Your Summer at the Movies

Summer Movie Preview

We wait for the heat of summer all winter and spring. When it finally arrives, we seek shelter in dark, air-conditioned places. Movie theaters are still part of our summer, and this year there are more than a few reasons to spend a July evening in a cool room full of strangers.

It wouldn't be a summer without blockbuster action flicks, and 2014 is giving you them in droves with Godzilla, the Tom Cruise-powered Edge of Tomorrow and the sexy sci-fi of Jupiter Ascending. Michael Bay offers a gratuitous continuation of the Transformers franchise while lending his explosion-loving talents to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The X-Men return to the big screen, as do Sylvester Stallone and his wrinkly band of Expendables, in a summer so full of sequels and remakes you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped into the wrong DeLorean.

There are plenty of laughs, too. Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West leads the comedy field, followed closely by Melissa McCarthy in Tammy and a Jason Segel/Cameron Diaz romp called Sex Tape.

Don't get too hung up on the high-profile stuff, though. It's a promising season for indie films, with Richard Linklater's Boyhood the buzziest of the bunch, followed by the Tom Hardy-powered Locke.

Stay cool and happy watching.

— MIKE BOOKEY, culture editor



The latest in the Murphy's Law genre of comedy — if it can go wrong, it does — this flick features three stressed-out, overprotective moms of small children who finally make time for a night out. Cue stolen minivan, missing baby, accidental Tasering, bumbling dad on a stretcher and so on, until the night of PG-rated calamities ends with a predictable but resonant lesson about embracing chaos. (LISA WAANANEN) Rated PG


Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a pair of first-time parents living blissfully with their baby daughter until a douchey fraternity and their dude-bro leader (Zac Efron) moves in next door and makes their lives a living hell. See a full review in the film section. (MIKE BOOKEY) Rated R


Based on what we already know about the highly anticipated Godzilla remake from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros., its creators are going for something as far as possible from the pain and agony fans of the franchise suffered after 1998's terrible attempt at a reboot. Most important, our starring kaiju looks, well, like Godzilla is supposed to look. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it approaches the titanic monster's origin story by showing us that he's closer to a force of nature than anything else. For viewers who want a good story alongside the mega-monster scenes, it also offers a strong human drama among its leading characters, a family headed by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame playing nuclear physicist Joe Brody, who's trying to confirm Godzilla's existence. Godzilla, portrayed as an uncontrollable force of nature more than a murderous beast (though lots of cities are smashed in his wake), ends up fighting other monsters to save the humans. The newest trailer, for international viewers, gives us the first glimpse of a couple of otherworldly creatures lurking in the distance. (CHEY SCOTT) Rated PG-13


When cricket players try their hand at baseball, expect hijinks to ensue. Disney's Million Dollar Arm sees Jon Hamm playing a sports agent who is out of time and luck, but wants to make one desperate, unconventional attempt at saving his career by auditioning Indian cricket players to become baseball pitchers. Co-starring Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin and Suraj Sharma (from Life of Pi), this inspirational tale promises to bring the laughs. (PAUL SELL) Rated PG


Remember when Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore were in a movie together? The one in Hawaii where Barrymore couldn't remember anything, but Sandler was all, like, "I want to sail around the world, but screw it, I'd rather chase after this hot chick, even if she doesn't remember who I am." This time, Team Sandlermore heads to Africa. They play Jim and Lauren, a couple who endure an awful blind date, then somehow end up at the same resort half a world away. Both have kids, which makes things even crazier, right? When Lauren starts falling for these motherless kids, she's in danger of falling for the whole package.Directed by frequent Sandler collaborator Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy) Blended is full of the sort of silliness Sandler has been taking to the bank with the Grown Ups franchise. Not for everyone, but for a lot of people. (MB) Rated PG-13


Earth is about to come to an end again in this prequel/sequel mashup, and only the X-Men can save it. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) sends Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the past to convince the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) to help stop a future catastrophe. In order to accomplish this confusing turn of events, they must also spring the younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from his maximum-security cell, bringing the frenemies back together again. Because the film needs a few more A-list stars, Jennifer Lawrence is back as Mystique and Peter Dinklage plays a new bad guy. (LAURA JOHNSON) Rated PG-13


