Top Films of Summer 2016: Rebourne Sequels and Risky Reboots!

With yet another blazing summer heading our way -- and yet another reboot-filled movie season on that same horizon -- a plethora of exciting and highly-anticipated films are racing to win the summer box-office. From the return of super spy Jason Bourne to the ever-controversial female-led reboot of Ghostbusters, this summer is set to bring us both blasts from the past and hints to the future as we enter a whirlwind of reboots, rehashes, and resurgence. Amongst all that familiar ground, however, lies a number of fresh new flicks ready to surprise us. Here's a breakdown of some of the biggest films hitting theaters this summer: 

Aside from the much-anticipated Suicide Squad (which I've talked enough about already) in August,
there remains a wide variety of fun -- and mysterious -- films set to release

Returning Spies and Resurgent Species:

Jason Bourne - After slipping into the shadows after the events of 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum -- and temporally being replaced by a rookie spy (Jeremy Renner) in 2012's The Bourne Legacy -- Matt Damon's expert badass Jason Bourne finally returns to the centerstage this July, looking to bring back the explosive action and thrills we've sourly missed from the series. Set to reignite where Ultimatum left off, with Bourne reemerging from mysterious exile and Julia Stiles' Nicky Parsons tagging along as he wages a new war against the CIA, Jason Bourne reunites director Paul Greengrass and powerhouse action-star Matt Damon to deliver a new chapter of this gripping and action-packed franchise -- one that will hopefully be more memorable than the last.    

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - Following a lackluster yet fan-worthy reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise in 2014, its much-anticipated sequel, Out of the Shadows, packs in just as much corny humor and CGI action as its predecessor, all in the hope of delivering an enjoyable film that gives fans all the nostalgic thrill they missed in the first film. While it may look like a horrid mix of Transformers/Michael Bay action and childlike high-jinks played out by a flawed cast, the newest adventure from the heroes in a half-shell could end up being much more exciting and watchable than the 2014 film.

Can the Turtles deliver this time around, with old favorites like
Casey Jones and Krang at their disposal?
Now You See Me 2 - Trading in practical magic tricks for a borderline-science-fiction tone, the sequel to the optical illusion that was 2013's Now You See Me brings back not only the original cast (minus one Isla Fisher), but also the thrilling caper plot that sold most audiences in the first film. With a stellar cast of magicians and crooks, which now includes the likes of Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan, the Four Horseman of illusions return to take on an even greater threat than before. While the plot of the newest film may appear to be another rip-off of Mission: Impossible and other caper-type films, the magical element and charisma of the film's cast could be enough to get my ticket next month.

Independence Day: Resurgence - Another film earning a long-awaited sequel this summer is the 1996 classic alien invasion film Independence Day. Out June 24th, the explosive second entry to the alien vs. human series clearly ensures fans that this one is far from a reboot. While it may bring in new faces and a plethora of advanced special effects they didn't have back in '96, the sequel also intends to bring back old faces from the original film, like Jeff Goldblum's pioneering Dr. Levinson and Bill Pullman's former President Whitmore. While it may toss us another generic alien invasion plot -- and lack a certain loud-mouthed Fresh Prince of Bel-Air -- the profound fame of the 1996 film could be enough to reignite this action-packed 4th of July shoot-em-up.

Sadly, Will Smith's Captain Hiller won't be returning...but his son will!
(Gladly not Jaden Smith...)
Star Trek Beyond - Losing J.J. Abrams to its space-age opponent Star Wars and enlisting in Fast and Furious 6 director Justin Lin, the third installment in the Star Trek reboot franchise enters theaters this July, hoping to both continue the dynamic series established by Abrams in 2009's Star Trek, and successfully expand the universe built by creator Gene Roddenberry in 1964. Delivering its first teaser trailer back in December of last year, the frantic tone of the new film was already enough to turn many fans of both the original series and the rebooted one away from the upcoming sequel. Hopefully, as the new film soars into theaters in the coming months, the very Fast and Furious-esque feel of the trailer will be complemented by a gracious amount of nostalgic Star Trek atmospherics.   

