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A dozen films to see this season, whether you’re a blockbuster buff, a kid at heart, or an actual kid (or the parent of one)

Jurassic World Dominion might offer a lesson on how to properly close out a globe-conquering franchise.Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment via AP

Finally, we’re back to having a normal summer movie season … sort of.

While theatres are operating at full capacity, the production pipeline is still slightly wonky (there are 37 per cent fewer theatrical releases this summer compared with 2019, with an exceptional drought in August), and audiences only seem to be returning in full force for movies about multiverses and hedgehogs. But there is hope, as the upcoming season aims for every type of audience, on every type of screen.


For Kids at Heart

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Unless you’re a big fan of Zach Braff and/or Wimpy Kid Diaries, the Disney+ original movies lineup to date hasn’t exactly been inspiring. And I was about to write off Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, too, until I saw that the Lonely Island comedy troupe (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) is behind the revamp, with Akiva Schaffer directing and Andy Samberg voicing Dale. An animated/live-action hybrid akin to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, this revamp of a creaky property looks like demented fun, with a stellar voice cast including John Mulaney as Chip and Will Arnett as a middle-aged Peter Pan. (Streaming on Disney+, May 20)


For Actual Kids

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Only speaking from personal experience, but the Minions have ruined my life. Or perhaps sustained it? It’s a fine line living with three children under the age of 7, one of whom (the two-year-old) wakes up every morning demanding “Meaniooons!” I suppose eventually I’ll have to concede to my brood that a new Minions adventure is on its way and we’ll make a big-screen pilgrimage. At least compared with other animated franchises, Illumination Entertainment’s series is kind-hearted, playful and exquisitely animated. So: Meaniooons for all! (In theatres, July 1)


For Marvel Acolytes

Thor: Love and Thunder

Somehow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s straightest-faced superhero has become its funniest, thanks to director Taika Waititi refashioning the God of Thunder in 2017′s Thor: Ragnarok. Waititi and his charming leading man, Chris Hemsworth, are back this summer with Thor: Love and Thunder, which promises more neon-lit antics and deadpan quips, even if they’re fenced in by the typical MCU template. Oh, and this time the Guardians of the Galaxy are along for the ride, as is Natalie Portman, despite the latter seeming to have sworn off the series after 2013′s dreadful Thor: The Dark World. Must be Waititi’s influence. And/or the dump trucks full of money backed up to her house. Let’s watch and find out. (In theatres, July 8)


For Blockbuster Fans Who Aren’t Marvel Acolytes

Top Gun: Maverick

Please believe me when I tell you that Tom Cruise is the gonzo-bananas movie star that we all so desperately need today. Sure, outside of Kenny Loggins, nobody was asking for a three-decades-later sequel to Top Gun – perhaps not even Cruise himself, who has the Mission: Impossible franchise to sustain his need for speed. But after watching Top Gun: Maverick’s world premiere at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, I can say with 100-per-cent certainty that this is the rip-roaring, knowingly ridiculous, high-adrenaline spectacle that will make this a summer to remember. Find the biggest screen that you can. (In theatres, May 27)

Jurassic World Dominion

There are a number of fascinating case studies to be found within the bones of Jurassic World Dominion (whose title is crying out for a colon). The first big movie to be filmed during the early stages of COVID, JWD set the playbook for how to keep making movies in the face of a pandemic (answer: lots of money). But the allegedly final chapter of the Jurassic Park sextet also might offer a lesson on how to properly close out a globe-conquering franchise. At least director Colin Trevorrow was smart enough to rope back in the series’ original stars Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern to once again right modern science’s dino-wrongs. (In theatres, June 10)


