Blockbuster season is finally about to arrive, bringing with it some of the most anticipated motion pictures of the entire year. Sci-fi aficionados, rom-com fans, superhero lovers, drama devotees, helicopter parents, horror buffs and everyone in between will find something to their liking in theaters this summer. Beat the oncoming heat and purchase a cushioned seat for one of the following star-studded releases.
This. Looks. Awesome. Get thee to a theater immediately. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are going to blow your mind in this adrenaline-infused, post-apocalyptic epic that looks visually stunning. (I can practically taste the dessert sand in this trailer.)
Pitch Perfect 2 (PG-13)
A-ca-yeah! The “pitches” (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, et al.) and frenemies (Adam DeVine, Skylar Astin, et al.) are back in this comedic collegiate sequel, which takes place three years after the end of the wildly successful first installment and pits the ladies against an international singing group with as much brawn as vocal talent. Directed by cast member Elizabeth Banks herself.
I wasn’t sure how I felt, at first, about Hollywood remaking, er, “reimagining” one of the scariest movies of all time (the clown, the tree, the TV), but with the incomparable Sam Rockwell at its center, I’m less fearful. While no one can replace the original Carol Anne, child-actor Kennedi Clements looks like she does a pretty good job of it, if the trailer is any indication. So let’s not judge a classic horror film by its predecessor…yet.
Two words: George Clooney. Need I say more?
From writer/director Cameron Crowe (“Almost Famous,” “Jerry Maguire”) comes this drama with A-listers Bradley Cooper, Bill Murray, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride (who cracks me up without even trying) about a military contractor who’s torn between two women (an old love and a new one) while visiting his old stomping grounds in Honolulu.
If you were a fan of the HBO show which ended in 2011, then you’ve been waiting some time to see this big-screen addition to the storyline, which reunites friends Vince (Adrian Grenier), E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Drama (Kevin Dillon) with agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) as they embark on their next big Hollywood adventure. You also can look forward to cameos by Liam Neeson, George Takei, Jessica Alba, David Spade, Warren Buffet, Pharrell Williams, Armie Hammer and Tom Brady, to name a few.
Fans of comedienne Melissa McCarthy (whom I will forever remember as Sookie St. James in “Gilmore Girls,” one of my favorite TV shows of all-time) are in luck, as the laugh-maker has a new movie on the docket, just in time for summer. Here, she portrays a CIA desk worker who gets the chance to go undercover. (You can imagine the high jinks that ensue.) She is joined onscreen by “Bridesmaids” co-star Rose Byrne, heartbreaker Jude Law and action star Jason Statham.
Jurassic World (PG-13)
One of most anticipated films of the year—nay, the past decade—has arrived. Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) leads the charge in this follow-up to 2001 sequel. “Jurassic World” is shot in 3-D, which makes for even larger-than-larger-than life prehistoric creatures (cuz T-Rex isn’t scary enough in 2-D).
Inside Out (PG)
The first animated pic of the summer months contains the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, and tells the tale of a girl who is forced to move from the Midwest to the West Coast when her father takes a new job in San Francisco. As someone who left her hometown at age 15 for the same reason, I can definitely relate to Riley’s angst as she tries to overcome her feelings about leaving everyone and everything she knows behind. With Pixar at the wheel, this full-length feature is sure to succeed, appealing to adults and kids alike.
Ted 2 (R)
Yes, they made another one. Mark Wahlberg reprises his role as a teddy bear’s best friend (alongside Amanda Seyfried, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson) in this slapstick part two from writer/director Seth McFarlane (who voices Ted). Sorry, but what next? “Howard the Duck 2”? (If the button scene at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy” is any indication, we may be in luck…)
Magic Mike XXL (R)
This one’s for the ladies: The boys (Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash and Adam Rodriguez) are back in this sequel to 2012’s guilty pleasure about the private lives of male strippers (based on Channing Tatum’s real-life experiences). They’re joined by Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks (cuz she’s not making enough money from “Pitch Perfect 2”?), Jada Pinkett Smith (currently winning in TV’s “Gotham”) and Andie McDowell (the most surprising of these). The plot: Does it really matter? A hint: Size matters.
