The Verge summer movie guide: blockbusters, comedies, and brand experiments

The biggest explosions and hugs of the season

Summer 2016 is upon us, and with it comes some of the year’s biggest movies. As always, the hottest months of the year bring some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters and friendliest family fare any moviegoer is ready to spend their hard-earned cash on. That also means a heavy dollop of teaser trailers, TV spots, and online content to go gaga over until the movie you’re most looking forward to seeing hits theaters.

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure which CG-heavy explosion-fest to get excited about first? Fear not, True Believer. We’ve selected some of the biggest movies coming out this summer right here so you can get your calendar in order. Get ready.



    May

  1. Captain America: Civil War

    (May 5th) The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to this for roughly 27 films now. Most of the film series’ favorite superheroes, plus new additions Black Panther and Spider-Man, are fighting each other. Specifically, they’re fighting over whether they should ask for the UN’s permission to fight other people. There’s a lot going on in this action-palooza, including symbolic thoughts on current politics. But mostly it’s a special-effects thrill ride of watching superpowered people whale on each other, while cracking the wry jokes and exhibiting the humanity and flaws that make them more worthwhile to watch than the other set of superheroes who just whaled on each other. — Tasha Robinson

    Review: Captain America: Civil War is a satisfying clash of ideas and fists

  2. High-Rise

    (May 13thTom Hiddleston (Loki from The Avengers and other MCU films, but not Civil War) stars as the world’s strangest conformist in this cold, chilly, beautifully shot class-struggle story about the inhabitants of an apartment complex that descends into chaos and savagery. There’s some deep ugliness on display in this story, which works more on a symbolic level than a narrative one. But director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field In England) achieves a mesmerizing and unusual balance between splattery violence and arthouse sophistication. — Tasha Robinson

    Review: In J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, the metaphor eats the story and Tom Hiddleston eats the metaphor

  3. The Lobster

    (May 13th) Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos makes deeply strange movies, and his latest, The Lobster, certainly belongs on that list: it’s a dystopian comedy where single people are remanded to a hotel, where they must fall in love within 45 days, or be turned into animals. Colin Farrell stars as one such unlucky person, looking for romance in a hurry. Ecstatically received during its festival run, The Lobster is reportedly offbeat, hilarious, and kind of terrifying, especially for single people. The Wes Anderson-sized cast of familiar names (Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Olivia Colman) is also a draw, but mostly it’s about the question of whether this is the movie where Colin Farrell becomes a lobster. — Tasha Robinson

    Review: The Lobster draws out an illogical world to its most logical ends

  4. The Angry Birds Movie

    (May 20th) No one’s really sure how we got here, but it’s 2016 and we’re about to have an Angry Birds movie. You remember Angry Birds, right? That game you kind of stopped playing somewhere around 2012? Yeah, that one. Anyway, Rovio Games managed to get a star-studded cast featuring Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, and Bill Hader to voice an assortment of birds and pigs vying for a piece of paradise. For the sake of the talent involved, we hope this movie winds up being at least passable. — Kwame Opam

  5. Neighbors 2

    (May 20th) The sequel to 2014’s Neighbors is almost here, which means Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne are back to playing people who live next door to each other. This time, instead of battling Zac’s frat house, the trio team up against a sorority that’s decreasing the value of their home by sole force of its physical proximity. As the film’s trailer points out, no one is safe from the lure of Efron’s chiseled abs — and that goes for the audience, too. — Lizzie Plaugic

  6. The Nice Guys

    (May 20th) Here’s a movie whose title is probably supposed to be tongue in cheek, because I don’t think you would sincerely name a movie this if you were in the business of naming movies. A bumbling private detective (Ryan Gosling) and a hit man (Russell Crowe) team up to investigate a missing woman. The Nice Guys looks like a buddy comedy Austin Powers but with more guns — an unsurprising choice given that it’s directed by Shane Black, who wrote several of the Lethal Weapon movies. It should be worth a watch for anyone who wants to see Ryan Gosling look like he bathed in a bottle of ‘70s aftershave. — Lizzie Plaugic

    Review: Shane Black falls short of his first chatty crime comedy

  7. X-Men: Apocalypse

    (May 27th) The next chapter in the never-ending saga of mutants vs. the humans who fear them is on the way. X-Men Apocalypse, the ninth overall X-Men film, takes us back to the 1980s, where a new crop of mutants is coming into its own. Director Bryan Singer is promising the most explosive X-movie yet with this film, and judging from the trailers alone — featuring title villain Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) wreaking havoc with his Four Horseman in tow — he might be right. It doesn’t hurt that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is due to make an appearance, either. — Kwame Opam

    Review: X-Men: Apocalypse has a bad case of Batman v Superman disease

  8. Alice Through The Looking Glass

    (May 27th) Remember back in 2010, when Tim Burton directed a garish Technicolor version of Alice In Wonderland starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, and a whole bunch of other people (Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Anne Hathaway, Michael Sheen, and so on) as headache-inducing, distorted CGI monstrosities? Well, they’re all back for another acid-trip adventure in this sequel, produced by Burton and directed by James Bobin, who also helmed The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted. Once again, the Mad Hatter is in trouble and Alice has to look baffled and vaguely pinched while saving him, this time from the villainous Time, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. — Tasha Robinson


