It’s time for a summer movie blowout

Illustration of movie characters sitting in a movie theater.
(Arielle Rizal | Daily Trojan)

Summer is just around the corner and, with it, a plethora of exciting new film releases that reminds the fanatic moviegoer of the type of jam-packed, no-room-to-breathe release slates of pre-coronavirus times. From the return of “Indiana Jones” to Tom Cruise’s latest antics, along with new films by Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan and Greta Gerwig, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” — May 5

Hit play on your Awesome Mix and buckle up for one last ride in James Gunn’s cosmic sendoff to everyone’s favorite intergalactic team of misfits. In this rip-roaring end to the “Guardians” trilogy, Peter Quill is still reeling from Gamora’s death in “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018), while Rocket Raccoon comes to terms with his mysterious, tragic past. With all the teases and buildup in the marketing, it’s guaranteed to be an emotional final trip.

“Fast X” — May 19

What’s a summer watchlist without the only blockbuster franchise to center exclusively around family … and cars. Rev up your engines for this milestone tenth entry in everyone’s favorite franchise to make fun of yet still watch. 

The whole cast is back in tow, including stunt driver (and Oscar-winning actress) Helen Mirren, whose sexual tension with Vin Diesel is unmatched. New additions to the ever-growing Fast Family include Brie Larson, Jason Momoa and none other than Rita Moreno. Needless to say, it’s guaranteed to be another stupidly fun time at the movies.

“The Little Mermaid” — May 26

It’s time to head under the sea for Disney’s live action adaptation of the classic 1989 film, starring Halle Bailey as Ariel. Though Flounder and Sebastian still look like nightmare fuel in line with the studio’s track record with live action adaptations of their animated films, it’s bound to at least be an entertaining watch, especially with musical master Rob Marshall in the director’s chair. With Disney legend Alan Menken adapting his and Howard Ashman’s original songs alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has also written new music for the film, it’ll be fun to see the changes made to the timeless story.

Still from The Little Mermaid (2023).
The Little Mermaid (2023) is a musical fantasy film scheduled to be released in theaters in the United States May 26. Halle Bailey plays the spirited mermaid who visits the shore. (©Disney)

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” – June 2

It’s time to re-enter the Spider-Verse in this long-awaited sequel to the Oscar-winning 2018 animated film. In this next chapter, Miles Morales catapults into the Multiverse, joining forces with other Spider-People to fight a new threat, Spider-Man 2099. 

The revolutionary animation techniques from the first film, which allowed for a blend between the comic book art style and traditional 3D computer animation, have already had major influence on Western animation, as seen in Dreamwork’s 2022 films, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “The Bad Guys.” Co-director Justin Thompson said this sequel will take that to the next level, bringing in Spider-Man comic artists to interpret their styles on the big screen.

“Elemental” — June 16

Through a uniquely stylized approach, Pixar’s summer movie of 2023 brings to life the four elements — air, earth, water and fire. The film transports viewers to Elemental City, where the fiery Ember and watery Wade “are about to discover something elemental: How much they actually have in common,” according to Pixar. 

The film will be paired in theaters with a new short, “Carl’s Date,” a spin-off of “Up” (2009). The showing will mark the first short since “Toy Story 4” paused this classic Pixar tradition in 2019.

“Asteroid City” — June 16

Wes Anderson girlies, it’s time to rise up. The pastel-loving king is back with “Asteroid City,” a film about a Junior stargazer convention that ends up disrupted by major world-changing events in 1955. Based on the cult director’s colorful and aesthetically singular past work, it’s sure to be another feast for the senses, at the very least.

Though the writer-director is no stranger to large casts, the troupe of actors he’s managed to assemble here is even more sprawling and impressive than usual, including everyone from Tom Hanks to Scarlett Johansson.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” — June 30

Harrison Ford dons his fedora one more time in this fifth and final installment in the iconic franchise. With director James Mangold helming, it’s looking to be worth the wait. Though the possible time travel elements are worrying — a de-aged Indy could either be very good or very, very bad — Mads Mikkelsen’s Nazi villain Voller as well as Mangold’s directorial cache give it a lot of promise. 

Cue “Raider’s March” by John Williams.

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” — July 14

After dominating the last summer with “Top Gun: Maverick,” Tom Cruise is back again as Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” the penultimate film in the long-running espionage franchise. 

After his last few adventures took him from rappelling the Burj Khalifa to hanging from a plane in flight to halo jumping out of a different plane, one could only imagine what stuntman extraordinaire Cruise has cooked up this time, other than motorcycling off a cliff, as one does.

From the blood-pumping orchestral arrangements in the trailer to the film’s still relatively discreet story, the marketing has really played up this being the beginning of the end for the globetrotting franchise. With multiple characters returning, including Henry Czerny’s IMF director Eugene Kittridge from the first film, it will be interesting to see how it all comes to a close.

“Oppenheimer” — July 21

After moving to Universal Studios in response to Warner Bros.’ decision to apply a hybrid release model to their entire 2021 film slate, Christopher Nolan is back with “Oppenheimer.” The film follows J. Robert Oppenheimer’s role in the development of the atom bomb. 

With a star-studded ensemble led by Cillian Murphy, cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema and music by USC alum and Oscar winner Ludwig Göransson, it has all the ingredients to be a cinematic triumph. It will be interesting to see how Nolan’s infamous propensity for heady and complex plotting will manifest itself in the biopic format.

“Barbie” — July 21

Needless to say, Warner Bros. refuses to be bullied by Nolan out of this release date, instead choosing to open their own major film in what’s turned out to be a rather ingenious bit of counter programming. The film I’m talking about is, of course, Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” 

With a cast led by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, a subversive tone, and a vibrant visual palette that uniquely brings the iconic Barbie brand to life, it’s one of the most anticipated films of the year. It’s a Barbie world, and we’re just living in it.

“Haunted Mansion” — July 28

Disney is ready to welcome foolish mortals into theaters with this adaptation of the iconic Disneyland ride. Directed by hardcore “Mansion” fan and experienced Disneyland cast member Justin Simien, the film is set in New Orleans and will follow a single mother and her son as they hire a motley crew of experts to help rid their new home of supernatural squatters. With a cast that includes everyone from Danny DeVito to Winona Ryder to newly-minted Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis as none other than Madame Leota, who isn’t gonna want to take a ride with these grim grinning ghosts?