The long winter (such as it is here in Southeast Texas) is over, and the 2015 summer movie season promises to be a big one: three new Marvel properties (from two different studios, naturally); reboots, sequels, and the odd original property thrown in to keep you off balance.
I'd hate to send you out into the muggy coming months unprepared, so what follows is my analysis of the potential entertainment value of the 20 most anticipated summer releases, based on my viewing of trailers/personal bias/relative sobriety (or lack thereof). Enjoy, and turn your goddamned phones off.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1) Q: When does the sequel to a film that grossed $1.5 beelion dollars hit theaters? A: Any time it wants.
Age of Ultron kicks off the summer season and is enough of a 900-lb box office gorilla to ensure nothing of significance is being released until two weeks later (sorry, Ah-nold). Advance word is promising, but the real question may — surprisingly — be whether a murderous automaton can unseat the reanimated corpse of Paul Walker — no slouch in the automaton department himself — as 2015 money champ.
Hot Pursuit (May 8) Like I was saying. Warner Bros' decision to dump this in the Ultron killing fields doesn't bode well for Reese Witherspoon, who had some decent momentum going after last year's Wild but here looks to be engaged in a funny accent war with Sofia Vergara.
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15) It's no secret I'm pulling for George Miller as he reboots one of the great dystopian action franchises of all time. Of mild concern is the relative lack of marquee names: Tom Hardy's biggest role has been Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, in which he was largely unrecognizable, and Theron's last two movies were the uneven Prometheus and the unpleasant A Million Ways to Die in the West. Me, I'm more worried about making sure I see it in IMAX at least a dozen times.
Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15) The Barden Bellas are back, and they're making "pitch/bitch" puns all over the place again. With original screenwriter Kay Cannon returning, I'd expect this to perform pretty well, considering it's the only major release without explosions, robots, or exploding robots for the month of May.
Tomorrowland (May 22) Disney's kept pretty mum about the subject of George Clooney's next picture, so your level of excitement (or lack thereof) probably depends on what sort of person you are. Optimists will cling to the fact that Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) is at the helm. Pessimists will point out it was co-written by Damon Lindelof (Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus, the last four seasons of Lost).
Poltergeist (May 22) The trailer sort of makes it look like this remake of Tobe Hooper's 1982 classic won't completely suck. It's just hard to get excited about another ghost story, post-Oculus/Insidious/The Conjuring.
Also, the shit with the clown? Trying too hard.
San Andreas (May 29) You all may have your reasons for looking forward to this: the easy charm of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the vicarious thrill of watching Southern California's transformation into Arizona Bay, the mistaken belief this is a movie about the Grand Theft Auto franchise. I'll be there for one reason: Carla Gugino, AKA my pretend wife since Karen Sisco.
Entourage (June 3) I have a hard time believing anyone (besides executive producer Mark Wahlberg) was clamoring for a big screen adaptation of a show that was often literally about nothing but weed and celebrity cameos (watch for Rob Gronkowski and David Spade in the movie!). I gave up on it after two seasons, but I'm sure it's just as edgy and relevant as it was when people first bought the idea of Adrian Grenier as an A-lister.
Spy (June 5) Word is this will be a somewhat less slapstick-heavy role for Melissa McCarthy, though the film's poster doesn't do a lot to bolster that assertion. This will be the third collaboration between McCarthy and director Paul Feig, however (the first two being Bridesmaids and The Heat), so it should be decent, right?
Jurassic World (June 12) Gyroscopic spheres! Raptor biker gangs! (improbably huge) Mosasaurs! I like how Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong) has apparently learned his lesson about playing god in the first movie by breeding a super-T. rex to eat a new generation of tourists in this movie. Either Dr. Wu needs to reevaluate his priorities, or he's a James Bond supervillain.
Inside Out (June 19) 2015's obligatory Pixar release features Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black, who is long overdue to be marketed to the toddler set.
Ted 2 (June 26) Like they say, when life gives you lemons (33 percent "Fresh" for AMWtDitW at Rotten Tomatoes), make lemonade (a sequel to your talking teddy bear movie that most of us only enjoyed for the Sam Jones appearance). Death to Ming!
Terminator: Genisys (July 1) I assume there's going to be an explanation as to why Arnold actually looks like a 60+ year-old human being? Presumably the living tissue surrounding the cyborg ages in real time, never mind whatever Star Trek level of science-y sounding gobbledygook they use to explain how it stayed intact in the first place.
And when are we going to stop trying to make Jai Courtney happen? Or are Terminator movies the last stop for once-hyped actors before we chuck them on the scrap heap and look for new meat? Hi, Nick Stahl and Sam Worthington!
Magic Mike XXL (July 1) Charisma vacuums Cody Horn ("Brooke") and Alex Pettyfer ("Adam") aren't returning (that's good). Neither are Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas") or director Steven Soderbergh, although he is editing and cinematograph...ing (that's bad). Longtime Soderbergh assistant director Gregory Jacobs is taking over (that's good). The plot apparently has the "Cock Rocking Kings of Tampa" traveling to Myrtle Beach for a "strippers' convention." That's bad.
Minions (July 10) And the award for Least Surprising spin-off of a billion dollar franchise goes to. Maybe if we're lucky this will spin off a whole new series of non sequitur internet memes.
Ant-Man (July 17) Tonal inconsistencies might be what sink Ant-Man. The early trailers had a much more serious focus, which didn't quite mesh with a tiny man riding a honeybee (or whatever). They've since been going for more of a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe in their marketing, which may work.
Then again, Marvel's due for a bomb, aren't they? And by "bomb" I mean, "under $200 million domestic." That's Incredible Hulk territory there.
Pixels (July 24) Everybody crowing about how this looks like Adam Sandler's best movie in decades realizes he stole the whole fucking plot from an episode of Futurama, right?
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (July 31) I'm conflicted, because while MI: Ghost Protocol was damn good fun and the best of the franchise so far, Tom Cruise is a capital "N" Nutbag and probably has slave labor trick out his cars and motorcycles.
I also don't want to see this guy run anymore. Every movie; run run run. I swear it's in his contracts so we can be impressed by how fit the little bastard is. Roger Moore only ran when a) he was chased, b) Barbara Bach was waiting for him in bed.
The Fantastic Four (August 7) These guys again. The problem with the Fantastic Four is they were the first superhero team Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (reverse that depending on whose version of creative events you believe) came up with, and as such they really aren't that interesting. I say this as a guy who's read comics since he was a kid and seen both of the previous Fox films.
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Maybe there's a way to do them right, but something tells me a movie that's had its release pushed back twice isn't the answer.
Straight Outta Compton (August 14) I could have sworn that NWA album came out earlier, because I have memories of listening to "Fuck Tha Police" in the parking lot behind my high school, and if it was 1988 that means I was in college when this happened, which is really sad.