It’s that time of year again when the temperatures remind those in denial that maybe the Earth is getting hotter and everyone seeks shelter in the air-conditioned sanctuary that is the local multiplex. But what to watch once you’re there? Well, I’m here to clue you in on twenty-two of the films I’m most curious about this summer. Like with my Fall Preview last year, this will be a curtailed affair, so I won’t be slamming too many films as unwatchable, but in looking at the calendar, I don’t see many egregious offenders—for once. Maybe that means movies are getting better? But it’s probably more because Paul Blart 2 is a spring release.
As always, I’ll list the films in order by release date, but of course, those dates are always subject to change. 2015 is shaping up to be a movie year for the ages and it all begins with a minor indie release called:
Avengers: Age of Ultron (5/1) – The sequel to the third-highest grossing film in history finally arrives and it almost feels like an afterthought in light of Marvel’s rollout of their entire film slate through 2019—including the Avengers 3 duology, Infinity War—but every indication is that Age of Ultron will be as much a winner as the first Avengers film. And this one looks like we’ll be getting far more plot! Basically, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) builds an A.I. called Ultron (James Spader), which goes haywire and runs amok. The Avengers have to throw down and set things right. Audiences will also be introduced to new members Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Vision (Paul Bettany). Marvel is promising huge ramifications for their Cinematic Universe after this film and the tone looks to be much darker than the first film. I’ve tried to avoid as much spoiler material as possible in the lead up to this film, but Marvel seems to be cramming more and more clips and featurettes down the Internet’s throat as if no one is going to see this thing. It looks a little desperate to me, but here’s to hoping their ad onslaught doesn’t ruin the film for anyone.
Mad Max: Fury Road (5/15) – Tom Hardy takes over the role of Mad Max from Mel Gibson as Writer-Director George Miller returns to deliver the fourth film in the Mad Max franchise. This is the first Mad Max film since 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome and Max has always been more of a cult figure here in the States, so Fury Road is quite a risk for Warner Brothers. This film is meant to launch a new set of films with Hardy front and center. Not much is known about the plot, but it has been repeatedly been referred to as a 90-minute chase film without much dialogue. The visuals look spectacular and the film also stars Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. Will audiences flock to this most-bizarre of blockbusters, or will it get swallowed in the wake of Age of Ultron? Stay tuned.
Tomorrowland (5/22) – Few filmmakers will pique my interest faster than Brad Bird. The Writer-Director cut his teeth on The Simpsons before moving to animated features like The Iron Giant and Pixar’s The Incredibles. His first live-action film wasn’t too shabby either—Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. So, due to Bird’s stellar credentials and his relationship with Disney, everyone was pointing to him when news broke that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and they were making Star Wars Episode VII. However, Bird had something else in mind—an original story called Tomorrowland. He still produced a movie for Disney, but no one really knows what it is. What we do know is that the film was co-written by LOST’s Damon Lindelof with story help from Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen. The story goes that Bird and Lindelof were given a “mystery box” from Disney and they based their film around the contents of that box. The film stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson and features some whiz-bang sci-fi action, but the story is still tightly under wraps. That suits me fine, because I’ll line up for whatever Bird is selling, but the fact that the film’s title is taken from a portion of Disney’s theme parks does leave me slightly wary. Good company synergy or the second coming of Pirates of the Caribbean? Hopefully the former, because I really didn’t care for the Pirates movies.
Aloha (5/29) – Writer-Director Cameron Crowe returns with a film that looks to be one part The Descendants and one part Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper plays a disgraced pilot who is returning to Hawaii to work for his old boss (Bill Murray). Once there, Cooper runs into his ex (Rachel McAdams) and is paired with an eager Air Force officer (Emma Stone). The trailer is spectacular and shows a film that shoots for the funny bone, but will probably tug on the heartstrings along the way. The ensemble cast is fantastic and I’m hoping that Cooper and Stone develop similar chemistry to Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Really looking forward to this one.
Spy (6/5) – This isn’t really a preview of Spy, because I’ve already seen it on a very early screening. The film reteams Melissa McCarthy with Writer-Director Paul Feig in a film that is both a send-up and love letter to all sorts of spy films from Mission: Impossible to Jason Bourne, with a sprinkle of James Bond in there. Oh, and one more thing—the film is absolutely hilarious. I’ve found McCarthy’s films to be hit-and-miss—for every The Heat, there’s a Tammy—so she was due for a good one and Spy doesn’t disappoint. The supporting cast including Jude Law, Rose Byrne, and Allison Janney is stellar with Jason Statham stealing the show. Spy was so good, I’d rather pay to see it again than see the next film on the list—if I had to make such choices. Seek this one out.
