It’s been several years since I’ve written one of these summer movie preview stories.
Why? Well, there was that invasive viral nightmare that disrupted so many lives. You know, that horrid five-letter word that devastated the nation—draining us of our energy, and making it hard to venture out and partake in something like public movie-viewing.
Yeah, Trump sure did mess with my biochemical makeup. Shit, I didn’t want to leave the house to go to the damn movie theaters; that jerk squelched my drive to breathe, let alone write summer movie previews.
There was that lousy COVID thing, too. It sent movies running away from their release dates—like coked-up Olympian track athletes after 17 venti Starbucks—to a safer time in the future when they could be watched in a happy theater, perhaps, if viewers so dared, without a mask. (I still throw one on at the theater; there’s a lot of sloppy riffraff in those places, myself included.)
Apparently, that happy safe (?) time is now, with some big films—some long delayed—coming your way in the next few months. It looks like a semi-respectable “summer movie season” is shaping up.
Additionally, there are some exciting TV premieres this summer for those of you who are thinking, “Theaters are for dicks; I ain’t leaving this house. Turn on my massage chair, and get me some Skittles!”
Here is a sampling of some big movies and TV events coming your way. The release dates here are the officially announced dates as of this writing, but things change, and movies don’t always open in all markets at once, so don’t be writing this shit into your calendar with a Sharpie.
Top Gun: Maverick (May 27): Tom Cruise’s mega-sequel is likely to set the box office on fire, blowing everybody’s faces off. Delayed so many times it didn’t seem we’d ever get a chance to see it, this film looks to be the one that will set the pace for summer. I hated the original with all of my guts and ankles, but I am looking forward to this new chance to be blown away. As for the soundtrack, Lady Gaga > Kenny Loggins and Berlin.
Crimes of the Future (June 2): Director David Cronenberg goes down his oft-traveled horror path with the likes of Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux, coming along for what’s sure to be a yucky venture.
Fire Island (June 3): Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang co-stars in what is, apparently, a gay version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This has got to be better than 2016’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Hustle (June 8): There’s new Netflix stuff all over the place this summer. (They are sorry about the rate hikes … they are really, really sorry!) Adam Sandler, who seems to be loving his Netflix deal, stars as a basketball scout in this, one of his dramatic offerings, which tend to be better than the comedy ones—unless you count Reign Over Me and The Cobbler, which sucked just as much as Jack and Jill. Scratch that; nothing sucked as much as Jack and Jill.
Jurassic World Dominion (June 10): This is being pushed as the film that will close out the franchise. Yeah, right: They’ll be watching new Jurassic Park movies a gazillion years in the future while the Earth is being apocalyptically swallowed by the sun. Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and the rotting corpse of Sir Richard Attenborough return for the farewell party alongside Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Dinosaurs try to take over the world in this one, which looks like an extension of that short sequence in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park: The Lost World in which a T-Rex was running around San Diego.
Lightyear (June 17): Every superhero needs its origin story, and Buzz Lightyear is getting one. Chris Evans voices Buzz, the astronaut who inspired the toy that appears in the Toy Story movies, originally voiced by Tim Allen. (I guess his contract to voice all incarnations of Buzz didn’t go to infinity and beyond.) It’s a Pixar movie in theaters for a change. Many of them have been going straight to Disney+ lately.
Spiderhead (June 17): Chris Hemsworth stars in this Netflix movie about a dude with a spiderhead who is totally alienated from society and can’t find a single hat to fit his seriously odd, spider-like head. He can’t get a date to the big ballroom dance, because he’s really fucking ugly and scary, and his dog won’t come in the house, because she is too freaked out. He decides to start eating people with his spider mouth—not only for nourishment, but for the five or six minutes of much-needed social interaction they pathetically provide as they are suffering through a nightmarish, agonizing, screaming spiderhead death. Advanced screenings are indicating that it’s like Edward Scissorhands with an arachnid spin, and with Hemsworth instead of Johnny Depp, because nobody wants to cast that dirty whore after hearing so much about him and Amber Heard’s poop.
Actually, that’s just the movie I wish this was. As it stands, it’s some movie starring Hemsworth and Miles Teller about weird medical experiments. Hey, maybe those medical experiments are how people are getting spiderheads?
The Black Phone (June 24): Based on a story by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill, this film has Ethan Hawke reuniting with his Sinister director Scott Derrickson (who also directed the first Doctor Strange) to play a creepy kidnapper of children. Sinister terrified me in parts, and I’m interested in seeing Hawke, now a favorite actor of mine, going full psycho.
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (June 24): Jenny Slate famously voiced the title character in a short film a few years back, and now the talking shell gets its own movie.
Elvis (June 24): A few years in the making, this is the movie Tom Hanks was working on in Australia when he was one of the first high-profile people to get the ’rona. The title says it all: This is about Elvis (Austin Butler) with Hanks under a ton of prosthetics as his legendary and notorious agent, Colonel Tom Parker.
