Movie Maniac

Summer movie preview: ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Lion King’ and Elton John will sizzle the screen

Did we even have a spring? How is it the summer season already?

It’s actually been summer at the movies for a couple of weeks now, with the likes of such blockbusters as “The Avengers” and “John Wick” making some noise.

But Hollywood has more in store. Here’s a look. (Release dates subject to change.)

Friday, May 31

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” — There’s probably some sort of plot, but who cares? We just want to see monsters fight! The mighty Godzilla will take on Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. My money’s on Godzilla, because they have to make more sequels, right?

“Rocketman” — A musical fantasy about Elton John’s hedonistic breakthrough years. Taron Egerton (from the “Kingsman” movies) plays the singer, Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliott”) plays lyricist Bernie Taupin and Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) plays John Ried, Elton’s boyfriend and manager in the early ‘70s. This promises to be a dazzling, splashy look at the singer’s life (and the film’s hoping for some of that “Bohemian Rhapsody” success).

“Ma” — A lonely woman (Octavia Spencer) befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house, but soon things start happening that make them question the intention of their host. It’s a change of pace for Oscar winner Spencer, and word is her performance is dark and maniacal (think Kathy Bates in “Misery”).

June 7

“Dark Phoenix” — The next film in the X-Men saga is the story of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. As she wrestles with her increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, she spirals out of control and tears the X-Men family apart. Mutant mutiny, maybe?

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” — More adventures with Max the dog and his pet friends when their owners leave for work or school.

“Late Night” — Oscar winner Emma Thompson stars as a late-night talk show host whose world is turned upside down when she hires her first and only female staff writer (Mindy Kaling, who also wrote the screenplay).

June 14

“Men in Black: International“ — This “Men in Black” spin-off has Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson using high-tech weaponry to battle mischievous aliens on Earth.

“Shaft” — FBI agent John “JJ” Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher) turns to his estranged father - the legendary John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson) - to uncover the truth behind his friend’s disappearance in this sequel that also stars the original Shaft from the ‘70s, Richard Roundtree.

June 21

“Toy Story 4” — Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with a new toy named Forky. Speaking of trips, the sequel has had a rocky one getting here, but hopefully the film will be good, because NO ONE WANTS IT TO FAIL.

“Child’s Play” — The world probably didn’t need a Chucky reboot, but we’re getting one anyway, with a new origin story, as a mother gives her son a toy doll (voiced by none other than Mark Hamill) for his birthday, unaware of its sinister nature.

June 28

“Annabelle Comes Home” — The seventh installment in “The Conjuring” universe franchise has paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) locking up the possessed doll in an artifacts room in their house. But when the doll awakens the room’s evil spirits, a night of terror ensues for the couple’s young daughter and her friends.

“Yesterday” — From the high-concept department comes Oscar winner Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) directing this tale of a struggling musician who realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed. So he performs their songs as his own, naturally, and becomes a big star. Because apparently everyone knows a good song when they hear it.

July 2

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” — If you haven’t seen “Avengers: Endgame,” you’ve probably figured out that Peter Parker/Spider-Man survives since this film even exists, but following those events, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

July 12

“21 Bridges” — After uncovering a massive conspiracy, an embattled NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman) joins a citywide manhunt for two young cop killers. As the night unfolds, he soon becomes unsure of who to pursue — and who’s in pursuit of him.

“Crawl” — Horror tale about a young woman who finds herself trapped in a flooding house during a hurricane and must fight for her life against alligators. They probably would have named this “Jaws,” if that title wasn’t already taken.

“Stuber” — Action/comedy about a mild-mannered Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani) who picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista) who turns out to be a cop hot on the trail of a brutal killer. Good luck keeping that five-star rating, buddy.

July 19

“The Lion King” — Jon Favreau directs this CGI remake of the classic animated tale about a young lion prince who flees his kingdom thinking he caused his father’s death, only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery. With the voices of Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and James Earl Jones.

Jul 26

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” — Quentin Tarantino directs this tale set in 1969 Los Angeles, as a fading television star (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double (Brad Pitt) make their way around a changing industry that they hardly recognize anymore. This just had a splashy premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, and early buzz is electric.

Aug. 2

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” — Duane Johnson and Jason Statham star in this “Fast & Furious” spin-off as their characters Hobbs and Shaw, respectively, who form an unlikely alliance when a “cyber-genetically enhanced” villain threatens the future of humanity. I have no idea what that even means.

Aug. 9

“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” — The teenage explorer leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold.

“The Kitchen” — When gangster husbands wind up in prison in the 1970s, their wives take over their organization and become Hell’s Kitchen’s most powerful mobsters. Starring Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish, Domhnall Gleeson and Melissa McCarthy. Grrrl power, yo.

Aug. 16

“The Angry Birds Movie 2” — The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their beef to the next level.

“Good Boys” — Three sixth-grade boys ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party. From the makers of “Neighbors” and “Sausage Party,” expect this to be a pretty raunchy comedy.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” — A loving mom (Cate Blanchett) becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Kristen Wiig and Judy Greer also star.

Aug. 23

“Angel Has Fallen” — The third film in the “Olympus Has Fallen” series has Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must uncover the real threat.

“Ready or Not” — Horror tale about a bride whose wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying, lethal game. Too soon to return the wedding presents?

Rod Pocowatchit is an award-winning independent filmmaker and SAG/AFTRA-eligible actor who has written and directed four feature-length films, all made in Kansas. He has been a journalist for 29 years and is also an internationally award-winning page designer.