Summer movie guide: ‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Dunkirk,’ ‘All Eyez on Me’ and more


From “Wonder Woman” to “Atomic Blonde,” women are shattering the glass ceiling with their fists this summer. But it’s not just comic book superheroes and blockbuster franchises vying for moviegoers’ attention this season. Get a closer look at some of the most-anticipated films in the Times’ 2017 Summer Movie Guide.

Superheroes, pirates, apes and atomic blondes: Where the action is this summer

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

Filmmaker James Gunn delivers Mixtape #2 as the team explores the mystery of Peter Quill’s heritage and fights galactic baddies. With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell. Walt Disney Pictures

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12)

A new imagining of the Excalibur myth finds Arthur once more searching for his rightful place in the kingdom. With Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana. Written by Joby Harold and Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram; story by David Dobkin and Joby Harold. Directed by Ritchie. Warner Bros.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)

Captain Jack is down on his luck and his survival depends on an alliance with an attractive astronomer and a Royal Navy sailor. With Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham and Geoffrey Rush. Written by Jeff Nathanson, story by Nathanson and Terry Rossio. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. Walt Disney Pictures

Wonder Woman (June 2)

The Amazonian princess gets her own movie and leaves her island paradise to fight a war to end all wars. With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock, Saïd Taghmaoui. Written by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, based on characters from DC. Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston. Directed by Patty Jenkins. Warner Bros.

Watch the trailer for “Wonder Woman.”

Baby Driver (June 28)

Writer-director Edgar Wright spins a music-fueled saga about a youthful getaway driver whose romantic dreams of escape take a detour when a planned final heist goes sideways. With Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx. TriStar Pictures

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

Fresh off his adventures with the Avengers, Peter Parker adjusts to life as a webslinger and faces off against the villainous Vulture. With Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr. Written by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Directed by Watts. Columbia Pictures

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

Caesar and his apes battle a human army led by a brutal colonel in this third film in the latest series inspired by Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel. With Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval. Written by Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves. Directed by Reeves. 20th Century Fox

Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer and Andy Serkis star in “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)

Based on the graphic novel series in which government operatives travel to a rapidly expanding intergalactic metropolis called Alpha, a Utopian convergence of talents where dark forces are at work. With Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu. Written and directed by Luc Besson. STX Entertainment

Atomic Blonde (July 28)

Charlize Theron stars as an MI6 agent ordered to Berlin to break up a savage spy ring. With James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, Til Schweiger, James Faulkner, Eddie Marsan, Roland Møller, Bill Skarsgård, Barbara Sukowa, Johannes Johannesson, Toby Jones. Written by Kurt Johnstad, based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston and illustrator Sam Hart. Directed by David Leitch. Focus Features

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Aug. 18)

Ryan Reynolds stars as the agent assigned to protect assassin Samuel L. Jackson and transport him safely from England to the Hague. With Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek. Written by Tom O’Connor. Directed by Patrick Hughes. Lionsgate

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Movies you can take the kids to this summer

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (May 19)

The family takes a road trip and Greg schemes to become famous as a new cast takes over for the fourth installment based on Jeff Kinney’s comic youth novels. With Jason Ian Drucker, Charlie Wright, Owen Asztalos, Tom Everett Scott, Alicia Silverstone. Written by Kinney and director David Bowers. 20th Century Fox

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (June 2)

Animated adaptation of the hit illustrated book series by Dav Pilkey about a pair of wildly imaginative boys and their creation of a not-so-bright superhero. Voices by Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal. Written by Nicholas Stoller. Directed by David Soren. 20th Century Fox / DreamWorks Animation

Teaser trailer for Disney/Pixar’s “Cars 3.”

Cars 3 (June 16)

Lightning McQueen faces a new generation of racers with the help of enthusiastic young race technician Cruz Ramirez and the wisdom of an old friend. Voices by Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Kerry Washington, Nathan Fillion, Lea DeLaria. Directed by Brian Fee. Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar

Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Supervillain-turned-hero Gru and his family return in this animated comic adventure. Voices by Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate, Julie Andrews. Written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Co-Directed by Eric Guillon. Universal Pictures / Illumination Entertainment

The Emoji Movie (July 28)

The tiny expressions living inside your smartphone come alive in this animated adventure. Voices by T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris. Written by Tony Leondis and Eric Siegel and Mike White. Directed by Leondis. Columbia Pictures

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (Aug. 18)
Animated. Will Arnett. Open Road Films

Leap! (Aug. 30)

An orphan dreams of going to Paris to become a dancer while her best friend hopes to become a famous inventor in this animated tale. Voices by Elle Fanning, Maddie Ziegler, Nat Wolff, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mel Brooks. Weinstein Co.

