Cars, Dunkirk, Spider-Man and more: the summer movie guide
From blockbusters to indie flicks, here are the best releases from now until autumn
Spider-Man: Homecoming: July 5th
Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde
Last summer, an array of awful franchise pictures prompted many commentators to suggest that 2016 might be the worst year ever for cinema. This was nonsense. There were dozens of great films, but the high-profile blockbusters – Independence Day Resurgence, anyone? – were arguably more awful than ever. We have some grounds for modest optimism this year.
There’s another film in the excellent revamped Planet of the Apes series. Does Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk count? That historical drama is eagerly anticipated. But also look out for some delicious smaller films: It Comes at Night, Ghost Story, Maudie. There’s a great cinematic summer out there if you choose wisely.
So Spidey has joined the Marvelverse for at least three pictures. Are we psyched? Maybe. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was one the highlights of Captain America: Civil War and Robert Downey Junior and Michael Keaton will be riding shotgun. Still, this latest reboot marks the web-slingers’ seventh big screen outing since 2002, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) saw only small returns on the $430 million it cost to make, market and release.
IT COMES AT NIGHT
Trey Edward Shultz made a splash last year with the nail-biting family drama Krisha, named by John Waters as the best film of 2016. Arriving hot on the heels of Get Out, this brilliant new post-apocalyptic drama, starring Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr as survivors of a killer pandemic, confirms the emergence of a new, woke, Trumpian era genre flick.
Larry (Kieran Coppinger) and Sophie (Charlene Kelly) are two intellectually disabled adults in love. But Irish law means their relationship cannot be consummated. Might they be able to get around Irish law with the assistance of their care worker (Robert Doherty) and their adventurous chums from the special needs group? Capering masks the political and social gravitas in Len Collins’ wonderful debut feature.
SONG TO SONG
Remember when Terrence Malick made films once in a geological age? Those days are gone. Like Knight of Cups, this experimental musical features a large, starry ensemble, including Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman. It can’t possibly be worse than the last two feature length perfume ads, can it?
The grandes dammes are coming! Catherine Frot is an uptight, hardworking midwife whose life is becoming unstuck when her father’s former mistress (Catherine Deneuve) – a drunken, sweary, good-time – turns up to make some much-needed devilment.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
The classiest summer franchise continues with a predictably exciting simian-human stand-off. Two years after DOTPOTA (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Caesar (Andy Serkis) fights on against the surviving human population. But ape casualties are beginning to take a terrible toll, both militarily and psychologically.
The trailer for the third instalment – discounting those Planes spin-offs – in Pixar’s least critically acclaimed series promises a pared-down comeback movie on hyperreal racetracks. Will this prove the Rocky Balboa of the sequence? Or will it be just another merchandise launch?
Sofia Coppola returns to the dreamy, girlie visuals that made Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides with this remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 Civil War drama. Nicole Kidman is the strict headmistress of an isolated girls’ school that takes in Colin Farrell’s wounded Yankee soldier. Sexual jealousies ensue, as both students and teachers (Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst) vie for his attentions.
A group of 13th century monks – including new Spider-Man Tom Holland and The Walking Dead’s John Bernthal – journey through Ireland with a religious relic. The object is to be presented to the pope in Rome, if, that is, the group can fend off various rivals.
Christopher Nolan’s second World War action-drama features both younger guns (Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, and Barry Keoghan) and reliable veterans (Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, and Tom Hardy). Coming in at a taut 107minutes, it’s the director’s shortest film since Following (1998).
Dav Pilkey’s shed-load selling series of novels finally gets to the big screen. This 3D animation sees two fourth grade prankster pals (Kevin Hart and Thomas Middlemarch) hypnotise their school principal (Ed Helms) into believing he is the titular superhero. Together, they must take on the nefarious Prof Pee Pee Poopypants.
Lifelong pals Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith head off to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. High jinks, public weeing, and absinthe drinking ensues.
THE BIG SICK
This critically lauded South-By-Southwest winning comedy is based on the real courtship of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon, and is being hailed as a return to form for producer, Judd Apatow.
Emer Reynolds’ fascinating chronicle of the Voyager Programme gathers together dozens of the original scientists. Winner of the best Irish documentary at ADIFF this year, where industry veteran Reynolds also received the George Byrne Maverick Award.
47 METRES DOWN
Sister divers Mandy Moore and Claire Holt are running out of oxygen in an underwater cage. Sharks circle. Already a monstrous sleeper hit in the US.
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Intergalactic operatives Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne race to save the multicultural metropolis of Alpha from dark forces in what promises to be Luc Beeson’s noisiest film since The Fifth Element. We’re not shouting: you’re shouting!
EMOJIMOVIE: EXPRESS YOURSELF
To be fair, nobody thought The Lego Movie or The Angry Birds Movie would be up to much. But the former was tremendous and the latter was grand, like. Patrick Stewart voices poo. Those decades at the RSC have not been for nothing.
ENGLAND IS MINE
The life and times of Steven Patrick Morrissey before he went on to become lead singer of The Smiths, and then a strange old contrarian who admires Nigel Farage and thinks of Chinese people as a “sub-species”.
