Don’t believe what you’ve heard. This list is the official start of summer movie season.
Forget everything you’ve been told about how summer starts in April with the arrival of a new Fast & Furious film because summer starts now. In May. With this list. So here are the new movies of May 2017, ranked in order of our — my — anticipation.
10. Baywatch (5/24)
Pros: Seth Gordon’s The King of Kong is a terrific and humorous documentary, and his Horrible Bosses remains an extremely funny ensemble comedy for fans of crass laughs. His latest is a TV reboot, but judging by the trailers there’s a chance it will deliver a big blast of foul-mouthed fun. Plus, in Dwayne Johnson we trust.
Cons: Look, something has to be #10, and while this looks to be instantly forgettable it’s also guaranteed to be pretty damn dumb. The first trailer suggests they’re hoping to follow the 21 Jump Street model — broad comedy and action alongside a mild case of meta-awareness — but the talents here might not match up to their goals as Gordon also made Four Christmases and Identity Thief.
9. The Dinner (5/5)
Pros: Watching four extremely talented actors chat and clash across a dinner table might just be the antidote to generic summer fluff, and you can’t argue with the likes of Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, and Rebecca Hall. Writer/director Oren Moverman also made Rampart, The Messenger, and (wrote) Love & Mercy.
Cons: Advance word has been mixed at best citing a lack of dramatic engagement. Moverman also wrote The Quiet Ones.
8. The Survivalist (5/19)
Pros: A survival drama that may or may not take place in a post-apocalyptic setting? My answer will always be yes. This one promises a mix of life and death drama alongside the complications of sex and isolation.
Cons: No one’s heard of it, and it’s a 2015 film that’s apparently only now getting a real release. That could mean nothing, or it could mean a severe lack of faith by its distributor.
7. Snatched (5/12)
Pros: Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), written by Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, The Heat), and starring the incomparable Goldie Hawn (Foul Play, Overboard).
Cons: It looks generic as hell.
6. The Wall (5/12)
Pros: Doug Liman (Go, Edge of Tomorrow) hits far more often than he misses, and it’s an intriguing choice for the “big” Hollywood director to scale back for a film starring three people (John Cena, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Laith Nakli) and set in one locale.
Cons: It comes out next week, and no one’s talking about it.
5. Another Evil (5/5)
Pros: Writer/director Carson D. Mell puts his Eastbound & Down experience to good use and delivers a haunted house movie that finds room for both absurd comedy and sincere character work. The film moves smoothly between truly frightening beats, laugh out loud dialogue, and some painful observations on a pitiful life, and in doing so it stands well apart from the norm. [My review.]
Cons: The tone wobbles a bit in the third act, and the dry humor won’t find favor with wide audiences.
4. Berlin Syndrome (5/26)
Pros: Teresa Palmer takes center stage and gets to use her actual accent. Both of these are good things. The film also had good buzz coming out of its Sundance premiere.
Cons: Even the folks that liked it at the fest seemed to think it was a slow haul to the end.
3. Hounds of Love (5/12)
Pros: This new Aussie flick is a wonderfully-acted dark drama that eschews both typical genre thrills and the extremes of onscreen torture. It’s suspenseful, particularly during its nail-biting third act, but it finds real strength in the journeys of its two main female characters.[My review.]
Cons: Honestly the worst thing I can say about it is that it borrows a memorable trick from a significant Hollywood thriller during a highly suspenseful scene.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (5/5)
Pros: James Gunn’s first foray into the Marvel Universe resulted in one of the franchise’s most entertaining films, and with all of the same talents returning alongside the addition of Kurt Russell the odds are good that they’ll deliver another two hours of fun.
Cons: I guess if you don’t like the first movie there’s little reason to be excited about this follow-up. Fools.
1. Alien: Covenant (5/19)
Pros: Ridley Scott (Alien) has made another space-set horror movie, and it stars Danny McBride and Amy Seimetz.
Cons: Ridley Scott (Prometheus) has made another space-set horror movie, and it stars James Franco and Noomi Rapace.