David Craig gives us his take on the summer’s biggest films – which ones to see, and which ones to make sure you avoid.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

After a six-year break, the Pirates of the Caribbean series finally returns to cinemas this year. Johnny Depp reprises what could be considered his career-defining role, the loveable scoundrel Captain Jack Sparrow. Proving he has no shortage of enemies, this entry finds yet another foe from Sparrow’s rocky past pursuing him across the seven seas: the undead Captain Salazar (played by typecast villain Javier Bardem). Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley also return, after a noticeable absence in the fourth instalment. While recent trailers look promising, previous sequels have left this franchise with a dodgy track record, which prevents us from getting our expectations too high.

VERDICT: Approach With Caution!

Wonder Woman

At long last, one of the most famous super heroes in the world makes her solo big screen debut. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman made quite a splash in last year’s divisive Batman vs. Superman, and fans are eager to find out more about this new interpretation of the character. This film takes place during the First World War, and reveals the sequence of events that led Amazonian warrior Diana Prince to the world of mortal human beings. Recent entries in the so-called DC Extended Universe have had a mixed response from critics, and director Patty Jenkins has little experience directing large action sequences. Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to root for a movie which fans have wanted for decades, and we’re hopeful that Wonder Woman will deliver what they’ve been asking for.
VERDICT: Looking Good!

The Mummy

Tom Cruise stars in this reboot of The Mummy franchise, which originated back in the 1930s but is perhaps best-known for the recent trilogy starring Brendan Fraser. This new film bears little resemblance to either of those previous incarnations, taking place in the present day and following Cruise’s war against a female Mummy known as Princess Ahmanet. Intended to kick-off a shared universe of films about classic monsters like Dracula and the Wolf Man, there’s a lot riding on the success of this movie. However, given the tendency recent films have shown to prioritising franchise-building over good storytelling, this isn’t necessarily a guarantee of quality.

VERDICT: Approach With Caution!

Alien: Covenant

Veteran director Ridley Scott returns to the Alien franchise, after leaving critics polarised with 2012’s Prometheus. This year’s offering seems to have abandoned the lofty concepts of its predecessor, in favour of a more straightforward sci-fi horror that harkens back to Scott’s 1979 original. The set-up is familiar: a space crew touches down on a remote and mysterious planet, and quickly discover it is home to a monstrous race of aliens who begin picking them off one-by-one. However, with a strong cast, some intriguing ties to other films in the series, and the capable hands of Scott at the helm, Alien: Covenant has the potential to be one of summer’s most memorable films.

VERDICT: Looking Good!

Transformers: The Last Knight

Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise seems to hold a bad reputation with most film fans, but the consistent ability it has to make colossal sums of money suggests that some people do like it. This latest instalment promises to tie everyone from King Arthur to Adolf Hitler (not kidding) into the Transformers mythology, meaning The Last Knight may well be the least coherent entry in the series to date. It should go without saying, but spending two hours of your summer holidays watching this film would be a decision you would regret.
VERDICT: Avoid!!

Baby Driver

After a four-year absence, fan-favourite director Edgar Wright returns this summer with Baby Driver, a film about a young getaway driver whose secret to success is a playlist of his favourite songs. Ansel Elgort takes the lead role, opposite a star-studded supporting cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. Wright’s previous films have each been thoroughly entertaining, and early reviews suggest this latest project will be no different. While not the biggest film of the summer, Baby Driver may well end up being the best.

VERDICT: Must-See!!

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The second Spider-Man reboot in just five years is headed to cinemas this July, but thankfully isn’t another exploration of the character’s origin story. Instead, this film picks up after the events of Captain America: Civil War, with Peter Parker’s super hero career in full swing under the mentorship of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Homecoming will pit the web-slinger against classic comic-book villain The Vulture, played here by former-Batman and former-Birdman Michael Keaton. While Homecoming doesn’t seem to be bringing anything new to the super hero genre, it seems likely to be another entertaining addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
VERDICT: Looking Good!

War for the Planet of the Apes

After 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proved shockingly compelling, expectations are high for the third film in the rebooted Apes franchise. Director Matt Reeves returns from the previous instalment, as the battle for supremacy between man and ape rages on. This time, Woody Harrelson takes the lead (human) role as a hardened soldier dedicated to mankind’s survival, while Andy Serkis returns to fight for the Apes as their leader, Caesar. A creative team with success behind them and a promising first trailer make this a film you should have on your radar.

VERDICT: Must-See!!

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

While the comic-book Valerian and Laureline is a hit in its native France, it holds significantly less brand recognition here in the UK. That could all be set to change though, with the release of a mega-budget adaptation this August from director Luc Besson. A stunning trailer revealed this movie to be a return to Besson’s surreal science-fiction roots, having made his name with the 1997 cult-hit The Fifth Element. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as the leads in a film which, if nothing else, is sure to be a visual spectacle.
VERDICT: Must-See!!

Atomic Blonde

Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, the pair who brought us 2014’s John Wick, have each struck out on their own this year. Stahelski did so with February’s John Wick: Chapter Two, which Forge Press gave a strong four-star rating. Now Leitch steps up to the plate with Atomic Blonde, an action spy thriller set towards the end of the Cold War, with the incredible Charlize Theron in the lead. Early reviews are promising for this late-summer release, which also stars James McAvoy and John Goodman.

VERDICT: Looking Good!