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‘Then all the men disappear’: Sofia Coppola on her Southern Gothic tale ‘The Beguiled’

Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell star in Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled.”

Sofia Coppola’s new picture, “The Beguiled,” is set during the Civil War, featuring a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) who finds refuge on the grounds of a Southern girls school whose residents include Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. As Farrell’s character convalesces, it becomes increasingly unclear whether he is manipulating his female caregivers or whether they are playing out their own power games through him.

“I just thought the premise was so interesting, because the story of power between men and women was such an interesting, loaded topic, and this premise really heightened it with this setting during the Civil War,” the 45-year-old director said. “The women were raised to be these perfect feminine creatures there for men, and then all the men disappear.”

There is that kind of feminine, pastoral world of faded nature that the movie starts in, but then I love that it takes a dark turn.

— Sofia Coppola

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‘Wind River’ filmmaker Taylor Sheridan captures a chill of the soul

For the last two years, movie audiences have been treated to scripts by former actor Taylor Sheridan. These are character-rich pieces that quietly subvert their genres’ predecessors (David Mackenzie’s Oscar-nominated western “Hell or High Water”) or upend them entirely (Denis Villeneuve’s drug-trade thriller “Sicario”).

Turns out, Sheridan has been saving his boldest work for himself.

“I always knew I wanted to direct this screenplay,” Sheridan, 46, said by phone recently from his home in Wyoming. “So, I just didn’t show it to anybody. I hid it in a drawer for three years and just waited.”

The film in question is “Wind River,” a snow-bound thriller that will evoke “A Simple Plan” and a host of Coen borthers works while retaining a style that’s distinctly Sheridan-esque. The waiting? Well, that was done so he could build enough of a track record for financiers to feel comfortable with him directing too.

I like writing love poems to these places. But as someone who tries to be a naturalistic storyteller, my love poems do point out the warts.”

— Taylor Sheridan

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Women claim the power in many of the summer’s biggest movies

This summer, women are shattering the glass ceiling … with their fists.

The slate includes a number of high-profile releases with powerful female characters at their centers. These fearless women are bad enough to slug it out with men, aliens and even Tom Cruise.

In “Atomic Blonde” (July 28), an MI6 operative conducts a dangerous mission on both sides of the Berlin Wall. It’s hard-boiled genre stuff in a brutal and stylish package with actress-producer Charlize Theron in the lead.

When we make these movies with women, we want to give them so much of an empathetic story. It has to be a revenge story, or there have to be children involved. … I can’t tell you how many times I said in meetings, ‘You don’t need to excuse her for being a woman. We don’t have to point out she can have babies or she loves her husband or her brother or whatever.’

— Charlize Theron

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Fionn Whitehead on landing the central role in Christopher Nolan’s secretive WWII thriller, ‘Dunkirk’

One day Fionn Whitehead went in to read for a part in director Christopher Nolan’s World War II thriller, “Dunkirk,” and — if you’ll forgive the Hollywood cliché, which happens to be true here — everything changed.

Throughout the months of auditioning, Whitehead didn’t know much at all about “Dunkirk” beyond the title and general subject matter. As with Nolan’s previous films, which include the “Dark Knight” trilogy, “Inception” and “Interstellar,” details about the project were kept tightly under wraps.

“Everyone was going in blind,” said Whitehead. “No one knew how many characters there were, who the characters were, how old they were, the plot, anything. It was very, very secretive.”

Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance.

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How comedy actor Steve Zahn was transformed into Bad Ape for ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’

When Steve Zahn was first approached about playing a chimpanzee in the upcoming “War for the Planet of the Apes,” he had a hard time wrapping his head around the idea. Simply lending his voice to an animated critter was one thing, but creating a fully developed, three-dimensional simian character using performance-capture technology was something else entirely.

I had no clue whatsoever what it entailed. I was like, ‘Oh, they can’t just make me an ape – I really have to be an ape!’ Then I got nervous.

— Steve Zahn

Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer and Andy Serkis star in “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

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Kumail Nanjiani’s work on ‘The Big Sick’ is a step forward in representing Muslim culture on screen

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

When he was 18, Kumail Nanjiani emigrated from Karachi, Pakistan, to Iowa to go to college. Four years later his parents came to the U.S., settling in New Jersey.

Nanjiani welcomed the thousand-mile buffer zone, not because he didn’t love his parents but because they expected, per traditional Pakistani culture, that they’d soon be finding a young woman for him to wed in an arranged marriage. His mother wasn’t letting distance deter her either, emailing Nanjiani pictures of prospective matches, some of whom he knew from Karachi.

