Get your popcorn ready, the summer movie season is finally upon us after the doldrums of the early months, notoriously sparse in terms of quality offerings at the multiplex.
From highly anticipated and long-gestating sequels like “Jurassic World” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” to what could turn out to be the biggest sequel of all time, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” there’s plenty of explosions-laden fare for mass audiences.
But there are also offerings for more discerning audiences, as festival favorites like “Dope” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” are finally released to the public. Now you can stop taking critics’ words for it.
Because there are so many films releasing each weekend, one more enticing than the last, TheWrap has curated a sampling of 17 titles that we are dying to see and that you probably should not miss either.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron”
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, James Spader
Director: Joss Whedon
Release Date: May 1, 2105
What it’s about: After saving the world (to record breaking box office success), the assembled Avengers need some R&R. Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man, resurrects an artificial intelligence called Ultron to defend the planet while everyone grabs a facial and a nap — to disastrous effect. Ultron (Spader) decides humanity is the real enemy, forcing Iron Man (Downey Jr.) to cut the Sedona spa weekend short and rally Thor (Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Ruffalo), Black Widow (Johannson), Hawkeye (Renner) and Captain America (Evans) to save the day.
Why we’re excited to see it: Marvel, Disney, RDJ, and the biggest box office opening of all time. What else are you going to do this summer?
Pitch Perfect 2
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Release Date: May 15
What it’s about: The Barden Bellas are now in their senior year, and they enter into an international a cappella competition, which no American team has ever won before.
Why we’re excited to see it: Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy is bound to have more great one-liners, and the trailer already has us laughing out loud.
“Mad Max Fury Road”
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whitely
Director: George Miller
Release Date: May 15
What it’s about: A mysterious loner agrees to help a woman named Furiosa as she leads a group of young women through an apocalyptic wasteland. They are pursued by an army of psychotics, led by Immortan Joe.
Why we’re excited to see it: Mastermind George Miller returns for this reboot of his cult favorite “Mad Max” film series that made Mel Gibson an international star in the 1980’s. If the trailers are any indicator, this movie will be nothing short of high-octane insanity, featuring guns, explosions, and tornadoes of fire. Hardy is playing the title character, but Charlize Theron will be bringing plenty of girl power to this potential blockbuster.
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy
Director: Brad Bird
Release date: May 22
What’s it about: A rebellious teenager (Robertson) teams up with a jaded, former child genius (Clooney), to save a mysterious bygone place called “Tomorrowland.”
Why we’re excited to see it: Bird is responsible for such delightful action movies like “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” and as far as rides at Disneyland go, Tomorrowland seems like an easy property to translate for the big screen. The footage so far seems to suggest Bird has captured that perfect balance between fun and suspense once again.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Bill Murray
Director: Cameron Crowe
Release date: May 29
What’s it about: A celebrated military contractor (Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs — the U.S. Space program in Honolulu, Hawaii — where he reconnects with a long-ago love (McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Stone) assigned to him.
Why we’re excited to see it: It’s Cameron Crowe’s first movie since 2011’s “We Bought a Zoo.” He’s a man who always delivers on his brand of whimsical, emotional storytelling, and he’s put together a winning cast to tell his latest story. This beautiful group of people frolicking on the beaches of Hawaii, falling in and out of love, probably set to a killer soundtrack, it’s a no-brainer.
Cast: Chris Pratt, Judy Greer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Johnson
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Release Date: June 12
What it’s about: It is 20 years after the eventful Jurassic Park, and Isla Nublar now hosts a dinosaur theme park called Jurassic World, just as John Hammond envisioned. To keep visitor rates up, the lab literally cooks up a new attraction, which backfires drastically.
Why we’re excited to see it: The movie will revisit everything we liked about the original Jurassic Park movies: Dinosaurs and action, with Chris Pratt thrown into the mix.
Cast: Shaeik Moore, Keith Stanfield, Zoe Kravitz, Ton Revolori, Forest Whitaker
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Release Date: June 12
What it’s about: Malcolm, a geeky high schooler trying to survive life in a tough neighborhood of Inglewood, CA, sees his world turned upside down after a fateful invitation to a wild underground party.
Why we’re excited to see it: Alongisde “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” this was the talk of Sundance, particularly for its genre-bending fantastical elements, and its promising young cast, led by breakout star Shameik Moore.
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”
Cast: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Connie Britton, Nick Offerman
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Release date: June 12
What’s it about: An awkward high schooler (Mann) reluctantly befriends a neighbor and classmate who’s been diagnosed with leukemia, ultimately bonding with her and his friend Earl (Cyler) through homemade filmmaking projects
Why we’re excited to see it: The film took Sundance by storm, winning both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It’s the latest film to do so several years in a row, and if predecessors “Whiplash” and “Fruitvale Station” are anything to go by, “Earl” could be a real gem and breakout hit. The promising young cast doesn’t hurt either.
