“Avengers: Endgame” opened last week. I would like to take this chance to apologize for the spoilers.
I thought everybody knew Captain America was actually Keyser Soze. And that Tony Stark’s boyhood sled was named “Rosebud.” Next time I review one of those things, I promise to be more discreet.
Now we can face the Thanos-free future: “Endgame” marked the start of the summer movie season. In box-office terms, that means summer peaked early, but we have a few months still to go.
The 2019 summer slate brings a collection of remakes and sequels, and one or two reboots. Also, Godzilla. Disney offers two live-action remakes of animated classics, and Pixar goes for a fourth “Toy Story” title — which violates the rules of threes, but we’ll see.
The original stuff includes a highly anticipated new Quentin Tarantino extravaganza, a comedy about Beatles songs and an all-star zombie flick from indie director Jim Jarmusch. Plus, we get the Elton John story — and if that Queen movie can gross almost a billion dollars, imagine what this one can do if it’s halfway decent.
Here’s a look at the higher-profile titles coming up, with the usual warning that opening dates almost always change a little. And — promise — no spoilers.
“Detective Pikachu.” It had to happen: A Pokemon cop thriller, with little yellow furball Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) teaming up with a human partner (Justice Smith) to find a missing man. The comic approach seems promising, and the film is a blend of animated Pokemon with a live-action world — maybe they’ll finally find out who killed Roger Rabbit.
“The Hustle.” Is it time for a gender-switch remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”? Ready or not, here’s another take on the comedy about con artists fleecing the wealthy. The roles played by Michael Caine and Steve Martin are taken here by Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
“Tolkien.” An intriguing prospect: a biopic about J.R.R. Tolkien, the man who wrote “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” Two hot young actors, Nicholas Hoult (late of “The Favourite” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and Lily Collins (“Mirror Mirror”), play the romantic leads.
“Poms.” Fun in a retirement community, as Diane Keaton organizes a cheerleading squad. Sounds a little too close to other golden-age comedies of recent years, but at least Keaton is joined by redoubtable comic castmates, including Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman and Pam Grier.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.” Keanu Reeves returns as Mr. Wick, whose adventures in a mysterious league of professional assassins have enlivened two previous action flicks. If anybody touches his dog again, expect upwards of 100 dead — and maybe the movie will be as much fun as the first one. With Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston.
“A Dog’s Journey.” A sequel to “A Dog’s Purpose,” which was a slice of philosophical flapdoodle about a canine that keeps getting reincarnated to help out humans. Dennis Quaid returns for this one, and so does Josh Gad, as the voice of the irrepressible pooch.
“Aladdin.” Disney’s musical cartoon comes back to life in a puff of smoke — this time in live-action form. Let’s welcome Will Smith to the genie role that Robin Williams voiced in the animated hit, and relative unknowns Menna Massoud and Naomi Scott as the humanoid characters. Directed by Guy Ritchie, probably with fewer F-bombs than in his usual films.
“Ad Astra.” This one comes with an asterisk: Already postponed, it might get bumped to an autumn release. Either way, Brad Pitt will still star, as an astronaut who crosses the solar system to search for his missing father. Director James Gray (“Lost City of Z”) promises an ultra-realistic depiction of space travel.
“Brightburn.” What if “Baby on Board” was a threat? This spooky premise turns the “Superman” origin upside down: When an alien craft lands in Small Town, USA, the child in the space-pod is the opposite of super, and a menace to all around. Elizabeth Banks stars.
“Booksmart.” Rave reviews have greeted this indie comedy, about two brainiacs (Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein) aiming to make the last night of high school more fun than they’ve had the previous four years. The feature directing debut of actress Olivia Wilde.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” A follow-up to the 2014 “Godzilla” picture, with a bunch of new characters, human and mega-reptilian alike. This time out, Godzilla appears with past co-stars such as Mothra and Rodan, who will mix it up as Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins and “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown stare in open-mouthed wonder. Godzilla meets King Kong in 2020, by the way.
“Rocketman.” A look at the Godzilla of 1970s superstars, Elton John; the singer-songwriter is played by Taron Egerton, of the “Kingsman” movies. (He does his own singing, unlike Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”) I anticipate this movie being very tuneful and having a lot of sequins.
“Ma.” Octavia Spencer goes the horror-movie route with a wacky-looking premise about an eccentric lady who invites the local high-school kids to her house for off-the-record parties. An ulterior motive awaits.
“Dark Phoenix.” A jaunt to the “X-Men” universe, with the story of how mutant Jean Grey (Sophie Turner, from “Game of Thrones”) honed her formidable powers. Jessica Chastain joins the crew, with returning X-members on hand, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2.” You couldn’t cram in all the cartoon adventures of housepets in one movie, so here’s a sequel. But it’s without its leading voice actor from the first movie, Louis C.K., whose misbehavior sent him to the doghouse. He’s replaced by Patton Oswalt, and in fact the voice roster is pretty impressive here: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Jenny Slate and … Harrison Ford?
