Summer Movie Preview 2019: From Avengers to Tarantino – Rolling Stone
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Summer Movie Preview 2019: From Avengers to Tarantino

The 50 movies you need to see this summer, from superhero blockbusters to offbeat docs

It’s summer, when Hollywood releases its cash-cow stash of blockbusters, sequels, prequels, remakes and retreads, storing up box-office gold to get studios through the fall/winter award season. The big bet of sizzle season: Can any contender knock Avengers: Endgame off the top of the moneymaker heap?

Avengers: Endgame and the State of the Modern Superhero Movie

Family films are always a threat, so watch out for Toy Story 4, The Lion King and Aladdin. Spider-Man, Godzilla and the Men in Black are back in action; ditto Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Keanu Reeves, having his third go as superassassin John Wick. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham do their Fast & Furious double act in a spin-off (Hobbs & Shaw). And how about those Game of Thrones Stark sisters shaking up the X-Men universe, with Sophie “Sansa Stark” Turner starring in Dark Phoenix and Maisie “Arya Stark” Williams joins the gang in The New Mutants. And to rock the house, there’s a biopic of Elton John, docs on Bob Dylan and David Crosby and two features whose plots hinge on the music of the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, respectively.

Here are the 50 summer movies most likely to cut into your beach time.

Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: ENDGAME..L to R: Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Marvel Studios/©Disney

‘Avengers: Endgame’ (Apr. 26)

Here it is: the unmissable blockbuster of summer 2019. This marks the grand conclusion to the three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga,” 22 films in all) — which is a sneaky way of saying that nothing ever dies that makes this much money (a record-breaking $19 billion and counting). Yes, the evil Thanos turned half the Avengers and their allies to ashes at end in last year’s Avengers: Infinity War. But the survivors included the six original Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Can they time travel and bring their buddies back? Not even a three-hour running time will keep fans from storming the multiplex for this one.

Netflix

‘Knock Down the House’ (May 1)

This all-access, sharply observant documentary from Rachel Lears concerns the 2018 primary campaigns of four progressive, insurrectionist female Democrats: Amy Vilela, a mom from Nevada; Cori Bush, a nurse from Missouri; Paula Jean Swearengin, a coal miner’s daughter from West Virginia; and a waitress from the Bronx named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Maybe you’ve heard of her.) The fighting spirit of all four women blazes through. “We did this without knowing shit,” says Vilela. You’ll feel their fire.

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) in FLARSKY.

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron)

Murray Close/Lionsgate

‘Long Shot’ (May 3)

Charlize Theron is the U.S. Secretary of State who’s running for President and ends up falling for a troublemaking, f-bomb-dropping schlub of a speechwriter, personified by Seth Rogen. Everyone on her team is appalled — as for audiences, they’ll be cheering at the odd rom-com coupling of this dynamic duo. (Theron, especially, looks likes she’s a ball with this juicy role.) The supporting cast also comes up aces, especially Bob Odenkirk as a President who wants to quit and become a movie star.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

‘Non-Fiction’ (May 3)

A literate comedy about the literary world is an anomaly in summer when crude laughs tend to hold sway (you won’t find Adam Sandler’s Murder Mystery on this list). But writer-director Olivier Assayas, a master at witty repartee, scores big with this tale of a publisher (Guillaume Canet), who cheats on his actress wife (Juliette Binoche), who cheats on him with a gossipy author (Vincent Macaigne) that her spouse haughtily disdains. In the form of an erotic romp, the French filmmaker deals with what the rise of digital publishing has done the book world and how the language of social media screws with art. Or does it?

NW_03085_RAnne Hathaway stars as Josephine Chesterfield and Rebel Wilson as Penny Rust in THE HUSTLE, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.Credit: Christian Black / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Christian Black/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

‘The Hustle’ (May 10)

Farce is tough to pull off — but Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway come at it with both barrels in this remake of the 1988’s Michael Caine/Steve Martin comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Wilson and Hathaway play con artists who vie to cheat a tech billionaire (Alex Sharp) out of his fortune. Originally titled Nasty Women, after Trump’s dig at Hillary Clinton, The Hustle asks why women are better suited to the con than men? “Because we’re used to faking it,” says Wilson. “No,” replies Hathaway, “because no man will ever believe a woman is smarter than he is.” Ouch.

Warner Bros.