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8): Natalie Portman picks up the hammer as a new Thor in this second Thor film from director Taika Waititi. (He did the endearingly, eccentrically funny Thor: Ragnarok.) Weird Funny Thor > Dark Brooding Thor.
The Gray Man (July 15): The summer of Netflix continues with this Ryan Gosling vehicle. It’s been four years since Gosling has been in a movie! Some kids have gone through every grade of high school since he appeared as Neil Armstrong in First Man. Now he’s The Gray Man, a CIA operative in the latest from directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame). On a side note: While I doubt it will ever see the light of day, Gosling is currently slated to star in Wolfman, directed by frequent collaborator Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines). That’s something I want to see.
Persuasion (July 15): Here’s another Jane Austen flick, this one starring Dakota Johnson. And, Jesus, it’s on Netflix.
Where the Crawdads Sing (July 15): The very talented Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as a girl living in a swamp who becomes a murder suspect. Something tells me this one will be good, and it will have frogs in it.
Nope (July 22): Jordan Peele’s third directorial foray into horror has its plot tightly under wraps, but some of the preview footage makes it look like an alien-invasion movie. Whatever it is, it’s one of the summer’s best bets for something new and original.
Bullet Train (Aug. 5): Brad Pitt gets to do his goofy “Floyd from True Romance” routine as a tired assassin who gets in a lot of fights on the title vehicle.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (Aug. 5): I don’t care about TMNT … just mentioning this one because it is yet another Netflix offering. They are really trying to make sure that the $787.53 per month you pay for their service is worth it!
Bodies Bodies Bodies (Aug. 5): This slasher film starring Maria Bakalova (from the latest Borat movie) and Pete Davidson supposedly skewers Gen-Z as bodies pile up at a truly lousy party.
Day Shift (Aug. 12): Another Netflix film. This one is a Jamie Foxx comedy. They are going to raise their fee to $972.81 and one of your toes per month to cover all of these film budgets.
Me Time (Aug. 26): Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Hart team up for the summer’s 9 billionth Netflix offering.
Samaritan (Aug. 26): Late August is the resting place for a lot of Sylvester Stallone movies, and this year is no exception. He plays a superhero who disappeared; this film looks like it’s got kind of a Hancock vibe. I’m always rooting for Sly, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this one, chief. The acrid taste of Rambo: Last Blood is still polluting my mouth.
Salem’s Lot (Sept. 9): This late summer entry is the first theatrical take on Stephen King’s vampire story after some TV efforts (including a celebrated one by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper, which, after I wrote this, I downloaded). Please, please let it be better than that Firestarter horse dump currently on Peacock.
BIG TV SHOWS
Stranger Things 4 (May 27 on Netflix): OK, Jim Hopper didn’t die in Season 3, and the Russian-villain angle takes on all new meaning after the real-life events of this year. And, according to the trailer, Eleven still screams a lot. Season 3 was a nice upswing after a just-OK season 2.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (May 27 on Disney+): Even if you didn’t like the prequels (I did), we can probably agree that Ewan McGregor was the best thing about them as young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, he gets to play middle-aged Obi-Wan hanging out on Tatooine spying on a young Luke Skywalker. Hayden Christensen also returns as Emo Vader.
The Boys (June 3 on Amazon Prime Video): I was a late comer to The Boys, but I thoroughly enjoyed most of what I saw in the first two seasons. More than happy to witness a third.
Westworld (June 26 on HBO): I bailed on this one back when Anthony Hopkins was still on the show, and it was actually set in the fake Old West. If you like it, you are getting more.
Only Murders in the Building (June 28 on Hulu): How damn delightful was that first go-round with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez? Delightful enough to merit a second round, and, man, it’s so good to see Martin and Short in fine form again.
What We Do in the Shadows (July 12 on FX): Supreme Leader Jimmy Boegle has virtually demanded that I watch this show. I loved the movie, but haven’t seen the show. He claims it is fantastic, and he admonished me for my lazy viewership. I, as always, accept his criticism, but do not trust his taste in footwear.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Aug. 17 on Disney +): Just saw the trailer … this one looks very silly.
House of the Dragon (Aug. 21 on HBO): Man, I just never got it on with Game of Thrones. I promised friends and family members I’d watch it … and failed. I saw the first season, and then sporadic episodes thereafter. I found it mildly amusing, although I did enjoy it when the dragon lady went crazy and annihilated that village with her scaly flying pet, Trogdor style! Now comes this prequel, and I am going to attempt to watch this, and then actually watch Game of Thrones in its entirety afterward. I am pledging here to do this. I am also admitting, here, to the fact that this probably won’t happen.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Sept. 2 on Prime Video): Hmm, what’s going to happen with this one, Amazon’s attempt to counter the Thrones prequel? It’s basically original stories inspired by Tolkien’s novels, but I still have a bad case of the shakes after that Hobbit trilogy slog. Amazon put a lot into this one, so we’d better all watch it, lest we want free Prime delivery to go away. Not that free Prime delivery really exists. That’s kind of a hoax, right?