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The Flixist 2019 Summer Movie Preview

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Beat the heat, get in your seats!

It's that time of the year again folks! It's getting warmer outside, the flowers are blooming, and schools are getting ready to be let out, flooding the world once more with the gremlins know as "children" and the abominations we know as "teenagers." And as is tradition, the best way to escape from these goblins is to run to your nearest cool and comfy movie theater to watch whatever the latest releases are. But when there's so much crap coming into theaters, it may be hard to figure out exactly what's worth seeing, so that's where we come in! We have prepared, for your reading pleasure, Flixist's annual preview of the biggest and most interesting movies of the summer.

All of us writers at Flixist have different tastes in movies and with the summer movie season starting now in late April and going until August, that gives us well over four months of movies to look forward to. So because of that, we each looked over the release schedule for the next several months and selected one movie per writer that we were most interested in. There's no guarantee that these movies will be good, but these are the movies that we're most interested in seeing. Whether it's because of the director, the movie's concept, or even an actor or two, we want these movies to be out now so we can sit and watch them, for better or worse. So sit back, relax, and see what we think the biggest movies of summer 2019 are!

Avengers: Endgame


Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Release Date: April 26, 2019

While I'm sure to be mad that the pesky Avengers have undone everything that Thanos and David Attenborough have worked so hard to achieve in Endgame, I can't deny that the prospect of this movie has me super excited. For one, this is the darkest set up we've had to any Marvel movie yet. Also for the first time in a long time I have zero idea of what's going to happen because this is new ground for me. After 11 years of knowing everything that was going to happen because of preexisting comic knowledge, not knowing what's going to happen is like a whole new world.

Sure the heroes are going to win, but at what cost? Also this is going to be the longest Marvel movie to date and I'm so ready for the numb butt. I'm not ready to ugly cry when Cap probably bites the dust after Thanos shows a copy of his contract to an in-movie Marvel executive and the executive shoots him dead, but these are sacrifices needed to be made for balance..ing Marvel's checkbooks. I don't call that mercy. #ThanosDidNothingWrong - Anthony Marzano

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

Director: Chad Stahelski
Release Date: May 17, 2019

In all honesty, I'm not a big summer blockbuster guy. I tend to avoid the huge tentpole releases because they're either really vapid or don't appeal to me. I like films that challenge my perceptions of society or make me confront something I'm uncomfortable with. If it doesn't have that, then I tend to like solid action choreography and tight editing. I watch for the technical aspects more than anything, it seems.

So while I'm not likely to see this on release, John Wick: Chapter 3 is something I have my eyes on. The last two films were solid romps that subverted a lot of the tropes that had become overused in modern action films, so I have no doubt Chapter 3 will continue that trend. That Keanu Reeves' stunt double, Tiger Chen, is in the film is just icing on the cake for me. - Peter Glagowski

Aladdin


Director: Guy Ritchie
Release Date: May 24, 2019 

An important, yet little-discussed part of the movie-going experience, is managing expectations. Low or no expectations can result in many pleasant surprises while high ones can make you fuming that you just sat through three hours of insanity so Tony Stark can get his Jesus moment (just a prediction.) Frame of mind matters. Now that doesn't excuse the fact that the Aladdin movie will probably be weird and bad and weird, but since adjusting (re: severely lowering) my expectations, I think this will be a fun, incoherent, jaunt. The retelling of a street thief with exceptionally good skin who finds a genie and tries to woo the sultan's daughter will be Disney's live-action remake since they started with Maleficent in 2014, and they seem to have established a successful, if hugely un-inventive, formula with enough to make it worth a watch at least once. 