Nanjiani had no intention of letting his parents dictate his choice of a romantic partner. But he also had no idea how to broach the subject with them.

“I was really scared of visiting them because I knew they were really into it,” Nanjiani, best-known for his work on the celebrated HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” reveals in an interview in the garage office of the Los Feliz home he shares with his wife, Emily V. Gordon.

Nanjiani mined that cultural conflict in “The Big Sick,” a movie he wrote with Gordon about their real-life rocky romance, a relationship that faced numerous hurdles, including a serious illness and the specter of familial betrayal. The film premiered to great acclaim at Sundance in January, sparking a bidding war that resulted in a $12-million sale to Amazon Studios.

We didn’t make the movie to be political at all, but I’m glad at this moment that this movie exists.

— Judd Apatow, producer

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This ‘Wonder Woman’s’ island paradise has no men or marble columns

The island was a gift from the gods.

— Aline Bonetto, ‘Wonder Woman’ production designer

The mythical island of Themyscira ticks off just about every box in the quality utopia checklist: cascading waterfalls, a lush, tropical landscape, years of undisturbed peace, a gorgeous race of warrior women.

Oh, and absolutely, positively no men. That is until Chris Pine shows up and ruins it for everyone.

So maybe not everyone’s version of paradise, but being the home of Wonder Woman, DC Comics legend and Amazonian god, Themyscira is certainly one of the best-known. And in June, audiences will get a chance to explore yet another version when Warner Bros. releases its long-awaited “Wonder Woman,” an origin story starring Gal Gadot as the titular character, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta and the aforementioned Pine as marooned pilot Steve Trevor.

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Some might say Demetrius Shipp Jr.’s starring in ‘All Eyez on Me’ was ordained by the universe

Demetrius Shipp Jr. portrays the late Tupac Shakur in the upcoming biopic "All Eyez on Me."
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

“All Eyez on Me,” titled after the last album Tupac Shakur released while alive, is set to be one of the summer’s standouts.

In the vein of 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton,” which charted the rise of rap group N.W.A, “Eyez” aims to chronicle the impact the Harlem-born artist had on the music scene. (Earlier this year, Shakur was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Alongside Shipp, the film stars Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead”), Kat Graham (“The Vampire Diaries”) and Jamal Woolard (“Notorious”).

And though the role is Demetrius Shipp Jr.’s first acting gig, some might say it was ordained by the universe. The 28-year-old bears an uncanny resemblance to the performer, something Shipp has been told since high school. “I went to school in Long Beach and all the seniors I used to kick it with called me ‘Pac,’ ” he said, smiling.

Demetrius Shipp Jr. stars as Tupac Shakur in the trailer for “All Eyez on Me.”

Shipp’s favorite scenes were with Annie Ilonzeh, who plays Kidada, the daughter of Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton, who was engaged to Tupac at the time of his death.

It shows a Pac that you can’t see anywhere else.

— Demetrius Shipp Jr.

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s’ Kurt Russell can sum up his career in one word: ‘Brandy’

Kurt Russell plays a planet in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" sequel.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Kurt Russell sings “Brandy,” the 1972 hit song, in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” as a way of explaining why his character, Ego the Living Planet (more on that name later), hasn’t been around much for his son, Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord. Ego calls “Brandy” Earth’s greatest composition, a line that, thinking about it, makes Russell laugh (and Russell is a man given to great laughter), loud and hard.

And then he relates the song to his career. And because this is Russell talking, the explanation is insanely detailed and delivered with enthusiasm and takes more than a few left turns. But here’s the gist:

“A lot of the movies I did, that were misunderstood at the time, live in that world of ‘Brandy.’ That level of humor. ‘Is this cruel but funny? Or not cruel at all but kind of cool? No, they don’t seriously think “Brandy” is the greatest song ever written, do they? Nooooooo!

“Well, I want all those feelings in there. I want to run the gamut of having people say, ‘Oh, my God, yes! Finally somebody realizes that “Brandy” is the greatest … song ever recorded’ to snickering, ‘Oh, that’s funny. “Brandy.” ’ ”

I’ve spent my whole career making movies that run that fine line.

— Kurt Russell

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Guy Ritchie turns to his go-to guy, Jude Law, for an epic reimagining of King Arthur

The last time I worked with Jude, I had him playing a goodie. [This time], I fancied him playing a baddie.

— Guy Ritchie, director

In “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” Vortigern — whom Jude Law plays with the calculated, charismatic complexity he refined as Pope Pius XIII for HBO’s “The Young Pope” — seizes the crown after staging a coup against Arthur’s father and his own brother.

The film’s setting is medieval Europe, all gleaming armor and sumptuous furs, which Law found thrilling despite its over-the-top elements.