  9. June

  10. TMNT: Out of the Shadows

    (June 3rd) We may have never asked for it, but Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is getting a sequel. Thing is, if you turn your brain off, it looks kind of fun. Here, the turtles, with some help from April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and newcomer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), face off against TV show mainstays Bebop and Rocksteady, with the notion that maybe (just maybe) they can become human if they expose themselves to enough ooze. Rest assured they’ll still be turtles at the end of the day, but expect plenty of explosions. — Kwame Opam

  11. Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping

    (June 3rd) Andy Samberg’s upcoming music mockumentary looks like a slapstick version of VH1’s Behind the Music. Samberg plays Cooper, a white rapper who decides he can reverse his careening career by returning to his boy-band glory days. Celebrity cameos include: Questlove, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Sarah Silverman, and Adam Levine’s hologram. What more could you want from a movie that’s basically an extended version of a Lonely Island music video? — Lizzie Plaugic

  12. Warcraft

    (June 10th) James Cameron keeps claiming he’s making a whole bunch more Avatar sequels, but the initial Warcraft trailers made it look like Blizzard Entertainment beat him to the punch, with an only-slightly-different fantasy CGI story about noble savages fighting selfish humanity in a wild landscape. Subsequent trailers make the story look more like John Carter, with the humans and the noble, be-tusked green guys teaming up to fight an evil force. Either way, this film spinoff of the monumentally popular World Of Warcraft MMORPG has been promised for a decade now, and it’s meant to launch a massive new film franchise. It remains to be seen whether it’ll join Avatar on the vaporware-sequels pile. One cause for hope: Moon director Duncan Jones co-wrote and directed, so it’s just possible this will be more than a game-fans-only project. — Tasha Robinson

  13. The Conjuring 2

    (June 10th) When director James Wan jumped into the blockbuster big leagues with Furious 7, it seemed like he was leaving his horror roots behind. That alone would make his return with another story pulled from the "real-life" case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren notable. But footage of the film that screened at CinemaCon was moody, tense, and terrifying, exhibiting all of the trademarks that have made Wan a genre master — and turning The Conjuring 2 into one of our most anticipated horror films this year. — Bryan Bishop

  14. Now You See Me 2

    (June 10th) Back in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, and a lot of Morgan Freeman gravitas turned the magician caper flick Now You See Me into a surprise hit. Three years later, it’s time for the inevitable sequel, only this time the character played by Isla Fisher has been swapped out for a new addition to the team played by Masters of Sex star Lizzy Caplan. There’s something about stealing some newfangled computer gizmo that looks like it's pulled straight out of Sneakers, but don’t worry about it. Just expect magic! CG card tricks! Daniel Radcliffe! And Jesse Eisenberg’s scalp recovering from Batman v Superman. — Bryan Bishop

  15. Finding Dory

    (June 17th) Pixar’s been relying on sequels quite a bit lately — to varying degrees of success — and when I heard a sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo was on the way, I wasn’t exactly enthused. Then I had the chance to see the first 27 minutes of the film during the CinemaCon trade show last month. By the time I’d mopped my eyes dry and stopped laughing, my expectations had turned around entirely. Director Andrew Stanton appears to have dedicated himself to the same kind of emotional storytelling he executed so well with Wall-E and Finding Nemo, leaving the missteps of John Carter far behind. — Bryan Bishop

  16. Independence Day: Resurgence

    (June 24th) Independence Day is one the biggest blockbusters to come out of the ‘90s. It had insane special effects, bravura performances from Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, and one of the best, most quotable speeches ever uttered by a fictional American president. It might be the quintessential summer popcorn flick. Its sequel lacks Will Smith, but with the alien threat returning from the first movie in much larger numbers, this movie could very well raise the bar in terms of over-the-top summer action. Because honestly, you can’t go wrong with Jeff Goldblum. — Kwame Opam


  17. July

  18. The BFG

    (July 1st) The title stands for "The Big Friendly Giant," not the other obvious thing, and the story’s based on one of the many whimsical children’s books by Roald Dahl, author of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and James And The Giant Peach. But the look and feel of the film are all director Steven Spielberg, who appears to have slapped on the wonder and astonishment with a trowel. Spielberg hasn’t made a live-action kids’ movie since 1991’s Hook, one of those films beloved by people who were the right age for it when it came out, and otherwise largely loathed. This looks like it may fall into that category, but Dahl’s source material is strange and memorable, so we’ll see. — Tasha Robinson

  19. Cell

    (July 8th) John Cusack has gone from lovesick kid to record-store owner to dog-lover, and now, in Cell, he’s playing a man singlehandedly fighting the war against the cellphone apocalypse. What is a cellphone apocalypse?, you might ask. It’s when a mystery cell signal starts taking over the minds of anyone unlucky enough to glob their dumb face onto a cellphone at the wrong time. Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Cell promises to be the dreary logical conclusion of overwrought tech paranoia. Plus zombies. — Lizzie Plaugic

