Summer Movie Preview: The BLOCKBUSTERS

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Last week, we published our preview of independent films to look forward to this summer. Now we’re going over the big boys – or a fair chunk of them. But the summer movie season has kept shifting further and further into the spring. This will only get more intense next year when Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice both open in March. For obvious reasons we won’t go over the glorious vehicular mayhem of Furious 7 or the obvious behemoth of the summer season – Avengers: Age of Ultron. So let’s get to it and look at the big guns that this summer has in store.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – May 15, 2015

Needless to say, the last Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome, was rather disappointing. But 30 years later, George Miller, director of the original Mad Max trilogy, is returning to the apocalyptic wasteland he created decades ago only swapping out Tom Hardy for the perpetually disgraced Mel Gibson. The trailers for Mad Max: Fury Road have been impressive and certainly promise madness. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Fury Road will either kick a shit-ton of ass, or be a bat-shit crazy misfire. Considering that George Miller’s last two films were computer animated films about penguins, Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two, I have no idea what to expect.

The official synopsis:

Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander alone.  Nevertheless, he becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa.  They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, from whom something irreplaceable has been taken.  Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.

TOMORROWLAND — May 22, 2015

Even if Brad Bird hadn’t already proven himself as a live-action filmmaker with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, he’d still be the perfect choice for Tomorrowland. The director behind The Iron Giant has unique understanding of grandiose scale and deep-felt emotion. With co-writer Damon Lindelof, Bird and company have kept many details about Tomorrowland under wraps, so the wonder and majesty may remain a surprise. Starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson, Tomorrowland looks as full of mystery and wonder as the future itself.

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The official synopsis:

From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever. Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.

SAN ANDREAS – May 29, 2015

The trailer for San Andreas felt like a dual throwback – a throwback to both the original disaster films of the ‘70s and the disaster film revival of the ‘90s. With its expansive cast headlined by Dwayne Johnson in the Charlton Heston role, San Andreas looks to make shockwaves through theaters this summer. Living in Southern California, though, this film might hit too close to home.

The official synopsis:

After the infamous San Andreas Fault finally gives, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake in California, a search and rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife make their way together from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter.   But their treacherous journey north is only the beginning.  And when they think the worst may be over…it’s just getting started.

ENTOURAGE – June 5, 2015

Talk about a wasted opportunity. Had San Andreas and Entourage been combined in one movie, that’d might just be the greatest movie ever. But it would also betray one of the central tenents of Entourage – the complete lack of conflict. One thing the Entourage movie does promise is a ton of celebrity cameos, including everybody’s favorite Expendable, Kelsey Grammer.

The official synopsis:

Movie star Vincent Chase (Grenier), together with his boys, Eric (Connolly), Turtle (Ferrara) and Johnny (Dillon), are back…and back in business with super agentturned-studio head Ari Gold (Piven).  Some of their ambitions have changed, but the bond between them remains strong as they navigate the capricious and often cutthroat world of Hollywood.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 – June 5, 2015

Leigh Whannell has been a frequent collaborator of James Wan, co-writing a number of the director’s films. When Wan departed the horror genre to try his hand at action with Furious 7, Whannell moved onto the director’s chair for Insidious: Chapter 3. Judging the trailers, Whannell isn’t a missing a beat in his directorial debut.

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The official synopsis:

The new chapter in the terrifying horror series is written and directed by franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell. This chilling prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family, reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

JURASSIC WORLD – June 12, 2015

With Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt proved he was a movie star, and suddenly his name has been circulated in rumors for a variety of blockbuster properties. As his leading follow up to Guardians, Pratt is taking audiences to Jurassic World, the fourth Jurassic Park film which comes 14 years after the last sequel. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, who made a splash with 2011’s Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World attempts to be the first satisfactory sequel to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster masterpiece.

The official synopsis:

Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World.  Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure from a screenplay he wrote with Derek Connolly.  Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley join the team as producers.

TERMINATOR GENISYS – July 1, 2015

Another attempt to revive a property diminished by inferior sequels, Terminator Genisys – that title is seriously awful – looks to wreak havoc on the already confusing time travel timeline of the Terminator saga. Director Alan Taylor made an entertaining sequel with Thor: The Dark World, but questions abound as to whether or not Terminator is a franchise that can be rebooted. Of course, Genisys is buoyed by the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the cybernetic killing machine and not a computer generated outcast from the Uncanny Valley. With Game of ThronesEmilia Clarke and Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, Terminator Genisys certainly has a very geek friendly cast.

The official synopsis:

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future…

ANT-MAN — July 17, 2015

Every time that Marvel Studios had faced doubts about the viability of their expanding universe, Marvel has passed the test with flying colors. With Age of Ultron all but assured to be one of the biggest movies of the year, if not of all-time, the biggest challenge to Marvel’s unquestioned dominance remains Ant-Man. After spending years developing his script with Joe Cornish, director Edgar Wright left the film as it was gearing up to head into production. Without Wright, people wondered if there was any need for an Ant-Man movie. Paul Rudd was still attached to star as Scott Lang, and Rudd was able to convince Adam McKay to come onboard and do a rewrite on the script. Then Peyton Reed was hired to direct. While I’m still unfamiliar with Reed’s filmography – that’ll change real soon – I’ve repeatedly heard that he’s a fine filmmaker. Still, questions are everywhere. Will Marvel prove the doubters wrong yet again? Can a superhero named Ant-Man actually lead a blockbuster movie? How much of Edgar Wright’s work made into the film? And on and on and on.

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The official synopsis:

The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.” Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Marvel’s “Ant-Man” stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Judy Greer as Maggie, Tip “Ti” Harris as Dave, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Wood Harris as Gale, Jordi Mollà as Castillo and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Ant-Man” delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.

