By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published May 01, 2017 at 6:56 PM

The sun is (almost) shining. The temperatures are going up – or at least threatening to rise. The festival schedules and beer garden hours are out. Indeed, summer is upon us – and you know what that means.

Get indoors, sit in the dark and watch some movies!

The summer movie season officially starts on Friday, with "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2" leading off four months of some of Hollywood’s biggest bets. Before it hits, however, let’s look at the rest of the big-screen blockbusters you’ll be watching this month instead of going outside and enjoying the rare Wisconsin heat.

May 5

"Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2"

When the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" came out, it seemed like a massive risk for Marvel. With all of its success, you’re going to adapt this D-list band of intergalactic a-holes for the big screen? And what the heck is a Groot besides that brand I sometimes see on dumpsters? Lo and behold, the movie ended up being a triumph, arguably the best movie in Marvel’s impressive arsenal and provider of one of cinema’s finest creations: little baby dancing Groot.

LOOK AT HIM GO! I just wanna squeeze and hug that wonderful little murderous tree monster!

Anyways, now we get part two – and again, it feels a little like a risk. Can lightning really strike twice for Marvel and director James Gunn? All the pieces are certainly in place, with previews showing off an even more bright, colorful and creative sci-fi fantasy world for our loveable rapscallions to skirt around. "Vol. 2" also comes with more fun performers – Kurt Russell is here as Ego, Star-Lord’s father and a living planet and WHAT, A LIVING PLANET? – more awesome oldies on the soundtrack and, you guessed it, more Baby Groot.


May 12

"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"

Last summer, Warner Bros. resurrected the Hollywood icon Tarzan to middling results. So why not try the same for King Arthur with the long-in-the-works "Legend of the Sword."

This latest rendition of the legend turns the famed king into a street criminal (played by Charlie Hunnam), energetically punching and slapping his way through a snappily edited, grimy old England with his mates – I suppose it goes without saying this is a Guy Ritchie movie? – on his way to reluctantly reclaiming his birthright from evil Jude Law. Along the way, there also appear to be elephants, giant eagles, giant snakes and – because this is a wannabe franchise-starting blockbuster in the 21st century – prophecies of greatness.

A Guy Ritchie film usually has enough style and snap to make it worth keeping an eye on, but a word of warning: When it was originally put into production in 2014, the plan was a multi-film Knights of the Roundtable extended universe (because of course). Since then, however, this first chapter’s been repeatedly delayed – its original date was last summer – and talk of the cinematic universe dulled into silence. Not exactly a start worthy of legend.  


Those who checked out Marcus Theatres’ CineLatino Film Festival last weekend might have gotten an early look at this Hispanic-aimed drama about a young L.A. street artist trapped between his father’s love of lowrider culture and his brother’s criminal past. The coming-of-age genre is nothing new, but one told from a Hispanic perspective, given a major summer release slot, is much harder to find.

A cast this quality is tough to find in the summer too, featuring familiar faces like Oscar-nominee Demian Bechir, "Supergirl" Melissa Benoist and former "Desperate Housewife" Eva Longoria, as well as rising stars like Theo Rossi ("Luke Cage," "Sons of Anarchy") and Gabriel Chavarria (this summer’s "War of the Planet of the Apes"). The box office this past weekend was topped by an extremely diverse action movie, a Latino comedy and a Bollywood epic. Diverse movies telling new stories with new people aren’t just socially forward; they’re financially viable. And "Lowriders" has plenty of the pieces to keep that trend going.


Have you appropriately sandbagged your house and boarded your windows in preparation for the return of Amy Schumer think-piece season? Because if you thought the aftermath of "Trainwreck" was excessive, just imagine the deluge coming for "Snatched," the comedian’s new film about a mother-daughter trip (Schumer and – oh, look who’s back; it’s Goldie Hawn!) to South America gone wrong when kidnappers take over the tour guide duties. Throw in some millennials and a Caitlin Jenner reference, and you’ve got the plot summary of a Salon editor’s wildest dreams.

It’s a shame because the movie actually looks pretty funny. Lost in the post-"Trainwreck" mania was the fact that it was really quite funny, with Schumer leaping from small-screen skits to big-screen comedy with entertaining ease. Plus, the supporting cast is strong – Ike Barinholtz ("Neighbors"), Joan Cusack and Wanda Sykes are all aboard, as well – and the crew behind the camera is just as solid, with the talented Jonathan Levine ("50/50") directing, Katie Dippold co-writing ("Spy," "Ghostbusters") and Paul Feig producing.

