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16 for 2016 - A summer movie preview

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As usual, superheroes and sequels are everywhere

As always, it seems a bit silly to be writing a summer movie preview so far in advance of summer. Still, Hollywood has extended the season, turning the beginning of May into our summer starting point. So here we are.

2016 has a lot of what you'd expect over a dozen sequels and a handful of remake/reboot-type offerings. There are a whole lot of superheroes or supervillains, if that's more your thing. There are some big-time animated films as well.

Some massive movie universes are going to continue to advance their stories. So too will some long-running action franchises. There will be some sequels that surprise you because they took so long to come to fruition and others that surprise you with the fact that they exist at all. There are even a handful of original ideas that might turn out to be pretty good too.

Oh, and of course, plenty of Kevin Hart.

Here's a look at some of 2016's summer releases.

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May

Captain America: Civil War (May 6)

Marvel has been largely responsible for the gradual pushback of the unofficial start to summer blockbuster season. In 2016, the superhero studio kicks things off with this one, the latest installment in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. By all accounts, 'Civil War' is going to meet (and perhaps even exceed) the considerable expectations. The super showdown between heroes on either side of a superpower registration program is set to include a whole lot of eagerly anticipated faces old and new alike. With early reports indicating this might be the best Marvel movie yet, expect 'Captain America: Civil War' to set the bar very high for the rest of this summer's offerings.

Money Monster (May 13)

This is not the sort of movie you think of when you hear 'summer movie.' George Clooney stars as a TV stock analyst who gets held hostage by someone who lost everything following one of his tips. Julia Roberts co-stars as his producer; Jodie Foster directs. Despite sounding a bit like 'Mad Money' fan fiction, this kind of pedigree almost guarantees a quality film. And placing 'Money Monster' here might prove to be quite an ingenious bit of counterprogramming. The studio better hope so otherwise, what promises to be a good movie could wind up getting buried and disappearing with nary a trace.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 27)

Did you know that Tim Burton's 2010 'Alice in Wonderland' is one of 24 movies in history to gross over a billion dollars worldwide? That seems wrong somehow, but it also raises the question as to why it took so long to get a sequel out there? Of course, this one doesn't have the services of Mr. Burton James Bobin, best known for the 'Muppets' movies and 'Flight of the Conchords,' assumes the helm but the rest of the crew is back, including Mia Wasikowska, a whole bunch of excellent English actors and of course Johnny Depp weirding it up as only he can. It probably won't make a billion like its predecessor, but I'd guess it'll do just fine.

X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)

Perhaps the best handled superhero franchise transition came via the X-Men, whose 'First Class' and 'Days of Future Past' installments gave new energy to a franchise that had almost collapsed under its own weight. 'Apocalypse' has heavyweight talent like Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy on hand, with Oscar Isaac coming on board to play the titular big bad; plus, director Bryan Singer has a thorough understanding of the X-Men mythos. While it seems that this franchise is on the verge of yet another transition, odds are good that this one could surpass even the ones that came before it.

(Other May releases of note: 'The Angry Birds Movie' (May 20); 'Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising' (May 20); 'The Nice Guys' (May 20))

June

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (June 3)

While comedies tend to take a bit of a backseat to superheroes and explosions in the summertime, there's usually at least one offering that manages to wrest the audience's attention from gunfire for at least a little while. This year, that offering might be 'Popstar,' courtesy of the Lonely Island crew. The music mockumentary stars Andy Samberg as Connor 4 Real, a rapper whose career struggles force him to reunite with the members of his former boy band. Expect some rapid-fire, largely improvised humor and a whole bunch of celebrity cameos. If this works, it'll be fantastic. If it doesn't, it'll border on unwatchable. Here's hoping for the former.

The Conjuring 2 / Now You See Me 2 (June 10)

These movies are together because they come out on the same date and they're both about magic (kind of). They're also here because they are both movies whose very existence makes almost zero sense to me. Unnecessary sequels are everywhere these days, but some are more unnecessary than others. Case in point: see above. Neither will live up to its predecessor and both have a real chance of being very bad movies.

Central Intelligence (June 17)

I can tell you three things about 'Central Intelligence,' starring diminutive and prolific comedian Kevin Hart and not-the-Rock-anymore-but-still-totally-the-Rock Dwayne Johnson: first, it will be an inoffensive and forgettable goofball comedy; second, there will be no less than six jokes based solely on the fact that one is small and the other is large; and third, it will make approximately all of the money. It won't be a bad movie sure, Kevin Hart will accept literally any job, but the Rock seems to have a fairly thoughtful and self-aware reasoning behind his choices. It will get mediocre ratings and audiences will love it.

Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24)

Full disclosure: 'Independence Day' and I have a history it was one of the first 'event' blockbusters that I was actively excited about well in advance of its release. And I was not disappointed. 'Resurgence' continuing a recent trend of sequels to long-gone movies takes us back to that invaded America. It's 20 years later and mankind has used alien technology to enhance its defenses. However, the aliens are coming back and they've had time to prepare. It looks like pretty much everyone except Will Smith has come back, and I admit to looking forward to seeing just which Apple product Jeff Goldblum uses to save humanity.

