Pass the Popcorn: This Summer’s Movie Offerings Butter You Up With Retro Worlds and Nostalgic Cool

Summer Movies

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros

Hollywood likes to repeat itself – or, at the very least, keep audiences in their comfort zone – and June-July’s releases prove it. We’ve seen the characters, we know their stories and, in the case of Oppenheimer (July 21), we know the ending. The biopic from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) starring Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy, about how J. Robert Oppenheimer developed the nuclear bomb, delivers a morbid nostalgia not seen in movies since his own Dunkirk.

Fast forward a decade and aliens are the threat in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City (June 16). The quirky style of the Oscar-winning writer and director is a genre unto itself. Set in 1955 in a fictional, pastel-coloured desert town called Asteroid City, the film stars an Easter egg basketful of A-listers, including Tom Hanks and Tilda Swinton. And – like Anderson’s earlier offerings – it’s filmed through a few layers of reality-bending cellophane; just enough to blur what should look familiar.

The only action film to star an octogenarian, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30), goes old school by making Nazis the bad guys in this fifth and final instalment of a franchise that kicked off four decades ago with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Whip in hand and famous fedora on head, Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his goddaughter Helena (played by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge) set out on a new adventure, with de-aging technology letting Ford play a younger version of himself. 

Speaking of de-aging, it’s likely that seemingly ageless Tom Cruise could take the Mission Impossible franchise into his 80s. The first half of the seventh instalment, Dead Reckoning Part One (July 14), packs a dozen high-octane punches such as Cruise, 61 on July 3 – who does his own stunts – driving a motorcycle off a cliff, then base jumping to the ground. (It took six takes to get the shot.) Which raises the question: After part two comes out next summer, can he keep the franchise going? While we’re on the subject of franchises, CGI-marinated, action-packed The Flash (June 16) strings together so many stories and characters from the DC Multiverse (Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton both play Batman) you might need to take notes.

Ageless and intergenerational is the hot pink and blond universe of Barbie (July 21). The 43rd onscreen extension of the toy franchise – and the first live-action one – is directed by Greta Gerwig (Little Women) and stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling  (who the internet has trolled for as being too old for the Ken role), as well as a cameo by Helen Mirren.

Created in 1959 and a TV commercial staple since the 60s, the dolls have lured generations of girls and boys into a dream world where the sun always shines, and all there is to do is have fun, fun, fun. With more than 58 million Barbies sold each year, the movie can only extend the appeal – and up sales – of the perennially perfect figurine.