Time for tentpoles, fantasies and reboots at the movies
By now, the summer movie drill is quite familiar. The season is built around the blockbusters or "tentpoles," primarily special-effects-driven sequels with established box office track records. The studios bring out their heavyweight animated movies and sprinkle in a mix of comedies and dramas.
With luck, one or two gems will emerge by Labor Day.
The film schedule below is subject to change. The gems, if they exist, may arrive in the Berkshires after screening in the large markets, but the blockbusters will arrive right on schedule.
The word "apocalypse" in a title usually signals an overblown epic saturated with special effects, which the trailer suggests is the case with "X-Men: Apocalypse" (opening today). The series has tied itself in knots with its time-travel plotting so maybe Oscar Isaac's super-mutant can restore some order.
The evil space invaders return after 20 years for another fight with earthlings in "Independence Day: Resurgence" (June 24). The 1996 original got caught between comedy and science-fiction, but with no Will Smith this time (Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch return) the sequel may find its footing in sci-fi.
A reboot of the 1984 classic, "Ghostbusters" (July 15) has been taking a social media pasting following a couple of mediocre trailers. The trolls' real motivation may be the female cast, but the presence of Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy as exterminators of evil ghosts provides cause for optimism.
"Star Trek Beyond" (July 22) marks the 50th anniversary of the classic TV-movie series. Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock) and crew are scattered when the Enterprise is attacked while grounded in a spaceport.
"Jason Bourne" (July 29) is the fourth of the popular films starring Matt Damon as a trained killer seeking the truth about his identity. Bourne has outfoxed various government bureaucrats over the years but this time he confronts CIA head Tommy Lee Jones.
The sequel to 2010's "Alice in Wonderland," "Alice Through The Looking Glass" (opening today) finds Alice (Mia Wasikowska) at odds with Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his Seconds and Minutes.
Adapted from a video game, "Warcraft" (July 10) features a battle between orcs and humans as seen from both sides.
The title character in "The BFG" (July 1) is a Big Friendly Giant bullied by other giants because he won't eat children. Recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance is the giant in this film adapted by Steven Spielberg from a Roald Dahl children's book.
A live action/animation reboot of the 1977 original, "Pete's Dragon" (Aug. 12), features Oakes Fegley as a 10-year-old boy who claims he lives in the woods with a giant dragon. Bryce Dallas Howard is a curious park ranger.
Greta Gerwig's master manipulator decides that her boyfriend (Ethan Hawke) should get back with his ex-wife (Julianne Moore) in the romantic comedy "Maggie's Plan" (June 3). Also on the 3rd, Andy Samberg plays a hip-hop star in the mockumentary "Pop Star: Never Stop Stopping."
Dwayne Johnson is a big, suave secret agent, and Kevin Hart is (as usual) a small, nervous motormouth in the buddy comedy "Central Intelligence" (June 17). All you need to know about the plot of "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" (July 8) is in the title. Adam Devine and Zac Efron are brothers Mike and Dave.
"Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie" (July 22) brings Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, the tipsy British pals of the popular British sitcom of the '90s, to the big screen. Meryl Steep is a tone deaf New York socialite determined to become an opera singer in "Florence Foster Jenkins" (Aug. 12).
Bored with his literally endless life and marriage, a Vienna-based vampire (Tobias Moretti) seeks help from Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer) in "Therapy for a Vampire" (June 24). In "Swiss Army Man" (July 1), a man stranded on an island (Paul Dano) befriends a reanimated dead corpse (Daniel Radcliffe). This is not based on a Roald Dahl children's book.
Good moms Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell just can't take it anymore in "Bad Moms" (July 29). Jonah Hill and Miles Teller play buddies who convince the Pentagon to give them a contract to provide weapons to Afghan rebels in "War Dogs" (August 19), which is based on a true story chronicled by Rolling Stone.
"Me Before You" (June 3) stars Sam Claflin as an embittered paralyzed man and Emilia Clarke (the Mother of Dragons on "Game of Thrones") as his caregiver.
"The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble," a documentary about the international group of musicians gathered by Ma to spread the message of cultural inclusiveness around the globe, opens the Berkshire International Film Festival on June 2. Directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Morgan Neville ("20 Feet From Stardom"), the film opens in Los Angeles and New York City on June 10 before going wider.
"The Free State of Jones" (June 24), which is based on the true story of a Mississippi farmer (Matthew McConaughey) who leads a revolt of blacks and whites against the Confederacy, is attracting favorable buzz.
Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the man who built the McDonald's empire, in "The Founder" (Aug. 5). Laura Dern and Nick Offerman are also in the cast. On Aug. 19, the origin story of the Obamas, Barack and Michelle, comes to the big screen in "Southside With You," starring Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter.
Because the muscle-bound, wisecracking turtles make money they keep making movies, and the latest, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows," drops June 3. Illusionists Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg try to put one over on tech magnate Daniel Radcliffe (back from the dead in "Swiss Army Man") in the sequel "Now You See Me 2" (June 10).
Bikini-clad surfer Blake Lively is pursued by a great white shark in "The Shallows" (June 29), this summer's version of "Jaws." Alexander Skarsgård swings into action as Tarzan and Margot Robbie is Jane in "The Legend of Tarzan" (June 24).
Spinning off a plot from "The Dirty Dozen," DC Comics' leading villains are released from prison and sent on a secret mission in "Suicide Squad" (Aug. 5). Will Smith, the busy Margot Robbie and Adam Beach are among the baddies in a film that, with its mix of superhero action and dark comedy, could be this summer's "Deadpool."
Jack Huston is the title character in "Ben-Hur" (Aug. 19), a reboot of the 1959 classic starring Charlton Heston as the rebellious slave leader in the time of Christ. Even with modern special effects it will be tough to outdo the famous chariot race.
The follow-up to Pixar's 2003 hit "Finding Nemo," "Finding Dory" (June 17) finds the memory-challenged blue tang Dory (voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres) lost at sea. Albert Brooks and Willem Dafoe again lend their voices.
Well-cared-for Manhattan pups Max (Louis C.K.) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) confront a gang of rebellious former pets led by Kevin Hart's rabbit in "The Secret Life of Pets" (July 8). In "Ice Age: Collision Course" (July 22), the fifth installment in the series, Scrat the squirrel chases an acorn into outer space and endangers the planet. Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Jennifer Lopez are among the voices.
Supermarket food items discover that a cruel fate awaits when they are purchased in the R-rated "Sausage Party" (Aug. 12). Seth Rogen voices the titular sausage, Kristen Wiig is a hot dog bun and in obvious typecasting, Salma Hayek is a taco. Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron and Ralph Fiennes lend their voices to "Kubo and the Two Strings" (Aug. 19), which tells the story of a boy in ancient Japan who pursues a magical samurai outfit.
Husband-and-wife paranormal investigators Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back in action June 10 in "The Conjuring 2". It's been established that clowns are scary. In "Clown" (June 24), a dad (Andy Powers) dons a clown costume he found for his son's birthday party and discovers he can't get it off.
The premise of the "Purge" series of films is that on one night a year, all crimes go unpunished. "The Purge: Election Year" arrives July 1 with a political slant. Will the movie be as scary as the real thing?