent to the original, and that’s clear in this case. Ocean’s Eleven was anchored by the likes of Clooney-Pitt-Damon-Roberts, an All-Star cast of sorts, and Ocean’s 8 stacks up.Second, it has to add something to the concept of the original, well-planned heist—which it does, by modernizing the movie. Instead of the cliche heist of a Las Vegas Casino that was so well done in the original, the team picks a newer, and arguably loftier target: the Met Gala, featuring pretty much anyone regarded as significant in the media industry. Third, it needs to broaden its appeal from the original fanbase, which it more than does by opting for an essentially all-female cast, a stark contrast to the three-movie Ocean’s series that was predominantly male.All of these changes, paired with director Gary Ross, he of four Oscar nominations and well-regarded films such as Big and Pleasantville, have plenty of people excited to see how the fast-paced, intricately-planned heist pans out in theaters in June.


Christopher Robin – Mary Wilkie

Winnie-the-Pooh is back and (hopefully) better than ever in Disney’s new live-action film, Christopher Robin. Kind of like Ted but also not at all like Ted, the family-friendly film stars Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin, Hayley Atwell as his wife, and Jim Cummings as Winnie-the-Pooh. Cummings has voiced characters from animated TV shows and movies for years, from CatDog to Princess and the Frog. As he did in The Tigger Movie and a 2011 film called Winnie the Pooh, Cummings mimics the voice of the original Pooh Bear, Sterling Holloway, to a T in the trailer for Christopher Robin. Although the new, live-action Pooh looks old and dingy—nothing like the bear from the cartoon—this film has such great potential to bring joy to the many generations that grew up with Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. In this reboot of a timeless crowd favorite, Winnie-the-Pooh returns to his old friend Christopher Robin, now an adult with a family of his own, in post-World War II Britain. All of Christopher Robin’s old friends from the Hundred Acre Wood will be coming back to the big screen on Aug 3—maybe we’ll even get to see some heffalumps and woozles.


The Wife – Colleen Martin

Glenn Close stars in The Wife as Joan Castleman, a wife highly devoted to her husband (Jonathan Pryce), her former literature professor and award-winning author. When Pryce’s character, Joe, receives a call informing him that he will be receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, Joan is forced to confront her own sacrifices and her husband’s career long secret.

As the Castlemans travel to Stockholm to attend the award ceremony, they are accompanied by their son David (Max Irons), journalist Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), and young photographer Linnea (Karin Franz Korlof). As Bone attempts to write a biography of Joe, the Castlemans seem hesitant—Joe’s behavior with Linnea, and Joan’s reaction to it, provides a possible explanation why.

Told with flashbacks showing the couple as young adults in the early stages of their relationship, The Wife will explore life of a woman who gave up everything for a marriage wracked with infidelity—infidelity excused by “art”—and her limits that are eventually reached. The film, directed by Björn Runge, is set to be released Aug. 3 in the United States.


Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – Emily Himes

A decade has passed since we saw Sophie and her mother, Donna, in Mamma Mia!, and a lot has changed. The popular musical’s long-awaited sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, will focus on Donna’s past. Sophie is pregnant with Sky’s child, and she also runs the inn where her mother worked in the previous movie. She learns to navigate her newfound responsibilities with the help of her mother and grandmother (who hasn’t appeared in the storyline until now). The cast has remained constant—Here We Go Again will star Amanda Seyfried as Sophie and Meryl Streep as Donna—but there is an unexpected appearance as well. In a surprising twist of events, Cher will play Sophie’s grandmother. (It’s hard to imagine Cher being Meryl Streep’s mother.) Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again will again feature the music of ABBA on its soundtrack, which will surely make for a lively, memorable summer box office hit. It will be released on July 20.


The Incredibles 2 – Connor Murphy

I saw The Incredibles in theaters, with my cousins, because The Spongebob Squarepants Movie was sold out (or something like that). There are some things I’ve never quite understood about it, like the time period (it feels like the ’50s, I guess, but also later?), and, more importantly, why Pixar ended the movie with perhaps their most obvious sequel lead-in ever (The Underminder) and then never made a sequel. Why now? And that’s what worries me. It’s like how Finding Dory is a better movie, technically speaking, than Finding Nemo, with its beautiful animation, a smarter plot, and a funnier script. But that in some ways sucked the life out of the movie—the emotional appeals were too overt, the jokes a little too focus group-approved. Finding Nemo felt organic and pure—Finding Dory felt like the money play, and even though it’s better than Finding Nemo, it’s not as good. In the same way, I don’t think The Incredibles 2 (June 15), which, based on its trailers, has much better animation and probably better jokes than its predecessor, is going to be as good as The Incredibles. It’ll be like the Go Set a Watchman to The Incredibles’ To Kill a Mockingbird, except ideally without the racism. And that’s because in the age of the reboot-sequel, it doesn’t matter how good the movie is—if your source material is truly iconic, steer clear.


