It seems like the summer blockbuster movie season begins earlier each year. This Friday marks the release of Furious 7, which is pretty much kick-starting the slew of big budget movies that typify the summer months. This year we can expect the usual host of sequels, adaptations, remakes and even some original movies thrown into the mix (I know, shocking right). To help guide you through this mountain of content, here are some of the big and or most significant films being released over the next couple of months.
Release Date: April 3
Directed By: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham
There’s no talking about Furious 7 without bringing up the tragic death of Paul Walker, who was unable to complete filming. A lot of speculation is going around on just how his character of Brian O’Connor is going to be edged out, whether he will die on or off screen or simply walk away alive. Whatever way they choose, I’m sure it will be done with the upmost respect. New editions to this action-orgy franchise include director James Wan (Saw, Insidious), who is replacing long-time franchise director Justin Lin and Jason Statham who will play the part of villain in this particular installment. Some things, however, will never change: Expect a metric ton of action and Vin Diesel saying the word “family” a lot. Early reviews for this have been very positive, with particular praise given to the action set pieces.
Release Date: April 17
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Tom Hardy, Gary OldmanNoomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman
Tome Hardy is one of the greatest actors working to date. Period, full stop. I mean, he literally acted in a film that consisted solely of him talking on his cell phone in a car for 90 minutes, that film being Locke. I would watch anything he appears in, and Child 44 is no exception. Based on the novel by Tom Rob Smith, this historical fiction movie is set in 1952 Russia and centers on a string of child murders that Hardy’s ex MGB Agent character is investigating. The film also reunites Hardy with frequent co-star Gary Oldman (the two shared the screen in The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). There aren’t many historical films that center completely on Stalinist Russia, and I’m curious to see what this film has to offer. This is definitely the smallest of the films discussed here, but those are often the best.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Release Date: May 1
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo
Let’s face it, pretty much everybody on the face of the earth is going to see this one, if the box office on the previous installment is any indicator. The gang’s all back as Iron Man, Thor, Captain American and The Hulk once again team up, this time to protect the world from one of Tony Stark’s rogue inventions: Ultron (voiced by James Spader). From the looks of the trailer, this installment is going to get pretty heavy, with Ultron dealing massive casualties to the Avengers and their allies. Something tells me not everything is going to end happily this time. This closing chapter Phase 2 in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe will introduce a bunch of new characters like Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and The Vision. The film will also set the ground work for the already announced slate of movies Marvel has planned for Phase 3. The only question is can they keep up the momentum of quality they built with Winter Soldier and Guardians of The Galaxy.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Release Date: May 15
Directed By: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult
Every single trailer that has come out for this one makes it look like a fever dream of craziness, and that’s a good thing. They’re clearly selling this one on the jaw dropping action scenes, most of which involve vehicles exploding in amazing ways. Little is known about the plot, though I doubt that is why anyone would want to see this. Hardy and Theron have already established themselves as amazing performers and action stars, and the return of original Mad Max creator George Miller as director only cements my excitement. Plus, I can’t wait to see what kind of psychopath Nicholas Hoult seems to be playing in the trailers. Could a Mel Gibson cameo be inevitable or will the franchise try to distance itself from its original incarnation?
Pitch Perfect 2
Release Date: May 15
Directed By: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow and Skylar Astin
The original Pitch Perfect was one of the biggest surprises of 2013. Presenting itself as yet another Glee clone, the movie managed to claim an identity of its own thanks to the brilliant cast, smart dialogue and inventive song mash-ups. This time around, the Barton Bellas (an all-female acapella group) are going international as they compete in a worldwide acapella competition that no American team has ever won. Hopefully, Pitch Perfect 2 will evade the decline in quality that characterizes most comedy sequels and bring something new and fresh to the franchise. And even if it doesn’t, we still get to see Anna Kendrick be awesome for two hours and that’s fine by me. This will also be the directorial debut of established comedian Elizabeth Banks, who will also appear in the film.
Release Date: May 22
Directed By: Brad Bird
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Hugh Laurie
This is quite possibly the most intriguing movie coming out this year. We know almost nothing about the plot, with the only semblance of a hint being its titular reference to the Disney theme park. In a world crowded by sequels, remakes and adaptations, it’s good to see a movie that we have absolutely no pre-determined expectations for. I’m all for original ideas, and this looks like it has some to spare. Brad Bird is a great director, and though most of his output has been animated features, his live-action directorial debut of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has shown that he can, if nothing else, make a movie look cool. Whether the actual story lives up to the mystery is debatable (it is written by notorious screenwriter Damon Lindelof of Lost fame for whatever that’s worth) but Disney has done an excellent job of maintaining the mystery in the movie’s marketing and I have no desire to learn anything more until I see it.
Release Date: May 29
Directed By: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandria Deddario, Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti
Dwayne Johnson (formerly known as The Rock, though a lot of people still know him by this title) has become a full-on action superstar in the last couple of years and his name alone seems to guarantee that any film he’s in will bring in a lot of cash. With San Andreas, Johnson is entering the disaster movie business. This film is a fictionalised account of what could happen during the next big earthquake caused by the San Andreas Fault in California. Johnson is playing a helicopter pilot trying to escape the danger zone with his family. It’s a pretty cliché plot, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate a good “everything must be destroyed” disaster flick every now and then. I’m just shocked this isn’t being directed by disaster film directorial icon Roland Emmerich, who is responsible for both 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow.
Other Releases: The Longest Ride (April 10), Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and Unfriended (April 17), The Age of Adaline and Little Boy (April 24), She’s Funny That Way (May 1), Before I Wake and Hot Pursuit (May 8), Poltergeist (May 22). Aloha (May 29)