Entourage (6/5) – And that next film is one that no one was really asking for. While the first few seasons of HBO’s Entourage were a fun look at making it in Hollywood, the last few were garbage because the producers didn’t know or didn’t care how to deal with the characters once they’d made it. There has been talk of an Entourage film for some time and now it’s here. The whole gang is back and from the trailer, the film looks stacked with star cameos and pretty funny to boot, so I’m hoping it’s more like early Entourage and less like late Entourage.
Jurassic World (6/12) – The long-in-gestation Jurassic Park 4 arrives from Safety Not Guaranteed Director Colin Trevorrow and it stars current Hollywood “It Guy,” Chris Pratt. John Hammond’s dream has come true and Jurassic Park is up and running and welcoming guests, which are coming in droves. The park is now labeled as Jurassic World and the company that now owns it is…tinkering with the attractions. Screaming and bloodshed ensue. The film also boasts Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, and original cast member BD Wong. I’m always interested in a trip to Jurassic Park, but they’re really going to have to explain Chris Pratt riding a motorbike flanked by raptors.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (6/12) – This one was a big hit at Sundance and tells the story of Greg (Thomas Mann), a high school senior who is terrified of letting people get close. His mother (Connie Britton) encourages him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate who has been diagnosed with leukemia. He does so and Greg and Rachel start to make a connection. Greg also introduces Rachel to his “co-worker” Earl (RJ Cyler), with whom Greg makes ultra-low budget knockoffs of popular films. The premise sounds super, sickly sweet, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this film and am really looking forward to seeing it.
Inside Out (6/19) – And now we come to the film that I might be looking forward to the most this summer, Pixar’s Inside Out. The trailers have been great and it looks like Pixar is back on track after middling sequels and prequels and the lackluster Brave. Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a young girl adjusting to a new home with her mother (Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan). The story focuses on the personification of Riley’s emotions as they are thrown into turmoil by the move. We are also made privy to the thoughts and emotions of other people including Riley’s parents. The film looks absolutely hilarious, but with that heart that makes Pixar so great. There seems to be a thread of Finding Nemo running through this one as Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) get separated from Riley’s “control center” and have to find their way back to the other emotions to get everything working right again. The other emotions include Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), and Anger (Lewis Black), so great casting all the way around for what will hopefully be a big winner for Pixar.
Ted 2 (6/26) – It’s been well-documented that I’m not the biggest Seth MacFarlane fan. Last year’s A Million Ways to Die in the West was simply atrocious, but I did enjoy his first feature, Ted, the first time I saw it. Well, MacFarlane is back with a Ted sequel and a premise that is so ridiculous that it stretches believability beyond accepting a talking teddy bear. Ted (MacFarlane) and his new bride Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to have a child, but Ted has to prove in court that he is a person. Mark Wahlberg is back as Ted’s best friend John, but Mila Kunis is being replaced by friendly lawyer Samantha Jackson, played by Amanda Seyfried. There are a host of cameos and I’m sure the film will be funny, but I just hope that MacFarlane writes it a little smarter to create an actual satire instead of just lowest common denominator crap.
Terminator: Genisys (7/1) – Terminator is a franchise that really should have ended with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but this summer we have Genisys—yes, that’s spelled wrong—a reboot, wrapped in a prequel, disguised as a sequel. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s okay, because no one knows for sure just what this Terminator movie is exactly. Once again, John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect his mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), but this time, everything is different in 1984, which looks suspiciously a lot like 2014 in the trailers. A terminator now works with Sarah and they have already eliminated the threat to her life. How that wasn’t reflected in the future, I don’t know, but it’s possible that the appearance of Dr. Who himself, Matt Smith, might shed some light on that. I’m curious to see where they take the story, especially in light of the latest trailer, which adds an interesting wrinkle to the story. Beyond that, though, it looks like Terminator 1 and 2 just mashed together, and if it’s cool, great, but like I said, Terminator is a franchise that really should have ended a long time ago, so it just feels like the studio is just keeping it going just to keep it going.
Minions (7/10) – The best part about both Despicable Me films finally get their own showcase and we’ll see if the loveable sidekicks can carry a film all by themselves. The film will serve as a prequel that tells the story of how the Minions came to be in the employ of Gru (Steve Carell). Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (Pierre Coffin) will be the main Minion focus of the film and they travel the world looking for a villain to serve. They land on Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm). Hilarity will likely ensue. As I said, the Minions are the best thing about the Despicable Me films, so I’m hoping that their dedicated movie will bring the funny while entertaining kids at the same time.
Ant-Man (7/17) – Ant-Man may be the most troubled production in Marvel Studios’ short history. It’s a film that has been in development since before the actual launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, (Iron Man). It was originally to be written and directed by Edgar Wright, but he dropped out at the eleventh hour due to the dreaded “creative differences.” Then there was a rumor that Adam McKay was taking over. While he helped re-write the screenplay, he did not take on directing duties. Those eventually fell to Peyton Reed. But what is the film about? Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is a scientist that teams with a thief, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), to thwart the villainous Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) from stealing Pym’s technology—I think. The suit Lang wears allows him to shrink his body at will and communicate with ants—hence the hero’s name. In the comics, Pym is the original Ant-Man and a founding member of the Avengers, so it’ll be interesting to see how Rudd is incorporated into the Marvel Universe or if Ant-Man will end up being a one-shot deal. The film also stars Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, which could pave the road for her to put on a costume as Janet Van Dyne is the Wasp in the comics and also, a member of the Avengers.
Trainwreck (7/17) – Trainwreck is the latest film from Director Judd Apatow and stars comedienne Amy Schumer as a hard-partying, commitment-phobic, writer at a men’s magazine, whose world comes apart when she actually meets a guy that she would like to extend past the one night stand. That guy is a sports medicine doctor played by Bill Hader, who has proven recently that he can bring both the funny and the serious—aspects that are important for an Apatow film. Schumer wrote the script, so I expect it to be plenty bawdy, if her show on Comedy Central is a good indicator, and I’m looking forward to all the cameos, especially LeBron James, who kills it in the trailer. As usual with Apatow films, my biggest concern is with the running time. Judd Apatow never saw an extended cut he couldn’t shove into theaters and it’s become almost like his unwanted calling card. However, since he didn’t pen the script, we may get a decent length film from him for once. Postscript: Dirty A has seen an early screening of this and says it’s hilarious! Can’t wait!
Pan (7/24) – Director Joe Wright’s Peter Pan adaptation could almost be called Peter Pan Begins, as it tells the story of the boy who never grows up—played here by newcomer Levi Miller—prior to his meeting Wendy and the rest. In this story, Pan and Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund) team together to take on the villain of the piece, Blackbeard, who is brought to maniacal life by Hugh Jackman. The film looks to be colorful and bonkers. It could be a total miss, but I’m curious to see how it handles the story of Peter Pan from this new angle. Rooney Mara also features as Tiger Lily—a casting move that was criticized as white-washing the character. There are big hurdles for this film to overcome, but it will be interesting to see how it goes.
Pixels (7/24) – Pixels seems like it should be right up my alley. Based on a short film, it asks the question, what if video game characters came to life? The answer is: they wreak havoc all over the place. It’s fun to watch Pac-Man and Donkey Kong make a mess of things in the real world. Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad as two of the four men chosen to stop the video games run amok. But now, we come to the reason why I’m not super-excited about this film. Oh, it’s not that the main star of the film is Adam Sandler or that his Happy Madison production company is behind the film—I’m hoping Columbus will temper that—it’s that the film also stars Kevin James, the death of movie quality. When I originally heard about this film, only Sandler, Gad, and Dinklage were mentioned, but then I saw the first trailer, I exclaimed, “Who got Kevin James in my video game movie?!” If his role is little more than a cameo, then I’ll survive, but the next trailer better bring the funny, because the best bit I’ve seen so far is Pac-Man meeting his Japanese creator. Just keep Paul Blart away from this.
Southpaw (7/24) – Director Antoine Fuqua brings us the story of Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), a champion boxer who must take care of his young daughter when tragedy strikes. However, when he is deemed to be an incompetent parent, he is in a fight not just to keep his family together, but to get back to the top of the boxing world. The story was written by Sons of Anarchy’s Kurt Sutter and Gyllenhaal got absolutely ripped to play the part. Forrest Whitaker also stars as a trainer who reluctantly takes Billy under his wing and Rachel McAdams plays Billy’s wife. Looks to be an intense drama.
Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation (7/31) – Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol re-energized the Mission: Impossible franchise, so a fifth entry in the series was a forgone conclusion. However, with Brad Bird off playing in Tomorrowland, Tom Cruise brought in an old friend to direct this one—his Jack Reacher director, Christopher McQuarrie. The last film had Cruise hanging off the side of a building. This one has him hanging off the side of a plane. The story is very James Bond-ish in that there is an “anti-IMF” called the Syndicate—Spectre, anyone?—and they are interested in taking down the IMF. Better get Cruise’s Ethan Hunt on the case. This time he keeps the team, mostly, intact with Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Ving Rhames back in the saddle. The new woman in the group is played by Rebecca Ferguson and her allegiances are a mystery, but Hunt will need her help to track down the Syndicate. This film was originally slated for a December release, but y’know, Star Wars is happening then, so Paramount moved it up five months. I’m just hoping they finish it in time for the release date, because it looks to be another winner.
Fantastic Four (8/7) – There has been a lot of negative press about Director Josh Trank’s reboot of Fantastic Four for 20th Century Fox. The cast is too young! Trank’s too low-budget, the effects will suck! They’re doing what to Dr. Doom?! However, the proof is in the pudding and the first trailer and all subsequent images released from the film have looked pretty good. This is going to be a much darker take on the property than the last two entries, but that makes sense considering Trank was the mastermind behind Chronicle from a few years ago. The source material looks to be more Ultimate Fantastic Four than the original Marvel comics done by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, so that would also explain the younger cast. Miles Teller plays Reed Richards, Kate Mara is Sue Storm and Michael B. Jordan plays her brother, Johnny. Their father, Dr. Storm, is played by Reg E. Cathey, so Sue may be adopted, which is a refreshing take. The Thing will be all CGI and played by Jamie Bell—not exactly who you think of when the character is a hulking mass of rock. Toby Kebbell plays Dr. Doom and his character’s story is the most troubling news leaking out of the production. Apparently in this incarnation, Doom is the character’s screenname, as he is a hacker of some kind. *Groan* Here’s to hoping that doesn’t turn out as stupid as it sounds. With Marvel Studios killing it these days, I’m sure fans are begging for the real Dr. Doom to show up in this thing, but all signs point to something completely different. Fox already has a Fantastic Four 2 on their schedule, so they’re confident this will make money, but if they don’t treat the property with the respect it deserves, they shouldn’t count on it.
Masterminds (8/7) – Initially, I had no idea what this film was about when I saw the title. Then, I watched the hilarious trailer. Based on a true story, the film follows stars Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig as they execute a massive robbery of Loomis Fargo—an armored truck company. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis complete the pack of idiots perpetrating the crime. The film looks very funny and hopefully since it’s based on a true story, the filmmakers will merely make the characters stupid and not borderline mentally challenged as is usually the case in these things—see Galifianakis’ character in the Hangover movies. Hoping this one delivers the goods.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (8/14) – The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a 1960s TV series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin—American and Soviet agents working together to stop common enemies. When I heard about this film adaptation that’s been kicking around Hollywood for some time, my first question was, “Why?” I thought that the trend of resurrecting old TV shows into films had long passed. Then I saw the trailer and I was completely sold. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film version stars Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin and it looks like a ton of fun. The film will tell the story of how these two very different spies came to work together, so it’s an origin story of sorts. Alicia Vikander also stars as Gaby Teller, while Hugh Grant plays Waverly, who serves as Solo and Kuryakin’s M from James Bond. I enjoyed Ritchie’s take on Sherlock Holmes and it looks like he has the fun vibe of the 60’s down here. I’m hoping this will be a nice, fun summer movie late in the dog days of August.
Straight Outta Compton (8/14) – I know next to nothing about rap group N.W.A. I know that their members included Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Easy-E and that they have a song called “Fuck tha Police,” but that’s about it. Director F. Gary Gray looks to show not only the group’s rise, but also the environment that created them. The actors chosen look uncannily like the subjects they play, so that’s a plus. In the case of O’Shea Jackson Jr. that makes sense though—he’s Ice Cube’s son in real life. I was really impressed with the trailer and it made me want to see this film. Paul Giamatti also stars as the group’s manager, Jerry Heller and the film is produced by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, so you know you’re going to get the real story.
And that’ll do it for this year’s Summer Movie Preview. There are a lot of eclectic films coming out this blockbuster season and there are several more not listed here that I’m interested in seeing—check out Entertainment Weekly for the scoop on those. One of those is Z for Zachariah, which does not have a firm release date yet, which is why I left it off the list. But you can be sure that any and all films I see this summer will be reviewed accordingly and more than likely discussed on the podcast. Thanks for reading and see you at the movies!