While it's entirely understandable getting up in arms over the crappy dialogue, the fact that Jafar looks like a 4-year-old could beat him up, and yes, blue Will Smith, the rest of the trailer is actually fairly rad. From the palace, to the Cave of Wonders, to the dang ice level (?!?), all the CGI looks bright inventive, and if we get enough parkour-Aladdin, the rest of the action should be fun too. Like I said, as long as you don't expect Will Smith to be on the level of Robin Williams, or the story to add anything new, or the movie to be good in general, you have the makings of another Aquaman, which ain't bad at all. - Bradley Sexton

Booksmart

Director: Olivia Wilde
Release Date: May 24, 2019

Summer is about letting loose. The sun shines brighter on those who have freedom when the summer solstice strikes, as such is the case for Molly and Amy. Two of the best friends to ever exist are also two of the least popular people in their graduating class. Heavily focused on their grades and post-high school plans, Molly and Amy quickly realize that they missed out on years of fun and make a pact to stuff four years of fun into one final night before graduation.

Sure, maybe this is cheating since I’ve already seen the movie, but let’s get past that. In a season generally revolving around action blockbusters, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut provides consistent laughter throughout while embracing a heartfelt story between two friends. Sure, watching Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham bash skulls or Keanu Reeves ride a horse may be exciting, but there’s something to be said for moments that’ll make your face cringe and your sides hurt. -- Nick Hershey

Toy Story 4


Director: Josh Cooley
Release Date: June 21, 2019

It was already a pleasant surprise to get a third Toy Story film in our lifetimes, and now Pixar is spoiling all of us with a fourth one. Most of us will probably say that Pixar has lost some of its magic, and rightfully so—but even with not-as-good sequels like Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, and whatever the heck they're doing with Cars these days, the studio hasn't done wrong with Toy Story just yet. But the question that everyone has had on their mind is what will come next after the finality of Toy Story 3, and the answer appears to be a fascinating existential nightmare.

Actor Tony Hale voices Forky, who is a literal spork with googly eyes and pipe cleaner limbs. Even as an arts and crafts project from Bonnie, the owner of the toys by the end of the third movie, Forky becomes a proper sentient toy, one that seems horrified by its own existence. After Forky tries to make a run for it during a family vacation, Woody (Tom Hanks) goes after him and embarks on an adventure that has him encounter the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in an antique shop, along with a carnival full of toys. Even as an adult, I still appreciate the Toy Story series for accurately capturing the importance of toys in one's childhood, so I'm quite glad that even a fourth film in this series is finding new angles to tackle nostalgia and childhood development. But man, Forky opens up a whole 'nother wormhole on what is sentient life. Leave it to Pixar to have me dread about my existence. -- Chris Compendio

Midsommar

Director: Ari Aster
Release Date: July 3, 2019

Hereditary made me pee a little. I hope Midsommar makes me pee a whole lot. Ari Aster absolutely knocked it out of the park last year (I imagine the baseball, in this case, being a girl's decapitated head) with Hereditary. It was painful and intimate and inescapable with a palpable sense of dread. Everything was tears, sweat, and saliva wrapped in claustrophobic and dank darkness. It was the best.

Midsommar, which follows a couple of on-the-rocks as they experience a nine-day festival that happens once every 90 years hosted by an obvious flower-child cult, takes a decided shift in pallet and tone. This is colorful, exotic, and enticing in a Wicker Man sort of way. Frames look as if they could be painted, and there's a sense of mystery Hereditary didn't have. I don't know if it can top such a sterling first effort, but I am curious to see just what sort of morbid horror bubbles just below the celebration this Fourth of July weekend. -- Kyle Yadlosky

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Director: Jon Watts
Release Date: July 5, 2019

