Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Movie Guru's Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2016

April has arrived, and while the real world is still stuck in spring, the cinematic world is gearing up for the arrival of the 2016 Summer Movie Season. With major blockbusters like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Jungle Book already raking in millions of dollars, some would argue that the season has already begun. But technically, the summer movie season begins on May 6, with the release of Marvel's hotly anticipated Captain America: Civil War. After that, it's off to the races with four months full of a wide range of cinematic offerings. My preview of what the indie distributors and smaller films have to offer is coming later this week, but for now, here are the movies that I'm most excited for this summer.

Before I get to my top ten, here are five honorable mentions.

MONEY MONSTER- I've been on board with this one ever since I first heard the concept and my excitement has yet to dim. George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O'Connell headline a great cast, with a topical concept that could prove to be really interesting. If director Jodie Foster does this right, we could end up with a movie that feels very similar to classics like Dog Day Afternoon and Network. MAY 13

NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING- The original Neighbors is one of the funniest comedies in recent years and one of my personal favorites, so of course I'm going to be intrigued by the idea of a sequel. This seemed like a shoo-in for my top ten, but unfortunately, the marketing materials have promised....well, basically more of the same. While it does look hilarious, I'm still worried about the possibility of a Hangover Part II situation. MAY 20

POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING- As I said in my post about the trailer for Popstar, The Lonely Island, for better or worse, was a part of my younger childhood (I'm still 17, so it feels weird to say this). And when I saw the first teaser for Never Stop Never Stopping, my eyes immediately lit up. It feels like a perfect blend of their musical talent and their satirical eye, which could possibly produce the best musical mockumentary since This is Spinal Tap. All around, this looks fabulous. JUNE 3

GHOSTBUSTERS- Let's not skirt around the issue here- the first trailer for this movie absolutely sucked. I love Paul Feig, I love McCarthy and Wiig, and I love the Ghostbusters franchise, but there was nothing good about that trailer. However, after the success of Spy last year, I'm willing to give this team the benefit of the doubt. Those trailers were rough too, and Spy ended up being the comedy of the year. So who knows what could happen with this one. It's a total toss-up. JULY 15

PETE'S DRAGON- With Pete's Dragon, it's actually the opposite of my situation with Ghostbusters- I had no interest in this film until I saw the trailer. When I saw the first tease for David Lowery's live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, I was struck by how mysterious, heartfelt and Spielbergian the film looked. I was immediately intrigued and after The Jungle Book, it's safe to say that I'm pretty excited to see what they do with Pete's Dragon. AUGUST 12

Now, here are my Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2016.

10. WAR DOGS- August 19


Todd Phillips hasn't made a movie since the disastrous final entry in the Hangover franchise back in 2013, but with War Dogs, the talented director looks to roar back to life. While the late August release date does give me some hesitation, everything about War Dogs just feels right. The trailer was dynamite, and the young cast, led by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill, is pretty spectacular. In many ways, I think that this has the possibility to be Phillips' own version of Pain & Gain or The Big Short- a smaller, more serious chance of pace for a notoriously bombastic director. It could fall flat, but my hopes are high.

9. JASON BOURNE- July 29


If I'm being honest, I really see no reason for the Bourne franchise to continue. But hey, if they're gonna do it, might as well do it right. And with Jason Bourne, that's what they're doing. Matt Damon is returning to the titular role for the fourth time, Paul Greengrass is writing and directing once again, and the supporting cast is terrific, led by Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones. The word out of CinemaCon was very strong, amplified by the apparently jaw-dropping footage of a chase through the Las Vegas strip. Everything about this sounds great and I'm hoping for another spectacular film from a consistently strong franchise.

8. STAR TREK BEYOND- July 22


Like Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond suffers from "Awful Trailer Syndrome," which is a fictional cinematic disease that I just made up. The first trailer, which premiered in front of Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in December, emphasized the film's major action beats and was set to "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys. This really rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way, especially those who hated Star Trek Into Darkness. I didn't think it was a great trailer, but for me, there was something else about it that just felt off. Justin Lin took over for J.J. Abrams this time out, and in that first glimpse, I could tell. Screenwriter Simon Pegg insists that the movie features much more of the heart and brains that the Star Trek series is know for, but as of right now, Paramount has a huge uphill battle to climb.

