Summer Movie Preview: 'Wonder Woman,' 'Rough Night,' 'Transformers' NPR movie critic Bob Mondello has a selective preview of the would-be blockbusters and awards-contenders Hollywood is sending our way before Labor Day.
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Summer Movie Preview: 'Wonder Woman,' 'Rough Night,' 'Transformers'

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Summer Movie Preview: 'Wonder Woman,' 'Rough Night,' 'Transformers'

Summer Movie Preview: 'Wonder Woman,' 'Rough Night,' 'Transformers'

Summer Movie Preview: 'Wonder Woman,' 'Rough Night,' 'Transformers'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530617230/530617231" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR movie critic Bob Mondello has a selective preview of the would-be blockbusters and awards-contenders Hollywood is sending our way before Labor Day.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Hollywood has been having a banner year at the box office from "Beauty And The Beast" to "Guardians Of The Galaxy." So how will the film industry keep its winning streak going? Well, in his summer preview, Bob Mondello says movie studios seem to be banking more than usual on women.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: It was always going to be the year of Wonder Woman.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WONDER WOMAN")

GAL GADOT: (As Wonder Woman) The gods made the Amazons to restore peace to the world, and it's what I'm going to do.

MONDELLO: Gal Gadot was the one bright spot in "Batman v Superman." Now she's got a whole movie to twirl her lasso of truth in while wielding her other trinkets - indestructible wrist bracelets.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WONDER WOMAN")

CHRIS PINE: (As Steve Trevor) Yep, that's not going to work. Please put the sword down.

LUCY DAVIS: (As Etta Candy) It doesn't go with the outfit.

PINE: (As Steve Trevor) At all.

MONDELLO: But Gadot isn't the only blockbuster goddess sporting special effects this summer. When Universal reboots its "Mummy" franchise, Tom Cruise will be battling an ancient Egyptian princess.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MUMMY")

ANNABELLE WALLIS: (As Jenny Halsey) Legend has it she's a being of unimaginable powers. Now she's using you to regain them.

MONDELLO: And a goddess of more contemporary vintage is the season's most notable secret agent-slash-assassin. Played by Charlize Theron, she's a bruiser, a brawler, a tough cookie in every respect. They call her the Atomic Blonde.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ATOMIC BLONDE")

CHARLIZE THERON: (As Lorraine Broughton) I chose this life, and someday it's going to get me killed...

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

THERON: (As Lorraine Broughton) ...But not today.

JAMES MCAVOY: (As David Percival) God, I think I love you.

THERON: (As Lorraine Broughton) That's too bad.

MONDELLO: Women will also be dominating a couple of the season's group comedies, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith going on what they call a girls trip.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GIRLS TRIP")

REGINA HALL: (As Ryan) We haven't hung in five years. This weekend is about us. Today is the last day that we will ever be this young.

TIFFANY HADDISH: (As Dina) I'm about to get pregnant tonight.

MONDELLO: And Scarlett Johansson has her own posse of friends in "Rough Night."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ROUGH NIGHT")

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: (As Jess) This is so much fun.

ZOE KRAVITZ: (As Blair) Let's get a stripper.

JILLIAN BELL: (As Alice) Yes.

KRAVITZ: (As Blair) Right?

MONDELLO: It's called "Rough Night" because things do not go smoothly.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ROUGH NIGHT")

JOHANSSON: (As Jess) He's dead.

BELL: (As Alice) Oh, God.

KRAVITZ: (As Blair) Let's get rid of all the drugs.

BELL: (As Alice) I'm on it.

JOHANSSON: (As Jess) Not by doing them.

BELL: (As Alice) OK, someone tell me what to do, and I will do it.

MONDELLO: That is something you would never hear from the assertive women in two of the summer's more serious films. "Beatriz At Dinner" lets Salma Hayek take on an arrogant hotel developer who may remind you of someone.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEATRIZ AT DINNER")

SALMA HAYEK: (As Beatriz) You think that you can hide up here behind these gates and that everything is going to be all right?

JOHN LITHGOW: (As Doug Strutt) The world doesn't need your feelings. It needs jobs. It needs money. It needs what I do.

HAYEK: (As Beatriz) The world doesn't need you.

MONDELLO: Then there's this 19th century wife.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LADY MACBETH")

FLORENCE PUGH: (As Katherine) Sit back down.

NAOMI ACKIE: (As Anna) No.

PUGH: (As Katherine) Sit down.

MONDELLO: You do not want to cross her. She's not Shakespearean, but she earns the film's title, "Lady Macbeth."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LADY MACBETH")

PUGH: (As Katherine) Through hell and high water, I will follow you.

COSMO JARVIS: (As Sebastian, grunting).

PUGH: (As Katherine) Sebastian.

MONDELLO: Also in petticoats are the ladies in "My Cousin Rachel" and Sofia Coppola's "Beguiled," who tend to see the men in their lives as broken birds who need to be nursed back to health.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BEGUILED")

NICOLE KIDMAN: (As Martha Farnsworth) I need rags. I need chloroform. Go to the smoke house. Get the saw now.

MONDELLO: Sound a bit bloodthirsty for your taste - well, things are more sanguine in "Ingrid Goes West," where "Parks And Recreation's" Aubrey Plaza drops her amusingly blase persona to become amusingly obsessed with social media. The film "Megan Leavey" tells the true story of a woman Marine who bonded with a bomb-sniffing dog in Iraq. And creative women are profiled in "Maudie" about a painter, "The B-Side" about a photographer, "Polina" about a dancer and the Sundance sensation "Patti Cake$" about a rapper.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PATTI CAKE$")

DANIELLE MACDONALD: (As Patti, rapping) It's Ritz Cracker, a gold heart, swagger is Viagra. I roll stone through Jersey like Jagger in a Jaguar.

