The adult’s guide to summer movies

Idris Elba in “The Dark Tower.”
Idris Elba in “The Dark Tower.”

With “The Fate of the Furious” roaring into multiplexes Friday, the clatter and clang of the summer movie season is right around the corner.

Obviously, as the latest installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise shows, there are tons of movies aimed at young adults, teens or children coming out at this time of the year. But what about everyone else? Will everything be as loud as a car crash or saturated in CGI until September? Maybe adults should just lock themselves at home and make sure their Netflix subscriptions are up to date while their kids debate the merits of “Wonder Woman” vs. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”?

Not so fast. Thankfully, there are some viable alternatives for all the adults who want to keep their summer superhero consumption to a minimum. Here are 15 films coming over the next four months that grown-ups should find worth their time. Release dates are subject to change.

‘Free Fire’

April 21

British director Ben Wheatley earned a cult following for his films “Kill List” (2011) and “High-Rise” (2015), but this Tarantino-style thriller — about two groups of warring criminals trapped in a warehouse together — could take him to the next level. Produced by Martin Scorsese, the film was a people’s choice winner at the Toronto International Film Festival. Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley and Cillian Murphy star.

‘The Circle’

April 28

Based on the Dave Eggers novel and directed by James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”), “The Circle” aims to tap into the fears of the digital age. Emma Watson plays a young woman at a tech company that is far more insidious than anyone knows. Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt and John Boyega co-star, as does the late Bill Paxton.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

May 5

Yes, it’s part of the Marvel family and will have a ton of special effects. So what’s it doing on this list? The first “GOTG,” in 2014, was embraced enthusiastically by kids and their parents — and grandparents — thanks to clever writing and a fantastic, boomer-savvy soundtrack that was more Norman Greenbaum than Bruno Mars. Can this sequel duplicate the success of the first? The good news is that director James Gunn is back, as is much of the original cast, including Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Nathan Fillion and Zoe Saldana.

Alien: Covenant

May 19

The latest chapter in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” saga stars Katherine Waterston, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce, James Franco, Michael Fassbender, Danny McBride and Billy Crudup as members of a space crew who discover what they think is paradise. Boy, are they wrong.


May 25

No doubt, Paramount is counting on feel-good memories of the old TV series to reboot it for a new generation. It could be one of summer’s guiltiest pleasures. Or it could end up inducing more guilt than pleasure. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Kelly Rohrbach and, yes, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson star. Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”) directs.

It Comes at Night

June 9

Houston director Trey Edward Shults made a splash last year with his debut film, the unforgettable dysfuctional-family drama “Krisha.” Now, let’s see what he can do with a bigger budget, big-ish stars (Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough), and more of a mystery/horror story about a group of people hiding out from an overwhelming threat.

All Eyez on Me

June 16

“Straight Outta Compton” proved that a film built around hip-hop can be a major crossover hit. This biopic about Tupac Shakur could build upon that success while profiling one of pop music’s most talented and tragic figures. Whatever else can be said about the film, star Demetrius Shipp Jr. looks a lot like Shakur.

The Bad Batch

June 23

Ana Lily Amirpour made a smartly impressive debut feature with “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” three years ago. Now, she’s back with a sci-fi thriller set among cannibals in a futuristic Texas wasteland (though it was filmed in L.A.). Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Diego Luna, Jason Momoa and Giovanni Ribisi star.

A Ghost Story

July 14

Dallas director David Lowery takes a break from big-budget Disney projects like “Pete’s Dragon” and the upcoming “Peter Pan” to get back to his indie roots with this moody, filmed-in-Irving tale of a man’s ghost and the woman he left behind. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star.


July 21

Writer-director Christopher Nolan — of “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception” and “Interstellar” fame — moves out of the realm of fantasy and into history. He tells the WWII story of what happened at Dunkirk, France, where a mission was launched to rescue Allied troops who were surrounded by German soldiers. Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Cillian Murphy star.

Atomic Blonde

July 28

Charlize Theron is an undercover MI6 agent in Berlin during the Cold War trying to find out who killed a fellow agent. The cast — including John Goodman, James McAvoy and Toby Jones — is solid and it’s directed by former stuntman David Leitch, who’s now helming “Deadpool 2.”


Aug. 4

Director Kathryn Bigelow stirred up controversy with her two previous features “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” and she’s bound to do the same with this revisit to the police raid that sparked the 1967 Detroit riots. Expect many parallels to what’s happening today. John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, and Will Poulter star.

The Dark Tower

Aug. 4

Stephen King’s epic “Dark Tower” series is the basis for this action-adventure film set in a Wild West-like landscape called Mid-World. It’s the first effort in five years for Danish director Nikolaj Arcel, whose last film, “A Royal Affair,” was nominated for the foreign-language film Oscar. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star.

Wind River

Aug. 11

Texan Taylor Sheridan, who penned “Hell or High Water,” went home empty-handed at this year’s Academy Awards. But he may get another crack at the Oscar bat with his directorial debut, which is also the third entry in his trilogy about life in the West after “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water.” Set on an Indian reservation in Wyoming, “Wind River” is a murder mystery starring Jon Bernthal, Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner.

Tulip Fever

Aug. 25

Director Justin Chadwick (“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”) mounts this 17th-century romantic period piece against the backdrop of Holland’s tulip mania — considered the Western world’s first economic bubble. Alicia Vikander, Judi Dench, Jack O’Connell, Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan and Zach Galifianakis star.


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Cary Darling: 817-390-7571, @carydar