The hot blockbusters that’ll keep you cool this scorching season
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Director: James Gunn Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista Released: May 4
Movie studios aren’t often in the business of showing unconditional support for their directors – even Steven Spielberg doesn’t get his own way all the time – but when it comes to James Gunn, Disney and Marvel have basically started their own unofficial fan club. The director, who pre-Guardians of the Galaxy was best (actually, only) known for 2006’s low-budget gorefest Slither has just been signed up by them to direct Guardians 3, before number two has even hit screens. And if that isn’t a vote of sincere confidence, then we don’t know what is. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is set to be another billion-dollar box office hit. And reviews have broken earlier than expected.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Director: Guy Ritchie Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis Released: May 11
If it feels like Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur movie has been hanging around for ages, that’s because it has. Shot more than two years ago, it has been in release date limbo ever since. Is its shift to the summer slot a sign of confidence from parent studio Warners, or just a case of getting the thing out before everyone has totally forgotten it even exists? Pitched to his actors as “The Lord of the Rings meets Snatch”, Ritchie’s high-tempo, slo-mo stylings are an interesting fit for the period, and given how hotly Charlie Hunnam fought for the lead role, you’d imagine the script is a belter. Up against Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney in the final three auditioning, and frustrated by the process, Hunnam pitched Ritchie a unique scenario. “He said, ‘Get them in here right now and I’ll actually fight them for it,’” laughs Ritchie. “That was what sold me on him.”
Alien: Covenant Director: Ridley Scott Cast: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, James Franco, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride Released: May 18
Here’s the good news: Ridley Scott’s latest venture into the iconic horror/sci-fi series he created in 1979 with the original Alien has enjoyed the single most impressive, atmospheric, impactful marketing campaign of the year. Here’s the bad news: Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s last venture in the series, did exactly the same when it was released in 2012. And the final result then was awful. That said, Alien: Covenant has all the ingredients to make it a bona fide return to terrifying form. Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) is the Ellen Ripley-like lead, an impressive supporting cast of character actors are on hand to support – and get knocked off one by one in suitably gory style – and all of the many iterations of the fearsome xenomorph, from face-hugger to Queen, are set to get a run out. A continuation from Prometheus this may be – so Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace are also back – but this feels very much like the movie that started it all, a lean, stripped back horror packed with style and blood-freezing chills. In space, no-one can hear you scream. In the cinema this summer, chances are they will.
Colossal Director: Nacho Vigalondo Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell Released: May 18
It went down an absolute storm at Sundance and has also been dubbed “an instant classic”, which is a very good thing, as Colossal is no straightforward sell. Essentially, it is a genuine one of its kind; an existential sci-fi comedy in which Anne Hathaway’s nervous breakdown manifests itself in physical form, as a massive monster rampaging through the streets of Korea. Yes, you read that right. Hathaway’s breakdown basically becomes Godzilla. Its director is Nacho Viglando, the genius behind 2007’s similarly genre-bending Timecrimes, and its execution is simply extraordinary – a unique, utterly bonkers and brilliant cult smash that should be at the very top of your movies to watch this year.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge Directors: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Kaya Scodelario, Orlando Bloom Released: May 25
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, much like the Transformers one that we’ll come to a little further down this list, is a curious one. Principally because in both instances the first movie in the series was massively well received and then each of its subsequent sequels has taken an almighty critical kicking from pretty much everyone, but still somehow gone on to deliver a billion bucks at the box office. Word from Vegas, though, where Disney recently screened this fifth instalment of its theme park ride spin-off, is that Pirates has only gone and got its mojo back. And not just because it has ACTUAL ZOMBIE SHARKS in it. Directed by Norwegian duo Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, this one sees Captain Jack Sparrow searching for the trident of Poseidon, but it has also apparently learned from the mistakes made by previous entries. As such, Orlando Bloom is back, as is a strong female lead (Skins’ Kaya Scodelario replacing the absent Keira Knightley), and Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack – so brilliant in small doses, so irritating in longer ones – has been relegated back to more of a supporting role. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem apparently brings proper bad boy with his decomposing pirate Salazar, out, as the title would have it, for payback. Surprisingly, this looks good.
