April 2016 may have brought only one bonafide blockbuster — namely, Jon Favreau’s critically lauded live-action version of Disney’s The Jungle Book — but May has several highly anticipated releases in store for moviegoers, including a pair of Marvel adventures that bookend the month. However, the weeks ahead also have plenty to offer moviegoers looking for alternative fare, with a number of intriguing smaller films making their way to theaters. It’s destined to be a busy time at the movies. So let’s get started.
Here are 10 films to check out in May 2016:
Captain America: Civil War (Release Date: May 6)
Ever since Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) first crossed paths in The Avengers, fans have been wondering when (if?) Marvel Studios would pit the heroes against each other in an adaptation of the comics’ Civil War limited series. Now directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) return to shake the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its core in the game-changing Captain America: Civil War.
As a kickoff for Phase 3 of the MCU, the film promises to forever alter the course of the franchise and lay the groundwork that will lead to the heroes’ ultimate team-up against Thanos in the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. Moreover, it also marks the introduction of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) into the MCU. Captain America: Civil War has already opened internationally, and according to reviews, the conclusion to the Captain America trilogy more than lives up to the hype.
Check out the latest trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
Money Monster (Release Date: May 13)
Jodie Foster has only three directorial efforts in her filmography. So people tend to take notice when the two-time Oscar winner decides to jump behind the camera for a new film. This political thriller is no exception, as its provocative premise takes aim at political and economic subjects. The fact that it stars Oscar winners George Clooney and Julia Roberts — as well as up-and-comer Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Money Monster stars Clooney as Lee Gates, a television personality and host of a financial advice cable show. However, he finds himself in hot water when an irate viewer (O’Connell) holds Gates responsible for his financial woes, leaving the show’s producer (Roberts) to manage the crisis. The film promises to deliver a riveting exploration of the societal role of the media and the fickle nature of economy, and it could very well be among the best films of its kind this year.
Check out the latest trailer for Money Monster.
The Lobster (Release Date: May 13)
Acclaimed Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) makes his English-language debut with The Lobster, a new sci-fi drama set in a dystopian world where single people are given 45 days to find a mate before they are transformed into animals. Despite that bizarre premise, the film — which stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz — has received near-universal acclaim for critics for its distinctive storytelling and satirical subtext.
Hitting limited release this month, The Lobster could provide a welcome bit of counterprogramming for those moviegoers thirsty for something a bit off the beaten path. The film was been making an impressive splash thus far on the festival circuit, scooping up the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and a British Independent Film Award for Olivia Colman’s supporting performance.
Check out the latest trailer for The Lobster.
High-Rise (Release Date: May 13)
Fresh from his performance as Hank Williams in I Saw the Light, Tom Hiddleston headlines Ben Wheatley’s sci-fi thriller about a man whose life becomes embroiled in chaos when he moves into a new luxury apartment complex. Based on the 1975 novel by J.G. Ballard, the film features an outstanding supporting cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, and James Purefoy.
Following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, High-Rise was released through on-demand services in April, and though its limited theatrical run is unlikely to compete with more mainstream films, its twisted vision of a classist society could present a rare opportunity for fans of similarly themed 2014 release Snowpiercer to experience the film on the big screen.
Check out the latest trailer for High-Rise.
Last Days in the Desert (Release Date: May 13)
Ewan McGregor may be best known to most moviegoers for his work as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but the actor has demonstrated far more range in his career than the Jedi robes would have fans believe. With Last Days in the Desert, he takes on a particularly challenging endeavor. After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2015, the film finally arrives in select theaters.
Directed by Rodrigo García (Albert Nobbs), the film is an imagined addition to the life of Jesus Christ, chronicling the emotional journey he endured during his 40-day period of fasting in the desert. McGregor plays both Jesus and the Devil in the film, as the pair clash over the fate of a struggling family (played by Tye Sheridan, Ciarán Hinds, and Ayelet Zurer). Last Days in the Desert may court some controversy, but it looks to be an excellent showcase for McGregor’s talent.
The Angry Birds Movie (Release Date: May 20)
Upcoming releases like Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed could go a long way toward legitimizing video game films as the next big trend poised to sweep Hollywood. First, however, The Angry Birds Movie presents a lighter, family-friendly narrative based on the popular game series. Sony Pictures Imageworks — the company behind visual effects and digital animation featured in countless Sony films — is behind the film.
