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It's blockbuster season: A look at 30 summer movies

Joe Gross

Ah, summer, when a young person's fancy turns to superheroes and space opera, romantic comedies with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan of their era?) and goofy westerns from the guy who brought you "Family Guy."

Summer is the blockbuster, bill-paying season for the studios, and it's genuinely weird to think that 10 or 12 years ago it was big news when there was a comic book character on the screen.

These days, comic book movies are the dominant summer form. There are no fewer than three movies featuring Marvel Comics characters this summer: Spider-Man, the X-Men and, um, the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team that only hardcore Marvel nerds know. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" has already kicked off the season.

Dark Horse Comics is represented with a new "Sin City" movie, while the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are getting a reboot for a new generation of 8-year-olds, the parents of whom remember the Turtles from their 1980s heyday.

You know who doesn't have a movie out this summer? DC Comics, home of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, who deserved her own movie long before yet another Superman reboot.

Anyway, here are 30 buzzy movies coming out between now and the end of summer. We have seen none of them except "Boyhood" and "Neighbors," both of which played at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Release dates are, as always, subject to change. Some of the following may be great, some may be terrible. Either way, at least there will be air conditioning.

Neighbors

May 9

Nick Stoller directs Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents who have Zac Efron's fraternity move in next door in this ne-plus-ultra of the semi-improvised/"are they just making this up as they go?" genre.

Godzilla

May 16

Here is the big question for this, the second reboot inside of 20 years for this classic kaiju franchise. Is it just me, or does Godzilla keep getting bigger? Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche and Ken Watanabe star.

Million Dollar Arm

May 16

Jon Hamm stars as sports agent J.B. Bernstein in a story based on the true tale of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, whom Bernstein discovered after they won a reality show. With Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin, Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

May 23

This highly anticipated sequel unites the contemporary "X-Men" and "X-Men: First Class" storylines into one big continuity, starring the whole gang: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and franchise newcomer Peter Dinklage. It deals with a war of survival across two time periods, hence the "future past" subtitle.

Blended

May 23

The third romantic comedy pairing Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (see also "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates"), "Blended" concerns two single parents who find themselves at a family resort together after a lousy blind date. Cuteness likely ensues.

Maleficent

May 30

Angelina Jolie plays the titular villain with the epic cheekbones who curses Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). Think "Wicked" using "Sleeping Beauty" instead of "The Wizard of Oz" as source material. Visual effects expert Robert Stromberg tries his hand at directing.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

May 30

Seth MacFarlane writes, directs and stars in this western comedy set in 1882 Arizona. What's your over-under on how many minutes before the first sex-with-sheep joke? With Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson, who does not seem to be turning down any part at all anymore.

The Fault in Our Stars

June 6

Two teens meet and fall in love at a cancer support group. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who played siblings in "Divergent," star. New drivers and their dates will be lining up soon to swoon.

Edge of Tomorrow

June 6

Doug "The Bourne Identity" Liman directs Tom Cruise -- who just seems to play sci-fi/action heroes now -- and Emily Blunt as future soldiers stuck in a time loop of fighting and dying in the same battle over and over again.

How to Train Your Dragon 2; 22 Jump Street

June 13

This is apparently the day to release Sequels To Unexpectedly Awesome Movies. The first, a sequel to the excellent 2010 animated feature about Vikings who figure out how to ride dragons, pits the dragon-riders against an external possibly-also-dragon-based threat. Stars Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig, America Ferrera and TJ Miller, that guy who plays the incubator dude on HBO's "Silicon Valley."

Nobody expected "22 Jump Street," mostly because nobody expected the 2012 movie "21 Jump Street" to be as funny as it was. But Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were great as undercover cops infiltrating a high school. Now they are undercover cops at a college. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the dudes behind both the first "Jump Street" and the smash hit "The Lego Movie."

Hellion

June 13

Austin director Kat Candler tells a gritty tale of a decent-hearted teenage troublemaker and motocross obsessive (Josh Wiggins) whose family is in danger of total collapse following his mother's death. With Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis.

Jersey Boys

June 20

Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals don't always make a smooth transition to the big screen, but this one has Clint Eastwood at the helm (not known as a song-in-his-heart director) and Christopher Walken's singular presence.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 40th Anniversary

June 20

One of the most powerful horror flicks ever made and a crucial movie in the development of Austin film, Tobe Hooper's classic turns 40 this year. See the restored version with someone you love (to hang on a meat-hook).

