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Coming soon to a theater near you! 22 movies for summer 2022

May 2, 2022
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That’s right – it’s that time again!

Now, you might well be thinking “A summer movie preview? But it’s only the beginning of May!” And that’s totally understandable because, well … it’s only the beginning of May.

However, there’s no disputing that the theatrical release calendar has shifted significantly in recent years. We’ve been seeing more traditional “summer” movies get their release in May (and there are a bunch of those this year) and fewer in the mid-to-late August release dates. This means that we have a lot more May movies to talk about (but we will get to a handful of August offerings as well).

What this means is that summer movie previews have become very much an early May phenomenon – one which I am wholeheartedly embracing.

As for why this specific week, it’s simple – there’s an MCU movie hitting that first weekend, and honestly, Marvel’s late spring/early summer entry has become the de facto start of blockbuster season. Just one more way in which Kevin Feige and company have essentially taken command of the industry writ large.

So here we are – 22 movies for the summer of 2022. Now, it should be noted that there are plenty of eagerly anticipated offerings coming to us by way of the various streaming services as well. However, while many of those films match the studio movies in scope, ambition and cost, I’ll be focusing on theatrical releases here (though when there is a day-and-date streaming release as well, I will be sure to note it).

And with that – let’s go to the movies!

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MAY

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6)

As mentioned above, the MCU kicks off the summer movie season with this eagerly-anticipated sequel. As the latest entry in the cinematic universe’s Phase Four, this film is going to be asked to a do a lot of heavy lifting with regard to keeping the MCU’s overarching narrative on the rails. With Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange tasked with repairing the damage done by the dimension-warping events of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this promises to be a pretty densely plotted film. Happily, with director Sam Raimi at the helm, we can expect not just a killer superhero movie, but one that is likely tinged with some of the horror and humor elements that have been key parts of the director’s repertoire. The early glimpses have looked great. I can’t wait.

Firestarter (May 13)

A remake of a horror classic, adapted from the novel of the same name by Bangor’s own Stephen King. This new film – directed by Keith Thomas from a script by Scott Teems – has a mighty uphill climb; the 1984 original starring Drew Barrymore as Charlie McGee is widely beloved. It remains to be seen if young Ryan Keira Armstrong can match the iconic performance by Barrymore. Zac Efron is here as Charlie’s dad, which is weird if only because since when is Zac Efron playing dads, but whatever. If nothing else, the involvement of Jason Blum and Blumhouse on the production side of things is promising – those folks know from horror, so expect a fairly reverent treatment. This will be a day-and-date release on Paramount+ as well.

Downton Abbey: A New Era (May 20)

Real talk: I think it is phenomenal that the “Downton Abbey” experience keeps on rolling. And I say this as someone who never watched the show, yet quite enjoyed the previous film. The usual crew is back for another understated and ever-so-proper adventure. This one revolves around a villa in France that has been willed to the delightfully sharp-tongued Dowager Countess; we’ll apparently be moving back and forth between France and England for this one. Oh, and apparently there’s going to be a movie shot at good ol’ Downton Abbey, with Hugh Dancy onboard playing the film’s director. Look for this one to be a bit of a bellwether with regard to how older audiences feel about returning to the cinema.

Men (May 20)

You don’t see a lot of misfires from A24 these days. And when you’ve got Alex Garland writing and directing a folk horror movie? Seems safe to bet on this one hitting the mark. The early trailers look incredibly creepy, with Garland bringing the same sort of off-putting aesthetic that we saw in “Annihilation.” The incredibly talented Jessie Buckley is starring, with Rory Kinnear playing … a lot of other people? It’s unclear, but his presence(s) is/are definitely a contributing factor to the aforementioned creepiness. Garland is a smart, unconventional filmmaker with different ideas about how genre movies should work, both visually and thematically; it will be interesting to see how that ethos translates to elevated horror.

Top Gun: Maverick (May 27)

Let’s fly back into the Danger Zone! This is one of those movies that seemed like it was never going to happen, and then even when it was clear that it WAS going to happen, it still felt like it was never going to happen. We’ve been waiting on this one for coming up on three years – you might remember that the film’s first release delay was back in 2019 for aerial reshoots (they’d probably like to have that one back, hindsight being what it is). Still, it looks like we’re going to finally get a chance to check in with Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his daredevil fighter pilot skills, along with a cast of characters both familiar and new. I don’t know how good this movie is going to be, but I also don’t know how bad it would have to be for me to not enjoy it.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie (May 27)

I’ll confess that I’ve never actually watched “Bob’s Burgers,” despite a lot of people whose opinions I trust telling me that it is well worth my time. Feel free to tell me why I’m dumb for not watching. Still, while I may not be a fan, there are loads of people out there who love Loren Borchard’s animated creation. And it sure sounds like the primary voice talent – stars and supporting cast alike – will be there. This is another project that has been floating around out there for years; it certainly looks like fans are finally going to get their fill. If nothing else, it seems like a shrewd bit of counterprogramming opposite the long-anticipated sequel with which this film shares a release date.