“Sometimes it’s very humorous and camp and silly,” he said. “Strutting around in leather and furs and huge metal helmets and what have you. Other days it’s exciting. It’s exciting because it somehow harks back to Old Hollywood and the idea of being in something immense and epic.”

And is it ever epic.

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Tired of typical summer blockbusters? Head to the art house

Whether you’re a classic art-house moviegoer of a certain age or a younger film lover looking for adventure beyond action yarns, there are options amid the costumed superheroes and wannabe blockbusters that make up the stereotypical movie releases of summer.

And specialized distributors are competing for your attention.

Specialized releases over the summer months include Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled,” Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja,” Michael Showalter’s “The Big Sick,” Jeff Baena’s “The Little Hours,” Gillian Robespierre’s “Landline,” David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” and Amber Tamblyn’s “Paint It Black.”

Sony Pictures Classics is chasing after multiple audience ages by releasing the Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin film “Paris Can Wait,” whose director, Eleanor Coppola, making her fiction feature debut on the cusp of turning 81, is unafraid to appeal to mature audiences.

I know there are a lot of other people in that 50-plus category. I know they’re there, because I talk to them all the time.

— ‘Paris Can Wait’ director Eleanor Coppola

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Plan your summer: A list of every single movie coming out this season

The 2017 Summer Movie Guide is a snapshot of the films opening from April 28 through early September. Release dates and other details are subject to change.

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That old black magic: 10 supernatural films to watch this summer

The Black Room (April 28)

A couple discover an evil, lustful presence inhabiting the basement of their new home. With Natasha Henstridge, Luke Hassel, Lin Shaye, Dominique Swain. Written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky. Cleopatra Entertainment

A Dark Song (April 28)

In a cabin in northern Wales, two lost souls experiment with black magic. With Steve Oram, Catherine Walker. Written and directed by Liam Gavin. IFC Midnight

Voice From the Stone (April 28)

A young nurse in 1950s Tuscany believes the wealthy young mute she cares for is possessed by something within the walls of an isolated castle. With Emilia Clarke, Marton Csokas. Written by Andrew Shaw, based on a novel by Silvio Raffo. Directed by Eric D. Howell. Momentum Pictures

It Comes at Night (June 9)

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults follows “Krisha” with a dystopian horror story about a man and his family under siege. With Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr. A24

The Mummy (June 9)

Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis and Sofia Boutella star in “The Mummy.”

Tom Cruise stars in this reboot about an ancient princess, denied her destiny, who awakens in the present but brings with her the malevolent past. With Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe. Written by Jon Spaihts, Christopher McQuarrie. Directed by Alex Kurtzman. Universal Pictures

A Ghost Story (July 7)

A dead man returns as a specter to his suburban home to comfort his wife but finds what he knew to be his life slipping away. With Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara. Written and directed by David Lowery. A24

Wished Upon (July 14)

A magical music box grants a 17-year-old wishes with deadly side effects. With Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Shannon Purser, Ki Hong Lee, Sherilyn Fenn. Written by Barbara Marshall. Directed by John R. Leonetti. Broad Green Pictures

Annabelle: Creation (Aug. 11)

A nun and several girls from a closed orphanage move in with the bereaved dollmaker, his wife and the possessed doll in this horror sequel. With Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto. Written by Gary Dauberman. Directed by David F. Sandberg. Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema

Death Note (Aug. 25)

A teenager discovers a notebook with the mystical power to kill when the owner writes a person’s name and imagines their face. With Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, Keith Stanfield. Written by Jeremy Slater, based on the Japanese manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Directed by Adam Wingard. Netflix

Polaroid (Aug. 25)

Bad things happened to those photographed by an antique camera acquired by a high school outcast. With Kathryn Prescott, Mitch Pileggi, Grace Zabriskie, Tyler Young, Keenan Tracey, Samantha Logan, Priscilla Quintana, Madelaine Petsch, Javier Botet. Written by Blair Butler. Directed by Lars Klevberg. Dimension Films

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A breakdown of all the new upgrades to Peter Parker’s ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ suit

There’s one thing “Spider-Man: Homecoming” can boast over previous Peter Parker films: a direct line to the Avengers. And when you’ve got Iron Man on speed dial, audiences can certainly expect a few technological upgrades to their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Premiering on July 7, Sony’s “Homecoming” is the first Spider-Man movie to join up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The new Parker (played by British actor Tom Holland) was introduced during the superhero showdown in “Captain America: Civil War” and, since his debut, the classic red-and-blue super suit has had a little work done.

“Tony Stark built it,” director Jon Watts says of Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” character. “So it has lots of bells and whistles.”

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