Magic Mike XXL
Cast: Channing Tatum, Elizabeth Banks, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Release Date: July 1
What it’s about: Three years after Mike (played by Channing Tatum) retired from stripping, he gets together with the rest of the crew one last time for a giant performance in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Why we’re excited to see it: XXL means more, bigger, and better. The trailer promises more epic dance moves by Tatum, more shirtless men and good music.
Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, John Cena
Director: Judd Apatow
Release Date: July 17
What it’s about: From a very young age, Amy’s father told her that “monogamy is unrealistic.” Therefore, Amy was never able to commit. Now, she’s a magazine writer and accidentally falls for the subject of a news article she is writing, and she begins to questions her fathers life lessons.
Why we’re excited to see it: Schumer just hosted the MTV Movie Awards, which gave us a taste of what she is capable of as a comedian. The trailer reveals a funny story line, with hilarious one-liners – and Bill Hader is one of the main characters in the movie.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, John Slattery
Director: Peyton Reed
Release Date: July 17
What it’s about: Con man Scott Lang is given a suit that allows him to shrink in size but increase in strength by Dr. Hank Pym. Pym needs his help to keep the technology from falling into the hands of the evil Darren Cross, a.k.a Yellowjacket.
Why we’re excited to see it: Paul Rudd took a break from his usual comedic fare for this Marvel adaptation. Many are curious how he will hold up in the action scenes that such adaptations are famous for employing. That being said, Rudd also co-wrote the script with funnyman Adam McKay, so expect a few good punchlines mixed in with the punches.
Cast: Emma Stone, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley
Director: Woody Allen
Release date: July 24
What’s it about: A philosophy professor (Phoenix) finds new meaning in his life when he enters into a romantic relationship with a student (Stone).
Why we’re excited to see it: Stone is Allen’s newest muse, and she was sparkling in his “Magic in the Moonlight,” even if the film itself didn’t entirely work. It’s also Phoenix’s first time in an Allen movie, and the juxtaposition between the actor and director could not be more intriguing.
Cast: Cara Delevingne, Nat Wolff, Halston Sage
Director: Jack Schreier
Release Date: July 24
What it’s about: Adapted from the bestselling novel by John Greene, the movie is about a girl who loves mysteries so much that she becomes one. Margo, played by Cara Delevingne, suddenly disappears and leaves behind clues for her friends to decipher.
Why we’re excited to see it: Cara Delevingne was listed as one of our breakout stars on Tuesday, and we’re excited to see her on the screen as opposed to the runway.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Ashley Benson, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Josh Gad.
Director: Chris Columbus
Release Date: July 24
What it’s about: Aliens misinterpret video-feeds of arcade games as a declaration of war against them, and start to attack the Earth. A team of video game fanatics get together to save the world.
Why we’re excited to see it: The exceptional cast of this movie is bound to make “Pixels” hilarious. It’s also a never-been-done-before plotline.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Rooney Mara, Cara Delevingne, Garrett Hedlund
Director: Joe Wright
Release Date: July 24
What it’s about: It’s a take on the 1953 Disney original, where an orphan is whisked away to Neverland. In this magical world, he discovers who he really is, and the both fun and dangerous world makes him Peter Pan.
Why we’re excited to see it: It’s a movie with an amazing cast about a story we all know. The graphics look amazing, and make us want to revisit the classic tale of Peter Pan.
Cast: Miles Teller, Kata Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan
Director: Josh Trank
Release Date: August 7
What it’s about: In a new remake of the original “Fantastic Four,” four young scientists gain superhuman powers through a teleportation experiment gone wrong. Now, they must save the world from uprising threats.
Why we’re excited to see it: It’s another take on a Marvel classic, with maybe more action, better graphics, and better stunts.
“Straight Outta Compton”
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti, Alexandra Shipp
Director: F. Gary Gray
Release Date: August 14
What it’s about: Based on the true story of the revolutionary gangster rap group N.W.A. The group begins on the streets of Los Angeles and rises to international superstardom when their explosive debut album challenges society’s view on life in the ghetto.
Why we’re excited to see it: Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, two of the founding members of N.W.A., produced the film, which also stars Cube’s son playing a younger version of his father. Jason Mitchell is also attracting a lot of early buzz for his portrayal of Eazy-E. If nothing else, this movie will feature a killer soundtrack from the glory days of hip-hop.
Read more of TheWrap Summer Movie Preview: