Get a preview of the summer movie season

COX NEWSPAPERSMay 9, 2014 

ENTER MOVIE-SUMMERFILMS 3 MCT

Tom Cruise as Major William Cage in the sci-fi thriller "Edge of Tommorrow," opening June 6.

MCT

Ah, summer, when a young person's fancy turns to superheroes and space opera, romantic comedies with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan of their era?), and goofy Westerns from the guy who brought you "Family Guy."

Summer is the blockbuster, bill-paying season for the studios, and it's genuinely weird to think that 10 or 12 years ago it was big news when there was a comic book character on the screen.

These days, comic book movies are the dominant summer form. They're everywhere. There are no fewer than three Marvel Comics characters featured this summer: Spider-Man, the X-Men and, um, the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team that only hardcore Marvel nerds know. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" kicked off the season last weekend.

Dark Horse Comics is represented with a new "Sin City" movie, while the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are getting a reboot for a new generation of 8-year-olds, the parents of whom remember the Turtles from their 1980s heyday.

You know who doesn't have a movie out this summer? DC Comics, home of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, who deserved her own movie long before yet another Superman reboot.

Anyway, here are 30 buzzy movies coming out between now and the end of summer. Release dates are, as always, subject to change. Some of the following will be great, some will be terrible. Either way, at least there will be air conditioning.

MAY

May 9: Neighbors:Nick Stoller directs Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents who have Zac Efron's fraternity move in next door in this ne-plus-ultra of the semi-improvised/"are they just making this up as they go?" genre.

May 16: GodzillaHere is the big question for this, the second reboot inside of 20 years for this classic kaiju franchise. Is it just me, or does Godzilla keep getting bigger? Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche and Ken Wantanabe star.

May 16: Million Dollar ArmJon Hamm stars as sports agent J.B. Bernstein, based on the true tale of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, whom Bernstein discovered after they won a reality show. With Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin, Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal.

May 23: X-Men:Days of Future PastThis highly anticipated sequel unites the contemporary "X-Men" and "X-Men: First Class" story lines into one big continuity, starring the whole gang: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and franchise newcomer Peter Dinklage. It deals with a war of survival across two time periods, hence the "future past" subtitle.

May 23: BlendedThe third romantic comedy pairing Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (see "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates"), "Blended" concerns two single parents who find themselves at a family resort together after a lousy blind date. Cuteness likely ensues.

May 30: Maleficent

Angelina Jolie plays the titular villain with the epic cheekbones who curses Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). Think "Wicked" using "Sleeping Beauty" instead of "The Wizard of Oz" as source material. Visual effects expert Robert Stromberg tries his hand at directing.

May 30: A Million Ways to Die in the West

Seth MacFarlane writes, directs and stars in this Western comedy set in 1882 Arizona. What's your over-under on how many minutes before the first sex-with-sheep joke? With Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson, who does not seem to be turning down any part at all anymore.

JUNE

June 6: The Fault in Our Stars

Two teens meet and fall in love at a cancer support group. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who played siblings in "Divergent," star. New drivers and their dates will be lining up soon to swoon.

June 6: Edge of Tomorrow

Doug "The Bourne Identity" Liman directs Tom Cruise - who just seems to play sci-fi/action heroes now - and Emily Blunt as future soldiers stuck in a time loop of fighting and dying in the same battle over and over again.

June 13: How to Train Your Dragon 2

This is apparently the day to release Sequels To Unexpectedly Awesome Movies. The first, a sequel to the excellent 2010 animated feature about vikings who figure out how to ride dragons, pits the dragonriders against an external, possibly-also-dragon-based threat. Stars Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig, America Ferrera and TJ Miller, that guy who plays the incubator dude on HBO's "Silicon Valley."

June 13: 22 Jump Street

Nobody expected "22 Jump Street" mostly because nobody expected the 2012 movie "21 Jump Street" to be as funny as it was. But Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were great as undercover cops infiltrating a high school. Now they are undercover cops at a college. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the dudes behind both the first "Jump Street" and the smash hit "The Lego Movie."

June 13: Hellion

Director Kat Candler tells a gritty tale of a decent-hearted, teenage troublemaker and motocross obsessive (Josh Wiggins), whose family is in danger of total collapse following his mother's death. With Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis.

June 20: Jersey Boys

Tony award-winning Broadway musicals don't always make a smooth transition to the big screen, but this one has Clint Eastwood at the helm (not known as a song-in-his-heart director) and Christopher Walken's singular presence.