“Late Night.” A change-up that could appeal to adult moviegoers, this comedy casts the divine Emma Thompson as a longtime talk-show host whose reign might come to an end. Mindy Kaling, who also scripted, plays her new staff writer.
“Men in Black: International.” A franchise reboot (without Will Smith), as a crafty American signs up to protect the world against alien threats. The two main agents are played by Valkyrie and Thor (sorry, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth), with Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson in support.
“Shaft.” Another try at reviving the classic blaxploitation character, this time with three generations of men named Shaft. Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree return to their roles, and Jessie T. Usher joins the family tree in what appears to be a mostly comedic take on the subject.
“The Dead Don’t Die.” Zombies have been rendered in many forms, but not exactly in the drop-dead-cool deadpan-funny manner of “Paterson” director Jim Jarmusch. It’s about an undead invasion of a small town, but the big drawing card is the cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits and the borderline-undead Iggy Pop.
“Toy Story 4.” Pixar hasn’t gone wrong yet with one of these, although the third installment of the series seemed like an excellent way to end things. The regulars are back (voices provided by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, et al.) with a few new toys introduced to freshen up the playdate.
“Child’s Play.” Is the timing of this release a joke on “Toy Story”? Because we’re talking about Chucky, the murderous doll, who returns in a new adventure (and a new sound: Longtime Chucky voice actor Brad Dourif is replaced here by Mark Hamill). Aubrey Plaza leads the non-plastic cast.
“Yesterday.” A struggling British musician (Himesh Patel) wakes up to discover that the rest of the world doesn’t know any Beatles songs — so he finds overnight stardom when he performs them as his own. If this doesn’t sound like a fun idea for a movie, instant karma’s gonna get you. Directed by “Trainspotting” guy Danny Boyle.
“Annabelle Comes Home.” Another toy sequel, this time for the creepy talking doll (is there any other kind of talking doll?) from the “Conjuring” universe. Producer James Wan knows how to make these things jump, although it could suffer from its proximity to Chucky.
“Spider-Man: Far from Home.” With all that Avengers hoo-hah behind him, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) runs off to Europe, only to find himself pulled back into superheroing. The previous Spidey movie was great fun, so let’s hope that mood prevails.
“21 Bridges.” A chance for Chadwick Boseman to step out from under Black Panther for a moment: He plays a New York detective searching for the perpetrators of a police massacre. Co-stars include Sienna Miller and J.K. Simmons.
“Stuber.” An Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani, from “The Big Sick”) gets stuck ferrying around an LA cop (Dave Bautista, from “Guardians of the Galaxy”) for a terrifying day of police action. The only question here is why a movie with this concept took so long.
“The Lion King.” The big debate: How can this be a live-action movie when so much of what it contains is computer-generated anyway? Nevertheless, here’s a Disney re-do, with an all-star voice cast that includes Donald Glover, Beyoncé and James Earl Jones.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” There aren’t that many filmmakers whose every release qualifies as an event, so let’s give the new Tarantino the benefit of the doubt, even if its subject matter (the period surrounding the Manson family’s 1969 murder of Sharon Tate and others) sounds a little queasy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt lead a mind-boggling cast through a guided tour of Tinseltown’s underside.
“The New Mutants.” Another X-Men spinoff, this time with young mutants stuck in a research hospital, with the focus less on superhero thrills than Stephen King-style horror. It’s been described as “The Breakfast Club” meets “Cuckoo’s Nest,” so tread accordingly. The cast is led by “Game of Thrones” badass Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” When was the last time you saw two ampersands in a movie title? The “Fast & Furious” franchise-building continues with this spinoff featuring the characters played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, who will almost certainly drive cars and shoot guns. Idris Elba plays the villain and the trailer looks absolutely ludicrous, so this could be the movie of the summer.
“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Based on the spooky children’s book series, this teen-oriented horror flick has an intriguing pedigree: The director is Andre Ovredal, whose “Trollhunter” was big fun, and it’s produced and co-written by Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro, who knows a thing or two about scary stories.
“Artemis Fowl.” Disney is behind this sci-fi adventure, about a boy who uses his formidable powers to search for a missing father. Judi Dench lends some class to the cast, and Kenneth Branagh directs.
“The Angry Birds Movie 2.” If the Angry Birds phenomenon is not completely in the past, maybe this animated sequel still has a chance to take wing, or soar, or feather its nest, or — you get the idea. Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader lead the crowded voice cast.
“Angel Has Fallen.” First the White House fell, then London. Gerard Butler must be tired of saving the world, but here he is again, this time protecting his own hide after being accused of an assassination plot. If that doesn’t sound like ideal late-summer nonsense, I don’t know what does.