TRAINWRECK – July 17, 2015

It’s hard to understate Judd Apatow’s influence on modern comedy. As a writer, director, and producer, Apatow has raised the profile of today’s biggest names in comedy. After trying to make more personal comedy-dramas with Funny People and This is 40 to very mixed results, Apatow is ceding writing duties to Amy Schumer, who also stars, for Trainwreck. Schumer has repeatedly proven her comedic chops on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, but now it’s time to see if she’s ready to take the next big step forward, even if it is a bit of a wobbly step.

The official synopsis:

Since she was a little girl, it’s been drilled into Amy’s (Schumer) head by her rascal of a dad (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo—enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment—but in actuality, she’s kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she’s writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.

THE VATICAN TAPES – July 24, 2015

Where would horror films be without the Catholic Church? Carrying on the horror tradition of demonic possession is The Vatican Tapes which stars Michael Peña and Dijimon Hounsou. Splitting from his directing partner on the Crank films, The Vatican Tapes is the first solo directing project for Mark Neveldine and looks to be a mix of traditional narrative cinema and the trendy, cheap found footage.

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The official synopsis:

THE VATICAN TAPES follows the ultimate battle between good and evil- God versus Satan. Angela Holmes is ordinary 27-year- old until she begins to have a devastating effect on anyone close, causing serious injury and death. Holmes is examined and possession is suspected, but when the Vatican is called upon to exorcise the demon, the possession proves to be an ancient satanic force more powerful than ever imagined. It’s all up to Father Lozano (MICHAEL PEÑA) to wage war for more than just Angela’s soul, but for the world as we know it.

PIXELS — July 24, 2015

As much as trends change, there’s always a demand for nostalgia. Looking to capitalize on nostalgia for old video games is Chris ColumbusPixels, where an alien race uses video game characters to unleash untold levels of destruction. While the trio of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Josh Gad should be enough to scare me off, the film also features Peter Dinklage, who is a rock star, and the criminally underappreciated Michelle Monaghan.

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The official synopsis:

In Pixels, when intergalactic aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults. President Will Cooper (Kevin James) has to call on his childhood best friend, ’80s video game champion Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), now a home theater installer, to lead a team of old-school arcaders (Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) to defeat the aliens and save the planet. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION – July 31st, 2015

After a number of ups and downs over the years, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was the best in the series since the first film in 1996. After its success, director Brad Bird moved on to the wonders of Tomorrowland. Series star Tom Cruise was able to coax his director from Jack Reacher, Christopher McQuarrie, to take over the director’s chair on Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. While the fifth film in the series looks to, once again, be about Ethan Hunt and his IMF agents being disavowed, McQuarrie’s clear, concise action in the trailer looks phenomenal, and Tom Cruise hanging off thing is always good for a wow factor. Though Cruise is earning press for his association with Scientology, the actor is hoping to quiet that chatter the same way he always does – making some crazy fun movies.

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The official synopsis:

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions present a Tom Cruise / Bad Robot production. The film is directed by Christopher McQuarrie and produced by Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk. The executive producers are David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger of Skydance Productions and Jake Myers. Drew Pearce, Christopher McQuarrie, Will Staples, Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier and Dylan Kussman wrote the screenplay, based on the television series created by Bruce Geller.

RICKI AND THE FLASH — August 7, 2015

At this point, we all know that Meryl Streep can do anything. So her starring as a rock ‘n’ roller in Ricki and the Flash isn’t a shocking revelation. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, and written by Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning writer of Juno, Ricki and the Flash has some serious talent working on just about every level.

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The official synopsis:

Three-time Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep goes electric and takes on a whole new gig – a hard-rocking singer/guitarist – for Oscar®-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody in the uplifting comedy Ricki and the Flash.  In a film loaded with music and live performance, Streep stars as Ricki, a guitar heroine who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom, but is now returning home to make things right with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, who plays her fictional daughter; Rick Springfield, who takes on the role of a Flash member in love with Ricki; and Kevin Kline, who portrays Ricki’s long-suffering ex-husband.

FANTASTIC FOUR – August 7, 2015

The Fantastic Four started the boom of Marvel Comics when the series debuted in 1961.  But the quartet of superheroes have never successfully been able to crossover to movie screens. There’s the infamous Roger Corman production that never saw the light of day and the two films by Tim Story – 2005’s Fantastic Four and 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – and none of these works satisfied fans at all. After years of trying to revitalize the dormant superheroes, 20th Century Fox hired Chronicle director Josh Trank to breathe new life into the film franchise. Between its casting and some leaked plot points, Trank’s film has yet to win over skeptics who fear that changes made to the beloved characters are too egregious. Of course, there’s much secrecy surrounding the film and Trank has already been hired for a Star Wars spinoff, which itself seems like a vote of confidence.

The official synopsis:

THE FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. – August 15, 2015

Even though they were both massively successful, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films feel like a distant memory. While it seems that Ritchie’s Holmes may be done, he’s moved onto another form of classic series – The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Superman himself Henry Cavill steps into the role of Napoleon Solo, the spy originally played by Robert Vaughn. Based on the trailer, the film looks like a highly stylized ‘60s throwback, but one has to wonder if it just has the unfortunate timing of being too similar to Kingsman, this year’s other cheeky spy throwback.

The official synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin.  Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.  The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – August 15, 2015

After spending years in development, F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, about the influential hip hop group N.W.A., will finally be getting a theatrical release. Based on the trailers and character posters, it would seem that they’ve done a fantastic job of finding young actors with an uncanny resemblance to their real life counterparts. For me, only one question remains: Will the hip hop biopic be beholden to the same clichés as the rock biopic?

The official synopsis:

In the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country.  When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation. Following the meteoric rise and fall of N.W.A., *Straight Outta Compton* tells the astonishing story of how these young men revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.

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