(Other June releases of note: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' (June 3); 'Warcraft' (June 10); 'Finding Dory' (June 17); 'Free State of Jones' (June 24); 'The Shallows' (June 24))

July

The BFG (July 1)

This seems like a match made in heaven director Steven Spielberg and author Roald Dahl. But 'The BFG' one of Dahl's most beloved works has languished in developmental limbo for years. Finally, Spielberg is making it happen. And while the young girl whisked away by the BFG might be played by the newcomer, expect a master class in motion-capture acting from recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance ('Bridge of Spies'). No one melds imagination and sentiment like Spielberg, and with a brilliant talent like Rylance on board, it seems that 'The BFG' can't help but succeed. Indeed, it might even turn out to be a children's classic.

The Secret Life of Pets (July 8)

Look plenty of kids are going to see the Pixar sequel 'Finding Dory'; plenty of adults are going to see the R-rated 'Sausage Party' (see below). However, the animated film that looks to have the most crossover potential to appeal to both children and adults equally is this one. Illumination Entertainment struck gold with the 'Despicable Me' franchise, but 'The Secret Life of Pets' could have even wider appeal. I mean, come on animals talking and doing people things? Gold. It has Louis C.K. voicing a terrier, people how can you not want to see this? (Note: it also has Kevin Hart, so we can rest assured that legions will turn out to see it.)

Ghostbusters (July 15)

This is easily my personal most anticipated non-superhero offering of the summer. There has been some controversy over this one, but that's no surprise the original 'Ghostbusters' is a beloved classic to many. Still, I have faith in the abilities of director Paul Feig (who also co-wrote the script) and the incredible comic ensemble assembled for the cast. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are an exceptional combo; they'll do the source material proud. I expect an entertaining and original narrative with plenty of moments of homage to what came before. My guess is that it will be a welcome addition to the 'Ghostbusters' family.

Star Trek Beyond (July 22)

While the argument can be made that this film franchise has increasingly departed from the central tenets of the television series that inspired it, it remains a source of quality sci-fi action. Director J.J. Abrams largely responsible for the reimagining is gone; in his place is Justin Lin, the director who reinvented 'The Fast and the Furious.' It's a talented and likeable ensemble, made even more talented by the presence of Idris Elba as the baddie. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto might not be Shatner and Nimoy, but they'll be good. Plus, castmate (and super-nerd) Simon Pegg assumed chief screenwriter duties. This could be the best one yet.

Jason Bourne (July 29)

Has anyone really been anxiously awaiting another Jason Bourne movie? It seems that the relative failure of the attempt to continue the franchise with Jeremy Renner ('The Bourne Legacy') has led to a return to Bourne's roots. Not only is Matt Damon back as the titular superagent in pursuit of a new enemy, but Paul Greengrass, director of the second and third installments in the series, is back behind the camera; in addition, Damon and Greengrass co-wrote the script. Expect 'Jason Bourne' to be a return to action form and an opportunity for a second act for the franchise though whether Damon and Greengrass accept remains to be seen.

(Other July releases of note: 'The Legend of Tarzan' (July 1); 'The Purge: Election Year' (July 1); 'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' (July 8) 'Ice Age: Collision Course' (July 22); 'Lights Out' (July 22); 'Bad Moms' (July 29))

August

Suicide Squad (Aug. 5)

Doesn't it seem like you've been hearing about this movie for years at this point? Well, it's finally here. A group of the DC Universe's most dangerous criminals are enlisted to undertake secret missions that they aren't necessarily expected to return from. Despite the major behind-the-scenes stories being about the weird crap Jared Leto has been doing as part of his 'process,' it actually looks like this movie could be OK. As in the bag as I am for super-movies, there's only so much Snydering I can take it could be that 'Suicide Squad' does a better job of capturing the comic book spirit.

Sausage Party (Aug. 12)

I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that there just isn't enough hard-R animated fare out there in movie theaters. Luckily, Seth Rogen and company have heard you loud and clear. Rogen and Evan Goldberg bring you 'Sausage Party,' a filthy animated romp featuring Rogen, James Franco, Paul Rudd and a score of other big names in a flat-out phenomenal cast. Oh, and the directors are Conrad Vernon - who has done a handful of animated features and Greg Tiernan, whose entire resume before this was 'Thomas the Tank Engine'-related. OF COURSE I want to see this. Will this be crass and ludicrous? Absolutely. Will I find it hilarious and delightful? Almost certainly.

(Other August releases of note: 'Pete's Dragon' (Aug. 12); 'Ben-Hur' (Aug. 19); 'The Space Between Us' (Aug. 19); 'War Dogs' (Aug. 19))

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