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Summer movie season: 5 flicks to look forward to

It’s hard to believe we’re finally here. For the third year in a row, here I am at the end of the semester, drowning in school work, but slowly crawling to the light at the end of the tunnel: the summer.

Instead of writing papers we’ll be swimming in the beautiful sun. But for those of us who prefer the great indoors, summer is one of the most exciting times of the year. Summer brings the great movie season — blockbusters and franchise galore with healthy doses of action. The five most anticipated films of the summer load up on sequels and cinematic universes, but also some bright spots of individuality. Here are my top five movie picks for this summer.

In my fifth slot: “The Mummy.” Remember when Brendan Fraser’s “The Mummy” came out a gazillion years ago? Well, it’s back. Except, we’ve traded in Brendan Fraser for a sparkling new Tom Cruise. This film will be interesting because it’s rather forced, and is clearly just a stepping stone for a larger monster cinema universe for Universal Studios. That said, it’s Tom Cruise in “The Mummy,” and that’s about as cool as it gets. If the movie lives up to its potential, it should be a fun, maybe even a little scary, ride.

Next is “Atomic Blonde.” It’s a mystery in the best way, and didn’t make the top three only because I have absolutely no idea what to expect. But the hype is very real, as the film was screened at South by Southwest film festival and had nothing short of a rapturous reception. All I know is that Charlize Theron absolutely kicks ass. The good news is it’s not a franchise. It seems like it could really be a subversion of the genre conventions we expect with these stylized action films.

We don’t have to wait long for what comes in third as it comes out this weekend: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” James Gunn created magic with his first installment of the franchise, and all signs leads to him repeating success with the sequel. “Guardians of the Galaxy” has emerged to be my favorite sub-franchise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — it has a great mix of humor and heart. This film should be the perfect way to kick off the summer season, and will hopefully set a high bar for what is to follow.
When I said “Guardians of the Galaxy” was my favorite sub-franchise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I also said so far, and this film is why. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will be our third “Spider-Man” franchise in the span of 10 years. But now Sony Corporation of America is working with Marvel, and it appears that this might just be the one they get right. Spiderman is just one of those iconic superheroes who makes me giddy to see on the big screen. After his superhero criticizing turn in “Birdman,” Michael Keaton is ironically the villain here, but he’s always electric on screen. Combine his efforts with some appearances by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and this really could be the Spider-Man for a new era.

Well here we are, number one — and it’s not even a sequel. Unfortunately, in our current Hollywood ecosystem, it seems that only hyper-established directors can have the freedom to escape the confinements of the franchise. Lucky for us, they’re hyper established for a reason. “Dunkirk” is Christopher Nolan’s first film since “Interstellar” a few years back, and is a major shift in genre as he tackles a war film. The five-minute trailer is among the best I’ve ever seen, and it is specifically designed for the Imax screen. If the film itself matches the intensity of the trailer, we’re in for a treat. My ultimate hope is that Christopher Nolan utilizes his technology to not only give us an intense story of war, but also convey some serious emotion. That’s what the movies are there for in the first place, right? All signs lead to this one to be a slam dunk. I can’t wait to see what happens.

There are plenty of other movies I could have included such as the fun revival of “Baywatch,” Edgar Wright’s interesting action “Baby Driver” or even the new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Ultimately though, these five struck a chord by finding the gentle balance between nostalgia and innovation. They bring the familiarity we crave while also entering the unknown.

Erik Benjamin is a junior television, radio and film major. His column appears weekly in Pulp. He can be reached at ebenjami@syr.edu or on Twitter @embenjamin14.

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