Reboots - The Ghostly, the Grizzly, and the Giant:

Ghostbusters - Like in every new movie season, the most common topic of interest among movie fans is the discussion of whether the newest remakes of classic films are really worth their time. Probably the most talked-about remake of the year has to be the new take on the Ghostbusters franchise, which sees four women of comedy taking over for the famous male leads of the original films. Already polarizing audiences with its radical new take on the series, Paul Feig's ghost-busting Bridesmaids-esque manifestation already doesn't look to have much going for it. Still intrigued by the urbanized concept, July's Ghostbusters reboot could end up being either a pleasant surprise of nostalgia and ghost-busting thrills -- or just a major let-down.     
It's like Bridesmaids, but with ghosts...and a nerdy Thor
Ben Hur - Another glamorized reboot taking the summer scene this August is the action-packed retelling of the tale of fictional Jewish slave Judah Ben-Hur, and his rise to become a champion charioteer at the onset of the 1st century. With the immense pressure of standing toe-to-toe with its classic predecessor, 1959's Oscar-winning Ben-Hur, this valiant remake aims to recapture the essence of the Christian tale, while also delivering a worthy and refreshing adventure. While it may look like a muddled mix of 300 and Gladiator (and a bit of Exodus: Gods of Egypt), the August reboot of this chariot-chasing adventure could end up being an exciting period-piece with a gripping tale of Christ.

The Legend of Tarzan - Bringing the adventures of the ape-man Tarzan back to the big-screen after years of swinging around in the empty void of the film production jungle, July's The Legend of Tarzan revamps the king of the jungle's lore to the modern world, as it spins a tale of where Tarzan goes after he's done dodging towering trees and battling jungle creatures. Set years after the ape-man exited his jungle life in Africa for the civilized society of London, this intriguing retelling pits a once-feral, now-cultured Tarzan against his temptations of returning to his old life. With what looks like a matured and thoroughly dark premise set in a unruly atmosphere of political deception, this curious reboot starring the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, and Christoph Waltz will hopefully evoke a similar reception like that of last month's The Jungle Book -- and not simply a washed-out action-adventure with little heart to it.    

Please tell me Andy Serkis is playing one of the apes
The BFG - While this one might not be exactly a reboot, it's certainly another ambitious retelling of a classic story at least some of us remember as kids. Shuffling the famous novel by Roald Dahl into a brilliant mix of motion-capture animation and Steven Spielberg direction, this mysterious flick has me both widely curious and also daringly cautious. While it could be a fantastic addition to Spielberg's immense filmography, the cheery and family-oriented premise mixing with an element of danger, it could also be a project that slides right under the view of its target audiences. While it might appeal to fans of the novel -- who may or may not appreciate the updated version -- it also aims to spark the intrigue of children, a problem for those who might find certain elements of the film to be frightening (I mean, even I'm a little creeped out by seeing Mark Rylance's face plastered on an elderly giant). Still, this film could succeed simply because of Spielberg's established excellence in bringing phenomenal stories of heroism and adventure to the big screen.  

Founding Fathers, Freedom Fighters, and Pharmaceuticals:

The Founder - "Franchise, franchise, franchise!" While that may be the motto for today's film industry in Hollywood, it was also once the words of the shady yet persistent founder of the fast-food pioneer McDonald's, Ray Kroc. Bringing the idea of fast-food to a whole new level of efficiency and economic gain, this one man rocked the nation as he made the McDonald's name known all over the world. Bringing this harrowing tale of business schemes and shifty personas to the big screen, the director of The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks hopes to sell us another great biopic revealing a tale we've only read about. With a star like Michael Keaton leading the show, The Founder could also end up being another hard sell for Keaton this year at the Oscars, as long as his flamboyant salesman of Ray Kroc can keep us both convinced and hungry for more.  

From retired superhero to Boston reporter to McDonald's showman,
is there any role Keaton can't play?

Free State of Jones - Bringing moviegoers back into the era of the famous Civil War (no, not the one from Captain America), Gary Ross' Free State of Jones aims to evoke a similar sentiment as Glory and 12 Years a Slave, looking to deliver an impacting drama of war-time turmoil, just without that much star-power to its name. Reliant on its leading man, Matthew McConaughey, as well as its somewhat gripping tale of slave rebellion in the corrupted South, Free State of Jones may have not completely sold me yet, but I am curious to see how it stands against other slave-focused films of the year, like the much-anticipated October film The Birth of a Nation.  

The Infiltrator - Within the realm of Hollywood, there's a plethora of concepts and characters that tend to come together to (most of the time) sell its audience with its brilliant concoction. With July's The Infiltrator, Hollywood mixes together two investing elements to make it more than just your average run-of-the-mill biopic. Throwing Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston back into the world of drug-fueled crime and sketchy business deals, the story of federal customs agent Robert Mazur looks like it will pack in a motley collection ill-advised government schemes with another menacing role from Cranston, hopefully to deliver a worthy crime thriller.

Walter White meets the Mexican cartel in another drug-smuggling role for Cranston 
War Dogs - Another drug-fueled adventure hitting theaters this summer is the serious-meets-outrageous crime comedy War Dogs. From the writer and director of The Hangover films, and delivering an slim yet intriguing tale surrounding two arms dealers who find trouble in war-torn Afghanistan, August's War Dogs aims to evoke a similar feel of 2012's 21 Jump Street, offering up a powerful comedy duo (including Miles Teller and Jonah Hill) to usher in some humorous crackpot antics. 