7. THE BFG- July 1


The BFG has so much going for it. Directed by Steven Spielberg, music by John Williams, a cast that includes Oscar winner Mark Rylance, a screenplay by the late E.T. scribe Melissa Mathison- there is so much to be excited about in regards to this film. On top of that, Spielberg's latest is set for a Cannes premiere, and when it comes to a big blockbuster like this, that is an enormous sign of confidence. The giant CGI looks a little shoddy so far, but beyond that, I'm filled with anticipation for what could be another Spielberg classic.

6. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE- June 24


Independence Day isn't one of my favorite films, but in many ways, it is the quintessential summer blockbuster. Destruction on a massive scale, epic runtime, jingoistic themes, Will Smith- that movie bleeds popcorn butter. And when it comes down to a hot summer day at the multiplex, there's nothing quite like watching an entire country be demolished. Independence Day: Resurgence brings back many of the original cast members, including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, while also introducing us to characters played by rising stars like Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher. Everything about it looks fun and even if it isn't good, I'm fairly certain that I'll have a blast.

5. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE- May 27


In the high stakes world of superhero filmmaking, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC's budding extended universe often get the bulk of the attention. Somehow, Fox's X-Men series gets lost in the shuffle. I've been a huge fan of what Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg have done over the last few years, bringing the franchise back to its roots with First Class before reuniting everyone for the show-stopping X-Men: Days of Future Past. Singer's latest X-Men film, Apocalypse, kinda feels like an extended victory lap for the success of DoFP, but at the same time, there's a lot to like. It's set in the 1980s, features larger roles for Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and stars Oscar Isaac as the titular villain. The trailers have been middle-of-the-road for me, but my faith in Singer has not been shaken.

4. SAUSAGE PARTY- August 12


When the trailer for this movie came out, it was like the entire internet had burned down. Everybody lost their collective minds over the idea of an R-rated animated comedy from Seth Rogen about food. I'm proud to say that I've been following this movie for years, and I'm quite pumped to see it finally come to life on the big screen. The work-in-progress showing at South by Southwest went great, with many critics noting that the film's blend of existentialism and raunchy humor worked terrifically. Everything about Sausage Party screams brilliance to me, and if that says a lot about me as a person, so be it.

3. THE NICE GUYS- May 20


The Nice Guys was my most anticipated movie of 2016 at the start of the year, and while I'm still very much looking forward to it, some of the other big blockbusters have found a way to jump over it in the rankings. Nonetheless, the L.A.-set buddy cop comedy is still high on my list, with a terrific marketing campaign and two incredibly funny, charismatic stars. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling have fantastic chemistry, and Warner Bros. has decided to emphasize that over and over. But most of all, this just looks like plain fun. A cross between L.A. Confidential, Inherent Vice and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Nice Guys could be a new L.A. classic. Count me in already.

2. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR- May 6


What more can be said about this one? People have already seen it, with practically everyone going ballistic because of how great it is. Captain America: Civil War currently stands at 88 on Metacritic and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is utterly spectacular. Critics have highlighted the film's maturity and the way that it puts Batman v Superman to shame (which is kinda unfortunate, as I still have found some things to like about BvS), with many calling it the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Civil War is the Marvel movie that I've been waiting years for, and the fact that it's finally here makes me so happy.

1. SUICIDE SQUAD- August 5


Suicide Squad looks absolutely phenomenal. There is simply no other way to put it. It's no secret that DC has had a really rough run so far. Man of Steel was a grim and boring mess and Batman v Superman did little to improve on the concerns of fans- in fact, it probably made things worse. Suicide Squad is their chance to change that. This is the first movie with a clear directorial visionary at the helm (sorry, Zack Snyder) and the first true expansion of the universe into different corners. Warner Bros. has the chance to alter the public perception of the DC Universe with this film. This is a very important moment for them. Thankfully, the film looks great- the trailers have highlighted the fun factor, with a unique blend of stylish comic book action and 70s music. Each time I see the trailer for this film, I feel energized. That's gotta count for something, and that's why Suicide Squad is my most anticipated movie of the summer.


Here's hoping for a terrific summer!

Image Credits: Variety, EW, Variety, Screen Rant, The Guardian, Hollywood Reporter, YouTube, EW, Vulture, Joblo

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