Hopefully "Snatched" delivers more laughs than links about why it’s very #problematic.

May 19 

"Alien: Covenant"

In space, nobody can hear you grumble about "Prometheus," the last kinda-sorta entry in the "Alien" franchise that bungled its solid, sleek sci-fi thrills with a plot and characters only slightly less vacuous than the black emptiness of outer space. (Why are you happily playing with the space cobra, formerly squeamish astronaut dude?)

The reality is that there hasn’t been an actually good entry in this beloved sci-fi series since "Aliens," the rest since then finding some way to disappoint. But there is a light at the end of this creepy space tunnel: The buzz is really strong on "Alien: Covenant," with director Ridley Scott keeping the beautifully chilly visuals, a seeming return to the clean, classic haunted-house-in-space simplicity of the original and a great cast with lots of talent and character, including … Danny McBride and James Franco? Is this a part of the "Your Highness" extended universe? I take everything back; avoid this at all costs.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul"

With the popularity and advances in animated movies, it feels like the time of the live-action PG kids comedy has died off. The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, however, seems intent on resuscitating it – despite seemingly dying off itself after 2012’s "Dog Days." Let’s see what it’s got up its sleeve!

*turns on trailer, sees joke about the lead taking an overweight friend’s butt to the face, a pig pooping joke and Tom Everett Scott and Alicia Silverstone poorly singing along to the Spice Girls*

RIP, The PG-Rated Live-Action Kids Comedy. 

"Everything, Everything"

One thought roared through my mind while watching the trailer for "Everything, Everything": This movie is definitely not for me. I need to be at least 10 years younger to be excited for this swoony, melodramatic YA romance about a young girl (Amandla Stenberg) whose life of boring, medically induced house arrest – you see, she’s allergic to everything – hits a road bump as she falls for the cute new boy next door (Nick Robinson).

Take that back: I had two thoughts during the trailer, the second being: Haven’t I already seen this when it was "The Fault in Our Stars"? And even also "The Space Between Us"?

That being said, maybe, like "The Fault in Our Stars," it’ll be more emotionally honest than Instagram/Thought Catalog-ready melodramatic. Plus, it’s worth commending a summer release featuring both a black female lead and a black female director. Maybe this movie is more rare than expected.

May 26


The first aquatic adventure coming out at the end of May sails into the dangerous seas of … bad ’90s television. Indeed, from the depths of cancelled TV, Hollywood has uncovered a "Baywatch" movie, an R-rated romp about attractive people rescuing other attractive people on a beach.

It’s dubious source material to say the least, but I guess if you’re going to make a "Baywatch" movie, casting The Rock and Zac Efron is a smart move. The Rock is box office gold – and deservedly so, a true movie star in a time where those are rare to find – while Efron is good-looking and a comedic delight when he’s in dumb douche-bro mode. Plus, it looks like "Baywatch" is going the "21 Jump Street" meta route – and that movie seemed like a terrible idea too before we saw it. Then again, that was from the guys behind "The LEGO Movie," while this is from the guy who made "Identity Thief."

Well, at least "Baywatch" will look good. And will this be the first movie shot entirely in slow motion? Man, Zack Snyder is gonna be pissed he missed out on that.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"

Want to hear something crazy? "Dead Men Tell No Tales" is the fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. No, really! They made a fourth one! With Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz and everything! And now there’s a fifth movie, starring Johnny Depp in both his mildly creepy current iteration and his much creepier digitally de-aged form.

If you’re looking for someone to blame for another "Pirates" adventure, you’ll have to look outside American borders. Because while 2011’s "On Stranger Tides" was easily the lowest-grossing franchise entry in the U.S., the movie killed overseas, raking in more than a billion dollars worldwide almost entirely because of foreign audiences. Thanks a lot, everyone else in the world!

Or maybe actually thanks, because "Dead Men Tell No Tales" kind of looks … pretty decent! Sure, the story sounds like a retread of the previous films – a band of malicious undead midshipmen are after Depp’s drunken doof, who’s after a priceless fantastical artifact – and Captain Jack’s worn out his welcome since about three films ago.

But Depp’s lack of selling power and off-screen headlines have forced Disney to sell some of this film’s fresher elements, including what looks like another entertaining Javier Bardem villain role and some inventive oceanic visuals from new series directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg of "Kon-Tiki." In that lost-at-sea drama, the duo made a surprising splash with just a bunch of desperate guys on a raft, a beautiful empty ocean and the occasional shark visitor. Hopefully their skills won’t be dimmed by having to juggle juuuuust a little bit more in "Pirates 5."

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.