Movies I Wanna See Most: Summer 2016

It's that time of year again, the summer movie season is upon us. As always, this annual commencement of super hero blockbusters and action films galore with high budget comedies and low budget horrors both looking to break out in their respective genres begins with the first weekend in May. As you likely already know with the present media blitz attacking every screen you look at it will be the latest Marvel adventure that will be kicking off summer again this year, but there is a whole lot more to talk about and a whole lot you might not have heard of yet. It was actually pretty difficult to break down the release schedule this year into just ten films that I'm genuinely excited to see. There are several smaller, more non-traditional films including Me Before You, Jodie Foster's Money Monster, The Infiltrator starring Bryan Cranston and Swiss Army Man that I'm interested in, but maybe not necessarily excited for. There are also a few other sequels including Now You See Me 2, The Conjuring 2, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and Finding Dory that in a weaker year might have made the cut. There are of course several other sequels hitting the multiplexes this summer, but while TMNT: Out of the Shadows and Star Trek Beyond seem fun enough they will hardly be revolutionary and I can't seem to muster much of anything for either Independence Day: Resurgence or Alice Through the Looking Glass. Horror pickings are fairly slim this year as outside the James Wan sequel we have Lights Out which he also produced. the third Purge flick, and the Blake Lively-led The Shallows. There will of course be those that look to cash in on brand recognition alone including Warcraft, The Legend of Tarzan, Ben-Hur, and Angry Birds all of which could go either way, but Angry Birds brings us to what is quickly becoming the most interesting discussion of summer 2016: animated movies. Beginning with that game adaptation in May the summer of 2016 will see six animated releases over the course of four months including the previously unmentioned Secret Life of Pets, Ice Age: Collision Course, the R-rated Sausage Party and Laika's latest, Kubo and the Two Strings. Some will be hits, others will go quietly into the dark, but the sheer amount of them along with potential comedy hits this summer make them the most potentially interesting stories this year. Needless to say, there will be plenty to see at the movies this summer and since we're talking about family films let's go ahead and jump into number ten...(segue's are weird)...

The BFG will mark Steven Spielberg's first trip into children's entertainment since 2011's Adventures of Tintin, but his first dealing in live action kid-centric material since 1991's Hook. While the set of credentials and talent involved in this project are enough for me to put the film on my most anticipated list I have to admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by the latest trailer. The film has two and a half months before its release, but it seems to be leaning heavily on CGI and that CGI doesn't come across as the most convincing. Spielberg has always been a director of practicality and creating interesting ways to make spectacular things come to life in convincing ways and I feel assured that he has done the same here, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being afraid his older age might be crippling that drive that once possessed him. Still, seeing Spielberg return to the world of wholesome material where he is able to strike a chord with both children and adults alike will be as magical as I've built it up in my mind to be. The titular Big Friendly Giant will be played by Bridge of Spies stand-out Mark Rylance and given his subtle, but highly nuanced performance in that film I am anxious to see what he does with this type of material. Ruby Barnhill also looks to be a perfect leading young lady as her great sense of innocence and wonder can already be seen in the clips we've seen thus far. The BFG also stars Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement, Penelope Wilton, and Adam Godley. (7/1)

Director John Lee Hancock can be rather hit or miss. Though The Blind Side was universally praised it doesn't seem to have aged as well as most expected. The reverse happened with his 2013 feature, Saving Mr. Banks, which initially underwhelmed crowds who expected a lot from the story it was telling, but for me has become something of a treasure. Why then, you might ask, is the directors next film this high on my most anticipated list? Well, a few reasons-the first being that it is once again Hancock taking on a true story with a very specific protagonist and it is in this territory the man seems to flourish (see also The Rookie). Second, the screenplay was written solely by Robert D. Siegel who previously wrote The Wrestler and Big Fan without any source material to pull from. Third is the fact that Michael Keaton stars and to say that guy is on something of a hot streak lately is an understatement. Keaton has led the last two best Picture Oscar winners and in my opinion should have won the Best Actor statue for Birdman in 2015. Whatever has changed about his project selection over the last few years seems to have been for the best and that he found Siegel's screenplay about McDonald's founder Ray Kroc intriguing enough to take on the titular role can only mean good things for this 2017 Oscar hopeful. The Founder also stars Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, Nick Offerman, Laura Dern, John Carroll Lynch, and B.J. Novak. (8/5)

