The Pop Theology 2017 Summer Movie Preview

Benjamin, Richard, and Ryan weigh in on the films they’re most excited to watch this summer. While we’re all just living in a superheroes’ world, there are some smaller gems in here that you just can’t miss. 

In order of release date…

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5th)

This one’s a no-brainer. I’m of the mindset that the MCU can do no wrong (The Dark World is amazing…FIGHT ME!). I’m also of the opinion that solidifying James Gunn’s place as a consummate badass will be better for cinema in general. We’re all stoked for this sequel but, really, like most nerds, I’m just dying to see Ego the Living Planet with Kurt Russel’s face. That’s literally all I need in life, to be honest. Then I can die happy. –BG

Alien: Covenant (May 19th)

My sole contribution to this list. Of course, Benjamin and Ryan jumped on the list early and took all the good ones. Ridley Scott gives us the sequel (to the Alien prequel) Prometheus. Having discovered the Engineers–the aliens who planted the seed of humanity on earth–we now start to find out what went wrong with the horrible xenomorphs they designed as a biological weapon to kill us off when our species went awry. Noomi Rapace returns as the scientist who wears a cross around her neck. Michael Fassbender returns as the android David, and another android named Walter. Scott has promised this one will make up for Prometheus’ lack of chest-bursting, face-eating alien monsters, so you might want to wear your front-row-at-a-Gallagher-concert plastic poncho for this one. –RL

Wonder Woman (June 2nd)

Despite itself, I still believe in DC/WB relationship. But, even as a Zack Snyder apologist, it’s pretty difficult to have much faith at this point. But, with Patty Jenkins at the helm and the fact that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is one of the few bright spots in the DC cinematic universe thus far, I’m pretty optimistic that they can course correct with this one. Then again, Suicide Squad had a great trailer too…so, we’ll see. –BG

The Big Sick (June 23rd)

I missed this one at Sundance earlier this year, and all the buzz has me counting down the days until it’s mid-summer release. Judd Apatow producing and Michael Showalter directing a script by Kumail Nanjiani…what’s not to love? Add that mix of comedic genius to a sTory about illness and cross-cultural relationships, and we could have one of the funniest and most thoughtful films of the summer. –RP

Baby Driver (June 28th)

Speaking of directors with singular visions of pure joy, the release of new Edgar Wright is cause for ceaseless celebration. An artist whose natural eye for the comedic and kinetic has somehow sharpened to post-human levels of perfection, Wright returns this summer with a story he’s been toying with for decades. A musical of some sort or another, the movie is entirely bound to the rhythm of it’s soundtrack, and, if the immaculate use of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s personal soundtrack in Scott Pilgrim is any indication, this is going to be one hell of a fun ride to jam out to. –BG

A Ghost Story (July 7th)

From the descriptions I’ve read of this film so far, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it but any centuries spanning surrealistic meditation on the ebb and flow of life and death has my attention. The tale of a man who watches the passage of time after his death, A Ghost Story looks to easily be the most moving film of the summer. (Ryan here. I’ve seen it and it is!) Amidst all this popcorn distraction, it’ll be good to have at least one movie that will make me focus on my ephemeral existential state. –BG

Patti Cake$ (July 7th)

I saw this at SXSW after it had wowed audiences at Sundance too. It was the most fun I had at the festival, and by the audience’s reaction, theirs too. Two fairly mind-blowing aspects of the film. 1) Geremy Jasper not only wrote and directed the film, he also pended the lyrics for Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, and they actually sound like they’ve come from the mind of an accomplished rapper. 2) Actress Daniel Macdonald, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, had never rapped or performed before, and she absolutely kills it. Here’s hoping for as wide a release as possible for a hilarious and heartfelt film. –RP

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th)

Spider-Man belongs with Marvel. Not only is he the quintessential Marvel character, but the MCU needs the awkward, wise-cracking down to earth Peter to help put it all in perspective. It’s what the books have historically done so well, and it looks like Marvel is well on their way to duplicating it. Plus, are we tired of Iron Man yet? Didn’t think so. –BG

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14th)

Two things about the current Apes series: 1) These movies are way better than they have any right to be, and 2) why isn’t everyone talking about how great they are?!? In spite  of their apparently slight cultural impact, it’s a blessing that these movies have been able to procked at all. Underneath it all, they contain some of the sharpest–and most heartbreaking–social commentary in film today (let alone blockbusters). –BG

Dunkirk (July 21st)

I’m no fan of the Dark Knight Trilogy (see above: FIGHT ME), but I am grateful that they gave Christopher Nolan the confidence to stretch out and go big with this epic war film. From the multi-layered landscapes of Inception to the cosmic quest of Interstellar, it’s been an absolute joy to watch his meticulous eye widen to dizzying proportions. The thought of him applying these skills to a war film, combined with his knack for the dour and severe, is almost too much. This is a heartening bit of history, and I’m glad we have a director who will explore it in all its horrific scale. –BG

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21st)

Of all the movies listed here, I’m probably most excited for Luc Besson’s return to sci-fi. I have to re-watch The Fifth Element every so often to remind myself how cinema can become the perfect vessel for pure creative joy (see also: Scott Pilgrim). Back in 1997, Besson was able to create the most lusciously sumptuous science fiction movie to date. Now, twenty years later (wow!), Besson returns with all the modern tools, bells, and whistles at his disposal. This could have the worst story ever committed to screen, and I’d still see it multiple times in theaters (and in 4K). But, luckily, it’s based on an absolute blast of a comic, and I have faith that Besson will pull it off in spades. –BG

Atomic Blonde (July 28th)

John Wick is the greatest action movie of the past decade, and maybe even longer. As an absolute surprise from two stunt men turned first time directors, it is no surprise that fans would be waiting with baited breath to see what they might do next. Chad Stahelski knocked John Wick Chapter 2 out of the park, and now David Leitch has launched a new narrative with, who knew?, new badass action star Charlize Theron as a Cold War era super spy. Ryan was lucky enough to see it at this year’s SXSW and, from his enthusiastic reaction, I feel confident this is gonna be another classic action flick. –BG

The Dark Tower (August 4th)

Let’s face it, there’s about a million things that could go wrong with this adaptation of Stephen King’s epic, but I’m such a huge fan of the books that, like Benjamin with Valerian, I’ll probably see this on the big screen multiple times before it heads to home video, where I’ll probably purchase it as well. –RP

Detroit (August 4th)

Who better to helm a film that is packed with nerve-wracking tension, if the trailer is any indication, than Kathryn Bigelow. I’ve been told this is a solid film that should put her in the best director category yet again. She turns her attention to the untold story of a police raid in 1967 Detroit that resulted in one of the largest citizen uprisings in U.S. history. It also boasts a stellar young cast including John Boyega, Jack Reynor, and Jason Mitchell. –RP

Wind River (August 4th)

Another film I missed at Sundance, Wind River is writer (and now director) Taylor Sheridan’s third and final film in his “border trilogy,” which includes Sicario and Hell or High Water. Seriously, has any writer run off three films of this calibre in a row? In Wind River, Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen team up to investigate a murder on a Native American reservation. –RP