The summer movie season is kicking into high gear, giving plenty of opportunities to see action stars, superheroes, monsters, aliens, killer dolls and musicians. Here’s a week-by-week rundown of some of the biggest titles you can look forward to at the cineplex in the next few months.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters”: Some audience members complained after 2014’s “Godzilla” that we didn’t get to see enough of the monster. It doesn’t sound like that will be a problem this time around; the big guy isn’t alone, joined by Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. The human cast — aka, the people that take up screen time between monster brawls — include Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown and the always-reliable Ken Watanabe.
“Rocketman”: Taron Egerton plays Elton John in this music-filled biographical drama about the subdued, low-key singer known for his extremely conservative wardrobe choices.
“Ma”: Octavia Spencer stars in this thriller about a lonely woman who lets a group of teens use her home as a party house; however, they come to discover she may have ulterior motives.
“Dark Phoenix”: Back in 2006, “X-Men: The Last Stand” flubbed one of the best storylines in the X-Men comic books, the transformation of psychic Jean Grey into the power-mad Phoenix. In subsequent movies, time travel antics have wiped out the continuity of that dreadful film, meaning they get to try again, and hopefully do it right this time. “Game of Thrones”’ Sophie Turner plays Jean, given cosmic powers that make her fellow X-Men fear they may have to take her down — if that’s even possible.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2”: The cute animated pets return, though central doggie Max has a different voice, sounding like Patton Oswalt instead of the first film’s Louis C.K. This time around, Max’s owner has had a baby, which makes Max a nervous wreck trying to keep the boy out of trouble. Much of the original cast returns, including Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate and Lake Bell, and new voices include Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll and Harrison Ford.
“Late Night”: Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling star in this comedy-drama about a late-night talk-show host who hires an impetuous younger woman to help turn her show around.
“All is True”: Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench star in this biographical drama about William Shakespeare.
“Men in Black International”: Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson don the suits and ties for the latest installment in the sci-fi comedy series, about secret agents who use high-tech gadgets to keep the world safe and the general public from knowing that alien immigrants live in our midst.
“Shaft”: The black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks returns in the latest incarnation of the long-running series, this time as J.J. Shaft, cybersecurity expert played by Jessie Usher, who has to take up the family mantle when his best friend is murdered. Samuel L. Jackson, who played the lead in 2000’s “Shaft,” plays his estranged father, and original 1970s Shaft Richard Roundtree reprises his role as the original 1970s Shaft, J.J.’s grand-uncle.
“The Dead Don’t Die”: Director Jim Jarmusch, generally known for such arthouse fare as “Stranger Than Paradise” and “Only Lovers Left Alive,” tries his hand at the zombie genre in this horror-comedy, with an impressive cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Waits and Iggy Pop.
“Toy Story 4”: Pixar’s popular animated franchise returns for a fourth installment, this time with the gang trying to get used to their new owner and her beloved homemade toy, a plastic utensil with googly eyes named “Forky.” Exactly how Pixar will get audiences to cry over a spork remains to be seen, but considering what they did in “Toy Story 3,” they will find a way.
“Child’s Play”: On a less-friendly toy note, the long-running horror franchise gets a reboot, telling the story of a killer doll and the mother (Aubrey Plaza) who must protect her son. Mark Hamill takes over Brad Dourif’s role as the voice of Chucky this time around.
“Yesterday”: Danny Boyle directed this fantasy comedy with a promising premise: A struggling musician wakes up in a world that has never heard of The Beatles, giving him the chance to become a superstar by performing their songs for audiences who think he’s the mastermind behind the music.
“Annabelle Comes Home”: If Chucky didn’t give you a big enough dose of creepy dolls, the latest installment in this horror franchise should do the trick. Among the returning cast members is Steve Coulter, an alumnus of the UNC School of the Arts.
“Pavarotti”: Ron Howard directed this documentary about the legendary opera singer.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home”: Now that Spider-Man is back from the dead (oh, spoiler alert, people who haven’t seen “Avengers: Endgame”) he decides to go on vacation with his school chums to Merry Olde England. But he can’t get away from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who wants him for a new mission.
“Stuber”: Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) stars in this action comedy about a mild-mannered Uber driver drafted by a hard-charging detective (Dave Bautista) for his latest case.
“The Lion King”: Disney has had a lot of success re-imagining its animated films with live action. This time around — well, the animals are still animated, just done in an ultra-realistic style.
“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”: Quentin Tarantino’s latest is an already-controversial take on the Manson case, set in 1969 Los Angeles, with a cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, and Luke Perry in his final role.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”: The scene-stealing supporting characters from the “Fast & Furious” movies, played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, take the spotlight for this spinoff movie, taking on an enhanced villain played by Idris Elba.
“The Farewell”: Awkwafina stars in this comedy-drama about a Chinese family planning a gathering for a grandmother who does not know she is terminally ill.
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold”: The popular children’s show character is reimagined as a young teen in this family-friendly adventure.
“Artemis Fowl”: The popular book series is the basis for this film about an aspiring supervillain teenager.
“The Angry Birds Movie 2”: More animated hijinks with the birds, voiced by actors including UNCSA’s Danny McBride.
“Angel Has Fallen”: Gerard Butler returns for the third installment of this action series, which began in 2013’s “Olympus Has Fallen” and continued in 2016’s “London Has Fallen.”
“It Chapter Two”: It’s a clown movie, so it’s sure to be happy and jolly.