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Summer Movie Preview 2019: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Lion King’

Avengers: Endgame

Release Date: April 25

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Josh Brolin, Danai Gurira, Karen Gillan

Why we want to see it: “It seems like a thousand years ago,” Tony Stark remarks in the official “Endgame” trailer. Well, that’s how long it’s felt since “Infinity War” came last summer and crushed all of our hearts with a single snap. Marvel fans have been waiting almost exactly a year to see if the remaining Avengers can defeat Thanos and revive their fellow heroes from the piles of dust in Wakanda. How will they do it? Who will survive? And will “Endgame” cross the $2 billion mark?

–Jordan Moreau

“Long Shot”

Release Date: May 3

Stars: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Why we want to see it: In addition to being a raunchy comedy, Seth Rogen’s latest movie leans into politics and romance, too. Charlize Theron plays the U.S. Secretary of State who runs for president with the help of her goofy childhood friend and journalist, Fred Flarsky. Like “Pretty Woman” turned on its head, the two fall for each other and get into lots of drug-fueled hijinks.

–JM

“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu”

Release Date: May 3

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton

Why we want to see it: Pokémon fans finally get to see a live-action adaptation of the video game with Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu, no less. Fluffy, scaly and absolutely adorable Pokémon fill nearly every scene of the movie, ensuring that veteran players and newcomers will find a creature to fall in love with.

–JM

“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

Release Date: May 17

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Anjelica Huston

Why we want to see it: It all started with someone having the gall to kill John Wick’s dog. Now he’s in three movies deep with the epic revenge saga. Wick says in the trailer that he needs, “guns, lots of guns” — and the movie promises to deliver just that, and just as much high-octane action as the last two chapters. Halle Berry and Angelica Huston join the already-stacked cast.

–Dano Nissen

“Booksmart”

Release Date: May 24

Stars: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Jessica Williams, Billie Lourd, Lisa Kudrow

Why we want to see it: Move over, “Superbad,” because a new vulgar teen comedy has come to play, and Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are the breakout stars. The two soon-to-be high school graduates realize they spent too much time studying and not time enough partying, so they try to make up for it with one wild night. The film premiered at South by Southwest, where it received rave reviews.

–JM

“Aladdin”

Release Date: May 24

Stars: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott

Why we want to see it: Time for a magic carpet ride back to our childhoods. It’s not exactly a whole new world, but the live-action “Aladdin” strikes the perfect balance between nostalgia and a modern take on the classic tale. Plus, blue Will Smith has started to win us over as Genie.

–JM

“Godzilla King of the Monsters”

Release Date: May 31

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Charles Dance

Why we want to see it: Godzilla fans, rejoice. The latest big monster beat-’em-up pits the scaly behemoth against Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed King Ghidorah, while puny humans, like Millie Bobby Brown, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Charles Dance, try not to get squished. If you need more of Godzilla fix, have no fear because next year brings us the latest installment in the MonsterVerse, “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

–JM

“Ma”

Release Date: May 31

Stars: Octavia Spencer, Luke Evans, Juliette Lewis

Why we want to see it: In her first psychological thriller, Octavia Spencer stars as the titular Ma, a kind loner who offers to buys booze for underage teens looking for a place to party. However, her kindness and forced friendship soon turns to torture and murder as she reveals her true, dark intentions. The Blumhouse production looks to be the first fright of the summer.

–JM

“Rocketman”

Release Date: May 31

Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Belle, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden

Why we want to see it: As one of the highest selling and most influential musicians of all time, it’s high time Elton John’s life gets the movie treatment. The trailer blends the singer’s life with the surreal, suggesting “Rocketman” might be a fresh take on the often worn-out biopic genre.

–DN

“Dark Phoenix”

Release Date: June 7

Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Jessica Chastain, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tye Sheridan, Nicholas Hoult

Why we want to see it: After the Disney-Fox merger, “Dark Phoenix” could very well be the end of the rebooted X-Men franchise before we see the mutants in the MCU. And Fox’s series is going out with a bang, adapting the iconic Jean Grey storyline. After serving as a writer and producer on many of the previous X-Men and Deadpool entries, Simon Kinberg will make his directorial debut with the film.

–JM

“Late Night”

Release Date: June 7

Stars: Mindy Kaling, Emma Thompson, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Ike Barinholtz

Why we want to see it: One of the hottest films out of Sundance, Mindy Kaling’s “Late Night” draws on some of her own experiences being a female writer of color in a field normally dominated by white men. She plays a diversity hire for a late-night talk show run by Emma Thompson’s old-fashioned host, and only her refreshing brand of wit can save the show from cancellation.

–JM

“Shaft”

Release Date: June 14

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Avan Jogia, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, Method Man

Why we want to see it: They say this cat Shaft is one bad motherf—–. We’re talking about the upcoming sequel to the 2000 reimagining of the classic 1971 Blaxploitation movie “Shaft.” We can dig it: Samuel L. Jackson returns as John Shaft, but there’s a new Shaft in town, his son John Shaft Jr. There’s even an old Shaft in town, with Richard Roundtree back in his iconic original role.

–DN

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

Release Date: June 7

Stars: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover

Why we want to see it: The Sundance darling has garnered heaps of buzz in the independent film world. The film won best directing and a special jury award for creative collaboration at the festival. It’s nice to see an auspicious start for lots of new faces as well as the return of vets like Danny Glover and Thora Birch.