The Mummy Director: Alex Kurtzman Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe Released: June 8
First birthed by Boris Karloff in 1932, Universal’s The Mummy has been dug up and re-bandaged by everyone from Abbot and Costello to Brendan Fraser – remember him? Good, because his agent probably doesn’t – in the eight decades since. This summer, though, he is about to get his most radical re-imagining ever, and not just because he is actually now a she. To explain: Alex Kurtzman’s summer blockbuster stars Sofia Boutella (she of the razor-blade legs in Kingsman) as the centuries-old, four-eyeballed force dug up and unleashed by a bunch of tomb raiders headed up by Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton. There is, frankly, much riding on the production. Where Disney has its Star Wars and Marvel universes and Warners has its DC one, this movie represents the very first in what Universal is hoping will become its new Monster-verse, hence Russell Crowe appearing here, in a cute bit of cross-pollination, as Dr Henry Jekyll. Get this one right and we can expect the studio to next dust off its three other iconic horror character properties of the Wolf Man, Frankenstein and Dracula, for all sorts of mega-budget, shared-universe histrionics. Get it wrong and, well, they won’t. Still, the early signs look very promising indeed, with Cruise – presently on his most purple patch since the late ’80s – on top form, some seriously high-end computer effects and some good old-fashioned practical ones, not least a Zero G plummeting plane sequence that the key cast actually shot for real above the skies of Bordeaux.
Churchill Director: Jonathan Teplitzky Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery Released: June 8
Jonathan Teplitzky officially wins the unofficial Winston Churchill Movie Race, as Joe Wright’s similarly themed Darkest Hour, about the iconic British PM’s fight back against Hitler, is still shooting. Wright’s take has Gary Oldman as Churchill, but Teplitzky has another ace up his sleeve, in the form of the majestic, and perfectly cast, Brian Cox. This movie also has a tighter focus, honing in on Churchill in the 24 hours before the triumph of D-Day. An early entry in next year’s Oscar race? Consider the battle-lines drawn.
Cars 3 Director: Brian Fee Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer Released: June 15
Its first trailer may have mortified kids the world over with its slo-mo, black and white sequence in which Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has what looks like a fatal accident, rolling and smashing into pieces along the NASCAR tarmac, but Disney promises us that the final movie won’t require anyone needing post-traumatic treatment. Instead, old boys McQueen and best pal Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) must face up to the arrival of Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) a young punk out to steal the title from under them.
Transformers: The Last Knight Director: Michael Bay Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins Released: June 22
Unbelievably, Michael Bay’s fifth Transformers movie is the second on this list to have the character of King Arthur in it. Genuinely, at this stage no-one on the planet appears to really know why, and the typically incoherent trailers don’t do much to clear up the confusion. All we know is that, apparently, Arthur’s legendary round table didn’t just have knights sat around it but Chevrolets able to transform into giant robots. Quite why we never learned that in school we will never know, but presumably Sir Anthony Hopkins will be able to explain it all to us (he’s seemingly cast here in the Basil Exposition role) when the finished product rolls explosively around.
Wonder Woman Director: Patty Jenkins Cast: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Chris Pine Released: June 22
It’s taken nearly three quarters of a century to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen – a period in which we’ve seen a million Batman, Superman and Iron Man movies dished out with increasing regularity. In other words, it’s long overdue that Hollywood delivered a modern standalone female superhero movie, and the results so far suggest they’ve done a more than decent job now they’ve finally got around to it. Gal Gadot is the uber-powered Amazonian in question, Chris Pine the movie’s effective damsel in distress and Robin Wright will no doubt delver her usual aceness as General Antiope, across a story set on the battlefields of the Second World War. But for all the front-of-camera talent, this blockbuster’s MVP is Patty Jenkins, the director behind the stunning debut Monster, which starred an unrecognisable Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who has since gone on to produce awesome episodes of everything from Arrested Development to Entourage to The Killing. If anyone can do her with the Lasso of Truth (yes, really) justice, it’s her.
Despicable Me 3 Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin Cast: Steve Carell, Jenny Slate, Kristen Wiig Released: June 29
After a one-movie spin-off all of their own, the Minions return to their ancestral home, for the third instalment in the smash hit Despicable Me series. This time out, Gru (Steve Carell) has to face the double-threat of both Balthazar Bratt (South Park’s Trey Parker), a child star from the ’80s who has for some reason or another hatched a scheme for, of course, world domination, and his own brother, Silas (also Steve Carell). Russell Brand also returns, as Dr Nefario. Hard to imagine that when the original came out seven years ago people were predicting a damp squib that would never be able to hold a candle to the likes of Pixar. Now it’s the animation champ to beat.
Spider-Man: Homecoming Director: Jon Watts Cast: Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr. Released: July 6
Does the world really need another Spider-Man origin story? It’s a moot point, to be honest. Because we’re getting one whether we like it or not. A kid getting bitten by a radioactive spider and then discovering that “with great power comes great responsibility” aside, Jon Watts’ treatment does have much that’s unique about it, not least Marisa Tomei as the most gorgeous Aunt May ever committed to celluloid and Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man playing a major role in training the young superhero up. The Marvel take on old webhead will need to be extra strong to silence the critics, but may well pull it off yet.
War for the Planet of the Apes Director: Matt Reeves Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer Released: July 13 Beneath the somewhat higher profile likes of Star Wars and Star Trek, the Planet of the Apes franchise has bubbled along really rather brilliantly on the way to this, the saga’s climax. Now, the baby ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) who was all cute and cuddly in Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and then grown-up had to face, primarily, an enemy of his own kind in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014, is in full-scale war with the human race, despite his best efforts. That human race in this trilogy-closer is epitomised by Woody Harrelson’s terrifying Colonel, a Kurtz-like military loon who will not rest until the ape race is exterminated. With obvious parallels to the political and racial instability currently infecting the modern world and the brilliant returning director Matt Reeves at the helm, expect a dark, powerful, intelligent slice of epic sci-fi, that won’t offer any easy answers.
Baby Driver Director: Edgar Wright Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey Released: July 20 Ant-Man’s loss is action movies’ gain. Having walked away from the Marvel superhero movie over the classic “creative differences”, having personally been a driving force behind the project for years, Edgar Wright found his creative solace in this original property that he has written and directed, and presumably designed the posters for too. And boy does it look good. Unsurprisingly, the script looks laced with the same kind of acerbic Brit wit that made Wright’s name across everything from Spaced to Shaun of the Dead, to Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. But visually it’s also a genuine departure – a ’70s-style car chase caper with shades of Bullitt and The French Connection, and a soundtrack so cool it could give Drive a run for its money. And that soundtrack is crucial to proceedings, too. Ansel Elgort is the getaway driver coerced into one last gig by Kevin Spacey’s crime boss, to protect his girlfriend (Lily James). What makes him unique is that the chronic tinnitus he suffers from means he has to constantly listen to music to drown it out. As such, Wright is able to treat many of the sequences like music videos or musical set-pieces. In other words, it’s Gone in 60 Seconds for the La La Land crowd, and every bit as fun as that sounds.
Baywatch Director: Seth Gordon Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario Released: July 20
Five years ago directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller showed the world precisely how to retool a classic, if naff, TV show for the big screen, when they delivered the whip-smart parody 21 Jump Street (that they then followed with the even better 22 Jump Street two years later). Just a couple of months ago, though, Dax Shepard showed the world precisely how precarious a task it can be retooling a classic, if naff, TV show, with his limp, lacklustre and pretty much mirth-free revamp of C.H.I.P.S. Where Seth Gorden’s Baywatch will fall on this sliding scale is still up for debate, but he’s got decent form (The King of Kong and Horrible Bosses) and a game cast. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron in particular – as the mismatched beach patrollers who must team up to take down a local crime ring – look set to deliver the odd couple hi-jinks, David Hasselhoff will of course cameo, and there’ll be plenty of visual gags about good-looking people in red swimsuits running in slow-mo.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Director: Luc Besson Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen Released: July 20
Luc Besson, you will remember, is the man who bestowed upon the world the awesome movie gifts of La Femme Nikita, The Big Blue and Leon, and then – the bitter irony – got so badly burned by his disastrous The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc that he pretty much retreated from the big budget arena for a decade. And now, after the toe in the water that proved to be a sleeper hit of Lucy in 2014, he is back in a big way. A personal passion project based on a sprawling, loopy comic-book series that most of the world has never heard of, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a sprawling, loopy and very colourful sci-fi that seems at this stage to share much of the stylistic flair and narrative mentalness of Besson’s similar-feeling The Fifth Element. His cast is not exactly A-list, and, let’s face it, he could probably do with a snappier title, but if this is Besson back to top form, we’re in for a treat.
Atomic Blonde Director: David Leitch Cast: Charlize Theron, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgård Released: July 27
And so, out of nowhere, comes 2017’s breakout hit. Unheard of a month ago, this Charlize Theron-starrer has just shot from under the radar to the top of many people’s list of must-watch movies. Just as 2015’s breakout hit, John Wick, was directed by Keanu Reeves’ stunt double, so too is this directed by a man whose previous job was to make Brad Pitt look good. But as well as being Pitt’s stunt double on five separate occasions, David Leitch is also a writer and director currently shooting up the ranks in Hollywood. (Don’t believe us? Well, his next gig is shooting box office behemoth Deadpool 2.) Here, Theron is an undercover M16 agent sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent. Imagine Theron as Jason Bourne. Mix in a little James Bond swagger. And get excited.