A Prayer Before Dawn – Jacob Schick

Guys. A24 is releasing a martial-arts movie. Guys. It’s based on a true story. Guys. About an English fighter named Billy Moore who was locked up in a Thai prison for years and had to fight to stay alive and to eventually earn his freedom. Guys. It’s based on a book of the same name that Moore wrote himself after he was released. Guys. It stars Joe Cole, from Peaky Blinders. So, in summary: A great studio is releasing a movie about a great story starring a great actor, and it’s a martial-arts movie. Oh boy. August 10 can’t come soon enough. What’s more, A Prayer Before Dawn was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and at South by Southwest, and everyone who has reviewed it has thought it was great. Get pumped.


The Equalizer 2 – Jack Goldman

Hey, remember that movie that came out in 2014? Well, you should, because Denzel Washington could kill an infinite amount of people in like 15 seconds while timing it, and if you didn’t see it, it’s called The Equalizer. Are you a John Wick fan? Are you a John Wick 2 fan? Well, if so—and if you’re not, you are not welcome in this paragraph—come join me on a journey that is picking up the story after Denzel beat like 10 guys with guns with just a nail gun in a glorified Home Depot. Not interested yet? Well, how about you watch this trailer where Denzel stabs a man with a corkscrew, shoots four guys—one of whom he decides needs to be shot with a harpoon instead of a gun AS ONE DOES WHEN ONE IS DENZEL WASHINGTON—stabs three people, and throws a guy off a very high building. I mean … what more needs to be said? If you don’t watch this movie when it comes out on July 20, Denzel is probably going to come and kill you and all your friends in eight seconds. That would be disappointing.


Sorry to Bother You – Jack Goldman

Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Straight Outta Compton) stars as a down on his luck Oakland resident and telemarketer who is apparently in debt to Terry Crews (his uncle) when Danny Glover shows up and teaches this man how to sell using Patton Oswalt’s voice. Good news: Stanfield has David Cross’s—only success can come from this movie. In addition, Tessa Thompson co-stars as Stanfield’s girlfriend, and Armie Hammer is Stanfield’s boss, encouraging the young man to sell himself all the way out in the name of insane amounts of money. Every single aspect of the trailer looks beautiful, and I laughed out loud when Thompson and Stanfield begin to get intimate and the door to the garage they’re living in opens. This looks like a hilarious, subversive movie that’s bound to make waves when it’s released on July 6.


Solo: A Star Wars Story – Jack Goldman

Oh, get off your high horse, America. You’re not sold because Harrison Ford’s earring isn’t making an appearance in this movie? You’re nervous Alden Ehrenreich isn’t going to be the exact same level of performer that Ford is? Guess what? A Han Solo movie is being released on May 25, and you’re going to watch it because Han Solo is the f—king shit. Want to know who else is awesome? Chewbacca. Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover’s incredible facial hair in a delightful development). Woody Harrelson is telling me not to trust anybody so I won’t be let down? Good news Woody, I trust you even though you’re probably high because you are an incredible actor, and Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones, a show I don’t watch but is apparently about dragons and pornography and Clarke just annihilating everyone, rounds out the cast. Take my money, Ron Howard. (Ron Howard voice: I will.)


Ant-Man and The Wasp – Jack Goldman

Wasn’t Ant-Man enjoyable? Michael Douglas is way better at roasting people than I anticipated. Michael Peña is a delight. Paul Rudd is a much better superhero than I would have thought. But, most importantly, Evangeline Lilly is here to kick your ass in the sequel after being criminally underutilized for storytelling purposes in the first film—and I am here for it. Also, Rudd’s kid being the vehicle this trailer uses to reintroduce us to our favorite characters is a wonderful touch. Peña is getting shrunk in this movie, vans are being used to tip over other vans (I love vans), and it looks like we’re going to be finding out more about the quantum realm based on the villain’s ability to [checks trailer again] walk through walls. This movie may not end up satisfying you in the way Mad Men does, but allow me to assure you that Ant-Man and The Wasp is going to be another exciting addition to the Marvel Universe—at worst, it’ll be an extremely fun lark, at best it’ll shrink to the size of an ant and beat everything bad about the world out of your life. How could you pass up that kind of opportunity?

Featured Image by Walt Disney Pictures

May 2, 2018