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JUNE

Crimes of the Future (June 3)

Oh man, a new David Cronenberg film? One where he digs back into the weird body horror nihilism that made him such an icon? Hell yes. Let’s do this. It’s got a killer cast – Kristen Stewart is here, and Cronenberg’s “History of Violence” leading man Viggo Mortensen is back for more. It’s got a perfectly Cronenbergian conceit – a future where human biology has changed and evolved in some pretty extensive ways and there are people who work to take advantage of that fact. We haven’t gotten a new one from Cronenberg in nearly a decade, but early word is that the imagery in this movie is some of the gnarliest he’s ever given us. And that is DEFINITELY saying something. It won’t be for everyone, but if you’re in, you’re IN.

Jurassic World: Dominion (June 10)

Franchise filmmaking is funny. I’m not sure I know anyone who is actively excited for this latest installment in the “Jurassic World” franchise. And yet – the previous two films made just shy of a combined $3 billion at the box office. While circumstances are certainly different, I expect this to be a movie that brings out audiences in droves. It’s the sort of movie that demands to be watched in a movie theater. Am I invested at all? Not really, but it doesn’t matter. These movies thrive on the spectacle; even the beloved “Jurassic Park” films (the first two, anyway) were driven by the marvelous effects work. I expect this to be a movie that people genuinely enjoy in the moment and then immediately forget about afterward.

Lightyear (June 17)

I think we can all agree that when we first heard about this movie, we all thought it was kind of a reach. And by “kind of a reach,” I mean “stupid.” Did we really need a prequel origin story for the “real” guy on whom the Buzz Lightyear toy from “Toy Story” was based? We did not. And yet, we have it. And here’s the thing – as much as I hate to say it, the trailers look pretty good. I’m not entirely sure what kind of tone this thing is going to strike, but it seems like it intends to be a good deal more serious than most Pixar fare (well, overtly serious anyway – we’ll see if “Lightyear” makes me actively sob in public).

Cha Cha Real Smooth (June 17)

You’re going to want to learn the name Cooper Raiff. “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is Raiff’s second feature – he wrote, directed and starred in this one, just as he did in his breakout debut “S***house.” The film was the talk of Sundance this year and was acquired for $15 million by Apple TV+ for a day-and-date release in both theaters and on the service. It’s the story of an aimless college grad who makes his living as a paid hype man for bar mitzvahs (yes, really) and the complications that arise when he falls for an older single mom (played by Dakota Johnson). Yes, Raiff is young – still in his mid-20s – but he is an undeniable talent. Oh, and don’t forget what happened to the last movie Apple bought at Sundance.

Elvis (June 24)

Full disclosure: I ride hard for Baz Luhrmann. So when I heard that he was going to direct an Elvis biopic, I was here for it. And when I learned that much of the story would be reflected through Colonel Tom Parker’s perspective – and that Tom Hanks was playing Colonel Tom – I was even more here for it. The combination of Luhrmann’s flair for larger-than-life excess with the meteoric ascendance of Elvis Presley seems like a match made in heaven. Good or bad, who knows, but it will absolutely be interesting. The casting of an unknown as Elvis gives me pause, even as I recognize the near-necessity of doing so. Regardless, this might be one of the movies I most eagerly anticipate this summer.

The Black Phone (June 24)

Man, this one sure seems to have everything you want. Jason Blum and Blumhouse are producing. Scott Derrickson is at the helm, a guy who showed a deft hand with horror with “Sinister.” He’s re-teaming with Ethan Hawke, who is playing the villain. And it all springs from source material written by none other than Joe Hill, whose novella of the same name is the inspiration. There is A LOT of anticipation building around this movie – the story of a young boy kidnapped by a figure known as “The Grabber,” only to discover a method (the titular black phone) that allows him to communicate with past victims. All the pieces are here for one fantastic horror movie. Expect this one to be intense and creepy as hell.

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JULY

Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1)

I’ll confess that I don’t really understand exactly how the “Despicable Me” films somehow spun-off an even more wildly successful franchise revolving around whatever it is that Minions are, but that’s a me problem. The people who make these movies aren’t concerned with me. They are aiming at their target audience and they are hitting with a staggering degree of accuracy. I don’t know what this latest iteration is ostensibly about – some sort of prequel, I think? – and it doesn’t matter. None of it matters. I may see it, I may not. I may review it, I may not. The Minions don’t care. They don’t care what I think and they don’t have to care what I think. Their concerns are beyond our mortal ken.

Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8)

The second MCU entry of the summer, this one promises to be a bit more lighthearted than “Doctor Strange 2,” courtesy of the directorial and co-writing efforts of Taika Waititi, whose “Thor: Ragnarok” was a welcome tonal shift in the MCU. Chris Hemsworth is back, and Natalie Portman is reprising her role as Jane Foster. Christian Bale is making his MCU debut, playing the big bad in the film, and the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to be here as well. Could this movie be one of the primary nexus points for the metanarrative of Phase Four? We’ll see. There’s a lot going on, but with Waititi handling things, we can likely expect a film with the same kind of humor and heart that we saw in “Ragnarok.”