–DN

“Men in Black: International”

Release Date: June 14

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani, Emma Thompson

Why we want to see it: No, your memory wasn’t erased; Sony must’ve seen Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson’s chemistry in “Thor: Ragnorak” and said, “Let’s do that again.” The two are still surrounded by weird aliens, but this time in the “Men in Black” spin-off. It’s been seven years since the franchise’s last entry, but going global might be the shot in the arm the series needs.

–JM

“The Dead Don’t Die”

Release Date: June 14

Stars: Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop, Chloë Sevigny, Caleb Landry Jones

Why we want to see it: No one does deadpan humor like Jim Jarmusch. For his newest film, the subjects are so deadpan they’re, well, dead. The director is no stranger to new takes on genre films, having directed an acid Western, a musical vampire romance, and a modern day samurai tale. His take on the zombie genre should be worth a watch, especially considering its eclectic cast.

–DN

“Child’s Play”

Release Date: June 21

Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill

Why we want to see it: A little more than 30 years ago, the low-tech Chucky doll debuted. Now he’s back with 21st-century technological capabilities and voiced by the legendary Mark Hamill. “Child’s Play” marks the actor’s second time behind the doll, having lent his voice to the character in a parodic “Robot Chicken” episode. This time, Hamill’s not joking around.

–DN

Toy Story 4

Release Date: June 21

Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Keanu Reeves, Joan Cusack, Tony Hale, Michael Keaton, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key

Why we want to see it: Toy Story 4” should arrive just as audiences finish drying their tears from “Toy Story 3.” Considering “Toy Story” installments only come about once a decade, it marks quite a momentous occasion. In the summer of 2019, Andy’s toys will acquire a new companion, and audiences a new character to grow up with, in Forky.

–DN

“Yesterday”

Release Date: June 28

Stars: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr

Why we want to see it: Director Danny Boyle proved his deft ear in weaving together music and imagery in “Trainspotting.” Screenwriter Richard Curtis proved his ability to induce tears and laughter simultaneously with “Love Actually.” These two talents came together to bring the novel premise of a man being the only person on Earth who remembers the Beatles to screen. On top that, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney will make appearances.

–DN

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Release Date: July 5

Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Cobie Smulders

Why we want to see it: If “Captain Marvel” was the appetizer to the full-course meal of “Avengers: Endgame,” then “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is dessert. The web-slinger’s latest adventure brings him to a new continent with new costumes, new villains, a new high school love interest and a new friend-or-foe in Mysterio, expertly played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Perhaps the best part of “Far From Home” will be seeing Disney’s next five-year plan of Marvel movies following its release.

–JM

“The Farewell”

Release Date: July 12

Stars: Awkwafina

Why we want to see it: One of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch, Lulu Wang based “The Farewell” on her own complicated family story. In the tragic comedy, a Chinese-American family is about to lose their grandmother to Stage IV lung cancer, but they carry on as if nothing is wrong, not wanting to spoil their limited time with her. Awkwafina, hot off her breakout roles in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s 8,” plays a woman caught between cultures in a role that mirrors Wang’s own experiences.

–JM

The Lion King

Release Date: July 19

Stars: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Amy Sedaris, James Earl Jones, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre

Why we want to see it: James Earl Jones’ sonorous voice in the trailer digs up all types of nostalgia for the Disney classic. The special effects seen in the trailer could fool one into believing that they are watching a nature documentary until the animals start talking. Hold out to the end of the trailer hear Seth Rogen’s instantly recognizable laugh as Pumbaa.

–DN

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Release Date: July 26

Stars: Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Tim Roth, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, James Marsden, Lena Dunham, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern

Why we want to see it: With Quentin Tarantino’s last two films, we’ve been transported to the freezing plains of Wyoming and plantations of the antebellum South. This time around, the auteur is taking us to 1960s Hollywood with a story about an actor (DiCaprio) and his stuntman (Pitt) during the Manson family murders. Equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, Tarantino is sure to deliver an exciting homage to old Hollywood. The cast is excellent and full of Tarantino regulars, plus some newcomers. 

–DN

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Release Date: August 2

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, Roman Reigns, Vanessa Kirby

Why we want to see it: The “Fast & Furious” universe gets a little bit bigger as its first spin-off centers on fan-favorites Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw putting aside their differences to take down a super-human baddie played by Idris Elba. In addition to the guaranteed over-the-top car chases, the latest entry adds some superhero-level fight scenes, and leaves fans wondering just how far the “Fast & Furious” movies can take its high-octane action.

–JM

“Midsommar”

Release Date: July 3

Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter

Why we want to see it: Ari Aster made quite a stir with his horrifying feature directorial debut “Hereditary.” The film premiered just last year and he’s already back at it with a new movie that looks just as creepy. The bright outdoors setting replete with flowers suggest this is not your average horror flick.  

–DN

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Release Date: August 9

Stars: Dean Norris, Lorraine Toussaint, Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush

Why we want to see it: “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” looks like it’s ripped straight from the book series that kept us up at night. Director André Øvredal (“The Autopsy of Jane Doe”) and co-writer Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “The Shape of Water”) have proven they have a knack for designing terrifying, lifelike monsters, and this film has let them run wild. Some soon-to-be nightmares include the Toe Monster, the Jangly Man and the Pale Lady.

–JM

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