Summer movies: Blockbusters, epics and sequels
Spring has finally arrived in the Berkshires, but Hollywood follows its own calendar. The summer movie season is so packed with special- effects blockbusters, epic dramas, over-the-top comedies, sequels and celebrity showcases that the movie industry can't wait around for everybody else's summer to get here.
So Hollywood's summer starts in May, and today's return to the big screen of the big, radioactive and anger management-challenged "Godzilla" is an ideal way to kick things off.
The release dates below are subject to change, and some of the edgier, low profile films that don't want to be stomped upon will arrive in the Berkshires after tiptoeing into the big cities.
Fantasy / Science-fiction
The "Godzilla" of 1998, which turned the legendary movie monster into a big iguana, was a disaster movie in the worst sense of the term, and could have killed the franchise. It's hard to keep a good monster down, however, and the trailers showing Godzilla laying waste to San Francisco have been encouragingly dark and epic.
In "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (May 23), the mutants visit the past to head off a bleak future, which enables the casts of the "X-Men" trilogy and the 2011 prequel to get together. Look for more of Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique and Michael Fassbender's young Magneto, as the actors have emerged as major stars since the saga began.
"Maleficent" (May 30) reworks "Sleeping Beauty," with Angelina Jolie center stage as the black-horned baddie. "The Edge of Tomorrow" (June 6), is a sci-fi film blended with "Groundhog Day," as Tom Cruise's futuristic soldier keeps getting killed off only to be reborn in battle. Rom-com star Emily Blunt is imaginatively cast as a resistance fighter.
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" (June 27) is billed as a reboot of a three-film franchise that ended only three years ago and has not been missed. Mark Wahlberg replaces Shia LaBoeuf as the harried human who battles with and against the immense CGI toys. Also on the 27th, Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton travel a post-apocalyptic Earth in "Snowpiercer."
"Dawn of The Planet of the Apes" (July 11) finds Andy Serkis' Caesar, leader of the ape rebellion, waging further battle against nearly vanquished humanity.
Channing Tatum is an alien sent to Earth to rescue a janitor (Mila Kunis) who is in fact interplanetary royalty in "Jupiter Ascending" (July 18,) the latest from the Wachowskis ("The Matrix"). Also on the 18th, biologists Michael Pitt and Brit Marling make a discovery that could change humanity's vision of itself in "I Origins."
"Hercules" (July 25) would seem a little dated to work with contemporary audiences, but Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson may have enough muscle, wit and charm to bring the mythological hero to life. "Guardians of the Galaxy" (Aug. 1) features an oddball collection of superheroes ripe for satire, and with pro wrestler Dave Bautista as a Hulk-type behemoth and Bradley Cooper voicing a computer-generated, gun-wielding super-raccoon, it has the potential to be an unlikely hit.
What would summer be like without an Adam Sandler comedy? It would be nice to find out. This summer's entry, which is sure to dominate the Razzie nominations, is "Blended" (May 23), in which Sandler and Drew Barrymore play warring single parents thrown together on a family holiday. In a film sure to be compared with the classic comedy-western "Blazing Saddles," director, writer and star Seth MacFarlane unleashes Wild West nonsense in "A Million Ways to Die in the West" (May 30).
In "Think Like A Man Too" (June 20), the sequel to the 2012 hit, Kevin Hart accompanies troubled married friends to Las Vegas.
The coveted Wednesday, July 2 date leading into the July 4 weekend goes to "Tammy," a road trip genre film with Melissa McCarthy's Tammy, fed up with her job as a fast-food worker and her cheating husband, hits the road with her hard-drinking grandmother (Susan Sarandon).
Michael Douglas' old crank hopes Diane Keaton's kindly neighbor can help him take care of his 9-year-old granddaughter after his son goes to jail in the Rob Reiner-directed "And So It Goes" (July 11). Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz are a married couple who film their sexual escapades and unwittingly upload them to the Internet in "Sex Tape" (July 25).
In the follow-up to the terrific 2010 road comedy "The Trip," comic pals Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon trade quips and Michael Caine impressions while eating well in "The Trip to Italy" (Aug. 15). The movie is the Pittsfield opening night selection of the Berkshire International Film Festival at the Beacon Cinema on May 30.