Ill-Advised Idiocy of Pop Stars, Police, and Pepperoni:

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - Diving into the realm of mockumentary and spinning a tale solidly spoofing Justin Bieber's 2011 film Never Say Never, the guys behind the comedy trio of The Lonely Island rock their way back onto the big screen next month, hoping to elicit the same hilarious response they got from their phenomenal past of music videos and sketch comedy. Relying on their own star appeal, as well as half of Hollywood's as well, this trio aims to bring their unconventional hilarity to a more expanded audience, hopefully working towards a more lasting final product than their last feature, 2007's cult comedy Hot Rod. Leading man Andy Samberg does have a Golden Globe now, so let's hope he'll be at the top of his game in this spoof comedy. 

Central Intelligence - Much like their past predictable partners-in-crime like 2012's 21 Jump Street and 2014's Ride Along, the buddy-cop action-comedy of next month's Central Intelligence looks like your usual snooze-fest of blazing guns and crude comedy. With the trailer eliciting little more than chuckle (and a minor cringe at a tubby Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), this film looks to hold the same crappy comedic clichés we've been getting. So what could possibly save this buddy-cop flick? Well, that would be the both the chemistry between its two stars, Johnson and the hilarious Kevin Hart, and the film's flimsy plot. While it may look like another ride with the Ride Along crew, this comedy could pack some true heat (and heart) into its final product -- hopefully not relying solely on the star appeal of action-star Johnson and comedian Hart.

Sausage Party - From the guys that brought your nearly every stoner comedy out there today, from Superbad to Pineapple Express, this elegantly-disguised animated comedy of crude intention packs in a thick cast of comedians like Seth Rogan and Kristen Wiig, with the hopes of both delivering a dynamically eye-opening comedy about talking food, while also spoofing the champions of animation like Pixar and Disney. With at least a sliver of intrigue in its clear-cut plot of what true horrors occur once our food leaves the supermarket, this stoner comedy could end up being quite refreshing in its unsettling cuisine chaos -- or fall victim to itself if it gets too carried away with its grisly cartoon high-jinks.  

Get ready for some gluten-free chaos!

Animated Adventures - Daring, Deep-Sea Dangers and Innovative Originals:

Warcraft - Before December's Assassin's Creed time-jumps its way into theaters this Winter, another massive video game-based film, next month's fantasy epic Warcraft takes its shot at the box office. Hoping to call upon fans of both the game and past fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings to fill the theater seats, this CGI-heavy adventure may not look all that appealing to me, but very well could fare well if it remains faithful to its lengthy source material. As soon as I saw Paula Patton as a green orc-human hybrid, I know I wasn't the only one who was left a bit discouraged. I don't know, stuff like that and tubby Dwayne Johnson can just turn me away from a film very quickly. 

Finding Dory - The much-anticipated sequel/spin-off of Pixar's famous undersea adventure, Finding Nemo, next month's Finding Dory aims to both recapture the enjoyment of its predecessor, while also exploring the mysterious origins of one of Pixar's most memorable animated creations. Ensuring the arrival of a plethora of new and bright aquatic characters, while also bringing back old faces like clownfish Nemo and his fearful father Marlin, the continuation of this Pixar project may seem a bit like a cash grab from Hollywood, but nevertheless it could still deliver another phenomenal entry from the animation champion.

Everyone's favorite amnesic fish returns!
The Secret Life of Pets - Much like the animated powerhouse of Zootopia took over the animation scene this past Spring, the curious animal-focused project of July's The Secret Life of Pets looks to offer up a similar display of animal antics, along with a massive array of fluffy and diverse characters. From the humans behind the hit Despicable Me and featuring a brilliant cast including the likes of Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Steve Coogan, and Albert Brooks, The Secret Life of Pets could end up being another of this year's freshest animated comedies, with its fascinating premise of what our pets do when we're not home offering a variety of exciting opportunities. 

Kubo and the Two Strings - From the creators of fellow stop-motion hits like Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, August's ambitious adventure surrounding around a young boy in ancient Japan who must uncover a family secret in order to take down an age-old foe looks to transport us once again to a world unknown, as brilliant minds combine with some fantastic animators to deliver yet another refreshing tale. Still quite the ambiguous project in my eyes, its trailer delivering a mysterious premise of talking monkeys and ancient weaponry, I have high hopes for Kubo and the Two Strings to be one of the best 3D adventures of the summer.

What films are you most excited to see this summer? Can this summer movie season possibly end up being even hotter than the last? Let me know your Top 10 most-anticipated films of Summer 2016 in the comment section below, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for more and more reviews and other breakdowns of some of the biggest films releasing this year.   


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