Dunkirk Director: Christopher Nolan Cast: Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy Released: July 27
Yes, you did read that news story right. One Direction pop moppet Harry Styles really is in this. But don’t despair, because alongside him in front of camera is everyone from Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Cillian Murphy, and behind it is the director many reckon is “the new Stanley Kubrick”. Whether or not you buy that level of hyperbole, there’s no questioning Christopher Nolan’s ability to marry smart screenplays with gorgeously ambitious visual execution. From his Batman trilogy to Inception and Interstellar, here is a man who has proved a smart portrayer of the human condition (see also his breakout movie, Memento, on that front) and an artist who paints on the biggest canvas possible. Given that combination, it’s hard to think of a better director to tell the story of Dunkirk. Apart, maybe, from Kubrick himself. This is going to be massive.
The Dark Tower Director: Nikolaj Arcel Cast: Katheryn Winnick, Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey Released: August 3
It’s a fine year for Stephen King fans. This October will see the release of the new movie version of IT – the trailer for which is now officially the most viewed trailer OF ALL TIME – and just two months beforehand will come this, the long-awaited movie adaptation of King’s sci-fi novel many have tried and failed to adapt before. Huge in scale, King himself has described the eight-book series as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly meets The Lord of the Rings”, and it follows the journey of The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), as he roams an Old West-like apocalyptic landscape searching for the fabled Dark Tower, which he believes can save his dying world, and in hot pursuit of Matthew McConaughey’s mysterious, deadly, Man in Black. It’s a more complicated sell for audiences than the more straightforward horror stylings of IT, but if they get this right we could be looking at a new fantasy franchise to rival Bilbo and co.
Snatched Director: Jonathan Levine Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn Released: August 10
Pop quiz, hotshots: how do you make the Funniest Woman in the World even funnier? Answer: cast Goldie Hawn as her mum. That was director Jonathan Levine’s (Warm Bodies, 50/50) pitch to 20th Century Fox for this high concept comedy combining the talents of Amy Schumer and Hawn. Schumer is Emily, a free spirit who is forced to take her highly strung mother on holiday when her boyfriend, and original travel partner, dumps her at the eleventh hour. Kidnapped and plunged into a jungle nightmare, the pair must, well, try not to die and bond at the same time. Apocalypse Now meets Freaky Friday, then. Sold.
Where to watch: The Roxy, Boxpark There’s a new boutique cinema in town, and it’s as trendy as the container-clad village in which it’s located
We don’t know what your previous cinema experiences have been like, but if you’re anything like us, you won’t be able to help but be taken aback by the level of luxury and comfort on offer at the newest Roxy in Dubai, up at the container-laden BoxPark.
This swanky five-screen boutique cinema showcases the latest movies in luxury surroundings. Forget pick ’n’ mix and giant guzzle cups. Expect helpful waiters, table service, an unlicensed bar and a substantial menu of freshly prepared dishes. And that’s just the lobby, which provides a chilled pre-movie belly-filling experience.
We all know navigating the streets in that part of town can be tricky during peak rush hour, so if you arrive a little bit too late for grabbing some grub before the curtain raises, fear not. The screening room itself features enormous, red leather armchairs complete with accompanying footrest, blanket, pillow and, most importantly, side tables. Order your food on the way in, sit back, relax and await the prompt arrival of your munchies.
The screening rooms are intimate, with barely more than 20 seats in each room, so even when it’s packed, the movie feels like it really is just for you.
The service is excellent, the experience is premium, and it doesn’t break the bank. Dhs150 per person. Freshly prepared dishes including salads, burgers, hot dogs, pizzas and sides, start from just Dhs15. The Roxy, BoxPark, Al Wasl Road, www.theroxycinemas.com (04 323 2266).
Super-fancy screenings Seven-star, Platinum, dreamed up by a celebrity chef – going to the cinema in Dubai is like nowhere else. Here are three to try
Novo Cinemas 7-Star Available at the Ibn Battuta and Dubai Festival City branches, relax on bright-red reclining armchairs. Expect one of the most extensive movie food menus around, foiled by slightly disjointed service. Dhs160 per person. www.novocinemas.com.
Platinum Suites at Reel Cinemas For Dubai’s best-value luxury cinema experience, head to The Dubai Mall where comfy armchairs recline further back than anywhere else, service is polished and the setting plush. Dhs130 per person. www.reelcinemas.ae.
ThEATre by Rhodes at Vox Cinemas It’s one of the city’s most expensive movie tickets, but it’s also got the fanciest screens in town. Glossy wood finishings, silky purple blankets, Aviator-style 3D glasses and a menu by chef Gary Rhodes himself. It’s just a shame his gourmet popcorn portions are so mean. Dhs160 per person. uae.voxcinemas.com.