May brings the first of the Summer tent-poles, with the months to come all about launching new franchises
With the arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the Irish box office, 2017’s summer tent poles are here. Over the next few months, the big genre flicks will come, some striking it rich, with others falling into oblivion.
Here’s our pick of the most promising blockbusters of the season...
Alien: Covenant, May 19th
Director Ridley Scott returns to the franchise that launched his career, almost 40 years after terrifying everyone – an unsuspecting cast, included – with that iconic John Hurt scene.
This time around, the film picks up where Prometheus left off, with Scott having revealed he hopes to make a brand new trilogy starting with this one. Covenant leans into the franchise’s love of strong, female leads, with Katherine Waterson, Carmen Ejogo, an a presumed returning Noomi Rapace all likely to be running from acid-spitting xenomorphs. Supporting the women are James Franco and Michael Fassbender, whose android David was salvaged from Prometheus is a Scott-directed short.
King Arthur, May 19th
Guy Richie offers his version of the Arthurian legend, reuniting with his Sherlock Holmes’ star Jude Law, who goes from playing The Young Pope to a nefarious king. Charlie Hunnam, almost always on the cusp of becoming a bona fide A-lister but never quite making it, stars as the sword-plucking Arthur, with Eric Bana and Djimon Hounsou in supporting roles. The trailer promises a mindless, battle-heavy, CGI-fest, which isn’t for everyone, and the long-delayed release whiffs of a turkey.
Baywatch, May 29th
The producers behind this will be hoping for some of the irreverent magic that helped reboot 21 Jump Street as a modern comedy classic. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a safe pair of hands to do the heavy lifting in this self-aware and ironic spin on the 90s lifesaving hit, with Zac Efron in the second lead role. Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra is the villain, and expect plenty of lingering slo-mo shots and cameos from Mssrs Hasselhoff, Anderson, and Bleeth.
War Machine, May 26th
Can a movie that premieres on Netflix ever truly be classified as a blockbuster? Especially given how reluctant the streamer is for revealing just what kind of viewership its content gets. Regardless, this war satire boasts the kind of cast usually associated with a big summer release, counting Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, and Tilda Swinton among its ranks. With a $60m budget and directed by Animal Kingdom’s David Michod, this is as close as on-demand can get to blockbusting this season.
Wonder Woman, June 2nd
A lot of weight is riding on the shoulders of the first lady of DC, with Wonder Woman seen as the best chance Warner Bros. flailing franchise has to correct its course away from critical oblivion. The trailers have been extremely positive, showing Gal Gadot in glorious action sequences and offering some hint that there might even been a few jokes. Directed by Patty Jenkins, the first woman to helm a major comic book movie, everyone is hoping that what the DC cinematic universe needs is a woman’s touch.
The Mummy, June 9th
Another summer, another Tom Cruise vehicle, with the veteran action star needing a hit as he enters the autumn years of his career as an action lead. The Mission: Impossible series will be back next year, but 2017 has Universal Pictures is rebooting The Mummy, with Sofia Boutella taking on the lead role as the antagonist. Should this ignite the box office, it’ll kickstart a Marvel-esque universe of other legendary creatures, so expect Russell Crowe’s Dr Henry Jekyll to be dealing with some hidden anger issues at some point.
War of the Planet of the Apes, July 14th
Matt Reeves’ reboot of the classic sci-fi franchise has been a critical and commercial success, thanks, in no small part, to Andy Serkis’s motion-capture performance work; the actor has brought humanity to the simian side of the lead ape Caesar, showing incredible nuance under layers of CGI. Equally impressive is how well Reeves has woven a complicated narrative, with the remaining humans and the burgeoning ape society shown to be just as fallible as each other. With both groups battling for survival and battling each other from the inside, expect some thrilling set pieces.
Dunkirk, July 21st
Christopher Nolan comes back to earth with what promises to be an intimate and audacious exploration of one of the most pivotal moments of the Second World War. Telling the true story of the mass evacuation of Allied troops from the beaches of the French city, three parallel stories showcase just how perilous it was on the beach, in the sea, and up in the air. The cast includes Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and Harry Styles in his first film appearance.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, July 21st
Two decades after he turned model Milla Jovovich into a B-movie star for the ages, Cara Delevingne will be hoping Luc Besson can do something for her own movie career, floundering after so-so jobs in Paper Towns and Suicide Squad. She and Dane DeHaan star in this adaptation of a classic French comic from the cities, where two time-travellers must unearth the evil that threatens to tear apart their world. Besson has past form of working wonders with schlocky sci-fi premises, but Valerian will need a lightness of touch to see it break through its CGI trappings.
Atomic Blonde, July 28th
After making a big splash as the co-director of John Wick, David Leitch gets his first solo feature, with the tantalising promise of Charlize Theron’s badass spy to see him on his way. Set in Berlin in 1989, adapted from the graphic novel The Coldest City, the action film also offers Sofia Boutella another chance at 2017 domination. Supporting work comes from James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Toby Jones, and the film was widely praised when it premiered at SXSW earlier this year.
The Dark Tower, August 4th
A film in gestation for decades, passed on the Stephen King novel The Gunslinger, dozens of A-list names (in front of and behind the camera) have been attached to this for at least two decades. Whether the relatively unknown Nikolaj Arcel, best known for A Royal Affair, is the one to pull it out remains to be seen, but he’s cast reliable leads in Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. With eight novels in the series to build a multi-part franchise around, should this fail to score big in cinemas, it’ll put the nail in the coffin on big-screen adaptations of book franchises for a while, with TV considered a more flexible medium.