June 20: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: One of the most powerful horror flicks ever made, Tobe Hooper's classic turns 40 this year. See the restored version with someone you love (to hang on a meathook).

June 27: Transformers: Age of Extinction

Director Michael Bay slots Mark Wahlberg (who starred in Bay's weirdly entertaining "Pain and Gain") into the now-departed Shia LaBeouf's slot as the human POV character. Co-stars Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammer and a bunch of Autobots, Decepticons and yes, nerds, Dinobots.

JULY

July 2: Tammy

Like many people who used to watch "Gilmore Girls," I wish Melissa McCarthy all the success humanly possible. Here, she and husband Ben Falcone co-write and co-direct a comedy about a woman who decides to split on her no-good husband. Her only option out of town? A road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

July 11: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Apes and humans battle for Earth domination, and you can probably guess who's gonna win. Andy Serkis stars as Caesar, who is pictured in one still holding a short-barrel shotgun. So know that this movie has apes with shotguns, and act accordingly.

July11: Boyhood

In "Boyhood," an early contender for movie of the year (or decade?), iconic director Richard Linklater followed his cast for 12 years, chronicling the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family (mother Patricia Arquette, father Ethan Hawke and sister Lorelei Linklater). One of the great cinematic achievements of the age and one of the best movies about Texas ever made - no kidding.

July 18: Jupiter Ascending

This planet-hopping, sci-fi/fantasy blowout by Andy and Lana Wachowski ("The Matrix," etc.) looks to be the best kind of bonkers space opera. Turns out that Russian maid Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) has the genetic makeup to be the next Queen of the Universe. Channing Tatum (and his abs) star as gene-spliced warrior Caine Wise, and Sean "Ned Stark" Bean plays the scoundrel Stinger.

July 18: Planes: Fire & Rescue

A sequel to the animated "Cars" spin-off "Planes." Stars Dane Cook. So, yeah, that happened.

July 18: The Purge: Anarchy

When a movie makes $87 million worldwide on a budget of $3 million, as the creepy dystopian thriller "The Purge" did, a sequel is not surprising. Writer-director James DeMonaco returns. Stars Frank Grillo, Zach "Matt Saracen" Gilford and other victims.

July 25: Step Up: All In

The fifth of the "Step Up" dance movies. Really. This one is directed by Trish Sie, who created that now-legendary video for OK GO's "Here It Goes Again," aka the one with the treadmills.

July 25: Hercules

The always-likable Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as the demigod of myth. Directed by Brett "Rush Hour" Ratner. If it's a hit, everyone will smell a franchise. If it bombs, well, Johnson still has the "Fast and Furious" movies. Co-starring John Hurt, Irina Shayk and Ian McShane.

AUGUST

Aug. 1: Guardians of the Galaxy

A true test of the juggernaut power of Marvel comic book movies. Unlike Spider-Man and the X-Men, the Guardians are a true B-list franchise, space-faring superbeings who fight intergalactic menaces. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan and Vin Diesel. Think "cosmic Avengers" - at least, Marvel hopes you think as much.

Aug. 1: Get on Up

This is a guts move, a biopic about the almighty James Brown, one of the most important and charismatic people in the history of American popular music. Will it work? Directed by Tate "The Help" Taylor. Chadwickj Boseman, who starred as Jackie Robinson in "42," plays the Godfather of Soul.

Aug. 8: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

A reboot of the most weirdly indestructible kiddie franchise of all time. I have been told the turtles now have noses. Is nothing sacred?

Aug. 15: The Giver

Can Taylor Swift act? Well, she was on a "CSI" episode once. But we'll really find out when she teams up with Meryl Streep and Alexander Skarsgard in this tale based on the Lois Lowry novel.

Aug. 15: The Expendables 3

The third in the "Expendables" franchise focusing on the ongoing adventures of, well, older action franchise vets. Features Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li and Terry Crews among other Expendables vets, as well as a cast of younger actors. Also, Harrison Ford is in this one, because if there is one thing Harrison Ford does not care about, it is what you think of his career choices.

Aug. 22: When the Game Stands Tall

Just in time for two-a-days in the blazing heat, Jim Caviezel stars as Coach Bob Ladoucer, who had a record-setting 151-game high school football winning streak at De La Salle High School of Concord, Calif., from 1992-2003. Think "Friday Night Lights" in the East Bay.

Aug. 22: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Comic book savant Frank Miller and Austin's pulp-king director Robert Rodriguez team up for the sequel to the ultra-hard-boiled "Sin City." With Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis.

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