Our critic picks his favorites for the next four months
The summer movie season, traditionally Memorial Day to Labor Day, has expanded in recent years in order to jam in as many blockbusters as possible. The sequel and reboot-heavy schedule seems to carry a theme of amazing, powerful technology, some working and some gone badly awry. The 2015 season launches earlier than ever with Avengers: Age of Ultron opening on May 1.
The following films are the ones that have most piqued my interest, divided into the various aspects of my movie-going personality.
For the fanboy
Avengers: Age of Ultron reunites the premier hero squad from the Marvel universe to fight a sentient and megalomaniacal super machine (voiced by James Spader). Directed by Joss Whedon (May 1).
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron lead a cast of dystopian oddballs in pursuit of precious fuel in Mad Max: Fury Road. The original visionary behind the films, George Miller, returns to helm this reboot (May 15).
There’s more fun at the imaginary prehistoric theme park as a new genetically modified dino escapes (big surprise) to wreak havoc. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard co-star in Jurassic World (June 12).
He said he would be back, and so Arnold is, in the latest reimagining of the 30-year-old classic sci-fi franchise. This time, Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke (no relation) play the iconic mother and son Sarah and John Connor in Terminator Genisys (July 1).
For the family guy
Director Brad Bird (MI: Ghost Protocol) brings shimmering, high-tech life to a Damon Lindelof (Lost) script about Tomorrowland, a futuristic utopia that can only be accessed if you get a personal invitation. George Clooney plays a reclusive inventor who may hold the key (May 22).
Inside Out, the latest Pixar animated movie, features the voice talents of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Lewis Black (!) as ‘toon personifications of varied emotions and how they act, and interact, as their adolescent human host faces new challenges (June 19).
It was inevitable that the lovably eccentric pill-shaped henchmen from Despicable Me would get their own movie. Minions tells their pre-Gru history as they search for an appropriate evil mastermind to serve. Sandra Bullock and Michael Keaton provide voice talent (July 10).
Pan reveals the alternative-universe origin story of Peter Pan and his friends in Neverland. This colorful, action-packed adventure tale features Hugh Jackman as Peter’s piratical nemesis…no, not Hook but the infamous Blackbeard (July 24).
For the (indie) film lover
Far from the Madding Crowd is the latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Victorian-era romance, starring Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen and, as a nearly equal co-star, the picturesque countryside of southwest England (May 1).
Infinitely Polar Bear features Mark Ruffalo as a man with bipolar disorder trying to care for his kids while managing his disease. It should be refreshing to see Ruffalo return to his indie roots absent the Hulk-inducing effects of gamma radiation (June 19).
Gone Girl was a runaway success at the cinema and in the bookstore. Dark Places, which stars Charlize Theron and Chloë Grace Moretz, explores another conflicted, maybe even nastier Gillian Flynn heroine (Aug. 7).
Z for Zachariah theorizes a post-apocalyptic scenario where the survivors must begin to restore humanity. This time, however, the family of Man may need to restart, not with a couple but a trio. It stars Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine (August TBD).
For the fun-seeker
Pitch Perfect II follows up on the exploits of the Barden Bellas, the college girl a cappella group from the initial film (a surprise smash hit). Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs) all return for more lyrical laughter (May 15).
Comedy’s reigning queen, Amy Schumer, wrote a script about a magazine writer with serious commitment avoidance. She never expected to play the lead, but Judd Apatow cast her anyway, to co-star with Bill Hader in Trainwreck (July 17).
Masterminds stars Kristin Wiig and Zack Galifianakis as leaders of a hick band of robbers in this comedy based on a true story. They somehow manage to pull off an impressive heist, only to crumble as they cope with their unexpected success (Aug. 7).