Aisling Walsh directs Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke in this bittersweet, award-winning biopic of Maud Lewis, the 20th century outsider-artist from Nova Scotia.
John Wick co-helmer David Leitch directs Charlize Theron, well, Lesbian John Wick. This comic book adventure set during the dying days of the Cold War boasts a final extended beat-‘em-up with the best fight choreography of the year.
Everybody’s favourite scary doll scores a prequel to 2014’s Annabelle. The fourth film from the much-loved Conjuring universe also features spooky nuns. David F Sandberg (Lights Out) directs.
A GHOST STORY
A white sheet-wearing ghost (Casey Affleck) watches his wife (Rooney Mara) grieving for him in David Lowery’s (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) wildly-praised drama.
THE DARK TOWER
An adaptation of Stephen King’s fantasy epic about the mysterious “gun slinger”? Sort of. Nikolaj Arcel’s film is actually a continuation of King’s story featuring the endlessly charismatic Idris Elba in the lead role. An odd approach to a popular source.
These Young Adult phenomena come at us from all directions. Stella Meghie’s directs Amandla Stenberg – a Hunger Games graduate – in the tale of a girl with an immune deficiency who belatedly dares to step outside. From a novel by Nicola Yoon.
Here’s a subject worth having a crack at. Lambert Wilson appears as the legendary Jacques Cousteau in an examination of that legend’s 30-year effort to film the mysteries of the ocean. The popular French director has also got Audrey Tautou on board as Simone Melchior Cousteau, the first female scuba diver.
After Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigolow continues her investigations into controversial incidents from US history with an ambitious film on the riot that shook Detroit in 1967. The director has gathered up a diverse cast including John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie and Jack Reynor. Expect arguments.
Wasn’t Steven Soderbergh supposed to have quit directing features? The versatile film-maker returns with a comedy starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver. The picture concerns efforts to execute a robbery during the big Memorial Day race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. So this is Fun Soderbergh then.
A classy bunch of actors has been brought together for a “dark comedy” concerning a hen party that turns ugly following the death of a male stripper. Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Zoë Kravitz will be donning sashes and pink cowboy hats. Or is that just an Irish thing?
This year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner reaches audiences sooner then many previous victors. Ruben Östlund’s strange sprawling film uses the Stockholm art scene as an arena for the investigation of various contemporary ails. At its best it is very good indeed.
The last collaboration between Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman was on the excellent Edge of Tomorrow. They reunite for a thriller concerning Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who went undercover for the CIA in the 1980s. Domhnall Gleeson – the hardest-working Gleeson in show business – takes a significant supporting role.
Hip hop films tend to find an audience in Ireland. So there will be much interest in Geremy Jasper’s drama concerning a young New Jersey rapper. Danielle Macdonald stars as “Dumbo” Dumbrowski. Well received at this year’s Sundance Film Festival
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
Hugely well reviewed at Sundance and the recent Edinburgh Film Festival, Francis Lee’s film concerns the relationship between a Yorkshire sheep farmer and a Romanian migrant. Inevitable comparisons to Brokeback Mountain have been made.
A quarter of a century after the TV version, we finally get a film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel concerning a malign force who, in the shape of a clown, menaces a group of young outsiders. Andrés Muschietti’s picture – starring Bill Skarsgård as the evil Pennywise – is the first in a two-part saga.
This sounds tough. This sounds hard. Dylan O’Brien out of The Maze Runner plays a young man who, after terrorists kill his girlfriend, is trained to exact revenge by ruthless CIA operative Michael Keaton. The erratic Michael Cuesta directs.
Pay attention. A family comes across a box of animal crackers that changes anybody who eats one into the creature depicted on the selected snack. Got that? This animated international co-production features the voices of Emily Blunt and Ian McKellen.
VICTORIA AND ABDUL
Grey pound alert! Judi Dench makes a bookend of Mrs Brown with a film concerning the other controversial relationship in Queen Victoria’s life. Ali Fazal plays an Indian attendant who became Her Majesty’s confidante in later years. Reliable Stephen Frears is behind the megaphone.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
The first Kingsman film – an arch espionage parody that made no concessions to subtlety – was a genuine smash in 2015. The original team is back. Matthew Vaughn directs Colin Firth and Taron Egerton. Julianne Moore (of all people) is the master villain. Elton John plays himself. Who else would dare to try?
BORG Vs McENROE
Well, you know what this is. The Swedish production casts Sverrir Gudnason as Björn Borg and Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe in a study of the rivalry between those two players at the 1980 Wimbledon Championship. You cannot be… No, we won’t go there.
A dramatisation of the mass breakout from the Maze prison in 1983. A fine Irish cast has assembled to relive the busiest prison escape in Europe since the second World War. Martin McCann, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Seán T. Ó Meallaigh will be among those keeping their heads down while the screws scratch theirs.
Another example (Jumanji is also on the way) of Hollywood remaking a film that nobody much liked in the first place. Niels Arden Oplev, who made the first adaptation of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, directs Ellen Page and Diego Luna in the medical thriller.
GOODBYE, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
The first cuckoo of awards season? Domhnall Gleeson plays A A Milne in a consideration of how the Winnie the Pooh stories came to pass. Margot Robbie is Mrs Milne. So we know for certain that it will look very nice.