Summer 2016 is upon us, at least in terms of the movie season. Sure, blockbuster cinema comes year-around now, with gigantic franchises launching or rolling on in the once wee months of February and March, but May is when the big guns seem to come out every single weekend.
Instead of jotting down every sequel, remake, reboot and R-rated comedy; a different tact will be taken here. We’re going to run through the summer movie season by picking one big-budget beast and one, relatively as it is the time for ‘splosions, quainter project. And what has more things going boom and more hype than our first selection to kick off this preview than…
Captain America: Civil War (May 6th)
Hot, well, perhaps not hot, hmmm…After the McDonald’s heat-lamp warm response to Avengers: Age of Ultron, one would think there might be a dent in the Disney Marvel Universe of Cap, Iron Man and pals. Not according to early buzz, internet hype and giddy fanboys and fangirls, for Captain America: Civil War, which has more Avengers than an Avengers film. The Russo Brothers are at the helm once more, after ruling the roost with the fantastic last Cap outing Winter Soldier. This time, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark begin a war of words and then one with fists/flying-shields/missiles/drop-kicks over proper superhero-ing after collateral damage begins to take too big of a toll. Even a jaded comic nerd like me is giggling with excitement this time, perhaps due in no small part to the inclusion of all-time great Marvel character Black Panther joining the raucous happenings. The opinions will be coming fast and furious in but a few days.
The Lobster (May 13th)
From Yorgos Lanthimos, the maker of the excellent and really weird Dogtooth and the also excellent and also really weird Alps comes The Lobster, which looks excellent and really weird. It stars Colin Farrell as a man looking for love. Okay, that’s not too bizarre. However, if Farrell is unable to find the love of his life over 45 days, he will be transformed into an animal. OOOOOOOOOH. There’s the strange stuff. Also starring Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, Ben Whishaw and more, The Lobster has been garnering raves on the festival circuit for nearly a year now and – thankfully – is finally hitting domestic shores. If has the astute, unique human observations of his previous affairs, Lanthimos should have another stunner on his hands.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (June 3rd)
While perhaps not the most mainstream of projects and seeming to have a comedic take that doubles down on the absurd, this Andy Samberg vehicle’s trailer has played on a loop in front of nearly every movie released in 2016. Featuring an ensemble of – deep breath – Bill Hader, Will Arnett, Mya Rudolph, Adam Levine, Martin Sheen, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots and probably Seattle’s own Brian Taibl at this rate, Popstar looks like the right mix of This is Spinal Tap celebrity skewering and Anchorman stupidity, with Samberg as an egotistical music artist that would make Kanye humble.
Swiss Army Man (June 24th)
If Popstar is the most likely comedy to be a surprise hit this summer, Swiss Army Man is probably the comedy that people will be most likely say, “What the hell is that movie?” about. Daniel Radcliffe plays a dead body that gets dragged around by Paul Dano. That’s the plot. It’s said to have a lot of farting and apparently Mary Elizabeth Winstead. This film, which I assure you is a legit thing, gained mass applause and eerie looks when it premiered at Sundance.
The BFG (July 1st)
This is a Steven Spielberg film. Wait; more needs be said? The script is by Melissa Mathison, who made a little film called E.T. with Spielberg. Plus it’s an adaptation of a beloved Roald Dahl story about a young girl and her friendship with the titular Big Friendly Giant. Aaaand…Spielberg. That’s enough people.
Captain Fantastic (July 8th)
Not the latest Marvel pic, nor an Elton John biopic, Captain Fantastic finds Viggo Mortensen as a particularly peculiar father forced to leave the nest in the literal woods of the Pacific Northwest. Mortensen is one of the most unsung actors today, working dark dramas, action and thrillers, with a range in earnestness and eeriness that spans multiple languages, and amassed a lot of praise for this performance. Good word for the movie as a whole also came from Sundance and an entry into the Cannes Film Festival in a few weeks. Captain Fantastic could be this summer’s indie breakout everyone chats about.
Kubo and the Two Strings (August 19th)
Laika, the animation studio that has so-far brought us the delectable treats Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, is back with the stunning looking, biggest budget outing in the studio’s existence. Kubo and the Two Strings once more focuses on a child protagonist, this time a young boy finding himself caught up in a long-standing dispute of locals, gods, monsters and samurai. With a, frankly, flawless history as a beacon for stop-motion films, anything Laika produces at this point is a must-see and a glance at the images for Kubo so far only implore greater giddiness.
The Intervention (August 26th)
Terrific and underrated actress Clea Duvall writes, directs and stars in this dramatic comedy in which a bunch of friends laugh, hang and try to figure out how to convince someone to get a divorce. Also featuring the terrific Melanie Lynskey, Alia Shawkat, Natasha Lyonne and Cobie Smulders, The Intervention sounds like the right palette cleanser between four months of bloated boom-boom pics and the next four months of bloated Oscar flicks.