2017: A Summer of Epic Films

Ben Atwater, Staff Writer

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2016 was admittedly a disappointing summer for film.  Other than a select few gems, including Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory, most of the big anticipated blockbusters such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Suicide Squad, The Legend of Tarzan, and Ghostbusters were at most forgettable films with weak plots and direction. Fortunately, 2017 is looking like it will rectify the disappointing blockbuster season of year’s past.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 (May 5)

At this point, any film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is guaranteed to be a fun adventure at the least. The studio has not put out a single bad installment in the boldest experiment of a shared film universe, and this film’s 2014 predecessor is among fan favorites.  With director James Gunn returning from the original Guardians of the Galaxy, the entire cast comprising of Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana are returning, along with newcomers, particularly Kurt Russel as Star Lord’s father.  At the time of publication Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 will be a mere two days away from release, so be sure to join in the cultural phenomena of Marvel opening weekends.

Alien: Covenant (May 19)

No one would have thought that Ridley Scott’s 1979 space horror Alien would blossom into one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises of all time, second only to Star Wars.  After three sequels that lessened in quality and two spin offs putting the iconic xenomorph against the Predator, this newest installment is the sequel to 2012’s Prometheus.  Following on Prometheus’ narrative of discovering a new race of Engineers who created humanity, this next chapter will follow up on a new crew finding the home world of the Engineers as they encounter predecessors of the xenomorphs who have brought an end to the Engineer society.  Moving closer to the timeline of the original Alien, the original director Ridley Scott returns once again, hot off a streak of the critically acclaimed The Martian.  Blending sci-fi horror with existential creationism, Alien: Covenant is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated and epic films of 2017.

Wonder Woman (June 2)

While it will be hard to be optimistic about any DC film, after the disappointments of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, there seems to be some hope behind the first ever big screen adaptation of Wonder Woman.  One of the first female superhero films, also being directed by a female director in Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman is the final installment in the DC Extended Universe before Justice League hits theaters in November.  While previous films in this franchise have suffered from studio meddling resulting in several incisive plot lines, Wonder Woman might be safe from extraneous studio meddling due to it being set in the past like Captain America: The first Avenger.  Set in WWI, Wonder Woman must reenter the human world to aid in the war efforts alongside Steve Trevor, played by Star Trek’s Chris Pine.  This concept could be a fun war romp like the first Captain America film, yet if Wonder Woman goes the same route of past DC films in focusing on building a universe instead of telling a fulfilling narrative in one film, then the DCEU might be done for.

Spiderman: Homecoming (July 7)

Once again, Marvel has proven itself in putting out consistent quality films, and after this new incarnation of Spiderman appeared in Captain America: Civil War, there has been much public anticipation for the sixteenth film in the MCU.  Focusing on the high school aspect of Peter Parker, where the other films have failed to do so, Homecoming seems to promise a more contained story with Tony Stark mentoring Peter to be a super hero.  With veteran Batman actor Michael Keaton playing the Vulture, Spiderman: Homecoming is shaping up to be the fun high school romp that everyone has wanted from a Spiderman movie.  And given the studio’s reputation, Spiderman: Homecoming will surely be another entreating superhero movie this summer.

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

The second monkey movie this year, after Kong: Skull Island, the third film in the Apes reboot series looks to be far different in tone from the campiness of Kong.  After the last installment, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes transcended the genre of sci-fi to be a dramatic, intense and biting war film that gave humanity and empathy to both sides of the conflict between apes and humans, War looks to take the conflict even further to an all-out war to determine the future of the planet.  Whether War will lead into the reversed society seen in the Charleston Hesston 1968 film or if there will be another film remains unclear.  Yet the special effects again look to be the best in the industry, with photorealistic apes that are far above the uncanny valley of realism.  What director Matt Reeves did so well in the last film was keep the emotional attachment to the human and apes while maintaining the spectacle of the intelligent monkeys.  War is sure to do the same.  And even if it does disappoint, another war film is just around the corner the week after.

Dunkirk (July 21)

While it has been three years since Christopher Nolan’s last film, Interstellar, Nolan is known to take as much time as he feels is needed to have the best film possible, justifying the long wait time between.  Having tackled epic sci-fi, superhero, crime thrillers, and period pieces, Nolan is now delivering his first WWII film.  Notable for the cast of Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and One Direction’s Harry Styles, Dunkirk will tell the true story of Allied forces stranded on a French beach as German forces advance by air, land and sea.  As with all Nolan films, the marketing has kept the precise story a mystery.  Yet the IMAX preview prior to Kong: Skull Island suggests that this film may be more suited for IMAX presentation than any other film before.  Shot using IMAX 65 mm film cameras, Dunkirk will surely be an epic to end the summer on a high note.

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2017: A Summer of Epic Films