Seth MacFarlane, creator of Ted and last year's Academy Awards opening song, "We Saw Your Boobs," is back with his second live-action comedy — this time playing the lead. There's a plot, of course, but just as in MacFarlane's Family Guy TV series, expect many detours into off-color jokes, dream sequences and musical dance numbers that don't advance the story one bit. The film follows MacFarlane as a sheep farmer in the wild west of Arizona in 1882, where characters use present-day foul language. When a stunning blonde (Charlize Theron) moves to town, he attempts to win her affections by taking down her tyrannical husband (Liam Neeson). The only problem? He doesn't know how to use a gun. Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris add some raunch. (LJ) Rated R


Of all Disney's great animated villains, none is so exquisitely terrifying as Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent. After all these years, she gets to reveal her side of the story in a live-action reimagining starring Angelina Jolie and her razorlike cheekbones. Directed by Robert Stromberg, who also worked on the recent live-action Alice in Wonderland and Oz the Great and Powerful, the film challenges the simple Good vs. Evil premise of the original, and offers the characters a new outcome. (LW) Rated PG



The girl has cancer, the boy is in remission from cancer; this story can only end badly. As far as teenage cancer love stories go, John Green's recent young adult novel of the same name isn't half bad — not nearly as sappy as A Walk to Remember. With Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, Divergent) as the lead for this film adaption, many lovesick teenage girls and their boyfriends will show up for this one. (LJ) Rated PG-13


Have you ever had déjà vu while fighting in a war for the fate of all mankind? That's what's happening to Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow. In the not-too-distant future, there's a never-ending battle with the world hanging in the balance; Cruise plays a reluctant soldier caught in this war. But he seems to keep reliving the same battle over and over again, learning from his previous mistakes each time. Edge of Tomorrow is directed by Doug Liman, who brought us The Bourne Identity — also about a man losing his sense of identity in battle — so expect this to feel like Jason Bourne beating up baddies, except with futuristic weapons. Co-starring Bill Paxton, Lara Pulver and Emily Blunt as another soldier reliving the battle, this should be a high-octane thriller with a Groundhog Day twist. (PS) PG-13


It's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the role he was born to play: Hercules. Intended as a sequel to the famous 12 labors of the Greek demigod, it find Hercules as a hired assassin, when the King of Thrace begs him to seek and kill a tyrannical warlord and his massive army. Hercules' strength is put the ultimate test, and he might even find love in the process. (PS) Not yet rated

22 JUMP STREET June 13

The last time we saw officers Jenko (Channing "Abs" Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah "Two-Time Academy Award Nominee. Seriously. For Real" Hill), they were posing as high school students to bust a teenage drug ring. In 22 Jump Street (they moved across the street), the duo is back, but what could they possibly do to top their last assignment? Duh. Enroll in college. Again, the assignment is to stop a drug ring, but now at a college, while keeping their focus on fighting crime. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are back as directors; here's hoping they keep the humor as surprisingly punchy as they did the first time around. Thankfully, Nick Offerman (you know him as Ron Swanson) is back as the take-no-crap commanding officer. (MB) Not yet rated


The first How to Train Your Dragon ended with hard-fought peace between Vikings and dragons. So where do you go from that happily ever after? Well, now Hiccup is a teen, and there's a vast world to explore with his dragon friend Toothless — and it's not all friendly out there. Director Dean DeBlois returns for the second computer-animated installment based on the book series by Cressida Cowell. (LW) Rated PG


There's plenty of slicked-back hair, suits and crooning in the film adaption of the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name. Clint Eastwood directs this musical biography that follows the Four Seasons as they croon their way through the 1960s. But it's not all smooth going. The four music group members — Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), Tommy Devito (Vincent Piazza) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) — have their own set of personal clashes and difficult situations to make it through before they become stars. What keeps them together through Mafia threats, gambling losses and family catastrophes is the code of honor gleaned from the streets of their home. With a focus on frontman Valli, you'll get big helpings of his falsetto, along with big concert scenes and plenty of breaking the fourth wall. (JO MILLER) Rated R


