If the Roaring ’20s reboot we’re living through had a tagline, it would probably be “Expect bad things.” Yet, in a brazen act of optimistic double hubris, you’re about to read a summer movie preview in April. That’s right, we’re going to assume that (A) the next Armageddon-adject event won’t disrupt our cinematic fun this year and (B) summer now starts when your taxes are due. That last one may be climate-ically and climactically accurate, am I right Al Gore?
For two years running, blockbusters have fled the dog days like billionaires fleeing Earth. Theaters and mainstream movie lovers are both feening for overbudget flicks to once more be injected into eyeballs. Should these release dates hold, we could be in for a shockingly solid season. No possible way I’ll regret those words. You may as well add the release dates for my top 10 summer movies of 2022 in permanent ink to Pete Davidson’s chest.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”(May 6)
Nobody tell any arthouse directors with enlarged prostates, but Marvel movies remain must-see events. Although certain to fall short of “Spider-Man: No Way Home’s” box office take of “literally all the money,” director Sam Raimi looks to have infused this suddenly hotly anticipated sequel with a proper sense of ooky. The slam against the “sameness” of Marvel live-action products is increasingly less fair, but if Raimi can drop some truly cosmic horror in this, I will shuma my gorath. Plus, who knows which characters from other films will appear? Fingers crossed for Shrek. Not because I want him to appear, I’m just worried about him.
“The Innocents”(May 13)
Oh, this list won’t be all spandex and smiles, y’all. Like no one has ever said in the bedroom, “Let’s add a little Norwegian horror into the mix.” Writer/director Eskil Vogt, who just cowrote “The Worst Person in the World” with Joachim Trier, brings us a tale of supernatural children wreaking havoc in the Nordic sun. It’s a little bit “Chronicle” and a little bit Björk, which is a combination I never knew I always wanted. This one is likely to drop on VOD, if you prefer watching your Norwegian-tween horror films at home.
“Top Gun: Maverick” (May 27)
This movie has shifted release dates so many times, it’s like it was waiting for people to really hate Russia. Tom Cruise is back as bad-ass fighter pilot Maverick, who I’m pretty sure also has a normal human name. Is it Paul? He seems like a Paul. Or is the name Paul just reserved for hardcore science-fiction now? Anyway, the aging Paul Maverick has to teach a new generation of flyers which button is the trigger or the Russian wins. We’re all just excited to see how they top the volleyball scene. Spoiler: Slutty, greasy shuffleboard.
“Jurassic World: Dominion” (June 10)
The latest “Jurassic Park” series has lasted long enough for folks to have gone from “Oh, Chris Pratt is in this!” to “Oh, Chris Pratt is in this?” to “Oh. Chris Pratt is in this …” After the events of the last film, the title of which I dare you to remember without Googling it, dinosaurs are running rampant everywhere, not just in Congress. Nobody sees these for the plot, but I am legitimately curious how they hope to achieve a satisfying conclusion here. Kill all the dinosaurs? Audiences mad. Put all the dinosaurs on an island again? We’ve seen that movie (five times). Build a time machine and send dinosaurs into the past? Solved it. Don’t need to see it now.
“Lightyear” (June 17)
When the trailer dropped for this sincere take on Buzz Lightyear, most people were flummoxed. Not by the premise, but fictional square-jawed ’toon took many libidos to infinity and beyond. Everyone else saw that reaction, right? Either way, I’m inappropriately excited for this sincere-looking, sci-fi saga that follows an astronaut doing space stuff with a cat. Taika Waititi does one of the voices, as if this honey pot needed further sweetening. If “Turning Red” is any indication, Pixar is hella back on its game.
“The Black Phone”(June 24)
A ’70s-era serial-killer thriller about a phone that lets ghosts call long distance featuring Ethan Hawke, this feels more Stephen King than most actual Stephen King adaptations. Oh, right, it was written by his kid, Joe Hill. Given what happens to children in most King novels, Joe simply winding up as a horror novelist feels like a big win for him. Directed by Scott Derrickson, who did great work with “Sinister” and directed “The Day the Earth Stood Still” remake, “The Black Phone” could be a sleeper hit, provided today’s youths comprehend the terror of a landline.
“Thor: Love and Thunder”(July 8)
I will tolerate a lot of sass-mouth about Marvel products but will brook no dissent on the sequel to “Thor: Ragnarok,” which I’m probably rewatching again as you read this. If they just play that one Zeppelin song over goofy creatures getting smote with a hammer for 90 minutes, I’m prepared to award it a Pulitzer. The return of Natalie Portman, this time as Thor herself, was met with manbaby tears from some of the worst people in the world, which means you know it’s a gloriously good move. After the last few years, let’s pray to Odin that this is the good time we all desperately crave.
“Nope” (July 22)
Writer/director Jordan Peele’s first two movies were perfect. No pressure. Plot details remain scarce, despite having released a full trailer, but this appears to be an alien invasion horror flick. Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun being tortured by UFOs sounds like a riot, although I’m sure there will be more meaning and thematic resonance than just “Good actors vs ETs.” I would like to add that it’s OK if Peele just makes a wicked first-contact movie, as not every single thing he does for the rest of time has to be laden with symbolism. “Laden with symbolism” is my new screenname, nobody take it.
“The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future”(TBD)
A Chilean film laden with symbolism, this dollop of magical realism shot to the top of my must-see list on title alone. From what I can decipher about the plot, it’s mostly a family drama but also involves resurrection, fish and cows that make music, and environmental catastrophe. If I know my people, half of you are Googling when this is released and the other half stopped reading after the word “Chilean.” I love you all, but I love those of you who have read this far more.
Why am I cautiously optimistic about a Darren Aronofsky movie after “mother!”? We all make mistakes, and, more importantly, D-train didn’t write this one. Penned by Samuel D. Hunter, who wrote the play of the same name, the plot of this also sounds troubling! A 600-pound man (Brendan Fraser) tries to reconnect with his daughter (Sadie Sink). D-Aron made me ugly cry at “The Fountain” and “The Wrestler.” Can he do it again here, or will I get as mad as I did after “mother!”? Either way, I prefer processing emotional reactions to film and not life!