Gary Ross is a name you probably don't know, but one that certainly deserves to be treated with high regard. Having directed only three films over the course of a thirty year career in Hollywood it is clear Ross is quite particular about his projects. If that wasn't clear from his filmography his passion for the art of filmmaking should have at least come across in turning down what would have certainly been a massive paycheck to deliver The Hunger Games sequels under the studios timeline. That he quit after the first film because he was unwilling to compromise his vision is nothing short of telling. With his new film, Free State of Jones, Ross has both written and directed a film that tells the story of Southern farmer Newt Knight (Matthew McConaughey) who led a rebellion against the Confederacy during the war. Knight's opposition to both slavery and secession, led him to launch an uprising of poor white farmers that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a "Free State of Jones." Knight's relationship and post-war marriage to a former slave, Rachel Knight (Consussion's Gugu Mbatha-Raw), effectively established the region's first mixed-race community. Most of all I'm eager to see what drew Ross to this material as well as McConaughey who looks to be in full McConaissance mode with the charisma and layers of depth that crafted his resurgence a few years ago on full display in the film's trailer. Free State of Jones also stars Keri Russell, Mud's Jacob Lofland, Mahershala Ali, Sean Bridgers, and Gary Grubbs. (6/24)

A work-in-progress cut of Seth Rogen‘s R-rated animated comedy, Sausage Party, debuted at Austin's SXSW festival last month to rapturous applause. While I wasn't sure what to expect from the film given it seemed intent on skewing all that I held precious as a child the first red-band trailer for the film that debuted right after the premiere cleared all of that hesitation up and put this near the top of my most anticipated list. Being one of the funniest trailers I've seen in recent memory the film looks to be just as warped as one would need to be to succeed as the first R-rated CG animated movie. Sausage Party follows a group of unsuspecting wieners and meat products when they come to understand the truth about where they will eventually end up. Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg also enlisted Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) to compose the original music for the film clearly illustrating their ambitions for the project. These guys are cutting no corners as the animation looks quite striking as well. I hope with great optimism that they are just willing to go as weird and out there with the full-length feature as they did in our first glimpse of the movie and didn't give away all the best bits. Sausage Party also features the voice talents of Jonah Hill, James Franco, Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, Michael Cera, David Krumholtz, and Salma Hayek. (8/12)

The anticipation for the the return of Shane Black must have been at fever pitch given the guy directed his first feature a decade ago and didn't return until eight years later and for a Marvel movie at that. I feel in the minority when it comes to Iron Man 3, but the following Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has gathered since its quiet release in 2005 is somewhat incomprehensible. I saw the film then, as an eighteen year-old and remember liking it, but don't remember too much about the actual film. I'll certainly need to go back and re-visit it soon given Black's third feature directorial effort that looks to be very much in line with that film looks fantastic. The Nice Guys seems to be a period piece/noir with the irreverent tone that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang featured in spades. I wasn't sure what to expect from the film given the standard sounding premise, but in everything we've seen so far Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe look to be having a great time with the seventies setting and the outlandish brand of comedy, violence, dialogue, and everything else that seems to be an over the top homage to the decade that will undoubtedly make the experience of the film a whole lot of fun. I couldn't be happier this is getting a nice, big summer release date and can't wait to sit down to see it. The Nice Guys also stars Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, and Ty Simpkins. (5/20)

I put Todd Phillips new film, originally titled Arms and the Dude, on my most anticipated of the year list so you can bet it is one of my most anticipated movies this summer. I find Phillips to be a fascinating director. The guy has exclusively made broad comedies since Road Trip in 2000, but it was with The Hangover in 2009 that he became something of an institution and by the time he finished crafting the third, darker, and ultimately rebellious chapter in that men behaving badly franchise he was a comedy auteur. Phillips has a persona that screams he thinks he's cooler than you and all of the best characters in his movies seem to replicate that state of mind. All of this made whatever Phillips would decide to do next all the more interesting and this year we will finally see the answer to that question. In the film Miles Teller and Jonah Hill play two guys who win a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan. Feeling akin to something like Michael Bay's so crazy it must be true Pain & Gain (which I kind of loved) War Dogs looks to be something that exists on that crazy ass scale of comedy where you would hate to be involved with such characters, but can't take your eyes off them. The prospect of Phillips working with comedic talent like Hill for the first time and Teller getting the chance to spread his obvious comedic wings with such a director is reason enough to be excited, but that the first trailer makes the film look pretty fantastic is just a bonus. War Dogs also stars Bradley Cooper, Ana De Armas, Jeff Pierre, Barry Livingston, Shaun Toub, JB Blanc, and Brenda Koo. (8/19)