We are living in a golden age for content if you are a Spider-Man fan. Not only is he apart of the MCU, but he's also got a stellar video game and the equally amazing Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse last year. You have access to so many variations of Spider-Man in media right now so what more could you want? The answer is more Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: Far From Home sees Peter Parker venturing out of the friendly neighborhood and into the vast world of Europe for a school trip. There he's thrust into a conflict with The Elementals, which include the likes of Hydro-Man, and the unknown quantity of Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is there to further complicate things. I'll say I never thought I was going to see Hydro-Man in a live-action Spider-Man movie. I love the MCU Spider-Man movies going with villains that we haven't seen before. They are showing just how expansive his rogue's gallery really is. After Michael Keaton's great performance as the Vulture, Jake Gyllenhaal has a lot to live up to in the possible-villain department and I'm hoping they can deliver on that casting and this character. Spider-Man movies have really upped their game in recent years and I hope that trend continues. Every movie should star Spider-Man. -- John Morey

The Lion King

The Lion King

Director Jon Favreau
Release Date: July 19, 2019

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's super easy to be negative about one of the four... yes FOUR live-action remakes of animated films Disney is releasing this year (Five thanks to Lady and the Tramp - ED). And yeah, I know you can complain about the lack of originality and this being a clear money grab. You might be right. But I DON'T CARE! I AM SO EXCITED! The Lion King is an animated classic. It might be the greatest animated film of all time. This film was my childhood. The music has been the soundtrack to my life. And I love it dearly to this day. 

Of course, it can always disappoint and fail to live up to its massive expectations. But it's going to be an event. It's going to be the best of times and it's something you won't be able to miss. It's simple. It's the Coachella of summer movies! It has BEYONCE! It's got Donald Glover! Then there is Seth Rogan as Pumbaa! Billy Eichner as Timon! and freakin' John Oliver as Zazu! This is going to be the greatest! So in July prepare for an overdose of nostalgia and breathe in that Circle of Life baby! -- Nathan McVay

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Release Date: July 26, 2019

It's always going to be a good season when a new Tarantino movie comes out, and the summer of 2019 is looking to be no exception. The highly anticipated ninth movie by the acclaimed director, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is looking to be both a return to form as well as a departure for him. Based on the first trailer, I'm getting some fun mid 90's vibes that remind me of his work on Pulp Fiction a ton. Maybe it's just the retro California setting or the black comedy vibes I'm getting from it, but I can dig what he's showing. 

What I'm still curious about is his choice of casting. Trust me, I love Leonardo DiCaprio as much as the next man, same as Brad Pitt, who stars as an actor and stunt double respectively, but I'm surprised at how un-Tarantino the casting is. Outside of the two leads, who starred in Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards, most the cast hasn't been in a Tarantino movie. Bruce Dern is set to appear, plus we'll have minor cameos from Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Zoe Bell, and Kurt Russell, but there are mostly Tarantino newcomers on display. It can at least be said that the movie is going to feel fresh because of it, so let's savor and enjoy Once Upon A Time in Hollywood because if Tarantino is true to his word, his next movie will be his last. -- Jesse Lab

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Director: David Leitch
Release Date: August 2, 2019

I'm going to say something bold here: the thing that's been holding back the Fast & Furious movies (if they can even be accused of holding back) is the adherence to focussing on Vin Diesel and his lovable gang of fast driving criminals. I'm not saying to stop the main series, but the absurd action universe that is F&F needs to branch out and there is no better way to branch out into a new kind of absurd action than with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. They're my two favorite action actors working and the two of them together have already created magic in the F&F films they've been in. It just makes sense to let them loose on their own, even if it causes drama within the F&F #family.

That's not the only reason to be excited about the movie, though. David Leitch, the man who directed the original John Wick, is behind the camera. Honestly, the series has suffered since Justin Lin took his incredibly creative action direction away from it, and seeing someone who is as talented as Leitch get a shot at a cinematic universe where cars can parachute from the sky or drag a giant safe behind them like a wrecking ball is as close to perfect as you can come. Take the creativity of John Wick's gun fights, mix in the absurdity of anything that happens in the F&F universe, and then stir well with Johnson and Statham and I think you've got a recipe for the best action movie of the summer, including Avengers: Endgame. -- Matthew Razak

The New Mutants


Director: Josh Boone
Release Date: August 2, 2019

Remember Fantastic Four from 2015? Sorry, you do now. The two things that stand out most in my mind there are Kate Mara’s wig in the reshoots and some stabs at body horror and terror. One of those things looks to be making an appearance in The New Mutants, the latest and seemingly last non-Disney X-Men film to be released (in August maybe?). The movie is , originating in the early-’80s, The New Mutants, based on the team of the same nameis set to focus on fledgling freaks trying to understand their extraordinary gifts. I mean, how would you feel if all of a sudden you realized you could turn into a wolf?

