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2017 Summer Movie Preview: From Superhero Blockbusters to Hot Oscar Hopefuls

Webslingers to ‘Wonder Woman,’ angry apes to angrier aliens and even a few prestige movies – your complete blockbuster guide

The beancounters are predicting a big-ass sag in the box-office this summer. Audiences have had it, right? They won’t line up to throw their money away on the fifth iteration of Transformers (this one’s called The Last Knight, out June 21st) or Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Men Tell No Tales, May 26th), or Pixar’s third Cars movie (June 16th)? Not so fast. The demise of blockbuster retreads and ripoffs must still be filed under fake news; the revolt against franchise fatigue may be as slow in coming as Trump impeachment proceedings. Lousy movies wouldn’t be spawning sequels if the public wasn’t paying for them. And now studios have a large overseas market clamoring for same old/same old. But all is not lost … not completely. Even in this season of the walking braindead, we’ve have ferreted out 21 choice surprises in live-wire escapism and real-deal Oscar heat. Here are the blockbusters and big-name, big-budget movies you need to be paying attention to this summer.

2017 Summer Movie Preview

‘Despicable Me 3’ (June 30)

Steve Carrel says his kids’ friends always beg him to do the
voice of Gru, the animated villain – now reformed – that he first voiced in
2010. And the
fact that Carell will also play Gru’s newly discovered twin, Dru, puts
Despicable Me 3 on my summer must list. When it comes to this character, I’m a
toadying minion.

2017 Summer Movie Preview

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (July 7)

Sony is shameless about rebooting this Marvel hero – the fact that the last two Spider-Man films had “Amazing” in the title mocked the very idea of truth in advertising. But this one has two words that make a difference: Tom Holland. He showed up briefly as the webslinger last year in Captain America: Civil War and charmed the cynicism out of us. The 20 year-old plays Spidey as a 15-year-old high school student, and sure, he’s got Robert Downey, Jr around for Iron Man backup, as well as Michael Keaton onboard as the villainous Vulture. But Holland is the reason to see this. He does his own back flips. I’m sold.

2017 Summer Movie Preview

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ (July 14)

Unlike most franchise films that make you scream “Make it
stop,” the Apes series found a shot of adrenaline ever since the great
Andy Serkis took on the role of simian leader Caesar in 2011. In his third go at the role, Serkis – in a
motion capture suit – is poetry in motion. Returning director Matt Reeves makes
the personal war between the head simian and the villainous Colonel (Woody Harrelson in
a chilling variation of Brando in Apocalypse Now) thunderously exciting in
the most epic and ambitious Apes movie yet.

2017 Summer Movie Preview

‘Dunkirk’ (July 21)

With Christopher Nolan at the helm, this epic take on the
massive World War II battle and evacuation of Dunkirk, France is told from air,
land and sea and features such actors as Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Harry
Styles. “It’s a survival story first and
last,” says Nolan, whose precision and passion are a lock for awards attention.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ (July 21)

As a fan of French director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Professional), I have high hopes for this visionary sci-fi thriller starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as space cops charged with maintaining order on the intergalactic city of Alpha. Clive Owens plays their commander; Rhianna shows up as, well, you have to see. Trust us on this one. With teasing ambiguity, Besson has issued the statement: “The villain is not the villain we think, and the evil is not the evil we think.” Plus the Fifth Element vibes are strong on this one. How are we not intrigued?

2017 Summer Movie Preview

‘Atomic Blonde’ (July 28)

All hail Charlize Theron, the summer’s real-deal, R-rated,
ball-busting wonder woman. As undercover agent Lorraine Broughton, Theron makes male action stars look like wimps as she rips through 1989
Berlin on a brutal, bloody, tear that reinvents the spy thriller as a femcentric brawl. “It was hard,”
Theron says of her fight scenes in this espionage thriller directed by David Leitch
(John Wick). But worth it? Hell, yeah.

2017 Summer Movie Preview

‘The Emoji Movie’ (July 28)

There’s always one animated summer treat that sounds silly and then blows everyone away. Remember The Lego Movie? Besides, how do you resist a poop emoji voiced by Patrick Stewart? I can’t.