Welcome to the Summer Movie Season! If you think those words signify an onslaught of popcorn-friendly big-budget sequels, spinoffs and superhero flicks, you’d be absolutely . . . right! Sort of? Though you will get a chance to revisit Han Solo, dinosaurs, Ethan Hunt, an Ocean, an Ant-Man and more, the 2018 edition will also deliver original comedies and an indie gem. Collect them all.
1. Solo: A Star Wars Story
The Story A long, long, long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away: During some wild space escapades, young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich, Rules Don’t Apply) meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, Atlanta). Nobody tell this winking antihero that his future son will someday slice him down the middle with a Lightsaber.
The Buzz Veteran Oscar winner Ron Howard was named as a director replacement for Chris Miller and Phil Lord during production, prompting pundits and super-fans to worry about the quality of this stand-alone chapter in the Star Wars universe. A rollicking Super Bowl commercial and ensuing trailers have helped quell the fears. But come on: Jar Jar Binks could have called the shots, and you’d still rush to see it opening weekend.
In theaters Friday, May 25
2. Ocean’s 8
The Story Heist king Danny Ocean has a sister, and theft runs in the family. Now Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) rounds up her own formidable crew to steal a $150 million necklace off an actress (Anne Hathaway) during the annual Met Ball in New York City. They’re all females, obvs.
The Buzz Bullock doing comedy for the first time in five years. Plus, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Hathaway, Katie Holmes . . . If you’re not excited about this cast getting together on the big screen, then your movie-fan membership card needs to be revoked immediately. The trailer itself is more entertaining than all of Ocean’s Twelve.
In theaters Friday, June 8
3. The Incredibles 2
The Story Once again, Bob and Helen Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter) struggle to raise their kids. Once again again, this family of superheroes, known as the Incredibles, try to save the world. Now they must face down a new villain.
The Buzz Children that flocked to Pixar’s original The Incredibles back in 2004 are now full-fledged, mortgage-paying adults. I guess that makes this long-awaited sequel a true generational event. Good thing computer-animated characters never have to age.
In theaters Friday June 15
4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Story Dino-whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) returns to Isla Nublar to help rescue the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s poised to erupt and lead to extinction. (Or re-extinction?) His ex-girlfriend Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) — and presumably her high heels — is back as well.
The Buzz Back in 2015, Jurassic World reignited a dormant franchise. This sequel, the fifth Jurassic Park movie overall, aims to continue the winning streak by making audiences care about the fate of the dinosaurs. Maybe an appearance from original star Jeff Goldblum as scientist Ian Malcolm will prove a good-luck charm and remind us all that life always finds a way.
In theaters Friday, June 22
5. Ant-Man and the Wasp
The Story It’s the big one! In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, small-time criminal Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) struggles with roles as a dad and as Ant-Man. Soon, he teams up with the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) on a mission to “uncover the secrets the past.” (I’m quoting Marvel’s vaguely written web site)
The Buzz In case the mammoth The Avengers didn’t fulfill all your Marvel superhero needs for the summer, here comes a sequel to perhaps the quirkiest comic-book character of all. But this installment is already nothing if not historic — it’s the first MCU title to feature a female as a titular lead. Co-lead. Whatever. We’ll take it.
In theaters Friday, July 6
The Story There are 240 of them, actually. Dwayne Johnson plays a man whose family is trapped in an extremely tall building. To save them, his character will need to rely on his biceps — as well as his prosthetic leg.
The Buzz Dwayne Johnson does his best John McClaine in a summer escapism action flick, YES. Skyscraper is poised to make the star’s most recent outing, Rampage, look like a Daniel Day Lewis costume drama. Bring it! (I know that’s what we also said about Baywatch last May. Let’s give the former Rock the benefit of the box office.)
In theaters Friday, July 13
7. Eighth Grade
The Story Introvert Kayla (the fantastic Elsie Fisher) tries to push through her final weeks of eighth grade in her suburban junior high school. Though voted “Most Quiet” in her class, Kayla has plenty to say . . . and she expresses all on her video blogs.
The Buzz I will not rest until every eighth-grade survivor sees this Sundance Film Festival indie standout. Heartbreakingly funny and achingly relatable, this remarkable coming-of-age story brought me to tears. OK, Gucci! (Inside joke.) (Seriously, please see this movie. It’s terrific.)
In theaters Friday, July 13
8. The Equalizer 2
The Story Denzel Washington is here for you. He reprises his role as CIA operative-turned-elderly vigilante Robert McCall in this sequel to the well-received 2014 action thriller.
The Buzz Information has been thrown out like breadcrumbs. The release date was moved up two weeks, which is not necessarily a troubled sign. And Antoine Fuqua, who directed Washington to an Oscar for Training Day in 2001, returns behind the camera. This sounds like serious business.
In theaters on Friday, July 20
9. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
The Story This ABBA-scored musical follows up on the original story of a teen bride (Amanda Seyfried) that finally meets her father — and uses flashbacks to show how her mom (Lily James) originally met the guy.
The Buzz My, my, how can we resist you? Not only is the original cast back on that sun-kissed Mediterranean island (including Meryl Streep as Seyfried’s overalls-wearing mamma), now Cher joins in on the fun. Cher. BTW, this tale is not part of the original Mamma Mia musical, so we’ll just have to see how “Take A Chance on Me” and “SOS” become incorporated into the narrative.
In theaters Friday, July 20
10. Mission: Impossible — Fallout
The Story In the sixth installment of the super-spy series, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and the rest of the IMF gang (including regulars Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan and Rebecca Ferguson) are in a race against time . . . . uh, let’s agree the plot is secondary.
The Buzz Though Cruise is now fifty-friggin’-five years old, he refuses to let up on his franchise’s signature high-flying stunts. (The actor even broke his ankle jumping between buildings, temporarily shutting down production.) Can’t wait to see the scene in which he pilots a helicopter into a moving truck. Not exaggerating.
In theaters Friday July 27
11. The Spy Who Dumped Me
The Story Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon play best friends that become entangled in an undercover mission after an ex shows up on his doorstep with a team of assassins on his tail. Fun!
The Buzz These talented actresses know how to do Naughty Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at the movies — think 2016’s Bad Moms (yeah) and 2017’s Rough Night (meh). Thanks to this inspired comedic pairing, I expect killer laughs.
In theaters Friday, August 3
12. The Hustle
The Story In this female-powered version of the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are con artists working on their newest scheme.
The Buzz All’s relatively quiet so far on this comedy, other than to note that its original title was, ahem, Nasty Women. The stakes are high, as are expectations: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenne Headly, was all aces.
In theaters Friday, August 10
13. Crazy Rich Asians
The Story: American Rachel (Constance Wu) accompanies her longtime boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore only to learn that the guy is not only from one of the richest families in Asia, he’s one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Now she must deal with jealous socialites and Nick’s formidable mama (Michelle Yeoh).
The Buzz: “Daaaaamn, Rachel, he’s like the Asian Bachelor!” exclaims Rachel’s best friend (Awkwafina) as they pull up to the Young Family’s estate. The trailer for the comedy, based on the 2013 novel, is high on fashion, Kardashian-like parties, glam drama and on-point laughs. This could be the breakout comedy of the summer and Awkwafina is poised to be its Tiffany Haddish-like breakout star. Who’s ready to celebrate?
In theaters Friday, August 17