Compared to the previous X-Men films, which seemed like a string of disparate adaptations, The New Mutants seems to want is to scale things back from end-of-the-world stakes and personalize things, and maybe shed a little light on just how terrifying the prospect of mutant powers would be. Will it succeed? The jury’s out. Stabby Stark star Maisie Williams doesn’t know “when the fuck [it’s] gonna come out,” and the alleged reshoots, copious reschedules, and general lack of marketing point to a bit of a head-scratcher. But if it does end up making the summer of 2019, and even if it does turn out awful, at least it’ll be an interesting mess!

PS: Watch Legion. -- Sam van der Meer

The Nightingale

Director: Jennifer Kent
Release Date: August 2, 2019

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is one of the best horror movies of the decade, and also one of the best feature film debuts of the decade. (You can probably trace some of the debate over the term “elevated horror” to the success of The Babadook. Please stop using that dumb phrase, though.) Countless people eagerly awaited what Kent had in store next. The answer is The Nightingale, an outback western revenge thriller that debuted at last year’s Venice Film Festival to generally mixed/positive reviews.

Set in 1825 Tasmania (then a British penal colony), The Nightingale follows a young Irish convict on the trail of a British officer who wronged her family. To bring the officer down, she hires an Aboriginal tracker whose life is also marked by trauma. I’m curious to see Kent’s take on the material, which promises to be viciously anti-colonial and anti-patriarchal. Justin Chang of The Los Angeles Times remarked in his Sundance review of The Nightingale that the movie caused walkouts in the first half hour because the violence was that upsetting. I can’t wait to experience this brutal film she’s made. -- Hubert Vigilla

Artemis Fowl

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Release date: August 9, 2019

A few films wrestled for pride of place in my top picks for this summer, but while the long-awaited-and-oft-pushed-back Dark Phoenix looks to be a fantastic next installment to the X-Men franchise and topical in light of Foxmageddon, I can’t help but feel that there’s contention with one or two others. Tolkien has been announced and true, I have a longstanding allegiance to both Middle Earth and the city of Oxford, both of which are likely to be strong factors in the box office takings. But for all this I can’t justifiably overlook the new adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s timeless kids’ novel, Artemis Fowl — the story of a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who gets caught up in a dark underworld of killer faeries, evil nondescript agents and a whole menagerie of fantasy creatures who aren’t quite as harmless as they might appear.

What really sways the film for me is the fact that it’s based on a beloved 8-part series of childhood books — books that, when I was much younger, I would read before bed and then enthusiastically rave about the next day at school. In fact, they were so memorable that, 13 years on, I’m still remembering bits of dialogue here and there. We had a first look at a teaser trailer back in November, and for anyone who might have been a little reluctant about the concept of weapon-yielding faeries and an LEP-Recon Unit, I give you the latest of Disney’s offerings as conclusive proof that this sort of material has mileage. For one thing, Artemis himself (Ferdia Shaw) promises to be a fantastic new face of pre-adolescent children everywhere, and the characterization of figures including his sidekick and guardian Butler (Nonso Anozie), the feisty and fiercely independent elf Holly (Hong Chau) and the disgruntled dwarf Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad). I’ve not heard too much more about this film leading up to the release date — cynics might say something about Disney’s complications in trying to launch a new franchise in an already oversaturated calendar but if all goes to plan we’ll be seeing more of the adolescent anti-hero soon. -- Sian Francis-Cox

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