The 2019 summer movie season (that is, May through August) is right around the corner, so we're counting down the must-see films of the frame. 2019 got off to a realtively slow start, with several movies either disappointing critically and/or struggling to take off at the box office. Fortunately, things started to pick up near the end of February, beginning with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and especially Captain Marvel, followed by a handful of hits like Us and Shazam!. And of course, April will end with a massive bang thanks to the release of Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame.
Things shouldn't slow down much when the proper summer movie season gets underway, either. Indeed, there are even more superhero tentpoles, some major live-action Disney remakes, anticipated animated sequels, and a number of exciting-looking horror films on the immediate horizon. Of course, for those who need a break from genre fare and franchises, there are some equally intriguing indie offerings, biopics, and even a new Quentin Tarantino flick to look forward to. (And before anyone asks: Endgame was on our 2019 Winter/Spring preview, which is why it's not listed here.)
To help narrow things down, we've put together a list of 20 Summer 2019 movies to see (along with some honorable mentions, at the end). The films are numbered in the order of their theatrical release date, so feel free to let us know what your personal most anticipated movies are in the comments section!
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20. Detective Pikachu (May 10)
Plot Summary: In a world where humans and Pokémon live side by side, would-be Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman joins forces with a crime-solving Pikachu to locate his father, a famous detective who's mysteriously gone missing.
The Breakdown: Warner Bros.' live-action Pokémon movie has gone from being a mild curiosity to one of this summer's more anticipated (and unique-looking) offerings in recent months. The general public seems to be onboard for Ryan Reynolds' Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style adventure by this point, with its marketing suggesting that Detective Pikachu is a playful, family-friendly romp that has just enough weirdness to satisfy fans of all things Poke-related. Nostalgia has also played an important role in building hype for the movie, but so far it looks like the strategy shouldn't blow up in WB's face like a Psyduck with a headache.
19. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (May 17)
Plot Summary: John Wick finds himself on the run after killing a member of the international assassin's guild, with hit men and women everywhere hoping to collect the $14 million bounty on his head.
The Breakdown: Five years in and John Wick has evolved from a one-off Keanu Reeves action movie to an international franchise with an ever growing fanbase. The fact that John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is releasing in the summer (rather than the fall or winter, like its predecessors) is a testament to just how popular the series have become since it kicked off. By the look of things, series director Chad Stahelski may've been saving the best for last too, with the marketing hyping some genuinely awe-inspiring set pieces, action sequences, and stunts to come in Parabellum proper... assuming this is the last John Wick film, anyway.
18. Aladdin (May 24)
Plot Summary: A street urchin named Aladdin is granted three wishes by a magical Genie, after he acquires a magical lamp sought by the scheming Jafar.
The Breakdown: Guy Ritchie's Aladdin is easily the most controversial live-action retelling of a Disney animated classic yet, thanks to everything from the design of Will Smith's rapping blue Genie to the remake's problematic casting, white extras being dressed in brownface, and everything in between. At the same time, the original Aladdin is still one of the Mouse House's biggest (and most beloved) hits of all time, and the odds are good that moviegoers will turn out in large numbers to see this one on the big screen. Whether they'll actually like what they see, well, that's something we're all curious to learn the answer to.
17. Brightburn (May 24)
Plot Summary: A small-town couple adopt an alien infant after their pod crash-lands on earth, only for the child to grow up and become a super-powered murderer.
The Breakdown: Essentially a horror movie re-imagining of the Superman mythology, Brightburn has attracted interest since before it had a title, thanks to James Gunn's involvement behind the scenes. The film's marketing has drawn heavily on the iconography of Man of Steel especially, leaving many to wonder whether Brightburn will feel more like a dark superhero movie or just another evil child thriller (albeit, with a superhero twist). Horror and/or thriller-flavored superhero offerings like Glass and Hellboy have struggled to really connect with either critics or general audiences this year, so it'll be interesting to see how this one fares by comparison.
16. Booksmart (May 24)
Plot Summary: Two best friends, on the eve of their high school graduation, try to cram four years of misbehavior into one wild night.