Transformers: Age of Extinction

June 27

Director Michael Bay slots Mark Wahlberg (who starred in Bay's weirdly entertaining "Pain and Gain") into the now-departed Shia LaBeouf's slot as the human POV character. Co-stars Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammer and a bunch of Autobots, Decepticons and (yes, nerds) Dinobots.

Tammy

July 2

Like many people who used to watch "Gilmore Girls," I wish Melissa McCarthy all the success humanly possible. Here, she and husband Ben Falcone co-write and co-direct a comedy about a woman who decides to split on her no-good husband. Her only option out of town? A road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

July 11

Apes and humans battle for Earth domination, and you can probably guess who's gonna win. Andy Serkis stars as Caesar, who is pictured in one still holding a short-barrel shotgun. So know that this movie has apes with shotguns, and act accordingly.

Boyhood

July 11

In "Boyhood," an early contender for movie of the year (or decade?), iconic Austin director Richard Linklater followed his cast for 12 years, chronicling the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family (mother Patricia Arquette, father Ethan Hawke and sister Lorelei Linklater). One of the great cinematic achievements of the age and one of the best movies about Texas ever made -- no kidding.

Jupiter Ascending

July 18

This planet-hopping, sci-fi/fantasy blowout by Andy and Lana Wachowski ("The Matrix," etc.) looks to be the best kind of bonkers space opera. Turns out that Russian maid Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) has the genetic makeup to be the next Queen of the Universe. Channing Tatum (and his abs) star as gene-spliced warrior Caine Wise, and Sean "Ned Stark" Bean plays the scoundrel Stinger.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

July 18

A sequel to the animated "Cars" spinoff "Planes." Stars Dane Cook. So, yeah, that happened.

The Purge: Anarchy

July 18

When a movie makes $87 million worldwide on a budget of $3 million, as the creepy dystopian thriller "The Purge" did, a sequel is not surprising. Writer-director James DeMonaco returns. Stars Frank Grillo, Zach "Matt Saracen" Gilford and other victims.

Step Up: All In

July 25

The fifth of the "Step Up" dance movies. This one is directed by Trish Sie, who created that now-legendary video for OK Go's "Here It Goes Again," aka the one with the treadmills.

Hercules

July 25

The always likable Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as the demigod of myth. Directed by Brett "Rush Hour" Ratner. If it's a hit, everyone will smell a franchise. If it bombs, well, Johnson still has the "Fast and Furious" movies. Co-starring John Hurt, Irina Shayk and Ian McShane.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Aug. 1

A true test of the juggernaut power of Marvel comic book movies. Unlike Spider-Man and the X-Men, the Guardians are a true B-list franchise, space-faring superbeings who fight intergalactic menaces. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan and Vin Diesel. Think "cosmic Avengers" -- at least, Marvel hopes you think as much.

Get on Up

Aug. 1

This is a guts move, a biopic about the almighty James Brown, one of the most important and charismatic people in the history of American popular music. Will it work? Directed by Tate "The Help" Taylor; Chadwick Boseman, who starred as Jackie Robinson in "42," plays the Godfather of Soul.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Aug. 8

A reboot of the most weirdly indestructible kiddie franchise of all time. I have been told the turtles now have noses. Is nothing sacred?

The Giver

Aug. 15

Can Taylor Swift act? We'll find out when she teams up with Meryl Streep and Alexander Skarsgard in this tale based on the Lois Lowry novel.

The Expendables 3

Aug. 15

The third in the "Expendables" franchise focusing on the ongoing adventures of, well, older action franchise vets. Features Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li and Terry Crews among other Expendables vets, as well as a cast of younger actors. Also, Harrison Ford is in this one, because if there is one thing Harrison Ford does not care about, it is what you think of his career choices.

When the Game Stands Tall

Aug. 22

Just in time for two-a-days in the blazing heat, Jim Caviezel stars as coach Bob Ladoucer, who had a record-setting 151-game high school football winning streak at De La Salle High School in Concord, California, from 1992 to 2003. Think "Friday Night Lights" in the East Bay.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Aug. 22

Comic book savant Frank Miller and Austin's pulp-king director Robert Rodriguez team up for the sequel to the ultra-hard-boiled "Sin City." With Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis.


By Joe Gross
Cox Newspapers