Pop Culture

You May Have Survived The Endgame, But Are You Ready For The 2019 Summer Movie Season?

Quentin Tarantino's latest is just one of many high profile 2019 summer releases.
Quentin Tarantino's latest is just one of many high profile 2019 summer releases. Sony Pictures Releasing
Though it may seem anticlimactic at this point, what with Avengers: Endgame possibly becoming the biggest grossing movie of all time by the time you read this (and less than three weeks after its release), the 2019 summer movie season has only just begun.

Traditionally, blockbuster season began in May, but studios eager to get your attention before the malaise of the dog days set in have been releasing their first salvos earlier and earlier each year. Disney definitely stole every other studios' thunder this time around, but just because you've already seen what happened to Thanos et al. doesn't mean you have to stop going to the theater.

And so, without further ado, the Houston Press presents our 30 more or less most anticipated movies of summer, 2019.

Aniara (May 17)
This first-time sci fi feature from Swedish directors Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja gained a lot of festival hype, including favorable comparisons to Arrival. My personal benchmark for quality science fiction is how well the movie poster compares to Moon's, and Aniara's definitely looks like a contender.

A Dog's Journey (May 17)
This is the sequel to 2017's A Dog's Purpose, a movie I referred to at the time as "weaponized misery." There are only four screenwriters instead of five this time around, so enjoy a whopping 20 percent less animal death. Maybe.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (May 17)
Is it merely coincidence that the latest film about cinema's greatest avenger of canines is being released the same weekend as one in which multiple dogs bite the dust? Do the Dog's Purpose/Journey movies exist in the John Wick universe? If so, maybe we'll get Wick in a fourth movie where he murders Universal's entire board of directors.

Aladdin (May 24)
This is the first of three Disney movies coming this summer for no reason other than to remind us the studio did stuff before Marvel and Star Wars (and not counting their recently acquired Fox properties). Whatever the reception to this particular do-over, I wonder if this is how Will Smith saw the Willennium going.

Booksmart (May 24)
The concept of high school nerds spending the eve of graduation cramming four years of debauchery into one night is a bit unrealistic to we nerds who actually waited until college and spread our horrible decision-making across several semesters.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)
You can keep your Dora Milaje and your winter soldiers and your flerkens; this is my Avengers movie.

Rocketman (May 31)
"You gotta kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be" sounds less like a rock biopic tagline and more like the synopsis to The Talented Mr. Ripley. At least they're advertising this as an "uncensored" musical fantasy, meaning we might be spared the ham-handed moralizing of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Dark Phoenix (June 7)
Michael Fassbender (Magneto) telling James McAvoy (Professor X), "You're always sorry, Charles. And there's always a speech. But nobody cares" is perhaps the most honest assessment we'll ever get of this slog of a franchise. Still might be interesting to check out for those of us "what if-ing" Sansa sitting on the Iron Throne.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 7)
Universal swapped out Louis C.K. with Patton Oswalt instead of just writing Max out of the movie for humping too many legs. Apparently they didn't want anything that reminded audiences of actual events.

Late Night (June 7)
Forgive me for thinking — following so soon after the cancellation of Busy Phillips' show — that this movie about a woman hosting a long-running late night talk show was actually a fantasy.

Shaft (June 14)
The 2000 reboot of Gordon Parks' seminal blaxploitation classic was a modest success, in that it took almost 20 years before Hollywood gave the franchise another go. SLJ returns, along with Richard Roundtree, but sadly not John Singleton.

Men in Black: International (June 14)
Note to self: watch Thor: Ragnarok again.

The Dead Don't Die (June 14)
Bill Murray is back (in a zombie movie), and Jim Jarmusch has got him. The Stranger Than Paradise director has assembled a distinguished cast that includes Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, and Rosie Perez for what looks like his most mainstream project yet. Also, Iggy Pop plays a zombie.

Child's Play (June 21)
I've been bitching to anyone who'll listen about the dangers of connecting every goddamn thing in your house to the internet, and now somebody paid attention and made a movie about it. Even better: they got Aubrey Plaza.

