If it succeeds in drawing moviegoers into theaters, 2022 might well be on its way to a throwback summer season approaching pre-COVID 2019 box office action. Is that a pipe dream? Are people ready? The last couple of years have replaced our need for speed with a plea for caution, however ignored. And caution is something the “Top Gun” ethos does not recognize.
Two years is a long time to wait for landing clearance, but “Top Gun: Maverick” finally hits the runway in time for Memorial Day weekend. Sneak previews of the film returning Tom Cruise to the role of (now) Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, back in action and bucking authority left and right, have been received with a mixture of relief and rapture.
“The typical crowd of somnambulists at CinemaCon in Las Vegas are notoriously tough,” said IMDb.com senior editor Keith Simanton the other week. “So it’s remarkable that when shown ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ they applauded four times during the movie. During it. It’s going to be a massive hit.”
After that, can “Jurassic World Dominion” continue the streak?
Will “Thor: Love and Thunder” find enough that’s witty and exciting to sustain its thankfully off-center patch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Is it possible for Jordan Peele, who found a huge audience with “Get Out” and then repeated the trick with a far trickier original, “Us,” to complete his trifecta with the alien-intrusion thriller “Nope”?
We’ll answer these questions soon enough. Meantime, here are 10 movies to watch, and I say that having watched none of them.
Release dates are subject to change.
“Top Gun: Maverick” (May 27): When Paul Newman returned to the role of “Fast Eddie” Felson in “The Color of Money,” the year was 1986 and a quarter-century had passed since “The Hustler.” Also in 1986, “Top Gun” proved that Tom Cruise, Newman’s “Color of Money” co-star, was a bona fide international box office attraction. But 25 years is nothing, compared with the 36-year gap between “Top Gun” and director Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up. Cruise now takes the mentor-with-an-edge role; co-starring Miles Teller (as the ill-fated Goose’s son), Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Val “Iceman” Kilmer.
“Jurassic World Dominion” (June 10): Isla Nublar may be kaput, but in this alleged franchise capper, a culmination of 29 years of foolish humans and hangry dinosaurs, the formerly extinct creatures now roam the world and share an uneasy coexistence with the rest of us. Until … Chris Pratt returns as the species’ best pal, as do Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, aka “the legacy cast.”
“Cha Cha Real Smooth” (Apple TV+ June 17, and in theaters): A 22-year-old bat mitzvah “party starter,” played by writer-director-headliner Cooper Raiff, finds himself falling for an older woman (Dakota Johnson) in this Sundance hit, for which Apple paid many millions. Same story with “CODA” last year. Same Oscar results?
“Lightyear” (June 17): The origin story of Buzz Lightyear, (thank God) not yet turned into a live-action rip-off. That’s next decade, I’m sure. This animated “Toy Story” prequel trades Chris Evans for Tim Allen, voice-wise. Fingers crossed for some sharp jokes and a little heart to go with the need for speed.
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” (June 24): This A24 release expands the beguiling stop-motion comic universe of the shell voiced by Jenny Slate, hero of various micro-adventures online. I love this character, so I hope to love the feature-length version.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” (July 8): Taika Waititi returns, directing this “Thor” continuation, which promises a formidable villain — Gorr, the God Butcher — played by Christian Bale. The conspicuous alums include Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson; the composer is one of my favorites, Michael Giacchino, coming off his first-rate score (in a more brooding vein) for “The Batman.”
“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” (July 15): A 1950s London cleaning lady (Lesley Manville) gets the haute couture itch in this adaptation of the Paul Gallico novel. If the older pandemic audience quadrant ever returns to theaters en masse, this might be catnip.
“The Gray Man” (July 15, streaming on Netflix July 22): In a reminder of how Netflix is bombing the village known as the theatrical release in order to “save it,” this $200 million adaptation of the book series (assassins, global carnage, you know the drill) plays theaters for a week prior to Netflix’s streaming launch. Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans star; the directors are Marvel alums Joe Russo and Anthony Russo.
“Nope” (July 22): On a remote California horse ranch, strange doings are afoot: People getting sucked up into the sky, and the stallions are supernaturally restless. What does writer-director Jordan Peele have in store for our collective discombobulation this time?
“Easter Sunday” (Aug. 5): Now and then, a stand-up comic manages a feature showcase that really works, the way “Trainwreck” did. Here’s hoping the same for Jo Koy, in this tale of a struggling Filipino American actor-comedian and his extended, crazy-making family’s Easter week.