It's Valentine's Day, and comedian Jenny Slate is pregnant and on the wrong end of a break-up in "Obvious Child" (June 13). Amy Poehler's hard-charging corporate executive and Paul Rudd's easygoing shlub (typecasting maybe?) come together in "They Came Together" (June 27).
In this year's entry from Woody Allen, Colin Firth falls for the phony mystic (Emma Stone) he had set out to expose in "Magic in the Moonlight" (July 25). If Firth seems too old for Stone, remember who the writer-director is.
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are friends who would like to take it to the next level, but don't know what to do about her live-in boyfriend in "What If" (Aug. 15).
The one traditional musical of the summer is "Jersey Boys" (June 20), with John Lloyd Young reprising his Tony Award-winning role as legendary Four Seasons lead singer Frankie Valli. Clint Eastwood directs.
Director Richard Linklater charted the coming of age of a young boy over 12 years and the result, "Boyhood," emerges July 11. Star Ellar Coltrane aged from 7 to 19 in the course of periodic filming by Linklater.
Also on the 11th, a singer-songwriter played by Keira Knightley who was dumped by her boyfriend and collaborator (rock star Adam Levine) when he became an overnight sensation, tries to "Begin Again" with Mark Ruffalo's alcoholic music producer. Director John Carney helmed the surprise hit "Once" seven years ago.
Zach Braff's struggling actor has to home school his two kids when his father stops paying for private school in "Wish I Was Here" on July 25. Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Jackie Robinson in "42," channels a much-different African-American legend, Godfather of Soul James Brown, in "Get On Up" (Aug. 1.) On Aug. 8, Helen Mirren's prestigious French chef is confronted by an Indian restaurant opened next door by immigrants in "The Hundred-Foot Journey."
Based on John Green's best-selling young adult novel of 2012, "The Fault in Our Stars" (June 6) stars Augustus Waters and Shailene Woodley as two teens who meet in a cancer support group. On June 20, controversial director Roman Polanski returns to the big screen with "Venus In Fur," starring Emmanuelle Seigner as a mysterious actress pursuing an audition for a role in play based on the 19th century novel "Venus in Furs." The movie will be showing at the Berkshire International Film Festival.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars with Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright in "A Most Wanted Man" (July 25), an adaptation of a John Le Carré novel about an illegal Chechen immigrant in Germany. Jeff Bridges is the title character in "The Giver" (Aug. 15), which is based on the Lois Lowry young adult novel about a future world were individuality is sacrificed in the name of stability. Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes also star.
In another film based on a young adult novel, "If I Stay" (Aug. 22), Chloe Grace Moretz is a classical musician who must choose life or death as she lingers in a coma following a car accident.
After Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") kills a burglar, he and the dead man's father (Sam Shepard) pursue further deadly intrigue in "Cold in July" (May 23).
"22 Jump Street" (June 13), the sequel to the buddy cop flick "21 Jump Street" of 2012 in which Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum went undercover in high school, finds the duo working undercover in college.
Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson pursue bandits in a post-apocalyptic Australia in "The Rover" (June 20), a film that seems to have the DNA of the "Mad Max" films.
No, "Lucy" (Aug. 8) is not a Lucille Ball biopic. Far from it, as Scarlett Johansson's title character is a drug mule given extraordinary mental powers by the experimental drugs pumped into her by drug lords.
Action film geezer Sylvester Stallone is back again Aug. 15 in "The Expendables 3," in which Sly's mercenary leader welcomes fellow old-timers Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford.
"How To Train Your Dragon 2" (June 13), the sequel to the 2010 hit, finds our hero, now out of his teens, teaming with his faithful dragon to foil attempts to capture and build an army of fire-breathers. Dusty, the Dane Cook-voiced air racer from last year's "Planes," takes up aerial firefighting in the Disney sequel "Planes: Fire & Rescue" on July 18.
The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" seem pretty 1980s, but nonetheless the crimefighting reptiles return in a CGI-live action film Aug. 18. Megan Fox, late of the "Transformer" movies and kind of a CGI character herself, plays a TV news reporter who helps out the boys.