MONDELLO: It's not that the summer will be all women all the time. Action sequels - and there are a lot of those - will largely center on men from "War For The Planet Of The Apes..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES")

ANDY SERKIS: (As Caeser) I fight only to protect apes.

MONDELLO: ...To "Transformers: The Last Knight..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT")

GEMMA CHAN: (As Quintessa) Optimus Prime, do you seek redemption?

PETER CULLEN: (As Optimus Prime) I do.

MONDELLO: ...To latest Marvel reboot.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING")

TOM HOLLAND: (As Peter Parker) So to become an Avenger, are there, like, trials or an interview?

ROBERT DOWNEY JR: (As Tony Stark) Do me a favor. Can't you just be a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man?

MONDELLO: Also comics related - an apocalypse that's not a sequel from Stephen King, "The Dark Tower."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE DARK TOWER")

TOM TAYLOR: (As Jake Chambers) You let that tower fall, billions of people die.

IDRIS ELBA: (As Roland Deschain) Do they have guns and bullets in your world?

TAYLOR: (As Jake Chambers) You're going to like Earth a lot.

MONDELLO: Guns plus fast cars and action figure in a couple of crime world thrillers. "Baby Driver" is about a driver named...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BABY DRIVER")

ANSEL ELGORT: (As Baby) Baby.

LILY JAMES: (As Deborah) Your name's Baby - B-A-B-Y, Baby.

MONDELLO: And in the rated-R for language "Hitman's Bodyguard," Samuel L. Jackson is the hitman, Ryan Reynolds the less-than-enthusiastic bodyguard.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD")

RYAN REYNOLDS: (As Michael Bryce) I hope they kill him. I really do. This guy singlehandedly ruined the word [expletive].

SAMUEL L JACKSON: (As Darius Kinkaid) Tick, tock, [expletive]. I will bust a cap in your [expletive].

REYNOLDS: (As Michael Bryce) Have you ever said please?

JACKSON: (As Darius Kinkaid) Please, [expletive].

REYNOLDS: (As Michael Bryce) Why are we always yelling?

MONDELLO: Parents who want to watch "Hitman's Bodyguard" will need to drop the kids off at something a little milder. Happily, that'll be easy. There will be a double dose of Steve Carell in "Despicable Me 3," not just Gru but his twin brother, Dru.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DESPICABLE ME 3")

STEVE CARELL: (As Dru) You ready to continue the family tradition, you and me?

(As Gru) No, I left that life behind me.

MONDELLO: Also Lightning McQueen and Mater in Cars 3.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CARS 3")

OWEN WILSON: (As Lightning McQueen) I can't go out on the track and do the same old thing. It won't work.

LARRY THE CABLE GUY: (As Mater) You know what I'd do?

WILSON: (As Lightning McQueen) What?

LARRY THE CABLE GUY: (As Mater) I got nothing.

MONDELLO: And there's a film about animated fourth graders who hypnotize their principal as a prank then have trouble controlling their creation.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE")

THOMAS MIDDLEDITCH: (As Harold) Captain Underpants, you can't actually fly.

ED HELMS: (As Captain Underpants) I take to the sky like an ostrich.

KEVIN HART: (As George) Wow, he is super dumb.

MONDELLO: Does all of this escapist fare have you craving escape of a more grounded sort? Well, Kumail Nanjiani based the season's most engaging romantic dramedy on his own early encounters with the woman who became his wife. It's called "The Big Sick" because unknown to either of them at the time, she was very ill. And that wasn't their only challenge.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BIG SICK")

KUMAIL NANJIANI: (As Kumail) I've been dating this girl. She's white.

ADEEL AKHTAR: (As Naveed) A white girl?

NANJIANI: (As Kumail) OK, you can't look like you and yell white girl. It's OK. We hate terrorists.

MONDELLO: There are other darker fact-based films about the ways racism impacts America, a serious look from Kathryn Bigelow and her "Zero Dark Thirty" team in the drama "Detroit" about the 1967 riots in that city.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DETROIT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) It's a war zone out there. They're destroying the city.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Whoa, hey, y'all seeing this?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Hey, look; we're not so far from the Algiers. Let's just go there until all this blows over.

MONDELLO: And the biopic "All Eyez On Me" looks at the life and legacy of assassinated rapper Tupac Shakur.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALL EYEZ ON ME")

HILL HARPER: (As Journalist) You said - and I quote - if they kill me, "I want the people to know the real story."

MONDELLO: While we're talking fact-based, there are some provocative documentaries coming our way - "Whose Streets?" about the societal disaster that was Ferguson, Mo., and Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Sequel."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER")

AL GORE: The most criticized scene in the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" was showing that the combination of sea level rise and storm surge would flood the 9/11 Memorial site. And people said, what a terrible exaggeration.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City last night, flooding the World Trade Center site.

MONDELLO: Water, water everywhere. It's also blocking the escape of allied soldiers in Christopher Nolan's World War II epic, "Dunkirk"

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DUNKIRK")

JAMES D'ARCY: (As Colonel) The enemy tanks have stopped.

KENNETH BRANAGH: (As Lieutenant) Why?

D'ARCY: (As Colonel) Why waste precious tanks when they can pick us off from the air like fish in a barrel? There are 400,000 men on this beach.

MONDELLO: Nolan's idea is to tell the story of "Dunkirk" almost entirely through the eyes of the troops involved. If you want the strategy of the higher-ups, you'll find that in the movie "Churchill."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHURCHILL")

BRIAN COX: (As Winston Churchill) We defy Hitler. It is time to win this great war.

MONDELLO: Yeah, well, audiences elsewhere at the multiplex will know what he really needs is Wonder Woman on his side - couldn't hurt. I'm Bob Mondello.

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