No surprise: Summer movie season 2014 offers plenty of films that have lots of things going boom.
We’ll also be getting a massive number of sequels and, oddly enough, a large quantity of small films with James Franco in them. (Those Franco films are, for the most part, too small to discuss in the space I have here. But trust me: He’s in a lot of flicks.)
There are also numerous comedies, and films with smaller price tags. Maybe Hollywood is starting to back off after expensive busts like R.I.P.D. and The Lone Ranger last year. Sure, this season includes some big movies, but there’s quite a bit of cerebral fare on the way, too.
Also, this year is definitely frontloaded: Most of the action will be finished with a month left in the summer. I won’t be surprised if some studios shift dates to early September this year.
Here’s a sampling of what’s to come. (These release dates are subject to change, depending on studio whims.) As you will see, I’m not very optimistic.
Neighbors (May 9): Seth Rogen and Zac Efron square off in this promising comedy about a mild-mannered couple (Rogen and Rose Byrne) being terrorized by new frat-boy neighbors (Efron and Dave Franco). This is not a remake of the Dan Aykroyd-John Belushi comedy with the same name.
Godzilla (May 16): The film I am anticipating most this year. I love the look that I am seeing in the trailers. Director Gareth Edwards has an immersive style that puts you right in the action, as he proved with his low-budget Monsters. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Bryan Cranston, aka. Walter White, who doesn’t seem as if he’s just taking a paycheck and barking at green screens: It looks like he’s taking the gig seriously, so this could be one of the greatest 3-D IMAX experiences ever!
It could also totally suck.
Million Dollar Arm (May 16): Mad Men’s Jon Hamm goes up against Godzilla in this film about a sports agent trying to find a pitcher in India. Good luck, pal.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23): Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) must save the world by traveling through time, enabling director Bryan Singer to combine some of the old and new X-Men casts. J.J. Abrams had nothing to do with this movie.
Blended (May 23): Wow. Judging by the tragically racist trailer for this Adam Sandler-goes-to-Africa movie, I can’t see how it will be any good. Drew Barrymore gets back with Sandler after the success of their 50 First Dates. I am growing increasingly impatient with Mr. Sandler. Come on, man—do something that isn’t completely inane. Heck, at least take the time to cover Henry Winkler with bees again.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30): Seth MacFarlane directs and gives himself his first feature-film starring role as a man in the Old West who can’t help but notice that it’s a place where anybody could die at any time. Charlize Theron, looking awfully cute in her cowgirl getup, co-stars. This looks like a blast.
Maleficent (May 30): I run hot and cold on Angelina Jolie. She looks super-creepy as the famed Disney baddie. I’m not sure I want to look at those weird horns and freaky contacts for an entire movie. Hey, I’m allowed to be shallow sometimes.
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6): Tom Cruise dies again and again and again in this science-fiction offering from director Doug Liman. Emily Blunt dies a lot, too, in a film that looks like a true mind screw.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13): Sequel to a big cartoon = CASH COW.
22 Jump Street (June 13): Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reteam for another go at the undercover cop comedy. I hope Ice Cube curses a lot in this one, too.
The Rover (June 20): Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce star in this strange-looking movie about a guy going after people who stole his car in the Australian outback. The guy who directed Animal Kingdom is making this one, so I’m intrigued.
Jersey Boys (June 20): Clint Eastwood directs a musical about The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli. Sounds weird.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27): Shia is out, and Mark Wahlberg is in for Michael Bay’s fourth go at the robot-trucks thing. I hate the other Transformers flicks, and I hate Bay, so I will probably hate this. Yes, I’m saying I will probably hate it before I see it, which is an unprofessional thing for a film critic to do. Hey, I know myself, people, and I’m nothing if not honest, so leave me alone.
They Came Together (June 27): Director David Wain, who so classically spoofed summer-camp films with Wet Hot American Summer, takes aim at the romantic-comedy genre with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler as his stars. This … will … be … awesome. There, I judged something before seeing it yet again. Sue me.
Tammy (July 2): Melissa McCarthy teams up with Susan Sarandon (playing her grandma) for a road comedy. The last road comedy McCarthy made was the awful Identity Thief. This couldn’t possibly be that bad, right? It’s got the girl from The Rocky Horror Picture Show in it.
And So It Goes (July 11): Rob Reiner, who was awesome in The Wolf of Wall Street, directs this reunion with Michael Douglas—they made The American President together—written by the guy who penned As Good as It Gets. Diane Keaton is along for the ride.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11): While James Franco is in something like 572 small films this year, he doesn’t return to star in the sequel to one of his biggest hits (although there’s rumors of a cameo). Caesar (Andy Serkis) remains pissed in the aftermath of a plague that has wiped out most of the planet. He and his ape army look to take advantage of a handicapped human race.
Boyhood (July 11): In one of the summer’s biggest curiosities, Richard Linklater directs Ellar Coltrane from age 7 to 18. The catch? Linklater actually filmed the movie over 11 years using the same kid. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette co-star.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18): The Wachowskis pair Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis for this futuristic and rather strange-looking movie. Thanks to the presence of Kunis, I have a bad Oz the Great and Powerful vibe. Maybe that also has something to do with the fact I was writing about James Franco a couple of paragraphs ago.
Wish I Was Here (July 18): Director Zach Braff finally follows up his Garden State with something that looks gosh-darned cute; it was funded by Kickstarter.
Sex Tape (July 25): Jason Segel lost a lot of weight to be naked with Cameron Diaz in this nasty-looking comedy.
A Most Wanted Man (July 25): One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movies. I’m depressed now.
Hercules (July 25): OK, if Dwayne Johnson as Hercules is supposed to be stupid-funny, then this might be goofy fun. However, I think they’re going for a serious take on the legend, so it could be a disaster. It should be noted that this is 2014’s second Hercules movie, and the first one super-tanked.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1): On one hand, Marvel is starting to truck out the less-popular figures in their canon with the offbeat team at the center of this action adventure. On the other hand, Chris Pratt is a star waiting to happen; Bradley Cooper as a raccoon looks kind of rad; and films where Zoe Saldana is a radically different hue usually fare well.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Aug. 8): Michael Bay produces a reboot about the graphic novel turtles, starring his former enemy Megan Fox. I hate Michael Bay. I really hate him.
The Expendables 3 (Aug. 15): This time out, Sylvester Stallone has recruited Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes to join in the mayhem. I’m not a huge fan of these movies, although the second was an improvement on the first.
Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 22): The long-delayed sequel from Robert Rodriguez might suffer from the fact that the look he pioneered with the original in 2005 has been aped many times since.