The summer movie season already started on fire with the hit status of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the beginning of this month. There’s still three months to go, however, and the multiplexes are serving up much more for your delectation as the weather turns hot.
This Memorial Day weekend, Top Gun: Maverick finds Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell mentoring a new generation of pilots. The star said back in 1990 that he didn’t want to do a sequel to his 1986 hit because he was afraid it would glorify war, but I suppose a man’s entitled to change his mind in the course of 30 years. We’ll see if the sequel has something new to say.
Other sequels include Thor: Love and Thunder, with Oscar-winning funnyman Taika Waititi back at the helm, the crew from Guardians of the Galaxy dropping in, and what appears to be Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster taking possession of Thor’s powers. Chris Pratt also headlines Jurassic World Dominion, what’s billed as the last of this group of sequels which reunites the main cast members of the 1993 Jurassic Park as well. Disney, which appears to have missed a trick by releasing Turning Red on streaming only this past March, rejoins the theaters with Lightyear, a spinoff of the Toy Story films with Chris Evans as the voice of the astronaut hero that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toys. For the sake of completeness, we should probably include Minions: The Rise of Gru in this paragraph, too.
If you prefer prestige fare during the summer to counteract all the popcorn pictures, Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis takes on the life of the King of Rock and Roll as its subject, with Tom Hanks as Col. Tom Parker. Oscar nominee Lesley Manville stars in some lighter fare in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, adapted from a 1958 TV show about a London cleaning lady who dreams of buying herself a Dior dress in the City of Lights. Delia Owens’ novel Where the Crawdads Sing receives its own film version, with Daisy Edgar-Jones starring as a social outcast in the Carolina marshes who’s accused of murder. Even the Brad Pitt comic thriller Bullet Train is a literary adaptation, this one based on a Japanese novel, with assassins working at cross purposes on the super-fast train.
It won’t be just kids who might be curious about The Bob’s Burgers Movie, the big-screen version of the Fox animated show in which the Belchers try to save their burger joint. Other animated movies include Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, in which a dog tries to learn the art of becoming a samurai. (I’m getting strong Kung Fu Panda vibes from this, but whatever.) That will do battle with DC League of Super-Pets, which comes out the following week and is about the housepets of superheroes who must step up and save the day.
Summer is always peak season for horror films, and Ethan Hawke stars in The Black Phone as a serial killer who preys on children. The advance word has been good about The Watcher, which stars It Follows’ Maika Monroe as a woman who observes a man watching her apartment in a city terrorized by a serial rapist-murderer. A similar buzz precedes Bodies Bodies Bodies, about a group of young people (including Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova) who start to turn on one another during a hurricane party. David Cronenberg returns to body horror with Crimes of the Future, which bears the same title as one of his earliest films but stars Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen. Weirdo British director Peter Strickland (In Fabric) does a horror movie at a cooking school called Flux Gourmet. Still, no horror film is as hotly anticipated this summer as Jordan Peele’s Nope. Details are sketchy at this point, but it takes place on a Black-owned horse ranch that supplies animals to Hollywood.
You may find the most interesting items among the specialty releases. Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story is a documentary about the history of that city’s jazz festival, while This Much I Know to Be True chronicles the working relationship between Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The raves have already poured in for Montana Story, a drama about estranged siblings (Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague) who reunite for their abusive father’s funeral. Andrew Semans’ thriller Resurrection has Rebecca Hall confronting her own past trauma, Claire Denis’ thriller Both Sides of the Blade takes on a French love triangle, and the Argentinian film-industry satire Official Competition pairs Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz for the first time ever. The late, lamented Grand Berry Theater may no longer be showing us these little gems, but we can still keep an eye out for them.