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Summer movies: 18 for 2018

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We begin this annual tradition as we always do, which is with the caveat that 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 if we’re going to catalog the blockbusters, then it has to be from here.

Although if we’re going to be real about it, the biggest movie of the year has already happened – “Avengers: Infinity War” just had the biggest box office opening since, well … ever. And hey – you can check out my review right in this very edition.

But while the biggest may have already landed, there’s still plenty to be excited about.

2018 has plenty of what we’ve come to expect from blockbuster season -  a bunch of sequels and a handful of remake/reboot-type offerings and some superheroes, along with some animated fare and a smattering of comedies. It’s not like we don’t know how it works.

Honestly, there’s a LOT of what we’ve seen before. But hey – familiarity isn’t always a bad thing. Let’s have a look at what the summer of 2018 has to offer.

(Please note: this not a list of the 18 best films, but rather an attempt at a representative sample of what’s coming. There are movies that I expect to love that aren’t here and movies I expect to loathe that are. Still, it looks like there’s something for everyone.)

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MAY

Life of the Party (May 11)

Considering how omnipresent she seemed for a stretch earlier in the 2010s, it’s hard to believe that we haven’t seen Melissa McCarthy on the big screen for a couple of years. She makes her return with this seemingly standard-issue comedy; she plays a mom who goes back to college – the same college her daughter currently attends. It’s probably fair to say this one isn’t going to break the mold, but McCarthy and partner Ben Falcone have a good sense of what works when it comes to comedy. This one won’t reinvent the comedic wheel, but it’ll likely be pleasant enough.

Deadpool 2 (May 18)

The merc with a mouth is basically playing with house money at this point; the first “Deadpool” wasn’t even supposed to happen. And now here we are, looking at the beginnings of a full-blown franchise. Ryan Reynolds has found a role that he was born to play, cheerfully and graphically exploiting the film’s R-rating. Adding Josh Brolin as Cable is huge; Brolin is an ideal fit for the time-traveling tough guy. Expect more of the same from Reynolds and company, a capering, gleefully profane superhero sequel that will be an absolute delight if it’s even half as funny as the first one.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)

I know, I know – we’ve heard a lot of not-so-great stuff about “Solo.” They fired their original directors and brought in Ron Howard, who apparently reshot two-thirds of the film. Plus, there are the rumors of less-than-stellar work from lead Alden Ehrenreich. Still, the trailers have looked fun. And I’m someone who has generally dug the new “Star Wars” content that I’ve been given in recent years. Plus, you can’t tell me that Donald Glover is going to do anything but kill it as Lando Calrissian. Oh, and Woody Harrelson is here too. I’m tempering my expectations, but I remain hopeful.

(Others opening in May: Tully (May 4); Overboard (May 4); Terminal (May 11))

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JUNE

Action Point (June 1)

Admit it – there’s a part of you that misses Johnny Knoxville when he’s gone. You’re not proud of that part, that teenaged-boy part that thinks farts and self-injuring idiots are funny. But it’s there. And so we have “Action Point,” in which Knoxville stars as the owner of an absurdly dangerous 1970s amusement park. As with all Knoxville projects, the plot hardly matters – this is all about seeing what sort of punishment he’s willing to undergo for our amusement. Early trailers seem to indicate that it’s, well … all sorts. Painful sorts. He takes a firehose to the groin so you don’t have to.

Ocean’s 8 (June 8)

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one ever since I got wind that it was happening. The idea of an all-female riff on the “Ocean’s” movies is a great one. There’s no denying the quality of the cast: Sandra Bullock stars as Danny Ocean’s sister, while the ensemble includes Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulsen, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and on and on. It’s a terrific group. One just hopes that director Gary Ross can maintain the magic that director Steven Soderberg was able to generate in the preceding films. I love me a good heist movie – and this one’s going to be good.

Incredibles 2 (June 15)

Real talk, this is probably the 2018 summer movie that has be the most excited. I am a massive Pixar fan in general; “The Incredibles” might be my favorite of their films. The idea of a sequel – a chance to see these characters again – is tremendously exciting. The cinematic realm has embraced superheroes fully; with Brad Bird (who directed the first film) at the helm and the talented voice cast returning, this one has a chance to be really good. And again – any summer with a Pixar releases is a good summer. Don’t be surprised if this one blows up beyond even Disney standards.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)

I’m one of the apparent minority who genuinely liked “Jurassic World,” so I’m less wary of this film than many. Colin Treverrow is out as director; J.A. Bayona is at the helm for this one. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are back, which is great, though we might be reaching the “put up or shut up” moment of Pratt’s ascent to non-Marvel action star. The real win here is the return to the franchise of Jeff Goldblum; his energy will be welcome. B.D. Wong returns as well. Worst case scenario, a bunch of awesome dinosaur stuff happens. Best case, we get a thoughtful throwback.

Sicario 2: Sodaldo (June 29)

You know, even in a Hollywood whose engine is powered largely by series, there are sequels that surprise you. Did I expect a sequel to the excellent Denis Villeneuve-directed, Taylor Sheridan-scripted “Sicario”? Absolutely not. Am I glad to get one? Hell yes. Villeneuve doesn’t return, but Sheridan – who is absolutely on fire right now – wrote the script. And bad-asses Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin (man, Brolin’s having a hell of a year, huh?) return as well, going after the drug cartels in a manner which we can only imagine will be dark and violent and utterly mesmerizing.

