PICTURED: Jurassic World Dominion. Photo submitted

by Tim Pompey and Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

The world has changed dramatically in the two summers since the emergence of the pandemic. Movie premiers are no exception. From the theater to your television, the launch of a new movie has spread out over dozens of platforms. Still, even with the emergence of streaming services, movies in theaters continue to be launched and the summer of 2022 offers some lively selections for your viewing pleasure.

NOTE: Where films have a designated MPAA rating, we list it, but many have not yet been rated.

RECENTLY RELEASED

The Bob’s Burgers Movie
Directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman
Starring H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz and John Roberts
Rated PG-13

Based on the outrageously funny Fox animated series created by Loren Bouchard about the Belcher family, led by parents and burger joint owners Bob and Linda. For his feature directorial debut, Bouchard gets a helping hand from Bernard Derriman, and the two have crafted an equally hilarious tale full of zany antics, clever dialogue and never-miss jokes, wisely keeping the talented voice cast from the series intact. The plot is probably beside the point, but the story centers on the Belchers trying to save their restaurant after a sinkhole opens up in front of it.

Top Gun Maverick. Photo submitted

Top Gun: Maverick
Directed by Joseph Kosinksi
Starring Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller and Val Kilmer
Rated PG-13

Fans of the 1986 box office hit Top Gun should be thrilled with this follow up. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer return as Maverick and Iceman, now 36 years older and trying to shape up the latest generation of elite fighter pilots — which includes Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of “Goose,” Maverick’s best friend and wingman who died in the first film. No Kelly McGillis or Meg Ryan here, but Jennifer Connelly shows up as Maverick’s new love interest and Jon Hamm plays a naval commander. Lots of high-flying action and drama, and critics are calling it superior to the original.  

 

JUNE 3

Watcher
Directed by Chloe Okuno
Starring Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman
Rated R

When an American actress moves to Bucharest, she finds herself uprooted and isolated, left alone for hours at a time while her boyfriend is at work. The tension mounts as she begins to suspect that she is being stalked by a sinister neighbor. This psychological thriller makes up for a certain predictability with style and eerie presence. 

 

JUNE 10

 

Jurassic World Dominion. Photo submitted

Jurassic World: Dominion
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
Rated PG-13

Now let’s get to something big. Really big. The Jurassic World series has pulled out all the stops in what may be its swan song. From the 1993 original cast, Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum team up with Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt to fight off more dinosaur madness. In a premise with dinosaurs now freely roaming the earth, you ask yourself: What could possibly go wrong?

 

JUNE 17

 

The Lost Girls. Photo submitted

The Lost Girls
Directed by Livia De Paolis
Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Iain Glen and Joely Richardson
Not rated 

A jaundiced and thought-provoking look at the boy who would never grow up, and the girls who fall under his spell. Based on the novel by Laurie Fox, this reimagining of the Peter Pan mythos follows Wendy Darling and her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter as they try to break free of Peter’s influence and expectations in order to grow up and reclaim their lives for themselves. There’s magic and adventure here, darkened by family dysfunction and generational trauma.

 

JUNE 24

 

Elvis. Photo submitted

Elvis
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring Austin Baker, Tom Hanks
Rated PG-13

Baz Luhrmann. Remember him? Director of Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby? Yeah, it’s been a while, but the outlandish film visionary offers us a biopic of American rock and roll superstar Elvis Presley. Instead of big-name actors like Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, we get Austin Butler in the title role. It could be a breakout for the young actor. And, oh yes, Tom Hanks plays the notorious Colonel Tom Parker. One thing is sure: This will not be your standard rock saga. Prepare to be dazzled and perhaps puzzled. Here’s hoping the music is true to its hero.

 

The Black Phone
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Starring Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames
Rated R

Need a little horror to spice up your summer? Welcome to Blumhouse’s  The Black Phone. Starring Ethan Hawke (looking something like Tom Petty) as a child killer who locks a 13-year-old boy in a basement. The boy then receives calls on a disconnected phone from other victims. Horror producer Blumhouse (The PurgeFirestarter) has been known to get dark and bloody. This one’s rated R. Brace yourself.

 

JULY 8

 

Thor Love and Thunder. Photo submitted

Thor: Love and Thunder
Directed by Taika Waititi
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson
Number four in the Thor series. The film is filled with crossovers from Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Endgame. Thor fans will be happy to enjoy another chapter with the hunky super hero starring Chris Hemsworth and his old love Jane (Natalie Portman). There’s even a role in here for fellow hunky Australian Russell Crowe. Who cares about the story? This film promises nonstop action. Lightning bolts, whooshing sounds, flash and bang and lots and lots of muscles. What’s not to like?

 

JULY 15

 

Bed Rest
Directed by Lori Evans Taylor
Starring Melissa Barrera and Guy Burnet

Here’s a nightmare for all potential parents. When a young mother-to-be (Melissa Barrera, who delighted audiences in the last year’s In the Heights) is assigned to bedrest, she begins to witness supernatural activities in her home. Think Paranormal Activity with a pregnant twist. 

 

JULY 22

 

Nope. Photo submitted

Nope
Directed by Jordan Peele
Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer
This is a strange name for a film, but Jordan Peele is not your average horror/comedy director, so don’t let the name put you off. Reuniting Peele with <em>Get Out</em> star Daniel Kaluuya, the residents of a lonely town in inland California notice strange happenings in their small community. You can guess that the story takes chilling and unusual twists. Peele likes to mix the weird with the racial, and as he proved in Us, the whole concoction of horror and comedy can get pretty intense. Expect more of the same.

