2016 Summer Movie Preview: 15 Movies To Watch For | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

2016 Summer Movie Preview: 15 Movies To Watch For


From superheroes (and supervillains) to sequels and everything else in between, the summer movie blockbuster kicks off promisingly with Anthony and Joe Russo's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Likewise, there will be plenty of big-budget blockbusters as well as other genre movies released in cinemas from May to August this year. Instead of covering every summer movie appearing in 2016, here is the handpicked list of 15 Movies To Watch For in chronological order by release date:


1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (April 28)

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (April 28)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: Following the latest catastrophe during a mission in Lagos, Nigeria, 117 countries want the Avengers to operate under the authority of the United Nations by signing the Sokovia Accords. While Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and some of his team members backed the accord, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) disagrees the new superhero legislation. Soon, the Avengers is forced to split into two groups between joining Captain America or Iron Man.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: Already an international hit even before the movie hit stateside this May 6th, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is definitely ranked as one of the must-see summer movies of 2016. From the highly-anticipated epic fight scene between Team Captain America and Team Iron Man on an airport runway to the spectacular introductions of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Anthony and Joe Russo have done it again after their first successful Marvel stints in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014). Read my English review here and also my guest reviewer, Ezli Qamari's Malay review here.

2. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (May 19)

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (May 19)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: The X-Men faces their greatest threat yet: a powerful ancient mutant known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who is hellbent to cleanse mankind and create a new world order.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: After the positive outcome of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST in 2014, which I personally ranked as one of the best X-MEN movies in the series, I was looking forward to Bryan Singer's concluding chapter of the X-MEN: FIRST CLASS trilogy. With Apocalypse being the central villain, it looks set to be the biggest and most cinematic blockbuster ever seen in an X-MEN movie. Although the trailers which have been released till now didn't exactly blow me away but still, it's hard not to get excited anticipating the movie that will introduce the younger versions of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as well as Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse himself.

3. THE NICE GUYS (May 26)

THE NICE GUYS (May 26)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: A private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) team up to solve the case of a missing girl as well as the suicide of a porn star in the 1970s Los Angeles. During their investigations, they soon uncover a bigger conspiracy involving the higher-ups.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: Following his successful big-budget Marvel stint in IRON MAN 3 (2013), it's nice to see Shane Black returns to his familiar root of buddy genre that he always known for since his breakthrough screenwriting career in LETHAL WEAPON (1987). The trailers that have been released so far look promising enough, with all of his trademark intact including the funny yet energetic duo between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as well as the genre know-how of mixing buddy film with pulpy 1970s neo-noir element.

4. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (June 2)

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (June 2)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) -- return for another mission in New York City to encounter new threats including Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly).

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: When the first TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES reboot released in 2014, it was a big-budget mess ruined by Jonathan Liebesman's haphazard direction and largely unfunny screenplay. With Liebesman out of the picture, EARTH TO ECHO director Dave Green took over the director's chair to helm the sequel instead. Judging by the trailers so far, the sequel shows promise of colourful and fun personality that characterised the nature of the Ninja Turtles. Not to mention, it's finally nice to see familiar characters in the mix including Casey Jones (Stephen Amell of TV's Arrow), Bebop and Rocksteady.

5. THE CONJURING 2 (June 9)

THE CONJURING 2 (June 9)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: In this sequel to 2013's THE CONJURING, Lorraine Warren and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson) head to north London to investigate a supernatural occurrence that has been happening at a council house in the London Borough of Enfield.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: SAW director James Wan certainly at the top of his game when he directed THE CONJURING back in 2013. Not only it was one of the biggest hits during that year, but also largely praised as among the best and scariest horror movie in the recent memory. Making a sequel to a hugely successful supernatural horror movie is never easy (1977's EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC is the best example), but the trailers for THE CONJURING 2 does successfully retain some of the nail-biting spookiness of the original. Best of all, the sequel also reunites both stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as well as director James Wan himself.

6. WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING (June 9)

WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING (June 9)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: Based on Blizzard Entertainment's massively popular real-time strategy game, WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING centres on the impending war between the civilisation of Azeroth and the fearsome invaders of the Orc warriors from Draenor.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: Once a passion project for SPIDER-MAN trilogy director Sam Raimi before everything fell apart, the long-gestating WARCRAFT movie has finally seen the light of day with Duncan Jones at the helm instead. Best known for his two acclaimed sci-fi outings of MOON (2009) and SOURCE CODE (2011), Jones proved to be a talented genre director that could finally break the curse of a video-game movie. While the overall visual palette of the trailers looks like a carbon copy of LORD OF THE RINGS, I'm still confident that Jones manages to deliver the goods when it hit cinemas this coming June.

7. FINDING DORY (June 16)

FINDING DORY (June 16)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: When the amnesiac blue tang fish Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) suddenly recalls her childhood memories, she embarks on a personal journey to reunite her loved ones.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: FINDING NEMO, which released in 2003, is often praised as one of the best animated features ever made in the Pixar Animation Studios. But does it really needs a sequel? Personally, I was sceptical at first but it's hard not to ignore this at all, especially given the fact FINDING NEMO co-writer/director Andrew Stanton himself is back in the director's chair while also bringing back the memorable duo of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks as the voices of Dory and Marlin. Here's hoping that FINDING DORY ends up more like a TOY STORY 3-like critical success but not the low point of CARS 2-like standard.

8. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (June 23)

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (June 23)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: Two decades after the events of the first alien invasion, the extraterrestrial species is back to invade the Earth for the second time.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: Roland Emmerich's sci-fi epic blockbuster of INDEPENDENCE DAY in 1996 was one of the key movies in the '90s that revolutionised the use of CG technology, particularly the way the effects were used convincingly to blow up iconic US landmarks such as the White House and the Empire State Building. Apart from its razzle-dazzle special effect extravaganza, much of the movie's huge success also attributed to the charismatic presence of Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller. Frankly, I always thought the premise of the INDEPENDENCE DAY is more of a one-off movie. But exactly two decades later, Emmerich is back to destroy more landmarks (digitally, of course) in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. With Will Smith declined to return, it's up to familiar faces of Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman as well as newcomers to the series including Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher and Maika Monroe to shoulder the ensemble cast. Emmerich is never known as a good storyteller, but he sure knows how to blow things up in a big way. And judging by the epic trailers so far, I'm expecting this sequel to deliver a popcorn-worthy blockbuster.

9. THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (June 30)

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (June 30)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: Years after leaving the jungles of Africa behind to live a normal human life in London as John Clayton III with his beloved wife Jane Porter (Margot Robbie), the man once known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) returns to his former home to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament. Unbeknownst to him, he is actually part of Captain Leon Rom's (Christoph Waltz) elaborate scheme.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: The last time we get to see a live-action Tarzan movie was the enormous failure of TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY starring Casper Van Dien and Jane March back in 1998. With the long-forgotten Tarzan character finally back in the spotlight, the biggest question still remains at large: is Tarzan relevant for today's audiences? But judging by the ongoing "bringing-back-the-nostalgia-to-the-movie" trend these days (hey, if Disney can successfully revive the live-action version of THE JUNGLE BOOK, why not this?), it's interesting to see how THE LEGEND OF TARZAN might fare in the end. Besides, this expensive reboot has a blessing of HARRY POTTER franchise director David Yates. Not to mention a stellar cast of Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, John Hurt and Jim Broadbent joining in the mix.

10. GHOSTBUSTERS (July 14)

GHOSTBUSTERS (July 14)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: In this reboot, the all-female Ghostbusters team -- Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) -- battle against the supernatural forces of evil.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: From the day the long-gestating GHOSTBUSTERS 3 is announced to be revived as a reboot, many die-hard fans aren't too happy with Paul Feig's decision to cast all-female stars as the new Ghostbusters team. Even the trailers so far are being bashed with such negative criticism to the point it becomes "the most dislike trailer in the YouTube's history". Still, whether this upcoming big-budget blockbuster end up as an epic failure or a surprise hit, here's hoping the actual product itself is decent enough than the trailer footage has shown us thus far.

11. THE BFG (July 21)

THE BFG (July 21)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: Based on the Roald Dahl's beloved novel of the same, this family-friendly fantasy adventure tells a girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who befriends a BFG (Big Friendly Giant). When the bloodthirsty giants find out about Sophie's presence, both she and the BFG devise a plan to stop them from wrecking havoc in the human world.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: After directing three consecutive historical-based dramas including WAR HORSE, LINCOLN and BRIDGE OF SPIES, it's a refreshing change of pace for Steven Spielberg to return to his inner child again. Spielberg always good in bringing the best out of his young actors, as evident in his blockbusters like E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL (1982) and WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005). Apart from returning to his familiar family movie territory, Spielberg also reunites with BRIDGE OF SPIES' Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Mark Rylance as well.

12. STAR TREK BEYOND (July 21)

STAR TREK BEYOND (July 21)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: This third instalment of the STAR TREK rebooted franchise sees Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise going into an uncharted territory and faces a new threat along the way.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: Thanks to J.J. Abrams' direction, the first two STAR TREK movies in the rebooted franchise are intriguing and enjoyable enough. With Abrams already crosses over to STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS last year and now only retain as one of the producers, the task is now handled by -- here goes -- Justin Lin of FAST & FURIOUS fame. No doubt that Lin knows a thing or two about staging amazing stunt-heavy sequences. But directing a STAR TREK movie is entirely different universe altogether. Too bad the action-heavy teaser trailer scored to Beastie Boys' energetic hit song of "Sabotage" already ruined the first impression of this upcoming third movie. Still, it's difficult to ignore this movie altogether, especially with Simon Pegg, a die-hard Trekkie himself handles the script duties as well.

13. JASON BOURNE (July 28)

JASON BOURNE (July 28)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: After the events of the three BOURNE movies, the amnesiac spy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finally remembers everything. However, there is much more about his past that he needs to find out.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is no doubt a fitting conclusion to the hugely successful BOURNE trilogy. But ever since that 2007's box office hit, there has been talks about reuniting director Paul Greengrass and lead actor Matt Damon for the fourth BOURNE movie. Then came the Jeremy Renner-led spinoff known as THE BOURNE LEGACY in 2012, which didn't end up as good as expected. While it's finally nice to see Greengrass and Damon is back in the BOURNE franchise and the trailer so far looks riveting, here's hoping JASON BOURNE doesn't end up as a cash-grab rehash.

14. THE SHALLOWS (July 28)

THE SHALLOWS (July 28)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: A young woman named Nancy (Blake Lively) finds herself stranded in the middle of the ocean while the great white shark circling the waters around her.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: The first teaser trailer of THE SHALLOWS certainly captured the claustrophobic tension of an injured young woman stranded in the middle of the ocean. Jaume Collet-Serra is no stranger to thriller territory, having directed movies like UNKNOWN (2011) and NON-STOP (2014). So if Blake Lively manages to pull off a captivating one-woman show and Collet-Serra delivers the promise, we might have a surprise hit of the summer.

15. SUICIDE SQUAD (August 4)

SUICIDE SQUAD (August 4)

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT: A secret government agency led by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) enlists a team of imprisoned supervillains -- Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and Slipknot (Adam Beach) -- for a suicide black ops mission.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ: Following a largely divisive response of Zack Snyder's BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, the attention is now focused on SUICIDE SQUAD. The recent classic pop song-infused trailer receives a lot of positive reaction. The premise about a team of imprisoned supervillains saving the world from a deadly threat is nevertheless a fascinating idea worth exploring for. While it certainly sounds risky hiring a director like David Ayer whose prior experiences are mostly gritty cop dramas (e.g. END OF WATCH and SABOTAGE) to helm a comic-book genre, I hope he manages to bring a sense of go-for-broke radical fun as promised in the trailers.

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