‘Pokemon Detective Pikachu’ (May 10)

This American/Japanese funfest features Ryan Reynolds as the voice and facial motion capture of the title character (think a yellow, cuddly Deadpool), who hits the neon-lit streets of Ryme City to solve a missing-person mystery and mix it up with live-action characters played by the likes of Bill Nighy, Suki Waterhouse and Justice Smith. Too kiddie-sounding for your taste? Tell that to Reynolds’ wife Blake Lively, who apparently liked what she saw.

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Colleen Hayes/Netflix

‘Wine Country’ (May 10)

The great Amy Poehler makes her feature directing debut with this Netflix comedy in which she stars with real-life buds Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Emily Spivey and Paula Pell. Tina Fey even drops in as a women who rents this volatile crew her house in Napa’s wine country, where they can enjoy a girls trip that allows them to laugh and cry and hopefully hug it out. Never underestimate the power of Poehler!

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Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate

‘John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum’ (May 17)

Never mind the ridiculously long-winded title — we’re always up for some John Wick, the best character Keanu Reeves has played since his Matrix days (and maybe even ever … sorry, Theodore Logan). The gun-happy contract killer and puppy lover is back on the run, with a $14 million price on his head and Halle Berry on the prowl with her assassin pups. New troubles include the Council of Crime Lords led by Anjelica Huston and Asia Kate Dillon of Billions also judging John’s fate. Bring it on.

Tom Burke and Honor Swinton Byrne in Joanna Hogg's 'The Souvenir.'

NICOLA DOVE

‘The Souvenir’ (May 17)

A hit out of this year’s Sundance, the fourth and best feature yet from the brilliant British writer-director Joanna Hogg finds her tracing part of her own life as a fledging filmmaker in the 1980s. New star Honor Swinton-Byrne, daughter of Tilda (who plays her mother here), dig deep into the role of Julie, a film student who wants her films to reflect reality. The trouble is that naïve Julie can’t deal with the reality of her toxic relationship with know-it-all Anthony (a superb Tom Burke). Hogg’s dissection of the divide between art and life is a masterpiece and proves that Swinton-Byrne, 21, is easily one of the finest actors of her generation.

Mena Massoud as the street rat with a heart of gold, Aladdin, and Will Smith as the larger-than-life Genie in Disney’s ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.

Mena Massoud as the street rat with a heart of gold, Aladdin, and Will Smith as the larger-than-life Genie

Daniel Smith/©Disney

‘Aladdin (May 24)

As part of Disney’s attempt to remake its animated hits as live-action moneymakers, director Guy Ritchie’s re-imagines the studio’s 1992 landmark. There’s Mena Massoud as street thief Aladdin and Naomi Scott as the Sultan’s daughter he loves. All eyes, however, are on Will Smith as Genie, a role immortalized in the original by Robin Williams. Smith will portray the character first in human guise and then — courtesy of CGI and motion capture — blow up to a blue giant who makes wishes come true. Smith says his dream is to make the Genie “his own thing.” It may take all three wishes to pull that one off.

Beanie Feldstein stars as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, BOOKSMART, an Annapurna Pictures release.Credit: Francois Duhamel / Annapurna Pictures

Francois Duhamel/A24

‘Booksmart’ (May 24)

Actress Olivia Wilde makes a smashing feature directing debut with this hilarious and heartfelt comedy about two nerdy high-school besties, played by the mega-talented Beanie Feldstein (Jonah Hill’s sister) and Kaitlyn Dever. The honor students decide to take their noses out of their books for one wild night before graduation. Working from a female perspective, Wilde shapes the script to resonate way beyond Superbad raunch, allowing Feldstein and Dever to send out every laugh with a sting in its tail.

Always Be My Maybe

Ed Araquel / Netflix

‘Always Be My Maybe’ (May 31)

This Netflix rom-com brings together the creative team behind Fresh Off the Boat, the first American sitcom to feature an Asian-American family. Standup comic Ali Wong and Boat star Randall Park play childhood sweethearts who fall in love after not seeing each other for 15 years. Hardly crazy rich Asians — she’s a successful San Francisco chef, he’s a struggling musician — the two hit the funny-touching road to reconnection in a script by Wong and Park. Now that’s togetherness.

Warner Bros.

‘Godzilla King of the Monsters’ (May 31)

He’s back! In the sequel to the 2914 reboot — and 35th film to feature the king of the kaiju — Vera Farmiga stars as a paleobiologist who’s kidnapped, along with her 14-year-old daughter (Strangers Things dynamo Millie Bobby Brown) by villains who want to steal her invention: an Orca machine the can control the minds of monsters. And not just Godzilla — we’re talking Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed King Ghidorah. So even if this take on the fire-breathing lizard isn’t better than the 1954 Japanese original, it’s sure as hell bigger.

Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann in "Ma," directed by Tate Taylor.

Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann in "Ma"

Anna Kooris/Universal Pictures

‘Ma’ (May 31)

Who doesn’t love Octavia Spencer? That’s why it’s fun when she teams up with Tate Taylor, who directed her to an Oscar in The Help, to scare us senseless. Spencer plays an Ohio loner who befriends some local teens — they call her Ma — by buying them booze and letting them party in her basement. Any horror fan knows you don’t go in the basement, but these kids, well, they learn the hard way.

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman from Paramount Pictures.

David Appleby/Paramount Pictures

‘Rocketman’ (May 31)

After the huge success of Bohemian Rhapsody and an Oscar win for Rami Malek as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, expectations are high for this biopic of Elton John, with Taron Egerton (Kingsmen) playing and singing the role of the flamboyant rocker during his breakthrough years. Also on deck: his struggles with drugs, depression and his homosexuality, as well as his collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Dexter Fletcher, who replaced the fired Bryan Singer on Rhapsody, directs the film that Egerton calls more of “a fantasy-musical” than a standard biographical piece.

BV_0150_v0028_SNL.1231 – Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Twentieth Century Fox

‘Dark Phoenix’ (Jun. 7)

Most of the crew of X-Men: Apocalypse is on board, including James McAvoy as Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. But the star spot belongs to Sophie Turner — Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones — as Jean Grey, Professor X’s prized telekinetic telepath. This time good-goody Jean releases the Dark Phoenix side of her personality and all hell breaks loose. Expect casualties.

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Jonathan Majors and Jimmie Fails in 'The Last Black Man in San Francisco.'

Peter Prato/A24

‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ (Jun. 7)

Gentrification is the topic powering this deeply affecting tale of a young man (played by Jimmie Fails as a character loosely based on himself) who aspires to reclaim the 1940’s Victorian home his grandfather built in the historically black Fillmore District of San Francisco. With the help of his best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors), he calls dibs on the house when its white owners move out and starts squatting while its on the market. Director Joe Talbot makes the tension palpable when Jimmie’s dream runs up against harsh reality.

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Emily Aragones/Amazon Studios

‘Late Night’ (Jun. 7)

Emma Thompson shines as an embattled TV talk show host who shakes things up on her tired broadcast (she’s been at it for 28 years) by hiring a woman to join her all-male writing staff. The female in question is a diversity hire played by the stellar Mindy Kaling, who wrote the sharply funny screenplay. With director Nisha Ganatra expertly marshaling the comic forces of Thompson and Kaling, Late Night hilariously skewers the rampant cultural sexism of our time.

Watchf Associated Press Domestic News New York United States APHS57323 BOB DYLAN SINGS FOR "HURRICANE" CARTER Bob Dylan performs before a sold-out crowd of about 20,000 in New York's Madison Square Garden, Dec. 8. 1975 at a benefit concert to support efforts to get a new trail for former Boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Carter is now serving three-life sentences for murder in New JerseyBOB DYLAN SINGS FOR "HURRICANE" CARTER, NEW YORK, USA

Ray Stubblebine/AP/REX/Shutterst

‘Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese’ (Jun. 12)

This rousing documentary captures the spirit of the traveling shows Dylan performed between 1975 and 1976 with such cohorts as Roger McGuinn, Joan Baez, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Patti Smith, Ringo Starr and Joni Mitchell. There are fresh interviews, notably with Dylan himself. This concert film from Scorsese, the man behind the best of them (The Last Waltz), has been described as “part fever dream.” How could it not be? Catch the fever in theaters and on Netflix.

‘This One’s for the Ladies’ (Jun. 7)

In what’s got be the sexiest documentary of the summer, the exotic male dancers at a New Jersey nightclub in Newark strut their stuff for their female customers. Filmmaker Gene Graham uses the dancers, including Raw Dogg, Sweet Tea and Tyga, and the women who cheer them as a microcosm of the humor, strength, and zesty resilience of Black America. Eat your heart out, Magic Mike.

(L to R) Bill Murray as "Officer Cliff Robertson", Chloë Sevigny as "Officer Minerva Morrison" and Adam Driver as "Officer Ronald Peterson" in writer/director Jim Jarmusch's THE DEAD DON'T DIE, a Focus Features release.  Credit : Abbot Genser / Focus Features  © 2019 Image Eleven Productions, Inc.

