Summer blockbusters that should be under your radar


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It’s almost May, and for most students that means gearing up for finals, landing that summer job, putting finishing touches on a meticulously sculpted beach bod and, maybe occasionally, taking a trip to the movie theater. For snobby film-loving nerds like myself, it means getting excited to spend gorgeous summer nights inside an AC-infused theater getting blown away by explosive blockbusters.

When film nerds aren’t actually watching the movies, we’re probably talking the ears off of everyone around us about what new pictures they definitely should and shouldn’t be spending their hard-earned cash on. So please, allow me to…write some ears off as the film nerd I am.

Here are the summer’s biggest movies, broken down into three categories for simplicity.

Category #1: “You want to see what? Why?”

Films: “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Warcraft,” “Central Intelligence.”

I don’t practice Santeria. I ain’t got no crystal ball. I’ve seen a million movies, but I haven’t seen them all.

I’m not going to pretend like I know what movies are going to be bad before I see them. That being said, I have no reason to believe any of these movies will be of any value. Seriously, each of these films has the potential to be as stinky as O’Donnell Hall on a sweaty September afternoon. That’s a bad thing.

“Alice” is a sequel to the bizarre Tim Burton/Johnny Depp 2010 live-action “Wonderland” remake— without Burton returning as director. And when Burton’s not around, bizarre simply translates to bad.

The popular MMO video game “World of Warcraft” is coming to the big screen in “Warcaft” for reasons beyond me. But the trailer looks just abysmal and video-game-to-big-screen adaptations have perhaps the worst track record in Hollywood.

Like most other geeky kids of the 90s, I love “Ninja Turtles.” I’m even guilty of finding the critically-panned 2014 live action remake somewhat pleasurable. But I would never recommend it to anyone. Sequel rules dictate this one’s probably even worse, so be wise and skip.

In “Central Intelligence,” Kevin Hart looks to continue his quiet streak of horrible buddy comedies, and this time he’s bringing the virtually flawless Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson down with him. Curse that little man.

Category #2: Possible Summer Sleepers

Films: “The Nice Guys,” “The BFG,”  “The Shallows.”

Think “Little Miss Sunshine,” “The Spectacular Now,” or even “The Hangover.” These are the happy little movies that could. Usually featuring no superheroes or doomsday devices or world-destroying alien invaders, these are the alternate viewing choices that become sneaky summer hits, and maybe even garner awards consideration by years end. Remember how “Straight Outta Compton” came out of nowhere last August and collectively knocked off America’s N.W.A.-loving socks? Boom: sleeper hit.

These are the movies that cinephile circles talk about in hush, reverent tones, before giving an explosive recommendation towards casual acquaintances. “Yeah, I saw the new ‘Batman’ movie. BUT OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN ‘DOPE’? IT’S SO DOPE!”

That being said, sleepers, by definition, are almost impossible to predict. A lot of the usual suspects, like Key and Peele’s action-comedy “Keanu” or Richard Linklater’s 80’s college romp “Everybody Wants Some!!” received late-Spring releases, thus disqualifying them from summer sleeper competition.

“The Nice Guys” sees writer/director Shane Black, (of “Lethal Weapon,” “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang,” and most recently “Iron Man 3” fame), returns to the pulpy, buddy, caper films that made him famous. Starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a pair of inept 70’s P.I.s, this is the kind of movie a cool uncle will gush about at the family barbecue— and probably with good reason.

“The BFG” is as close to a sleeper as a Steven Spielberg-directed, Roald Dahl-based, Disney-produced movie could be. It’s also the closest thing to an “E.T.” spiritual successor that Spielberg— AKA the greatest director of all time— has made. Seriously, how is there not more hype surrounding this picture?

Meanwhile, “The Shallows,” a shark-based surfing thriller starring Blake Lively, has the best chance to capture the annual What Would You Do Horror Movie Championship Belt.

Category #3: Billion Dollar Block Busters

Films: “Captain America: Civil War,” “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Suicide Squad,” “Finding Dory,” “Ghostbusters,” “The Conjuring 2,” “Jason Bourne,” “The Purge: Election Year,” “Independence Day: Resurgence”

Sequels. Are. Coming.

Ever since “Jaws” dropped in 1975, big-budget, mega-blockbusters have defined the summer. When it comes to blockbusters, bigger is always better, and this summer’s blockbusters are of the massive, sold-out, midnight-release variety.

On the superhero front, “Captain America” and “X-Men” look to keep their separate Marvel Comics trains chugging, while “Suicide Squad” aims to restore faith in DC’s cinematic universe after the disastrous “Batman V. Superman.”

Seth Rogen, Rose Byre, and Zac Efron reunite for some more R-Rated millenials-vs-old-people hijinks in “Neighbors 2.” Pixar is diving back into one of its most enduring tales with “Finding Dory,” “The Conjuring 2” faces off against Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig’s “Ghostbusters” in a battle for poltergeist supremacy.

Meanwhile, a new entry in the “Jason Bourne” franchise and the third installment of of “The Purge” prove that sleepers can spawn blockbuster franchises of their own.

But none of that matters. After 20 long years, America— and the world— is finally getting an “Independence Day” sequel, subtitled “Resurgence.” Yes, it looks to be carved from the same block of cheddar cheese as the original. Yes, 90s icon Jeff Goldblum is returning. And yes, they might as well hand out the Oscars now.