Terminator: Genisys (Not yet rated)
When Arnold Schwarzenegger said “I’ll be back,” he wasn’t kidding. The former governor of California returns in the latest “Terminator” to hit theaters, with J.K. Simmons (love him), Emilia Clarke (best known as the Queen of Dragons on “Game of Thrones”) and Jai Courtney (the bad guy from the “Divergent” series) in tow. Look for plenty of collateral damage as all three characters try to prevent the arrival of Judgment Day…again.
Little. Yellow. Different. You grew to love them in the “Despicable Me” franchise, and now they’ve got a film all their own! This prequel gives audiences the backstory of those delightful banana-loving minions (before they were actual minions) as they hitchhike their way to “Villain-Con” in search of work. Voices include Oscar winner Sandra Bullock (as a deliciously evil character named Scarlet Overkill), Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton and Allison Janney.
This film had me at Ryan Reynolds. (I’m easy, I know.) If that’s not enough for ya, how about Oscar legend Ben Kingsley (i.e. Ghandi)? Both are at their best in this sci-fi thriller about immortality (a popular sci-fi theme) as one trades in his older body for a younger model, with some both amusing and frightening ramifications. At its core is a fundamental question: “Would you take a life to live forever?”
Ant-Man (Not yet rated)
Just looking at Paul Rudd makes me smile, so I’m sure I’ll be ear-to-ear throughout “Ant Man,” the comedian’s first-ever turn as a Marvel superhero (every actor’s dream). “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” has got nothing on this huge blockbuster starring Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly…and a ton of computer-generated insects.
I can’t wait to see this sarcastic rom-com featuring funny girl Amy Schumer, who is everywhere these days, from “Last Comic Standing” to Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” to the MTV Movie Awards, which she hosted this past spring. In “Trainwreck,” she channels a child of divorce who is incapable of monogamy until she meets Bill Hader, who threatens to unravel her idea of the noncommittal single life. Schumer wrote the script for this flick, which is directed by Judd Apatow, so pure hilarity is sure to be the result.
Paper Towns (Not yet rated)
If you liked “The Fault in Our Stars,” then you’re going to love this coming-of-age story based on the best-selling novel by the same author. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl doesn’t know boy exists, until…(sorry, no spoilers). Newcomer Nat Wolff narrates this film about the boy in search of the missing object of his affection.
Southpaw (Not yet rated)
My (fake) boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal really bulked up for his role as a boxer whose temper lands him behind bars in this thrilling drama, accompanied by the adorable Rachel McAdams and fresh face Clare Foley as his wife and child. Take a break from the “Rocky” reruns (on TV daily), and see this modern take on professional fighters.
Early August Releases
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Not yet rated)
As readers may be aware, I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise (I’ll make an exception for “Top Gun 2”—my generation forbids me not to), but who am I to stop you from spending your hard-earned money on yet another installment in the “Mission Impossible” franchise? In this film’s defense, it has a great supporting cast in the form of Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin and others. (And that’s about all I can say in defense of it.)
Fantastic Four (Not yet rated)
Miles Teller is on his way to becoming the next big thing, based on the popularity of film such as “The Spectacular Now,” “Insurgent” and “Whiplash.” (If you haven’t seen the third entry on this list, get to a Redbox immediately.) Now he’s starring in the next big sci-fi release—alongside Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell and Michael B. Jordan—about a group of friends who acquire unusual powers and must learn to use them for good.
Masterminds (Not yet rated)
Just a glance at the cast list, and you know this movie is gonna induce laughter. Kristen Wigg, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Jason Sudeikis play partners in unsuccessful, ridiculous crime. The trailer claims this is “based on a true story.” If so, the real “Masterminds” should consider a career in standup.
Ricki and the Flash (Not yet rated)
From acclaimed writer and Chicagoan Diablo Cody (“Juno,” “Young Adult”) comes this story of reconciliation with Meryl Streep (who needs no introduction), Sebastian Stan (best known for his role as Bucky Barnes in the “Captain America” franchise), Kevin Kline (who hasn’t done much these past few years), Mamie Gummer (“Side Effects”…and Meryl Streep’s actual daughter) and Ben Platt (“Pitch Perfect”).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (PG-13)
Move over, James Bond. Step off, Ethan Hunt. This stylistic crime dramedy from writer/director Guy Ritchie promises plenty of action and dry wit, doled out in deadpan by leading man/CIA agent Henry Cavill (best known as the “Man of Steel”), Armie Hammer (always good) and Hugh Grant (who seems to have been in hiding for the past few years).
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