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Summer Movie Preview 2018: From ‘Infinity War’ to ‘BlacKkKlansman’

From superhero epics to a stranger-than-fiction KKK drama – your complete guide to the season’s blockbusters and big-name movies

Summer Movie 2018

Your complete Summer Movie 2018 Preview guide – from 'Avengers: Infinity War,' to 'BlacKkKlansmen,' blockbusters to big-name dramas and comedies.

Digging for summer-movie gold – that’s what it’s all about, folks. Striking it rich. Hollywood suits spend most of the year digging themselves out of the financial hole left by those “serious” films that win awards and court prestige. But in summer, the gloves are off: It’s sequels, prequels, retreads and anything else safe the non-creatives can come up with to hit the cash jackpots to keep them warm all winter. 

What about audiences? Mostly, we play along, indulging in the box-office game of ranking movies like sweepstake winners. Forget the real calendar that says summer starts on June 21st; with Marvel/Disney releasing the record-breaking Avengers: Infinity War on April 27th, Hollywood now insists the season begins when sure things parade into the multiplex. 

There are over 130 movies opening between now and Labor Day. Are any of them decent or better? Will even a handful of them matter by the time the season ends? Can quality still sneak in while the money counters aren’t looking? In this oh-so-selective summer preview, we’ll focus on 30 movies that might at least have something to recommend them. 

And we’re off!

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‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ (Jul. 27)

It’s the sixth Mission: Impossible movie in which 55-year-old Tom Cruise, as the intrepid Ethan Hunt, has to keep topping himself with stunts other stars would leave to their doubles. Christopher McQuarrie – the only director so far to guide two M:I epics – points with pride to the skydiving scene that the mega-movie star did in one take. And what about Cruise piloting a chopper while other choppers surround him? We could tell you about the plot, but who cares? We’re all in it for the adrenaline rush, Cruise included.

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‘The Darkest Minds’ (Aug. 3)

Dystopian thrillers aimed at young-adult audiences took a hit when the declining popularity of the Divergent series couldn’t even get a fourth film into theaters. Still, The Darkest Minds, based on Alexandra Bracken’s bestselling YA series, aims to break the jinx. Its teen runaways, led by Ruby (Amandla Stenberg, a.k.a. Rue in The Hunger Games), have escaped a killer plague at home and developed super powers to help them evade capture by controlling adults. Mandy Moore is along as a supportive doctor, and Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame plays a bounty hunter ready to kick their asses. 

‘Mile 22’ (Aug. 3)

Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg are a team worth betting on – see Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day, all true stories of men up against it. Mile 22 lets them fly for the pure adventurous fun of it, with Wahlberg playing a CIA agent stationed in Indonesia. His job is to transport an informant to an airport 22 miles away, running . a gauntlet with more obstacles than Stormy Daniels every getting another date with Trump. “We’re coming at you with a big ass action movie,” says Berg. In summer, isn’t that enough? 

Summer Movie 2018

‘Searching’ (Aug. 3)

A nerve-frying suspense thriller seen exclusively through the lenses of smartphones and laptops, Searching is a technical marvel with a beating heart at its core. Aneesh Chaganty, in an exceptional feature directing debut, sparks high-voltage tension by making John Cho, as a frantic widower, track down his missing teen daughter (Michelle La) solely through modern technology. A pushy detective (Debra Messing) joins in the fun. 

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‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ (Aug.3)

It sounds like the most formulaic plot ever lifted from the female buddy comedy summer playbook: Two thirtysomething L.A. roommates get tangled up in a spy plot that puts assassins on their tail and fear in their unprepared-for-espionage hearts. But sometimes casting is everything. That’s SNL MVP Kate McKinnon and Bad Moms’ shining star Mila Kunis as the roomies. Justin Theroux plays the spy who dumped Kunis; Outlander hunk Sam Heughan is a British agent who further thickens the plot. How’s that for promising?

Summer Movie 2018

‘BlacKkKlansman’ (Aug. 10)

Can director Spike Lee get his career mojo back with this true story of Ron Stallworth, an African-American detective in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who answered an 1978 ad in a local newspaper seeking new Klan members? Signs look promising. The veteran director will produce the film with Get Out‘s Jordan Peele, and John David Washington, (Denzel’s son) plays Stallworth, a cop who infiltrated the Klan by pretending to be a white supremacist on the phone. Since violence against unarmed black men hasn’t abated in 40 years, this stranger-than-fiction story has the makings of both a history lesson and a film for our time.

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‘The Meg’ (Aug. 10)

A giant, 75-foot-long prehistoric shark – known by experts in such things as Megalodon – takes on Jason Statham, the British actor whose cold stare is shark repellant personified. It’s Jaws supersized, and The Transporter star is the expert deep-sea rescue diver charged with saving the crew of a submersible trapped under the Pacific. Meanwhile, the toothy apex predator is closing in. This movie sounds like the very definition of the term guilty pleasure. 

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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (Aug. 17)

Already shaping up as the comedy to see this summer, this take on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel investigates the fun possibilities that ensue when New Yorker Rachel (Fresh Off the Boat‘s Constance Wu) joins her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) on a trip to Singapore. It’s all fun and games until Rachel finds that her man is from a family of super-wealthy eccentrics ready to make life hell for this stranger. With Awkwafina, aka rapper comic Nora Lum, stealing scenes as Rachel’s best friend, expect director Jon M. Chu’s fractured farce to be crazy rich with laughs.

‘Papillon’ (Aug. 24)

Prison breakout movies are a dime a dozen – but Henri Charrière’s acclaimed memoir about the “butterfly” prisoner who makes a daring attempt to escape from Devil’s Island has always been one-of-a kind. Steve McQueen starred as Charriere in a 1973 film version with Dustin Hoffman as his fellow convict Louis Dega. Now, we get Charlie Hunnam as Big Papi and Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek in the role of Dega. Director Michael Noer knows his duty is to provide a Shawshank-like escape thriller, but he insists that the core of the film resides with “two men who develop a relationship in pain.” Any similarities to the movie’s Thirties-set penal colony and current penitentiary horror stories are, of course, not coincidental, and the result is a summer movie with a conscience. Let’s hope it’s a trend. 

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