  20. The Secret Life of Pets

    (July 8th) The concept of The Secret Life of Pets, from the same production company that made Despicable Me and Minions, is basically Toy Story, except pets. What kind of wild adventures does your terrier get into while you’re out plugging away at your office job? A fairly solid cast including Louis CK, Ellie Kemper, Jenny Slate, and Kevin Hart add some more appeal if the idea of watching cute animated animals on screen isn’t enough to sell you on it. — Lizzie Plaugic

  21. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

    (July 8th) Mike and Dave are two guys (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) who need wedding dates. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza play two women who become their wedding dates. That’s the premise of this entire movie, and it seems to be inspired by a real-life pair of dudes who tried to find wedding dates via a Craigslist ad. Is Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates a Wedding Crashers for a new generation? Or will it exist in its own genre of terrible matrimony movie? Only one way to find out! — Lizzie Plaugic

  22. Ghostbusters

    (July 15th) The new Ghostbusters might be one of the most scrutinized summer movies of the year. Not only is it reviving a classic series, it’s doing so with a female cast at the fore. A certain hateful corner of nerddom is concerned that director Paul Feig messed with a beloved franchise in the name of being PC, but the rest of us are excited to see what Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig can do with their proton packs. — Kwame Opam

  23. Star Trek Beyond

    (July 22nd) The Star Trek franchise is in need of a boost. After 2009’s Star Trek successfully launched a new timeline for the series, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness managed to disappoint by leaning too heavily into fan service at the expense of storytelling. Beyond, from Fast & Furious director Justin Lin, has a chance to right the course as Capt. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and crew must face a new enemy. The fact that Simon Pegg wrote the screenplay gives us hope that this effort will be a step in the right direction. — Kwame Opam

  24. Jason Bourne

    (July 29th) It’s often a producer’s job to hype the movies they’ve made, so when Frank Marshall took the stage at CinemaCon to say the new Jason Bourne had the best chase sequence in the series, I was a little skeptical. Then the above trailer was released, and, well, okay. I can admit it when a bunch of cars getting totaled on the Vegas Strip proves me wrong. Matt Damon returns, as does longtime series director Paul Greengrass and newcomer Alicia Vikander — because that’s what you do in between winning an Oscar and becoming the new Lara Croft. — Bryan Bishop


  25. August

  26. Suicide Squad

    (August 5th) So Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a bit of a critical failure for Warner Bros. No big deal! The DC Extended Universe is off to the races, and the next film out of the gate will be Suicide Squad. The film, directed by Training Day screenwriter David Ayer, will see supervillains like Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) team up against a greater evil. (Jared Leto’s Joker is never too far behind.) But unlike Zack Snyder’s grim and gritty take on superheroics, this movie looks like it could be a lot of fun. Here’s hoping those reshoots went well. — Kwame Opam
  27. Pete's Dragon

    (August 12th) The latest entry in Disney’s "brand deposit" remakes of its own library (after Maleficent, Cinderella, and Jungle Book), Pete’s Dragon is the first one that feels like a risk, because it’s remaking something that was never deeply beloved in the first place. 1977’s live-action / animation hybrid Pete’s Dragon, based on an unpublished short story, came at an awkward time for the company, and it’s an amiable, cutesy, yet often sloppy mess. The remake looks like it’s keeping the live-action / CGI idea, and otherwise completely revising the story about a boy and his protective dragon companion. — Tasha Robinson

  28. Sausage Party

    (August 12th) What is the fate of a stick of meat? This is the existential question at the core of Sausage Party, a movie about several edibles who suddenly realize they’re at the end of the processed food chain, destined to became the sludge inside a human’s stomach. Seth Rogen voices Frank, a bold young hot dog determined to right this wrong, or at least warn other foods of their bleak future. Probably the only movie this summer in which you can hear animated bits of dead animals say the F-word because they’re afraid of dying. — Lizzie Plaugic

  29. Ben-Hur

    (August 19th) I chatted with director Timur Bekmambetov when he was in the thick of shooting his new version of Ben-Hur, and he described the experience at the time as "Chariots. Endless chariots." Given the amount of time that was clearly spent on shooting those key sequences, it’s easy to understand why. Jack Huston stars in the title role, alongside Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, and Rodrigo Santoro. There are also some truly brutal-looking races, and chariots. Endless chariots. — Bryan Bishop

  30. Kubo and the Two Strings

    (August 19th) Laika, the animation studio behind the Oscar-nominated films Coraline and ParaNorman, is back with their latest stop-motion epic, Kubo and the Two Strings — and it looks as gorgeous as anything the studio has done so far. Described as a swashbuckling adventure set in medieval Japan, the movie stars Irish actor Art Parkinson as the young Kubo, who must go on a quest with the help of colorful characters like Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey). This might be the sleeper hit of the season. — Kwame Opam

Credits

  • Developer Yuri Victor
  • Layout Ross Miller