Abbot Genser / Focus Features

‘The Dead Don’t Die’ (Jun. 14)

How does a zombie flick get to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival? Two words: Jim Jarmusch. The writer-director won the Camera d’Or there in 1984 for his breakthrough film Stranger Than Paradise. Now he’s back with Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloe Sevigny playing small-town sheriff’s deputies facing off against the undead who hunger for flesh, brains and, among other things, chardonnay. Stay classy, ghouls. Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi and Tom Waits join in the deadpan fun.

Em (Tessa Thompson) and H (Chris Hemsworth) in Columbia Pictures' MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL.

Giles Keyte/Sony

‘Men in Black International’ (Jun. 14)

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are nowhere to be seen in this fourth spin on this scifi action comedy franchise in which a London-based office of MiB, led by Liam Neeson, attempt to stop alien scum from conquering the globe. Fresh blood includes Thor: Ragnarok costars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson suit up in black to play Agent H and Agent M, respectively. Look for the aliens to steal the show, especially Kumail Nanjiani as Pawny, a pint-sized alien with an oversized personality who lives on a chess set. That’s why we’re here, right?

Kyle Kaplan/Warner Bros

‘Shaft’ (Jun. 14)

Cue the Isaac Hayes theme as Samuel L. Jackson returns as John Shaft II, the private dick he first played in 2000. He’s is the estranged father of John JJ Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher), an FBI agent and cyber security expert who visits his Harlem-based pops to help him solve the murder of a friend. Both father and son rely on their uncle … who happens to be the original blaxploitation icon 1970’s Shaft (Richard Roundtree), “the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about.” And the great Regina Hall shows up as Junior’s mom. Can ya dig it?

Photo: Neon Films

‘Wild Rose’ (Jun. 14)

Even when a story sounds familiar — a young, Scottish mother of two, recently released from prison, dreams of country-music stardom in Nashville — it can be redeemed by a breakout star performance. And that’s exactly what Jessie Buckley delivers as 23-year-old Rose-Lynn Harlan, a tornado hobbled by a court-ordered ankle bracelet, an interfering mother (the reliably superb Julie Walters) and self-destructive tendencies with drugs and men. Working from a script by Nicole Taylor, director Tom Harper wisely showcases Buckley’s raw talent as an actress and singer. You can’t take your eyes off her.

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Shanna Besson

‘Anna’ (Jun. 21)

Writer-director Luc Besson’s new thriller stars knockout newcomer Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova, a leggy blonde model who doubles as a pistol-packing government assassin. Yes, it sounds like an updated spin on the French director’s iconic 1990 La Femme Nikita, but with a mix now costarring Cillian Murphy, Luke Evans and Dame Helen Mirren as her handler. Expect gunplay, close-quarters ass-kicking and a lot of mayhem.

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Eric Milner/Orion Pictures

‘Child’s Play’ (Jun. 21)

Why the interest in this remake of 1988’s killer-doll movie, given that the original has already spawned six sequels? Because this time Mark Hamill — yes, Luke Skywalker himself — is doing the voice of the malevolent Chucky. Have you heard his creepy voicework as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series? In a video message to WonderCon fans, Hamill noted that he was presenting the tiny horror-movie legend in a way you’ve never seen him before. “And remember,” he added sinisterly, Chucky “is more than just a toy … he’s your best friend.” Yikes!

PICK ME! -- Ducky and Bunny are carnival prizes who are eager to be won. But when their plans are rudely interrupted, they find themselves on an unexpected adventure with a group of toys who have no idea what it feels like to be tacked to a prize wall. Funny men Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele provide the voices of Ducky and Bunny, respectively. Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”) and produced by Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”) and Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”), “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Disney/Pixar

‘Toy Story 4’ (Jun. 21)

You might argue for leaving well enough alone when it comes to adding onto one of the greatest animated trilogies in film history. But come on: more Toy Story is always welcome! Last time, we all sniffled when Andy gave his toys away to Bonnie. But Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and company are up for fresh adventures, which means adjusting to a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale), that Bonnie made out of a spork. When Forky runs away, the search is on. Hanks has said the end of the fourth chapter is so emotional he could hardly get through it. How do you resist that?

Warner Bros.

‘Annabelle Comes Home’ (Jun. 28)

The third chapter in the Annabelle horror series kicks off when paranormal investigators Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) bring the Annabelle doll home where it terrorizes the