X-Men-Apocalypse-Poster-No-Text.0.0By Ashley Pauls
Box Office Buzz

It’s that time of year again — summer blockbuster season is here! Summer is typically my favorite time of the year at the movie theater, because it tends to bring more science fiction and superhero films, my two favorite genres. This year, however, my “must see” list seems to be a little smaller than normal. There definitely are some really big and really exciting movies coming up, but there just don’t seem to be as many that made me think, “Wow, I’ve got to pre-order my ticket for this right now!” It could be that overall, this year’s offerings aren’t quite as strong as years past, or it could simply be that studios are moving some of their big-ticket items to other parts of the year (but more on that later)…

The top item on my summer list is, of course, “Captain America: Civil War” (May 6), and I’m betting it will be the biggest movie of the summer and (hopefully!) my favorite. I’m excited about the concept, which pits two of the best Marvel superheroes against each other. Captain America normally respects the rules better than Iron Man does, so it’s interesting to see that this time, Captain America is the one on the run from the law. I’m glad to see Ant-Man joining the team, and I’m looking forward to the introduction of Black Panther. My one fear is that, similar to “Age of Ultron,” Marvel may have packed too many superheroes into this film. Hopefully they’ll keep the focus on the ideological and also personal conflict between Captain America and Iron Man.

I’m also looking forward to two other superhero movies: “X-Men: Apocalypse” (May 27) and “Suicide Squad” (Aug. 5). I’ve really enjoyed the X-Men prequel series featuring the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto, and I think the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) will prove to be a worthy foe. While “Suicide Squad” — which recruits a group of unstable villains to save the world — could be more of a gamble, I hope this movie will be as fun and dark and crazy as the trailers seem to promise.

Although I’m sad the Star Trek reboot franchise has had to continue on without director J.J. Abrams, I’m glad that Simon Pegg, the actor who plays Scotty, has helped write the script for “Star Trek: Beyond” (July 22). I’ve really enjoyed these reboot films, and I think film makers picked a great cast to carry on the spirit of the original series. While I’ve heard some concern that the trailer makes this look too much like a standard action film, I think there are some cool elements in the trailer, and hopefully this movie will continue to push the franchise into exciting and uncharted territory.

The final film on my “most looking forward to” list is actually a bit of a departure for me. 🙂 “Me Before You” (June 3) is based on a novel about a young British woman who becomes a caregiver for a quadriplegic who resents his paralysis and no longer wishes to keep living. They do end up falling in love, but the ending is far from conventional. I read this book with my book club and absolutely loved it, even though it’s a bit different from the kind of books I normally read. I’m also excited about the “geek cred” of the cast: Daenerys from “Game of Thrones”; Finnick from the Hunger Games series; Clara, “Doctor Who” companion; and even Mr. Bates from “Downton Abbey”! 😉

I do have some films that I’m keeping an eye on, to see what initial reviews are. I’m worried about sequels like “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (May 27) and “Independence Day: Resurgence” (June 24) and maybe even “Jason Bourne” (July 29). Has it been too long since the previous films in these franchises came out, and will audiences still find these movies relevant? I do think “Jason Bourne” could be an interesting opportunity to show how the world — and the nature of national security — have changed since the first Bourne movie came out almost 15 years ago. “The Legend of Tarzan” (July 1) has a good cast and could turn out to be cool, and while “Ghostbusters” (July 15) does have a fun (and funny) cast, it’s always risky to mess with a classic.

As I look at all the other movies coming out this year, I’m wondering if we’re starting to see a bit of a shift away from the traditionally crowded summer movie season, and film makers are more willing to release big crowd-pleasers at other times of the year. “Batman v. Superman” fits the traditional summer movie mold but was released in March, and late fall/early winter has proven to be a good fit for some major films, such as the Hunger Games franchise and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” I’m actually really looking forward to the fall and winter season this year, with “Doctor Strange,” “Star Wars: Rogue One,” J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt’s “Passengers,” simply because it’s a sci-fi movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt (what more could I ask for?). 😀

So, what films are you most looking forward to this summer? What will be the biggest hit or the biggest flop?

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