This Summer At The Movies
From big laughs to big gasps, we guide you through this season at the cinema.
Awards season is lovely, but summertime is when the studios pull out the stops and throw their biggest and most ambitious movies into theaters. If you’re overwhelmed with options, consult this month-by-month roster of upcoming films.
Iron Man director Jon Favreau—who created a low-budget classic about twentysomething
singlehood with Swingers—goes indie again, this time setting his sights on middle age. He’s writing, starring in, and directing a film about a chef who finds himself running a Miami food truck after his swanky Los Angeles restaurant shuts down. The movie opened this year's South by Southwest film festival—and if there’s one thing those Austin tastemakers know, it’s their food trucks, so expect at least some foodie authenticity.
It wouldn’t be summer without some giant monster running amok in some unassuming city. (Remember last year’s Pacific Rim?) They’re all basically Godzilla movies, so it’s a bit of a relief that this one is actually just called Godzilla. Though he may not be able to outdo his towering screen partner, Bryan Cranston trades small-screen villainy for big-screen heroism, taking the role of a nuclear physicist.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Of all of the superhero groups out there, the X-Men are the home team: Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the X-Men HQ, is located right here in Westchester. Then again, even without the local connection, we’d be on board for this movie, which throws time-travel into the mix, sending Wolverine back in time to avoid some kind of catastrophe.
The trend of darker, more adult takes on fairytale classics, à la Snow White and the Huntsmen, continues unabated. Maleficent gives a deeper look into the backstory of Sleeping Beauty’s evil witch—in other words, it’s perfect for your Wicked fans at home. Angelina Jolie takes on the terrifying titular role.
Also consider: If you’re looking for more familiar blockbuster characters, beyond Godzilla and the X-Men, there’s good ol’ Peter Parker, who dutifully returns for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2). Otherwise, the rest of May puts funny people front and center: Neighbors (May 9) sees Seth Rogen as a peace-and-quiet-loving dad squaring off against the partiers in a neighboring frat house, and Walk of Shame (May 2) stars Pitch Perfect’s Elizabeth Banks as a journalist trying to get to a job interview after a one-night stand. Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane also gets into the act, writing, directing, and starring in a comedy/western, A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30). Finally, if you’re too young to remember the nearly 20-year-old Trainspotting, there’s Filth (May 30), another gritty, druggy movie based on a novel by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.
Edge of Tomorrow
Some summer blockbusters have aliens. Some have time-travel. Others have robots. Edge of Tomorrow has aliens, time-travel, and robots—well, giant robotic-looking armored suits, anyway—making it the blockbusteriest movie of the season. In it, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star as soldiers battling an alien invasion who get caught in a “time loop” and have to relive their final battle on repeat, learning more about the invaders with each go-round. Think of it as an action version of Groundhog Day.
The Fault in Our Stars
Break out the tissues: Based on John Green’s bestselling novel, this film follows the love story of two terminally ill teenagers. (The waterworks are starting just thinking about it.) Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort co-star, and—both fresh off of this spring’s franchise-starting Divergent—vie to be crowned king and queen of the YA book-to-movie adaptation genre.
Director Gillian Robespierre made a splash at this year's Sundance with her first feature, about a comedian (Saturday Night Live alum Jenny Slate) who unexpectedly gets pregnant. After the Sundance screening, Variety called the movie “a female-driven comedy with a refreshingly distaff-strong crew, written by a trio of clever modern gals, where the guy is cute and all, but clearly a lesser factor in the central drama.” Other “modern gals” might appreciate it.
Viewer discretion advised on this one: language
22 Jump Street
Remember how much everyone enjoyed The Lego Movie earlier this year? Few would guess that it was directed by the pair behind 21 Jump Street, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who are returning for its sequel. Lord and Miller have proven that they’ve mastered comedy for any age, be it sophisticated children or juvenile adults.
Also consider: If you want to skip summer and go straight to Halloween, there’s The Sacrament (June 6), a found-footage horror movie loosely inspired by events like the Jonestown Massacre. Otherwise, summertime is sequel time, and June doesn’t disappoint, with How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27). And, though we’re strictly New Yorkers, we know some of you are Jersey Boys (June 20), and therefore interested in Clint Eastwood’s film based on the Tony Award-winning musical.
We’ve come to rely on Melissa McCarthy for a summertime laugh, be it with Bridesmaids or The Heat. This time around, we’re treated to a movie she actually co-wrote with her husband, Ben Falcone, who directs. McCarthy plays a woman who—after being fired from her fast-food job and finding out her husband is having an affair—goes on a road trip with a hard-drinking relative, played by Susan Sarandon.
Remember how warm and gooey you felt after watching all those poignant musical numbers in Once? Director John Carney is back with another musical romantic comedy. Keira Knightley plays a singer/songwriter who tries to use her music to help mend her broken heart, with the help of an equally heartbroken music-biz vet played by Mark Ruffalo. Gregg Alexander (the songwriter behind “You Get What You Give,” for those of you who remember the ’90s) wrote the original songs for the movie. We’ll see if they’re good enough to also end up on Broadway.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
We all remember Charlton Heston’s screaming at the Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes (um, spoiler alert?), but did you ever wonder how it got that way? A sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this movie shows humans’ continued defeat at the hands of some pretty smart primates.
The Wachowskis, the beautiful minds behind the Matrix trilogy, are back with another sci-fi epic. It involves gods, interplanetary travel, and another Chosen One like The Matrix’s Neo—but for now only the Wachowskis really know how it all fits together.
Also consider: Rob Reiner, who gets a lifetime pass in our hearts for The Princess Bride and This Is Spinal Tap, directs Michael Douglas in And So It Goes (July 11), about a selfish realtor who unexpectedly has to raise a grandchild. Speaking of grandchildren, take yours to the Cars spin-off sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18). Leave the kids home, on the other hand, if you head out to see Sex Tape, in which Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz play a married couple trying to track down a sex tape of theirs that’s gone missing. Meanwhile, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson finally gets a role befitting his huge muscles in Hercules (July 25).
Note: Studios are notoriously twitchy about film release dates, and some of these may have “adjusted” after press time. Check your listings