From a Spike Lee cop thriller to a murder mystery with puppets, there’s a lot more than superheroes heading to local theaters

By Daniel Barnes

For all the unforgivable sins of the much-lamented “Star Wars” prequels, give George Lucas credit for one thing: he never screwed with Han Solo. At no point in Episodes I through III did we see a smudge-faced street urchin version of Han running petty scams with his Chewbacca puppy, and thus the smuggler’s cocky yet bumbling coolness remained canon. The current Star Wars franchise shepherds at Disney, on the other hand, could care less what legacies they tarnish, so long as they get a steady of stream of product. Ron Howard’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” officially dropkicked the 2018 summer movie season into infamy over Memorial Day weekend, but here are 10 other reasons to get excited about the multiplex over the next few months.

Mesozoic monsters mount a comeback in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

American Animals (June 1)

This true-crime story marks the feature directing debut of Bart Layton, who delivered the criminally underseen 2012 true-crime doc “The Imposter.” Promising young actors Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan headline as bored suburban kids attempting a lucrative heist, and if the film’s electrifying trailer is any indication, “American Animals” looks like
“Bottle Rocket” blended with “Fargo.”


The Incredibles 2 (June 15)

Licking his wounds from the box office failure of “Tomorrowland,” Brad Bird pulls an Andrew Stanton and returns to his Pixar home to make a sequel to his biggest hit. As with the “Cars” and “Finding Nemo” sequels, “Incredibles 2” will likely struggle to justify its own existence, but it’s also our last hope to save a particularly weak summer for family-friendly fare (“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” no one?).


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)

The 2015 amusement park blockbuster “Jurassic World” was nothing to get excited about, but my bar for dinosaur movies is notoriously low, so I’m ready for another ride. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reteam in the leads, but terrible director Colin Trevorrow has been replaced by slightly less terrible director J.A. Bayona, and Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm.


Under the Silver Lake (June 22)

After the Tobe Hooper by way of Richard Linklater horror movie miracle that was 2015’s “It Follows,” I’m lining up to watch whatever writer-director David Robert Mitchell has to offer next. It doesn’t hurt at all that the sun-dazed “Under the Silver Lake” looks like a millennial version of “Inherent Vice,” or that the wonderful Riley Keough co-stars alongside reformed Spider-Man Andrew Garfield.


Sicario: Day of the Soldado (June 29)

A “Sicario” sequel made without original star Emily Blunt and original director Denis Villeneuve might seem a little shoddy and suspicious, but my hopes are bolstered by the return of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, the participation of Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin (they delivered the best performances in the 2015 original), and my general disdain for Villeneuve, who gets replaced here by Stefano Sollima.

Top: Joaquin Phoenix plays quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan in “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot”
Left: Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
Right: Jack-Jack can shoot lasers from his eyes in “The Incredibles 2”

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (July 13)

With “Milk” now nearly 10 years in the past, it feels like we’re due for Gus van Sant’s once-a-decade reminder of his major-ness — especially after the unmitigated disaster that was “The Sea of Trees.” Van Sant continues his twisted career path with this biopic of wheelchair-bound cartoonist John Callahan, played by Joaquin Phoenix.


Mission: Impossible – Fallout (July 27)

Tom Cruise returns for this sixth entry in the long-running franchise, although this is the first time he has worked with the same director twice. Christopher McQuarrie also wrote and directed 2015’s “Rogue Nation,” and “Fallout” appears to pick up where that one left off. Henry Cavill joins the cast, sporting the mustache that launched a million pixels of nightmarish facelift CGI in “Justice League.”


Mile 22 (Aug. 3)

Director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg previously teamed up for the surprisingly good “Deepwater Horizon” and then again for the surprisingly good “Patriots Day,” so even though as of press time no trailer exists for this story of an American intelligence officer under fire overseas, I’m willing to bet on their penchant for muscular action.


BlacKkKlansman (Aug. 10)

In a weak summer for auteurs, I will take anything I can get — even the latest provocation from the perennially overrated Spike Lee. John David Washington, who as a child briefly appeared in Lee’s 1992 classic “Malcolm X,” plays Ron Stallworth, an African-American cop who infiltrated the Colorado Springs chapter of the KKK in 1979. Topher Grace co-stars as David Duke, which is just crazy enough to work.


The Happytime Murders (Aug. 17)

Details surrounding this latest film from longtime Muppets movie director Brian Henson are still somewhat shadowy, but it sure sounds like a “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” for puppets. Here’s what we have: In an alternate universe where humans and puppets uneasily co-exist, a hard-boiled detective investigates a string of murders in the entertainment industry. I’ll bite.