Toy Story 4 (June 21)
I was one of those a-holes who didn't like Toy Story 3. Clearly, my lack of enthusiasm wasn't enough to prevent Pixar from returning to the well one more time, where I'm sure the fog of nostalgia will help obscure the movie's more naked money grab elements.

Annabelle Comes Home (June 28)
Two things are funny about this: first, the "actual" Annabelle doll locked behind "sacred glass" (whatever the hell that is) at Ed and Lorraine Warren's "occult museum" is a Raggedy Ann; second, why — in three movies and counting — has no one burned this hideous thing to ash?

Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2)
Marvel Studios' first post-Endgame effort (and the final movie in Phase 3 of their cinematic universe) is either ignoring the consequences of the Snap or [spoiler warning] is a result of the surprise appearance of Arcade in the mid-credits stinger of Endgame.*

* Arcade does not actually appear in Endgame.

Midsommar (July 3)
If Ari Aster's Hereditary didn't knock your head on its ass, I don't know what to tell you. His follow-up has a distinct Wicker Man vibe, but prepare yourself for something even more disturbing (though maybe not as disturbing as Nicolas Cage screaming about bees).

Crawl (July 12)
Piranha 3D showed that Alexandre Aja knows his way around water-based horror, though that movie benefitted  from a looser feel than I'm getting from this. It also starred Elisabeth Shue, who I couldn't stay mad at even though she never responded to my prom invitation back in 1986. Think Lake Okeechobee Placid.

21 Bridges (July 12)
Of the millions (possibly) of people involved in the MCU, Chadwick Black Panther Boseman really seems like the one most over it. And you would be too, if you had to do that "Wakanda Forever" salute ten thousand (probably) times a day. Here, he's an NYPD detective going after a gang of cop killers.

The Farewell (July 12)
Is the world ready for a serious Awkwafina? If reaction to this at Sundance is any indication, they are. It's director Lily Wang's second feature, and is based on a trip she had to make to China to visit her ailing grandmother. Should provide a nice break from the usual summer pyrotechnics and CGI.

The Lion King (July 19)
Old and busted: "This isn't 'live action!'"
New hotness: "Scar isn't gay!"

The actual old and busted is using the phrase "old and busted" in 2019.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (July 26)
Will Quentin Tarantino really retire after directing his 10th movie (this will be his 9th)? How much will the Tate Murders figure into the end product (Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate, and several of the so-called Manson Family and their victims are appearing)? Is it true that Brad Pitt's character plays an early version of the Gimp?

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (July 31)
If Jumanji can find a new audience, I suppose anything is possible. And I for one am glad they aged her up. Watching a seven-year old avoiding jungle deathtraps tends to make parents (like me) hyperventilate.

The Nightingale (August 2)
It's a good year for directors following up their critically acclaimed horror debuts. First we get Ari Aster's aforementioned Midsommar, and then this, from The Babadook's Jennifer Kent. Set in 19th century New Zealand, it's a brutal revenge tale incorporating racism and sexual violence. Maybe take the kids to Dora.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (August 2)
People crowing about how the Marvel movies are the most successful film franchise of all time need to buckle up for 20 more Johnson/Statham pairings when this movie unseats Titanic as the #3 grosser of all time.

Artemis Fowl (August 9)
Movies based on Eoin Colfer's series have been quote-unquote in development since the early 00s, so it's nice to see them finally getting off the ground. Even if a) I'm never getting around to reading these books, and b) I'm probably not going to see this.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (August 9)
Guillermo del Toro's list of unrealized projects is three times as long as the films he's directed. He does get producer and story credit on this, but that still doesn't explain why it's being released in August instead of around Halloween.

The Kitchen (August 9)
A throwback Widows? Only the husbands are in FBI custody instead of dead? And the wives are played by Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish? Sure.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (August 16)
If you're familiar with my movie tastes, you know getting a killer shark movie *and* a killer gator movie a mere month apart means 2019's summer could be the greatest of all time.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar