By Sherry Lipp
Let’s face it – the summer season is already upon us, but we still like to think of Memorial Day as the big kick-off. The ones that come before are kind of like summer lead-ins, though we can’t argue that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t doing summer type business. But so did Captain America: The Winter Soldier and that opened firmly in spring.
- 1) X-Men: Days of Future Past – Opens May 23rd – When Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart popped up during the end credits of The Wolverine we knew something exciting was in the works for the X-Men franchise. We’ve kept ourselves away from too many specific plot details online, but the title and trailer obviously indicate and adaptation of the Uncanny X-Men comic book storyline of the same name (published in 1981). Time travel will blend the cast of earlier trilogy with that of First Class. Brian Singer is back as director, which has its pros and cons. He did a great job with the first two X-Men, so he has a lot of mutant experience under his belt. He relinquished the disappointing X-Men: The Last Stand to a new team (including director Brett Ratner). Now the task of combining what were supposed to be two separate franchises is a challenging one that could easily tip into disaster if not carefully executed. For our part, we loved First Class and we hope this will present a best of both worlds situation.
- 2) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Opens July 11th – It’s been ten years since the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the virus we saw in that film has successfully wiped out a lot of the human population. That’s what we can glean from the trailer, at least. What transpired during those ten years and where does it leave both the human and primate races? That’s what we can’t wait to find out.
- 3) Guardians of the Galaxy – Opens August 1st – The first non-sequel Marvel Cinematic Universe feature since Captain America: The First Avenger back in 2011. There’s also not much pop culture cache behind this team of characters. Only the post-credits teaser at the end of Thor: The Dark World offered a direct tie-in to the Avengers franchise. Plus, with such a late-summer release, Marvel is taking a chance that moviegoers will be suffering blockbuster-burnout by this point. Still, the trailer is hilarious and promises something truly unique and offbeat in the ever-expanding MCU.
- 4) Get on Up – Opens August 1st – Danny Ray’s immortal introduction says it all, “Right about now, it’s star time. Are you ready for star time? Yes! Introducing, ladies and gentlemen, the man who has given the world over 44 golden soul classics, tunes that will never die. Tunes like ‘Try Me,’ ‘Please, Please, Please,’ ‘I Feel Good,’ ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,’ ‘Sex Machine,’ ‘The Payback,’ ‘Get Up Offa That Thang,’ ‘Don’t Be a Dropout,’ and ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.’ I introduce you to the hardest-working man in showbiz, ladies and gentlemen, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. JAMES BROWN!” With Chadwick Boseman, who knocked out audiences as Jackie Robinson in 2013’s 42, in the lead role, this Mick Jagger-produced biopic promises a feast of classic music as it tells the story of the one of popular music’s most important artists.
- 5) The Expendables 3 – Opens August 15th – Bring on the big guns! Series creator/star/writer Sylvester Stallone seems to be hinting this is the last call for the team of badasses. The usual suspects are all back, including Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bruce Willis parted ways, but numerous stars have stepped up this time. Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, and none other than Harrison Ford all combine to give this outing the most star power the franchise has ever seen. Recent Stallone outings like Grudge Match, Escape Plan, and Bullet to the Head haven’t ignited – let’s hope this one breaks the pattern.
- 6) Godzilla – Opens May 16th – We really wanted to resist this one. Haven’t we had enough monsters destroying cities? Not to mention that we were distinctly underwhelmed by Pacific Rim last year. But alas, the trailers have us intrigued, if not exactly jumping out of our seats. At the very least it looks like it could be a fun summer blowout. Bryan Cranston adds a little acting weight to the film. We’re ready to check this one out, but God help us if it’s just another series of action/effects-driven set pieces in search of a compelling story.
- 7) 22 Jump Street – Opens June 13th – Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back. Okay, the trailer was honestly not all that great, but the first one is extremely funny. We’re maintaining cautious optimism for this one. Comedies are always a good break from summer action fare, so hopefully this one delivers the laughs. That’s all we ask. And the good news is that the first film’s underappreciated secret comedic weapon – Rob Riggle – is back as Mr. Walters.
- 8) Lucy – Opens August 8th – Luc Besson has had some hits and misses throughout his career, and for our money he still hasn’t done better than The Professional ( way back in 1994), but this one looks interesting. It looks like it borrows the basic concept from Limitless (but we could be wrong) and adds a little more political intrigue. Scarlett Johansson gets the chance to show off more of her action skills.
- 9) A Million Ways to Die in the West – Opens May 30th – This is an Old West comedy from Seth MacFarlane with an all-star cast that includes Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, and Liam Neeson. MacFarlane himself also stars. The trailer looks pretty funny – though that doesn’t always mean anything. We’re hoping this one will follow successfully on the comedy heels of MacFarlane’s previous film, the near-classic Ted.
- 10) Jersey Boys – Opens June 20th – The Broadway hit comes to the big screen. This one might have missed our radar, seeing as it is definitely atypical summer fare. But it’s directed by none other than Clint Eastwood. It’ll be interesting to see what the acclaimed director will do with this one. If nothing else, all those Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons classics are going to sound great.