(Others opening in June: American Animals (June 1); Upgrade (June 1); Hereditary (June 8); Tag (June 15); Superfly (June 15); The Hustle (June 29))

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JULY

The First Purge (July 4)

“The Purge” franchise was an unexpected success story; few could have expected that 2013’s “The Purge” would spawn such a fascinating collection of films. But writer-director James DeMonaco has clearly tapped into something with these films (he ceded the director’s chair on this one, but did pen the script). This latest is a prequel that purports to tell the story of how the titular 12-hour period of lawlessness came to be, continuing the pattern of rich world-building that has elevated the series into something complex and compelling. Oh, and there will be plenty of weirdness and brutality as well.

Ant Man & the Wasp (July 6)

If you had told me 10 years ago – hell, five years ago – that these two characters would headline a summer blockbuster, I’d have scoffed. But here we are. The MCU machine rolls on; this third Marvel entry in 2018 won’t reach the heights of the previous two, but it’s bound to be a massive success nevertheless; it won’t face the weird vibe of the release of “Ant Man.” Paul Rudd is a wonderful addition to the Marvel roster. Evangeline Lilly is always great. Michael Douglas is back, as is Michael Pena as Luis (who is low-key one of the best tertiary characters in the entire MCU).

Skyscraper (July 13)

There’s something delightfully old-school about this movie. Just the name – “Skyscraper.” It reminds you of a 1970s disaster movie with a dozen familiar stars in it. Of course, this one will be solely the Rock’s show, which is fine by me. There’s probably a story here, but honestly, it’s the Rock versus a skyscraper – the details simply do not matter. It’s probably safe to say this won’t be his “Die Hard” – it looks too formulaic for that – but there’s no doubt it’ll be a good time. His wattage is such that his mere presence ensures some degree of fun. It’s the Rock’s world – we’re just living in it.

The Equalizer 2 (July 20)

Man, did I ever love “The Equalizer.” Sure, it didn’t really take much from its supposed inspiration than a name, but it was a simple, brutal action thriller elevated by the presence of The Man Himself, Denzel Washington. Fun fact: this is the first sequel Denzel has ever done. So he either really felt the script or really enjoys killing people with salt shakers and whatnot. Either way, that means we’re looking at a hell of a good time at the movies. Denzel is unfailingly magnetic; we can only hope that he will continue putting the occasional old guy action movie on the table.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (July 27)

There’s something comforting about knowing that, no matter how long it has been, Tom Cruise is out there somewhere throwing himself off a building to get us to like him. The “Mission: Impossible” franchise continues rolling along; this latest one is a more-or-less direct follow-up to 2015’s “Rogue Nation.” Even the director is back – unusual for a plug-and-play series like this. Plus the usual Ving Rhames/Simon Pegg sidekick duo, which is lovely. Oh, and Henry Cavill and the infamous mustache! The story will be ludicrous and the stunts will be great and Cruise will once again dance for your love.

(Others opening in July: Sorry to Bother You (July 6); Eighth Grade (July 13))

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AUGUST

Christopher Robin (Aug. 3)

Early August often seems like the spot where you’ll find the best counterprogramming; this is when you get movies that combat blockbuster fatigue. Ewan McGregor stars as the now-grown Christopher Robin who is reintroduced to his childhood friend Winnie the Pooh when his life seems to be spiraling out of his control. It looks to be a sweet and understated family film, the ideal antidote for those who have seen just far too many summer explosions. I anticipate feeling some feelings in a significant way; I’m putting the over/under on number of times I cry during this movie at 3.5.

The Meg (Aug. 10)

Jason Statham fights a giant shark. Let me repeat: JASON STATHAM FIGHTS A GIANT SHARK. I don’t know what else there is to say. There are two kinds of people in this world: people who want to watch Jason Statham fight a giant shark and people who hate everything that is joyful and fun in the world. Seriously, this looks like it might be the big dumb action movie of my dreams. It’s apparently an effort to kick off a major international film franchise, so the potential for full-on craziness is significant. In summation: Jason Statham fights a giant shark. That is all the information you could possibly need.

The Happytime Murders (Aug. 17)

What’s this? A weird R-rated puppet movie directed by Brian Henson (yes, THAT Brian Henson)? Yes, you did hear that right. And if you’re like me, you can’t sign up for this one fast enough. Details are a bit scarce regarding this one, but it’s apparently a film in the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” mold where humans and puppets exist in the same world. It’s a murder mystery, one that by all accounts really earns its rating. Melissa McCarthy stars as a human detective partnering with a puppet counterpart. Seriously – you couldn’t invent a movie more in my wheelhouse than this.

Crazy Rich Asians (Aug. 17)

The general consensus is that this one has a chance to be the defining comedy of summer 2018. Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan, it’s a fish-out-of-water comedy featuring a talented cast of Asian and Asian-American actors led by Constance Wu and Henry Golding, giving this particularly underrepresented group an opportunity to shine on their own terms. Director Jon Chu adds comedy to his “Step Up”/“Now You See Me” resume. The buzz surrounding this one is almost universally positive, so it looks like August is closing out strong.

Slender Man (Aug. 24)

However you may feel about the internet meme known as Slender Man, you can’t be surprised that they’re making a movie about him. Or it. Or whatever. Apparently, the filmmakers are basically structuring the film similarly to the online creepypasta that gave birth to the character in the first place. It’s tough to imagine it being anything more than basic, formulaic horror – a far cry from the sort of innovation we’ve come to expect from that particular genre sphere. It’ll probably make money; if it makes enough, expect a franchise. But the odds of this movie being any good are, well … slender.

(Others opening in August: The Darkest Minds (Aug. 3); The Spy Who Dumped Me (Aug. 3); Mile 22 (Aug. 3); Alpha (Aug. 17); Captive State (Aug. 17); Replicas (Aug. 17); Kin (Aug. 31))

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