10 movies for summer 2023: From ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Barbie’ to some smaller gems
Persistent COVID cases aside: The pandemic must be over, because look at “The Super Mario Bros. Movie!” It’s made $1.2 billion worldwide. Where babysitter movies point the way to recovery — the movies that serve as babysitters, that is — an entire entertainment industry prays for many more to follow.
The summer of ‘23 may be reliant on the customary franchises and name brands, as you’ll see below. But if a film as lovely and near-perfect as Celine Song’s debut feature “Past Lives” can likewise qualify as a summer picture, going by the June-August calendar, then a summer place sounds pretty good to me.
Here are 10 on the horizon, most not yet screened as of press time. Release dates vary by market.
“Past Lives” (June 2): A beautiful romantic triangle spanning nations (South Korea, America) and three decades, this one’s about a writer (Greta Lee), her childhood sweetheart (Teo Yoo) and her husband (John Magaro). Without wasting a frame or a word, writer-director Celine Song offers a steadily absorbing matter of three hearts in close proximity.
“Asteroid City” (June 16): Set in 1955, Wes Anderson’s latest concocts a fictional, Roswell-esque desert town, where the “Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet” convention experiences a disruption of epic proportions. Anderson has assembled a typically epic star ensemble, including Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Hong Chau, Steve Carell, Jeffrey Wright, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum — actually it’s easier to list actors not in “Asteroid City.”
“The Blackening” (June 16): A horror film studies seminar, under the gun! When seven Black friends share a remote cabin together, a killer tests their knowledge of horror movie tropes and racial biases in director Tim Story’s thriller comedy. Or comedy thriller. It’s a thromedy!
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (June 30): Many middle-aged tears of gratitude rolled down many cheeks when the trailer for the return of Harrison Ford as Indy came into our world. James Mangold directs and co-wrote this picture, which co-stars Pheobe Waller-Bridge in a fantastical action adventure that traffics, apparently, in time travel and Nazis. Indy has not changed his mind about the latter since “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” four Indys and 42 summers ago.
“Harold and the Purple Crayon” (June 30): The 1955 children’s classic by Crockett Johnson becomes the first live-action spectacle from animation workhorse Carlos Saldanha (of the “Ice Age” and “Rio” franchises). Brady Ryan, Zachary Levi, Lil Rel Howery and Zooey Deschanel star.
“Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning — Part One” (July 12): The seventh Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt mission, with the second “Dead Reckoning” due in 2024. That’s a lot of reckoning. In this latest stunt-astic mayhem, the Impossible Mission Force scrambles from Italy to Norway to the U.K. to the UAE, and Cruise does things few if any other megastars would have the nerve to attempt, no matter what the piece of the gross. Christopher McQuarrie directs.
“Barbie” (July 21): Already a legend in release-date-matchup lore, director Greta Gerwig’s retina-splitting beach fantasy of multiple Barbies, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is going up against …
“Oppenheimer” (July 21): Christopher Nolan’s latest stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist whose Manhattan Project led to the creation of the device that will surely someday spell Earth’s demise. (Win some, lose some.) An eagerly awaited drama with a cast including Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek and, no doubt, based on Nolan’s previous cinematic evidence, some truly striking imagery.
“Meg 2: The Trench” (Aug. 4): The delightfully eventful trailer promises a sequel to the prehistoric sea beast thriller “The Meg” that eats the first one for breakfast. Jason Statham returns to remind these digital sea punks who’s in charge.
“Blue Beetle” (Aug. 18): We were running a little low on superhero franchises, so DC (the current keeper of Blue Beetle, who came on the scene in 1939) thought, well, let’s go. Angel Manuel Soto (“Charm City Kings”) directs the origin story of how Jaime Reyes (played by Xolo Maridueña) transforms into the Blue Beetle by way of an “ancient relic of alien biotechnology called the Scarab.” I just call it the Scab, but I’m all about syllable removal.