The story centers on rage-prone Red (Jason Sudeikis) and the rest of the island-dwelling birds as a mysterious group of pigs arrive on their island. With a cast that also includes Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Kate McKinnon and countless more comedy talents, the film has every opportunity to become a breakout hit for families everywhere. The fact that Jon Vitti — best known for The Simpsons — serves as screenwriter only inspires more faith in the project.
Check out the latest trailer for The Angry Birds Movie.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Release Date: May 20)
Seth Rogen has a proven appeal with audiences and a (mostly) solid track record at the box office, but Neighbors still did impressively well when it came knocking two summers ago. The film snuck past Knocked Up to become the actor’s highest-grossing domestic release so far, ultimately bringing in $270 million worldwide. So, of course, Universal didn’t wait long to green-light a sequel.
While its predecessor pitted Rogen and onscreen wife Rose Byrne against the fraternity next door, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising sees Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) turning to former nemesis Teddy (Zac Efron) for help in taking down the sorority that moves into the now-vacant neighboring house. The same director and principal cast return for this sequel, and buoyed by key new additions like Chloë Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez, Neighbors 2 will likely be one of this summer’s biggest comedies.
Check out the latest trailer for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.
The Nice Guys (Release Date: May 20)
Despite starting out as a screenwriter, Shane Black has developed into a respected director in his own right. His debut film, the 2005 neo-noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, helped reinvigorate Robert Downey Jr.’s career pre-Iron Man, and that collaboration came full circle when Black wrote and directed Marvel’s Phase 2 launchpad, Iron Man 3. Now he’s back with The Nice Guys, another buddy action-comedy in the vein of his directorial debut.
Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the film centers on a private detective (Ryan Gosling) and an enforcer (Russell Crowe) who team up to solve the case of a missing girl, only to discover that a larger conspiracy is at play. Though the tone of the film positions it as a spiritual sequel of sorts to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the former film’s fans likely won’t mind, as the comedic chemistry between the two leads and Black’s sharp writing should elevate it into a fun time at the movies.
Check out the latest trailer for The Nice Guys.
Alice Through the Looking Glass (Release Date: May 27)
Tim Burton’s 2010 live-action version of Alice in Wonderland may have proved divisive for critics, but moviegoers clearly disagreed, turning out in droves to see Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska as the Mad Hatter and Alice, respectively. Moreover, the film’s $1 billion worldwide box office gross meant that a sequel was inevitable. This time around, James Bobin (The Muppets) directs Alice Through the Looking Glass, based on the 1871 Lewis Carroll novel.
Alice returns to Underland to find that she must travel through time to save her friends from the machinations of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), a part-clock demigod. Nearly the entire principal cast of the first film returns — including Alan Rickman in one of his final roles — as does screenwriter Linda Woolverton and composer Danny Elfman. Following the huge success of The Jungle Book, this sequel could prove to be another big winner for Disney.
X-Men: Apocalypse (Release Date: May 27)
Fans are rejoicing that Spider-Man has finally joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but don’t hold your breath for the X-Men to follow suit anytime soon. X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool are among the biggest hits the franchise has seen so far, and more importantly, the films demonstrated the series’ ability to recharge its narrative momentum and expand its own mythology to incorporate new character perspectives.
X-Men: Apocalypse hopes to build off of that success and round out the X-Men: First Class trilogy in epic fashion. Much has been said about where the X-Men franchise may go after the heroic team faces off against Oscar Isaac’s titular ancient mutant (the Dark Phoenix saga perhaps?). However, if the film does manage to satisfy audiences, it will prove that the series’ recent reinvention wasn’t a fluke and reaffirm Fox’s X-Men films as a worthy counterpart to the MCU.
Check out the latest trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse.
From start to finish, this month has a ton to offer moviegoers of all tastes. While superhero films like Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse are certain to be big hits, it will be interesting to see which other films manage to connect with audiences. Though the concept of a “summer movie season” is becoming more obsolete with each passing year, it’s hard not to notice the leap in scale hitting theaters this month.
Once again, here are the 10 films to check out in May:
May 6: Captain America: Civil War
May 13: Money Monster, The Lobster, High-Rise, Last Days in the Desert
May 20: The Angry Birds Movie, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Nice Guys
May 27: Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse