Summer Movie Preview

Summer Movie Preview

Three months into the year and still no breakout hits. Each week brings a new B-movie thriller or lame-o comedy — nothing to really get excited about. That post-award season drought seems to be stretching on into spring, but it won’t be long before the summer movie season arrives, and right now the feeling is it couldn’t get here soon enough.

I can still remember a time when summer movies actually kicked off in June. It was “Twister” (1996) that proved a pre-Memorial Day release could be a smart move, and now the season has started backing up into early May to avoid competing head to head on the limited number of opening weekends in the summer months. Before long, we’ll be celebrating Easter with a host of superheroes. For now, the official season will start May 1 with the release of the highly anticipated “Avengers: The Age of Ultron.” All the stars are back including Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman. Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson are also on board, and there are new characters in the mix in what looks like a winner-take-all world destruction scenario, which sounds very familiar.

Following the Avenger debut is a reboot of a movie franchise not seen in a while — Mad Max returns in “Mad Max: Fury Road” with Tom Hardy taking the Mel Gibson role. Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Zoe Kravitz also hitch a ride for the apocalyptic action pic set in the very grim future. It opens May 15, which is also opening day for the second movie from the Pitch Perfect gang, “Pitch Perfect 2,” with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson returning as the glee club goes to an international competition.

Remember the old disaster movies like “The Towering Inferno” and “Earthquake”? Well now it’s all in 3D splendor in “San Andreas,” a new disaster movie that may just unintentionally produce a mass exodus from the Los Angeles area. With jaw-dropping special effects and a lengthy cast of stars, this is the big one, folks. Dwayne Johnson leads with Carla Gugino, Archie Panjabi, Ioan Griffudd, Paul Giamatti and — wait for it — Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue. That cast credit alone is worth the ticket price on May 29.

With June releases, a definite pattern begins to emerge with more sequels and reboots. June 12, “Jurassic World” re-opens the dinosaur park with Chris Pratt and Judy Greer dodging those pesky prehistoric critters. It’s been awhile since the last Jurassic feature. June 26, “Ted 2,” the follow-up to the hugely popular first movie from Seth McFarlane about a foul-mouthed stuffed bear, is bound to please. Let’s hope it’s more in tune with the first Ted rather than McFarlane’s disastrous “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” which led the top 10 worst movies of last summer — or for the year, depending on how merciful the critics were.

July is second verse, same as the first beginning with yet another Terminator movie. This is a franchise that lives up to its most famous tag line: “I’ll be back.” No kidding. This one brings Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke (as John Conner) and “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke (as Sarah Connor) together in “Terminator: Genisys” another time travel action flick that unleashes destruction on poor Los Angeles, as if it hadn’t been picked on enough with “San Andreas.” This is the big opening for the July 4 weekend with a release date set for July 1.

It was a mild surprise when Tom Cruise announced last year that he wasn’t done with the Mission Impossible movies. This boy of summer will bring the stunts again as super spy Ethan Hunt in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” which judging from the recently released trailer, has some of the most difficult action sequences ever filmed. Opens July 31.

“Ant-Man” is the big superhero gamble of this summer with Paul Rudd starring as the shrinking superhero. Also starring Hayley Atwell and Evangeline Lilly, I’m finding it hard to work up any enthusiasm for this one. I’ll reserve judgment until I see it July 17.

August starts to wrap up the season with a reboot of the “Fantastic Four” series with an all new cast including Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell (Aug. 7). Also scheduled for this month is “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” based on the old ’60s TV series and directed by Guy Ritchie. Superman star Henry Cavill takes the Napoleon Solo part with Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin (Aug. 14)

Of note is the premiere of the big breakout hit at the Sundance Film Festival in January – “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” with Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as some of the only stars in a mostly unfamiliar cast. This is scheduled to open June 12 but with a limited release for this niche movie. Also on my short list is “Southpaw” (July 31) starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer who bottoms out and struggles his way back into the ring after some huge personal setbacks. This could be another ticket to the Oscars like last year’s “Nightcrawler” was for Gyllenhaal, whose work of late has been incredibly powerful.