It has been almost nine years since we last left Jason Bourne swimming into the abyss. Of course, there was that one Bourne Legacy film about chems that attempted to have Jeremy Renner carry on the series after it seemed Matt Damon was firmly opposed to returning to the character, but alas here we are. For the record, Damon never said he wouldn't return to the world of Bourne, just that he wouldn't do it without the guidance of director Paul Greengrass, but once Greengrass committed himself to return Damon signed on as well. It's unclear if they will attempt to tie in the events of Legacy, but either way the fact the major creative team (minus Tony Gilroy) from both Supremacy and Ultimatum have returned (the best entries of the series in my opinion) is a hugely promising sign that we're in for what will hopefully be an exceptional spy thriller that will carry on the legacy those aforementioned sequels began rather than tainting it as the Renner spin-off did. Both Damon and Greengrass along with the directors frequent collaborator, Christopher Rouse, have scripted this fourth installment simply titled Jason Bourne. Given their seeming investment in this world and in this character I can only imagine they'd only agree to return if they had a story they felt was worth telling. It's crazy to think that Damon was only thirty-two when he made The Bourne Identity and will turn forty-six in October of this year while presumably still going strong, but if this is done right he will be able to bring a whole new meaning to the phrase, "The Bourne Legacy." Jason Bourne also stars Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent cassel, Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, and Ato Essandoh. (7/29)

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping makes complete sense given The Lonely Island and its members, including Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, have been somewhat parodying pop music for years now with their digital shorts on SNL and early hip hop inspired albums including Incredibad, Turtleneck & Chain, as well as 2013's The Wack Album. We're long overdue for some new Lonely Island music and that this time around the album will be accompanied by a live action feature only adds more joy to my life. After being shrouded in secrecy for the majority of its shooting schedule we finally caught a glimpse of the film last month and it looks to be all I ever hoped. In the film, Samberg stars as a riff on Justin Bieber with the premise being that when his new album fails to sell records he will try anything to bounce back; anything except reuniting with his old rap group The Style Boyz. Given the Island's last film, 2007's Hot Rod, only grossed $14 million worldwide I'm anxious to see if this film will expand past those borders and reach a broader audience. As a fan of theirs (I adore Hot Rod and feel the movie has definitely picked up steam since its home video release) it would be nice to see Popstar get some high praise and recognition right out of the gate, especially if the final product deserves it. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping also stars Sarah Silverman, Mike Birbiglia, Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots, Bill Hader, Joan Cusack, and Snoop Dogg. (6/3)

As with last summers Age of Ultron I get more excited for these Marvel films the closer we get to release than I ever believe I'm actually going to be. With Captain America: Civil War kicking off the 2016 summer movie season in less than three weeks now and press screenings already taking place I can't wait to see what the MCU has in store for us next. In what seemed to be nothing short of Avengers 2.5 Civil War (and Cap in general) seems to have a lot of responsibility on its shoulders for moving the MCu towards the inevitable Infinity War while Marvel's other releases this year and next including Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Spider-Man Homecoming will more or less operate on their own accord. Of course, one of the biggest highlights of the last Civil War trailer was that first look at Tom Holland's Spider-Man and so it seems we might get a good idea as to just how intertwined the web-slinger is in this universe within a few weeks. Regardless, I'm pumped. Working from a script by Winter Soldier scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely directors Joe and Anthony Russo also returned for Civil War and look to have crafted something just as epic as fans of both the comics and the MCU could hope for. Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, and Martin Freeman. (5/6)

After what will undoubtedly go down in history if not the record books as something of a disappointing run for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice it seems Warner Bros. will not only be "releasing fewer films", but also focusing more on the franchises they already have in motion. The worst thing the studio could do at this point is administer a knee-jerk reaction and completely rethink their DC extended universe plans. So BvS didn't go exactly as they'd hoped critically or commercially-that doesn't mean you start trying to bend to the whim of every internet comments section, especially when you have something as unique and fantastic seeming as Suicide Squad on the horizon. The story of a secret government agency that recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency comes to us courtesy of acclaimed director David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) so there is no reason to expect less than excellence from what has been promised. If Suicide Squad is indeed as good as its trailers indicate Warner Bros. could essentially move the conversation in their favor and have people once again excited for next summer's Wonder Woman and even next November's Justice League Part I. I only hope Warner Bros. doesn't take too much early action a la those "re-shoots" to make the film more "fun" and rather allows what has the potential to be something truly different and therefore exciting the room it requires to breathe. Suicide Squad stars Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Jay Hernandez, and Karen Fukahara. (8/5)

Kubo and the Two Strings - An epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA. Clever, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior. (8/19)

Central Intelligence - After reuniting with an old pal through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant (Kevin Hart) is lured into the world of international espionage with that friend, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson). (6/17)

X-Men: Apocalyspe -With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. (5/27)

Pete's Dragon - In this remake of the 1977 film we again follow the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon. (8/12)

Ghostbusters - 30 years after Ghostbusters took the world by storm, the beloved franchise makes its long-awaited return. Director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today.

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