Time for the Autobots to roll out again as Michael Bay brings us the fourth installment in his Transformers franchise. Shia LaBeouf is replaced by Mark Wahlberg, but we have the same battle at hand — Optimus Prime and his Autobot companions fighting their never-ending war against the evil Megatron and the Decepticons. This time, Wahlberg and his daughter have discovered something that could threaten both forces of shape-shifting robots, and even the entire world. Bay, who has previously bestowed Armageddon and Pearl Harbor upon us, makes films that are low on intelligence and common sense, high on action and explosions. (PS) Not yet rated


TAMMY July 2

At its core, Tammy is a road-trip movie, with Melissa McCarthy (the title character) and Susan Sarandon (her grandma, despite a 24-year age difference in real life) taking to the mean streets of upstate New York together. More than anything, the film serves as a vehicle for McCarthy to take her career to new heights. After box-office hits (Bridesmaids, The Heat) that prove women can be funny, she's been given a chance to write her own script (with actor husband Ben Falcone) here.

The story follows Tammy, who after being sacked from her fast-food job comes home to find her husband is cheating on her. Despondent, she sets out for Niagara Falls, ailing grandmother Pearl in tow. Tammy soon realizes that Pearl is much more of an alcoholic than she thought. Comedy ensues. (LJ) Rated R


If you are a fan of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Disney's Earth To Echo will draw you in. After a group of young boys receive a series of strange text messages, they find themselves on an adventure before their parents force them to move away from one another. It's partially filmed with that first-person Blair Witch Project approach, so expect to be kept on the edge of your seat. (PS) Rated PG


The highly anticipated sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes continues to tell the origin of how our world was transformed into a jungle where apes are the dominant species and humans are their servants. Taking place a decade after the previous film's events, most of humanity has been wiped out by an airborne plague that also gave the apes their super intelligence. Now the remaining humans want a truce with the growing nation of aggressive apes, led by Caesar, in a desperate attempt to survive. But it's short-lived, as tempers rage between the two groups and a war begins that will determine who will rule the planet. While Rise was helmed by Rupert Wyatt, the sequel is directed by Matt Reeves, who previously gave us Cloverfield. So the dawn is sure to be different from the rise. (PS) Not yet rated


The high-flying adventures of Dusty Crophopper and his aerial friends return in Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue. Dusty takes a different path than he did in the previous Planes, as his engine becomes damaged and he may never be able to race again. This doesn't stop Dusty from joining an all-terrain-vehicle firefighting squad and battling a massive fire that endangers his world. (PS) Rated G

SEX TAPE July 25

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, a couple looking to put some Sriracha back into their bedroom activities, decide to do that by making a sex tape. But because of the "cloud" (yeah, you don't know what it is, don't pretend), said tape goes out to all their friends and family. So the two go out and try to erase it from the Internet. Directed by Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher, TV's New Girl), this familiar premise looks to produce some earnest laughs. (MB) Rated R


Jupiter Jones is a girl who aspires to live among the stars, but is stuck on Earth living a poor life. That is, until she's visited by an ex-military hunter, and Jupiter learns that she's next in line to become the Queen of the Universe. Jupiter uses this as her chance to travel the cosmos and end the current Queen's reign. Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones; Channing Tatum plays the genetically altered Caine, who has the difficult job of hunting down Jupiter. Also featuring Eddie Redmayne, Terry Gilliam, Douglas Booth and Sean Bean, Jupiter Ascending is directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski — who have previously given us Cloud Atlas and the Matrix trilogy — so this should be an intelligent yet exciting peek at the galaxy. (PS) Not yet rated



Marvel Studios has deluged us with film after film as of late; throughout those action-blasted thrill rides, we've always seen a bit of humor. Robert Downey Jr. gives us a few laughs, right? With this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy, it looks like Marvel is letting things get earnestly hilarious.Chris Pratt (best known as lovable dumb-ass Andy on Parks and Recreation) leads an impressive cast as Peter Quill, a space pilot who has dubbed himself "Star-Lord." Quill steals an orb and becomes the target of a manhunt, so he joins forces with a gang of misfits, including a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, in the hopes of saving the galaxy.