Where the Crawdads Sing (July 15)

Sure, we love the IP franchises and the big explosions, but summer is a good time for a thriller as well. This one – based on the best-selling Delia Owens novel of the same name – fits that bill nicely. Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as a lonely and mysterious young woman – the “Marsh Girl” – who grew up more or less by herself in the swamps of her small South Carolina town. A murder places her in the spotlight, however, and there are those who would have her pay the price regardless of whether she did it or not. This kind of literary adaptation often does well in this slot, and when you’ve got Reese Witherspoon producing – not to mention a brand-new Taylor Swift song – odds are good that things are going to work out.

Nope (July 22)

I know almost nothing about this movie. And unless you worked on it, you know about the same. Jordan Peele has managed to keep the details of this movie – only his third feature as a writer/director – under wraps to a staggering degree. We’ve seen bits and pieces in trailers, but not enough to get anything more than a vague sense of foreboding. And yet, I’m not sure there’s a movie I’m more eager to see this summer. Peele is two-for-two as far as crafting thoughtful, powerful and conscientious genre films; until he misses, I'm betting on him to keep hitting. This movie has a great cast and Peele is quickly establishing himself as one of his generation’s best. I’m saying yep to “Nope,” and I bet you will too.

DC League of Super Pets (July 29)

I’m a comic book movie apologist, make no mistake, but I have to concede that this feels like a bit … much. Don’t get me wrong: I will watch this movie and I will probably dig it more than the average person would dig it. But I recognize my inherent biases. Objectively, this movie feels almost certain to be a lazy, pandering effort to hook some younger viewers into the DCEU, such as it is. All that being said, it is an absolutely STACKED vocal cast, led by Kevin Hart and the Rock as Ace the Bat-Dog and Krypto respectively. Plus Keanu Reeves is in this and I feel like he at least makes an effort to choose non-terrible projects, so maybe this will work?

Bullet Train (July 29)

At my core, I am a simple man. So when you offer me a movie whose fundamental ethos seems to be “put a bunch of elite assassins on a bullet train and see what happens,” I am going to respond with a desire to see that movie. Stuntman-turned director David Leitch seems like a perfect fit for this kind of a thing. And there’s a killer ensemble cast with Brad Pitt leading the way. Oh, and it’s a comedy – word is that Jackie Chan was an inspiration for some of the fights. Early looks have shown glimpses of the frenetic chaos that you hope for in a film like this. The energy of this project seems promising. As to whether the filmmakers fulfill that promise, that remains to be seen.

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AUGUST

Secret Headquarters (Aug. 5)

August will see not one but two theatrical releases of superhero-type films with no connection to either Marvel or DC. This is the first, rumored to be a superpowered riff on “Home Alone.” Basically, you have a kid and his friends who stumble upon a secret lair beneath the family home, leaving the young man to wonder if his dad (played by Owen Wilson) might actually be a superhero. It’s interesting that we haven’t seen more theatrical efforts to engage with the superhero space beyond the Big Two; if this film proves to be successful, maybe we’ll see more of them. Regardless, if you want to give me a high-concept superhero comedy with this cast, I’ll happily take – particularly in the dog days of August.

Bodies Bodies Bodies (Aug. 5)

Another A24 joint? Sure! After all, the company has shown a gift for turning traditional horror expectations on their head – why not check this provocatively named movie out as well? The basic gist is that a bunch of twentysomethings are having a hurricane party in a remote mansion, because that’s a thing that people do, when a party game goes awry and sends the group spiraling into a morass of murder and mayhem, with friendships dissolving into fear and accusations. It’s got a strong ensemble cast and the potential to get REALLY weird, so while the film does mark the English-language directorial debut of Halina Reijn, I expect this one to work well even as the titular bodies hit the floor.

The Man from Toronto (Aug. 12)

Oh yes. That’s the stuff. This is precisely the sort of August movie that makes me think that the movie theater rebound is real. This comedy – directed by Patrick Hughes – is the sort of goofy nonsense that we used to get all the time at this point in the calendar. I mean, it’s a mistaken-identity comedy starring Kevin Hart (normal guy) and Woody Harrelson (elite assassin) as they are somehow confused for one another while staying at an AirBnB (I’m not going to ask questions). Here’s hoping that this movie is as dumb as it sounds, because seeing this kind of low-impact comedy on the big screen is a major part of why going to the movies in late summer is fun.

Samaritan (Aug. 26)

This last film of our preview is also the second of August’s two non-Big Two superheroic offerings. This one stars Sylvester Stallone as a superhero who disappeared years ago and was thought dead, only a young boy discovers that not only is he alive, but he never stopped fighting a battle that the world thought he’d already won. Director Julius Avery seems like a good fit here; he’s got a knack for turning high-concept genre fare into something a bit more elevated. And while Sly has spent some time on the fringes of the comic book movie realm, he hasn’t really led the way since he was in “Judge Dredd” some 30 years ago. Will this movie be good? Who knows? I’m intrigued either way.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 May 2022 11:20

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