 

Where the Crawdads Sing
Directed by Olivia Newman
Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Taylor John Smith
Based on the bestselling novel by Delia Owens, a young woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes entangled in a murder mystery. Lots of small-town Gothic chicanery, lust, corruption and racial biases. It’s a rare summer pick for drama and romance fans and a welcome change of pace from summer blockbusters.

 

JULY 29

 

Vengeance. Photo submitted

Vengeance

Directed by B.J. Novak
Starring B.J. Novak and Boyd Holbrook
TV writer B.J. Novak (The Office) makes his directorial debut and stars in this comedic thriller about a New York City journalist who travels to West Texas to find out why his girlfriend died. Produced under the Blumhouse banner, it promises to be a wild ride.

 

AUG. 5

 

Bullet Train
Directed by David Leitch
Starring Brad Pitt and Joey King
Ah! A Brad Pitt sighting. Rare these days, but this one has potential. Based on the Japanese novel Maria Beetle by Kotaro Isaka, the film features five assassins on a train from Tokyo to Kyoto. It promises lots of action, some genuine hand-to-hand combat, and perhaps a bit of irony and humor. Also, Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug. Yes. I kid you not. Names are symbolic in this film, and there are plenty of names. See if you can keep up.

 

Bodies Bodies Bodies. Photo submitted

Bodies Bodies Bodies
Directed by Halina Reijn
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Rachel Sennott
Rated R

A satirical slasher pic in which a group of friends gather for a murder mystery party and discover that the murder is real. So is the game.

 

AUG. 12

 

The Man From Toronto
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Starring Kevin Hart, Woody Harrelson
Rated PG-13

Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson star together as a screw-up and an assassin who must team up to survive. Why? Seems they are mistaken for each other. Uh, Hart-Harrelson, Harrelson-Hart. Now how does that happen? Prepare to be baffled and amused.

 

AUG. 19

Beast. Submitted photo

Beast
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
Starring Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley
What’s a summer without a dangerous lion? Idris Elba and Sharlton Copley team up on a game reserve in South Africa to fend off the attacks of a beastly cat. Presumably, he’s large, noisy, angry and fast. Kind of like a dinosaur. Wait a minute, didn’t we just do this? Wild animals roaming the earth? Yeah, what goes around comes around. That’s Hollywood. Just sit back, buy your popcorn, and enjoy!

 

AUG. 26

 

Samaritan
Directed by Julius Avery
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Pilou Asbaek and Martin Starr
Rated PG-13

A famous superhero goes missing and is believed to be dead after an enormous battle. Twenty years later, a young boy begins to suspect that he might still be alive. Based on the graphic novel by Bragi F. Schut and directed by Julius Avery (Son of a Gun).

 

SIDEBAR

Family Friendly Fun

With kids out of school, plenty of parents and caregivers will be looking to movie theaters to get out of the house, break up the day or escape the heat. Here’s what’s hitting big screens for the younger set — and grownups who never lost their love of cartoons. All films listed here are Rated PG.

 

Lightyear. Photo submitted

Lightyear (June 17)
Directed by Angus McLane
Starring Chris Evans, Keke Palmer

Proving that Pixar and Disney just can’t leave well enough alone, the animation moguls have launched a spinoff from <em>Toy Story</em> featuring the lovable Buzz Lightyear, or better yet, Buzz Lightyear’s origin. It’s a tale of futuristic time travel, a battle with Emperor Zurg and the longing for home. The film’s launch of his upcoming toy marketing campaign is bound to follow. Stay tuned.

 

Marcel the Shell. Photo submitted

Marcel the Shell with Shoes (June 24)
Directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp
Starring Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer-Camp and Isabella Rossellini

Here’s something special for the kids among all this boom and bluster. You may miss this film because of the hype of bigger films, but remember it may reemerge with your streaming services. Originally a short film, it is now being released as a live-action/stop motion-animated mockumentary. Starring the voice of comedian Jenny Slate, a tiny, odd shell with shoes engages in a search for his family. This promises lots of sweetness, humor and some very un-Pixar like animation. A welcome relief for kids and families alike.

 

Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1)
Directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Abelson and Jonathan del Val
Starring Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson and Jean-Claude Van Damme

Where Minions leaves off, this adventure begins. Join young, up-and-coming villain Gru and his loyal, yellow, pill-shaped followers as they attempt to join the “cool” supervillain club known as the Vicious 6.

 

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (July 22)
Directed by Mark Koetsier, Rob Minkoff and Chris Bailey
Starring Michael Cera, Michelle Yeoh, Samuel L. Jackson, Mel Brooks and Ricky Gervais

A city of cats being threatened by the dangerous Ika Chu (Ricky Gervais) find their last hope to be a bumbling beagle (Michael Cera) who dreams of training to become a samurai. Very loosely based on Blazing Saddles (yes, really).

 

DC League of Super-Pets (July 27)
Directed by Jared Stern and Sam Levine
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Vanessa Bayer and Natasha Lyonne

It’s Superman’s dog and a team of shelter pets (which includes a potbellied pig, a turtle and a squirrel) who have to save the day when Lex Luthor captures the Justice League. If the script and jokes are as solid as the all-star cast, it could be a winner.