The Breakdown: Olivia Wilde's directorial debut made a big splash at SXSW in March, drawing rave reviews and comparisons to raunchy coming of age comedy classics like Superbad (only told from a female perspective). By the sound of it, Booksmart has the potential to be this year's Blockers and further cement its young stars (Last Man Standing's Kaitlyn Dever and Lady Bird's Beanie Feldstein) as talents on the rise. With this August's Good Boys also generating solid buzz following its SXSW debut, Summer 2019 promises to be a pretty good season for R-rated comedies about misbehaving youths and their shenanigans in general.
15. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)
Plot Summary: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off with a number of god-like monsters, including the infamous Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla's ultimate nemesis, King Ghidorah.
The Breakdown: While we've still got a year to go before Godzilla and King Kong throw down, this year's MonsterVerse offering is shaping up to be pretty exciting in its own right. Directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus), Godzilla: King of the Monsters appears to blend the grounded style of Gareth Edwards' Godzilla reboot with the brighter colors and more outlandish monster brawls featured in Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island, to overall positive effect. It remains to be seen if the story here is equally up to snuff, but a giant monster movie that syncs well with tunes like "Claire de Lune" and "Over the Rainbow" is definitely doing something right.
14. Ma (May 31)
Plot Summary: A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and lets them party at her house, only for the kids to realize their host is not what she seems.
The Breakdown: Blumhouse has become known for producing inventive, original horror movies and/or thrillers in recent years (The Gift, Get Out, Happy Death Day) and that trend looks to continue with their latest project, Ma. The film reunites Octavia Spencer with her The Help director Tate Taylor, and promises to be one of the weirder, wilder thrill rides of the summer, with Spencer leading the way. Some people are even wondering if Ma is a direct rebuttal to the Oscar-winner being type cast as a sassy, but nuturing black supporting character in the early part of her career. Either way, this is one to watch out for.
13. Rocketman (May 31)
Plot Summary: The story of Elton John's life - from his days as a young musical prodigy to his rise to superstardom - is told through the lens of a biopic-meets musical fantasy.
The Breakdown: As far as Hollywood biopics about musicians go, Rocketman looks surprisingly creative. By the sound of it, director Dexter Fletecher and star Taron Egerton (who, yes, is doing his own singing) are more interested in making a movie that captures the spirit of Elton John's music than a Wikipedia-style docudrama about his life (a la Bohemian Rhapsody). They aren't shying away from the musician's legendarily debaucherous lifestyle either, and may even wind up taking home an R rating for their efforts. Here's hoping that's the case, anyway, and Rocketman hews closer to something like Velvet Goldmine than a non-comedic version of Walk Hard.
12. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (June 7)
Plot Summary: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that transform her into the dangerous Dark Phoenix, forcing the X-Men to try and either save her... or destroy her.
The Breakdown: The end has come for the X-Men... that is, Fox's X-Men movies. Yes, it's been all but confirmed that Dark Phoenix will serve as a conclusion to the studio's pre-Disney run on the franchise, before the X-Men are rebooted as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Prior to Disney's purchase of Fox, however, it sounded like Dark Phoenix was designed to kick-off a whole new trilogy. The film has since gone through reshoots (presumably to change this), but it begs the question: will the new version wrap things up in a satisfying way, or is director Simon Kinberg (who also wrote X-Men: The Last Stand) about to go 0 for 2 on adaptations of The Dark Phoenix Saga?
11. Men in Black: International (June 14)
Plot Summary: A pair of Men in Black agents from the London branch team up to tackle their greatest threat yet: a mole within the MIB organization.
The Breakdown: Although it takes place in the same continuity as the original MIB trilogy, Men in Black: International is clearly intended to serve as fresh start for the the comic book-based franchise. It's a fairly promising continuation too, between Thor: Ragnarok costars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson playing the leads, and F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious) calling the shots as director. By the look of things, International isn't trying to reinvent the (MIB) wheel so much as give the property a fresh coat of paint, following a seven year break between films. If things don't work out, well, you know where the little red button is.
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