Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Josh Martin's Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2017

The movie calendar gets very weird sometimes. We wrapped up Oscar season just over a month ago, and now it's time to start the 2017 Summer Movie Season. In a way though, it feels like summer has already started at the multiplex. In March, we saw the release of films like Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast, and Ghost in the Shell, all of which seem like prototypical summer blockbusters. But for me, the summer really kicks off this week with the release of Universal's The Fate of the Furious, which is primed for a $100 million + weekend at the box office. After a disappointing season in 2016 compounded by a variety of high-profile bombs, Hollywood is ready for a comeback in 2017 with a wide range of blockbusters that look incredibly appealing on paper. There's something for everybody this summer, and while I'm going to have a busy summer beyond the movie theater, I couldn't be more excited to see what the filmmakers have for us this year. Here are my Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2017, along with five Honorable Mentions. As a side note, I haven't included any Netflix films on this list. If I had, Bong Joon-ho's Okja and Adam Wingard's Death Note would both likely have made the cut.

Honorable Mentions

A GHOST STORY- Receiving some of the highest praise at Sundance, David Lowery's A Ghost Story is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated indie films of the summer. It's probably too ethereal and strange to be a breakout hit, but for cinephiles, this will be an event. I wasn't all that impressed by Lowery's Pete's Dragon, but the trailer is really something, the concept is remarkable, and the pairing of Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck is damn near irresistible. JULY 7

LOGAN LUCKY- This is the only film on this list that I haven't seen a trailer for, but the concept and talent are more than enough to get me excited. Logan Lucky is Steven Soderbergh's return to filmmaking, focusing on the story of two brothers who pull off a heist at a NASCAR race in North Carolina. The cast is led by Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterston, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Seth MacFarlane, Hilary Swank, Macon Blair, and Katie Holmes. Enough said.  AUGUST 18

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES- There's no reason to be excited for another Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Seriously, the last two (especially On Stranger Tides) were nothing short of terrible, and Johnny Depp's charisma as a movie star has been wearing thin for years. But after a series of strong trailers and some promising CinemaCon buzz, I'm ready to give this franchise another shot. Let's hope it recaptures the magic that made the original so special. MAY 26

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS- My anticipation for Valerian is purely based on hope. I want this movie to be good. The trailers haven't convinced me, and I certainly won't be ready to jump on board because of the on-screen pairing of Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. But we don't get many bold, crazy sci-fi movies like this, and Valerian looks absolutely audacious in every way. If Luc Besson can deliver, this will be terrific. JULY 21

WONDER WOMAN- There's a lot riding on Wonder Woman. Since the failure of Suicide Squad, everybody has cited Patty Jenkins' film as the movie that will "save" the DC Cinematic Universe. That's a ton of pressure, and judging by the trailers, I'm not yet sure if Wonder Woman is up to the task. But if DC can deliver a solid, cohesive, rock-solid superhero film, then that's a win in my book. JUNE 2

The Top 10

10. THE BEGUILED- June 23


Image courtesy of Focus Features

I'm not a Sofia Coppola aficionado, but one doesn't necessarily have to be to get excited for her next directorial outing. The Beguiled is a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle, and it looks like a lush, deliriously insane slice of Southern Gothic pulp. The cast, led by Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell, and The Nice Guys star Angourie Rice, is nothing short of magnificent, and the filmmaking on display in the trailer is truly captivating. Likely heading for a Cannes premiere (we'll know for sure on Thursday), Coppola's latest is going to be the biggest arthouse event of the summer. And if the early look is any indication, we're in for a scary, funny, and flat-out spectacular ride. The closing line of the trailer ("What have you done to me??? You vengeful bitches!") slapped a big grin on my face, and I can't wait to see what the acclaimed filmmaker has crafted here.

9. IT COMES AT NIGHT- June 9


A24

Not much is known about A24's It Comes at Night, and to be quite honest with you, that's part of the reason that it places so high on this list. I missed Trey Edward Shults' Krisha, but when I saw the first trailer for his follow-up to the critically acclaimed family drama, I was immediately hooked. Opening with one of the scariest tracking shots in recent memory, the trailer quickly devolves into Alien-esque mayhem, mixing violent shrieks with frightening images to great effect. Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, and Carmen Ejogo headline the cast, with a prime summer release date indicating a good deal of confidence from A24. This has the potential to be the best horror film of the year, and I can't wait to see if it's as brilliant as it looks.

8. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS- April 14


Universal

We all go into movies with a wide range of expectations. Sometimes, I just wanna go to a movie and watch cars smash into each other for 2 hours. I'm not looking for anything sophisticated or dynamic- I just want some dumb one-liners and ridiculous action sequences. When I sit down to watch F. Gary Gray's The Fate of the Furious on Friday, that's exactly what I'll be expecting. Early opinions are mixed on whether or not the eighth installment in the blockbuster franchise delivers, but judging by the absurd, ludicrous trailers, we're in for a treat. Since Justin Lin opened the floodgates with Fast Five, the franchise has been on a tear, and I couldn't be more excited for another maniacally entertaining demolition derby with Dominic Toretto and his crew.

