Deciphering this summer’s film releases requires a cool head and a keen eye, as Harold Hill sang in The Music Man. With movie theaters reopening, some films are streaming only, some are in theaters only, and others are straddling both as the industry transitions into a brave new world
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
SUICIDE SQUAD JULY 30 (RATED R)
“Overkill” is on full display here as DC Comics super villains Harley Quinn, Blood sport, Peacemaker, and other ne’er-do-wells join the secret and highly dubious governmental Task Force X on a remote island full of even badder baddies to wreak explosive special-effects havoc, and hopefully save mankind in the process. It’s a sequel to the 2016 original, rated R for “strong violence and gore.” Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn, joined by Idris Elba, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone, and more.
LONG PROMISED ROAD (UNRATED)
This insightful documentary about Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson features several luminaries ruminating on his legend and influence, including Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Nick Jonas. During L.A. road trips with Wilson and Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine, the reserved Wilson, now 78, opens up about his storied career. In addition to discussing his landmark albums, Wilson delves into his personal struggles. The fi lm includes never-before-seen archival footage and home movies.
THE GREEN KNIGHT JULY 30 (RATED R)
Dev Patel, who burst into cinematic glory in 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, goes all Arthurian legend in a retelling of the medieval tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In this epic fantasy, Patel’s Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew, embarks on a daunting quest to confront the Green Knight, a gigantic CGI nemesis, while confronting ghosts, giants, thieves, and other treacherous beings in a revealing journey that tests his mettle and creates his own legendary status.
JUNGLE CRUISE JULY 30 (RATED PG-13)
In production since 2018, this rollicking adventure is based on the favorite Disney ride of the same name, set in the early 20th century in the Amazon jungle. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the riverboat captain, inspired by Indiana Jones with a nod to Humphrey Bogart in 1951’s African Queen, with Emily Blunt doing her version of his passenger, played back then by Katherine Hepburn. Anyone who’s been on the Jungle Cruise ride expects jokey fun, plentifully delivered with action and thrills. Johnson and Blunt, along with her cinematic brother, are on a quest for a tree believed to possess healing powers.
ANNETTE AUGUST 6 (UNRATED)
From playing Han Solo’s son Ben turned dark sider Kylo Ren, to delivering a tour de force performance as a real-life Jewish undercover detective rooting out the KKK in 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, U.S. Marine veteran Adam Driver is nothing if not incredibly versatile. In this French musical with English subtitles, released at the Cannes Film Festival, he’s a stand-up comedian who falls for Ann (Marion Cotillard), a world-famous soprano. The celebrity couple thrives in the spotlight until the birth of their mysterious child Annette, who possesses a unique gift that changes their lives. After its big screen theater debut, the film will be released on Amazon Prime August 20.
FREE GUY AUGUST 13 (UNRATED)
We’ve been psyched to see this original concept on the big screen since its initially anticipated July 2020 release. Ryan Reynolds is Guy, a video game non-player character (NPC) a seemingly insignificant bank teller. Blending comedy, action, and science fiction, the plot involves Guy enjoying his best life until he is forced to realize he’s inside the brutal game. His best friend, a cop named Buddy, is played by Lil Rel Howery (Get Out). Taika Waititi portrays bad guy Antoine. British actress Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The Rise of Skywalker) is Milly, who reveals Guy’s reality and becomes his love interest. Filmed in Boston. Bonus: the late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek makes his final cinematic cameo. The fi lm is dedicated to him.
SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY JULY 16 (RATED PG) [IN THEATERS AND ON HBO MAX]
NBA Champion LeBron “King” James fills Michael Jordan’s sneakers in this long-awaited remake of the 1996 classic combining live action with animated Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters Bugs Bunny, Day Duck, Tweety Bird, and more. Don Cheadle plays a villain who kidnaps James’ son and traps them both in digital space. It’s up to the international hard court hero to lead his team of undisciplined toons to victory. Their opponents, the Goons, include NBA stars Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns), Anthony Davis (L.A. Lakers), and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors). Zendaya voices Lola Bunny. Paying homage to the Looney Toons genre, there are moments like this: When Day Duck yells, “Shoot the ball!” Yosemite Sam pulls out his six guns.