For Blockbuster Fans Who Want Nothing to Do with Franchises

Ryan Gosling in "The Gray Man."Stanislav Honzik/The Associated Press

The Gray Man

Remember the 1995 movie Assassins, in which Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas fruitlessly try to kill each other over two ultrasweaty hours? It was terrible, I know, even though it gave the internet that GIF of Banderas having an orgasmic reaction after closing his laptop. But hopefully there were some instructive lessons taken from Assassins’s many mistakes by filmmaking siblings Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of The Gray Man, another killer-versus-killer tale, starring Ryan Gosling as a CIA agent who goes after a former colleague played by Chris Evans. I’m certain that Stallone could still crack either Gosling’s or Evans’s back over his knee cap with ease, but sure, I’ll take this new-school kill-or-be-killed pairing, too. (Netflix, July 15)

Bullet Train

Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Bad Bunny, Tokyo, guns and one very fast train: What’s not to love about this new action-comedy from director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2)? An adaptation of the Japanese novel Maria Beetle (good call on the title change), Bullet Train looks like the bright, bloody, superspeedy, no-brain-necessary shoot-’em-up that could get audiences used to the idea of making a trip to the multiplex with nary a multiverse in mind. (In theatres, July 29)


For Lesley Manville Fans

Lesley Manville in "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris."Liam Daniel/The Associated Press

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Don’t pretend you’re not out there, Manville-heads. And for those who know what I’m talking about, here’s a little slice of polite British comedy that seems to be the unofficial prequel to Phantom Thread, with Manville playing a cleaning woman in 1950s London who, after receiving an unexpected widow’s pension, travels to the City of Light in the hopes of purchasing a couture Dior dress. Isabelle Huppert and Jason Isaacs co-star in what promises to be a highly predictable but also highly effective late-life dramedy. (In theatres, July 15)


For Those Who Have Never Left the Building

Elvis

Listen, we’ve had onscreen Elvises (Elvi?) before. There was Kurt Russell in 1979′s Elvis, David Keith in 1988′s Heartbreak Hotel, Michael Shannon in 2016′s Elvis & Nixon, and of course Bruce Campbell as the Egyptian-mummy-fighting King in 2002′s Bubba Ho-Tep. But judging by footage I’ve seen of Baz Luhrmann’s forthcoming movie, simply titled Elvis, there may be no better substitute for the man himself than Austin Butler. The actor seems to nail Elvis’s every eye dart, lip curl and pelvic thrust – and Luhrmann is in full Moulin Rouge/Romeo + Juliet super-extreme-excess mode here. The Australian director even snagged Tom Hanks to strap on a fat suit and an accent of unknown provenance to play Elvis Svengali Colonel Tom Parker. Bring on the peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. (In theatres, June 24)


For Scaredy Cats

Nope

If Get Out terrified you and Us confused you, then Jordan Peele’s third film, Nope, might accomplish both at the same time. I’m still not entirely sure what Nope is about – though I have my educated guesses – but it’s safe to say that some sort of trippy, out-of-the-ordinary event arrives with a hefty dose of cutting socio-political commentary. Whatever the plot might be, Peele has assembled a killer cast (Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott) to centre his tale of what-the-heck terror. (In theatres, June 22)


For Sickos

Bodies Bodies Bodies

A slasher for the TikTok generation, the SXSW-certified Bodies Bodies Bodies promises horror with a hipster edge. Following a house party hosted at a remote mansion during the height of a hurricane, the film from Dutch actress/writer/director Halina Reijn is currently riding an intriguing wave of hype, backlash, backlash-to-the-backlash and backlash-to-the-backlash-backlash – a neat kind of 2022-era cinematic ouroboros. Oh, and Pete Davidson is in it, which is always good for attention. (In theatres, August, exact date TBD)


For Canadian Sickos

Crimes of the Future

After eight long years without a new David Cronenberg movie, the Canadian master is back with Crimes of the Future, a long-gestating look at the filmmaker’s favourite topics: sex, pain, technology and the ineffably perfect physical features of Viggo Mortensen. Taking place in a world where people can grow their own organs, the film follows Mortensen’s performance artist Saul and his partner (Lea Seydoux) as they’re pursued by an obsessive investigator (Kristen Stewart) from the National Organ Registry. The film’s teaser trailer is sufficiently freaky, with heavy Videodrome/eXistenZ vibes. Pump it into my veins, David! (In theatres, June 3)


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