7. ATOMIC BLONDE- July 28


Focus Features

I love it when a trailer comes out of nowhere to get me unreasonably excited for a movie. Although I knew that David Leitch's The Coldest City was on the calendar, I didn't know that it was essentially going to be the female equivalent of John Wick. Retitled Atomic Blonde (because it's just a damn cool title), this Charlize Theron-led spy thriller took South by Southwest by storm, as critics and fans praised its insane action scenes and incredible tracking shots. While some said that the plot was somewhat confusing to follow, all of the complaints were overshadowed by the acclaim for its outstanding setpieces. The trailer sent my jaw to the floor, and I am beyond excited to see Charlize Theron take down some bad guys in thrillingly creative fashion. She already has one famous action heroine with Imperator Furiosa- could Lorraine Broughton be her second iconic character?

6. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING- July 7


Image courtesy of Sony

Out of all the films on this list, I'm probably most skeptical about Spider-Man: Homecoming. I've written at length about how I'm not a huge fan of Tony Stark's involvement, nor am I all that enthused by what seems to be a rather generic plot. But while I have plenty of doubts, this is still a Spider-Man movie in the middle of the summer. Of course I'm excited. The original Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire trilogy was a formative part of my cinematic childhood, and I'll always have a soft spot for the character. Tom Holland did an excellent job as Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, and the supporting cast here includes plenty of terrific actors like Michael Keaton, Tony Revolori, Zendaya, Bokeem Woodbine, and even Donald Glover. I might not be as excited for Homecoming as I am for Guardians 2 or Ragnarok, but this is still a "can't miss" blockbuster.

5. ALIEN: COVENANT- May 19


Image courtesy of Fox

When Prometheus came out in 2012, I was obsessed. This was around the time when I really got invested in the world of movies, and an R-rated science-fiction epic with loose connections to Alien was an incredibly enticing proposition for a 13 year old. When I was finally permitted to watch Ridley Scott's film, I was left disappointed. It was a fascinating film that asked big questions, but I wanted more. Scott had trouble getting a sequel off the ground for years, but this summer, Alien: Covenant is finally coming to theaters. Is it a direct prequel to Alien? A sequel to Prometheus? Honestly, nobody really knows- after all, Scott is promising that there will be a ridiculous amount of follow-up films to this installment. But early word is that Covenant gives us the answers we wanted while also ramping up the horror, which sounds like a near-perfect concoction in my book. At this point, we can only hope for the best.

4. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2- May 5


It's funny to think about now, but when Guardians of the Galaxy came out in 2014, it was far from a sure thing. I remember showing my dad the very first trailer that introduced all of the characters, and his response was "What the hell is this?" Of course, he loved the film like everyone else, but the Guardians' ascension to pop culture superstardom was never guaranteed. James Gunn and Marvel chief Kevin Feige took a monumental risk, and it paid off. Now they get to reap the rewards. Vol. 2 is almost certain to be the biggest film of the summer, and it just looks like a blast. While I still have some worries about the story, this is the kind of colorful, wacky extravaganza that makes Marvel utterly unique. I've already got my tickets for opening day, and I'm fully prepared to be listening to Awesome Mix: Volume 2 for a good chunk of the summer.

3. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES- July 14


Image courtesy of Fox

Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Fox's reboot of Planet of the Apes was never a sure thing. When Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out in summer 2011, the film was considered to be an afterthought, something that the studio was dumping in August to avoid losing too much money. But when critics and fans saw the film, they immediately released that the franchise reboot was really special. Matt Reeves' 2014 follow-up received widespread praise, standing as one of the most popular blockbusters of that year. Three years later, Reeves is returning to close out the trilogy, and it looks gripping, harrowing, and breathtaking in equal measure. War for the Planet of the Apes looks like the film we've been waiting to see since 2011, and I can't wait to see how the saga of Caesar ends.

2. BABY DRIVER- June 28


Image courtesy of Sony

It's a new film from Edgar Wright. What more do I need to say?

Edgar Wright has made four films, and they're all instant classics that I revisit on a regular basis. After getting caught up in the Ant-Man mess for several years, Wright is finally returning to the big screen for the first time since 2013 with Baby Driver, a music-driven heist film. The colorful crime comedy brought down the house at SXSW, and Sony is so confident in the film's potential that they moved it up to June 28, a prime summer release date. Wright has always had a knack for mixing action and music to great effect, and if Baby Driver is as good as everyone says, we're in for one hell of a treat. The trailers are electrifying, the cast is tremendous, and the film has serious breakout potential. This is one of the few films on this list that I simply know I'm going to love, and I can't wait to watch it again and again.

1. DUNKIRK- July 21


Warner Bros. 

Christopher Nolan is quite possibly our greatest living filmmaker. He's making epic films on a scale that is simply unparalleled, and each new film is staggeringly ambitious and thrillingly unique. He made a superhero trilogy of Shakespearean proportions with The Dark Knight films, a mind-bending heist movie for the ages with Inception, and a space odyssey that rivals Kubrick's masterpiece with Interstellar. Now, Nolan is tackling a war epic and it just looks incredible. The trailers have been good, but to really get a feel for this film, you have to see the 6 minute prologue that Warner Bros. has been previewing in front of various films over the last few months. I saw the sneak peek in front of Kong: Skull Island, and I was both exhilarated and terrified. With a score from Hans Zimmer that creates a palpable sense of dread, Dunkirk looks like a harrowing, visually dazzling war film. This is the movie event of the summer, and I can't wait to see how Nolan puts his own personal stamp on the genre. If it wasn't for a little film called The Last Jedi, this would undoubtedly be my most anticipated of the year.

Well, that's it for this list. We're in for a great summer, and I can't wait to check out these films and many more. Come back later this week for more exciting news and reviews!

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