James Gunn, an oddball filmmaker who made waves a few years ago with Super, directs. The cast also includes John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Vin Diesel and Zoe Saldana, who stars in NBC's miniseries revamp of Rosemary's Baby, but you first met in Avatar. (MB) Not yet rated


For some perspective, the kids who watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons on TV in the late '80s now have kids of their own. If the turtles were actually teenagers when the most recent Ninja Turtles live-action movie came out in the early '90s, they'd now be pushing 40. So it's been a long time coming, and TMNT fans have a right to be concerned about some of the rumored changes that have floated around since Nickelodeon bought the rights in 2009. But producer Michael Bay finally quashed the rumor that the turtles would be from an alien race, rather than radioactive ooze, and the plot kicks off in a dark, violent New York City under control of The Shredder and his evil Foot Clan. The CGI-enhanced turtles are joined by Megan Fox — reportedly back on good terms with Bay after getting fired from the set of Transformers — as reporter April O'Neil. (LW) Rated PG


The one Into the Storm trailer out so far gives us all we really need to know, starting with a black screen and the eerie moan of a tornado siren. This film is going to be about a terrifying-as-hell tornado(es?) so strong it blows jetliners and 18-wheelers up into the sky like it's no big deal. Other than a couple of cut scenes of people grabbing onto things and each other in hurricane-force winds, we can assume the rest of the plot is some kids trying not to blow away and die — and of course, lots of destruction and gigantic stuff flying around in wind tunnels. (CS) Rated PG-13


If you've been around Hollywood long enough and can get enough famous friends together, the powers that be will let you do just about anything. That's the only reasoning behind a third installment of this action franchise, in which an aging crew of do-gooder mercenaries have to challenge their group's original founder (Mel Gibson, apparently allowed in movies again), now a ruthless arms trader. The cast includes Sylvester Stallone (who wrote the script), Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Dolph "Ivan Drago" Lundgren. (MB) Not yet rated

THE GIVER August 15

In an age of blockbuster films based on dystopian young-adult novel after novel, it must be said that The Giver — based on the Newbery Award-winning book of the same name by Lois Lowry — was the original kid-lit dystopia. All those book-to-movie franchises to follow (Hunger Games, Divergent) owe Lowry for paving the way. While the film is based on the book, early fan dissections of the trailer have pointed out many differences from page to screen. Book fans, be warned. The screen-adapted version stars Jeff Bridges as its title character, The Giver, charged with storing the memories of a time before "Sameness." When Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) turns 12, he begins training for his chosen career as the "Receiver of Memory," since he'll one day take over The Giver's job of storing all memories of humanity before his utopian world known simply as "The Community." As Jonas begins to learn about the past — all the good, bad and ugly — from wars to pure happiness, he begins to realize just what he and the rest of the Community are missing out on. (CS) Not yet rated


For those who saw the first installment of Sin City (2005), based on a graphic novel by comic-book-genre heavyweight Frank Miller, the second aims to be just as visually jarring, sexy and dark as the first. Based largely on Miller's second book in the Sin City series, Dame merges plot threads from later books in the series, along with a few original story lines Miller created just for screen. Several members of the first film's cast return, including Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson and Mickey Rourke, alongside newcomers Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ray Liotta and Lady Gaga. Each of these actors takes on one of two roles: good guy or bad guy. But as with most Miller stories, even the good guys have some blood under their nails. (CS) Not yet rated


Jessabelle (Sarah Snook), after returning home from a tragic car accident that put her in a wheelchair, just wants to forget. Finding videotapes of her deceased mother doesn't help, especially when her mother spouts warnings of inevitable, tragic death. As attempts on her life grow more sinister, Jessabelle knows that her mother's premonitions are coming true, and something is out to get her. (ER) PG-13 ♦

Tár @ The Kenworthy

Fri., Dec. 9, 7 p.m., Sat., Dec. 10, 7 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 11, 4 p.m.
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