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Summer blockbusters ready to thrill

Photo courtesy of Genaro Molina/TNS
Photo courtesy of Genaro Molina/TNS

Summer is almost upon us. And as summer draws near, a young human’s fancy naturally turns to movies. After all, summer is the most vaunted and celebrated of seasons for blockbuster film openings.

Now if you are like me, the majority of these films may raise an eyebrow, but not your interest. Typically I go for more esoteric fare, however, I also find it difficult to resist the allure of a well-advertised slice of popcorn fare. So for the purposes of this article, I am going to ignore all of that artsy-fartsy stuff that will certainly only be showing at one of our local Landmark Theaters, and instead focus on that which just about everybody is focused on: the summer blockbuster.

The summer of 2015 is looking like it will be rife with the kind of bombastic and expensive thrills, chills, and spills that we have all come to expect from our summer movie season. Including a few things that were surprises to me when I began to compile this list.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU for us nerds in the know) has not one, but two heaping helpings of hotly anticipated Marvel goodness. First, opening on May 1 is “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” followed on July 17 by “Ant Man.”

Really, does anything need to be said about “Avengers: Age of Ultron?” I mean everyone is going to see this thing. You know you saw the first one, and even if your reaction wasn’t quite as hyperbolic as its box office receipts would suggest, you most likely enjoyed yourself. Now under normal circumstances, I would be the first one to start criticizing writer/director Joss Whedon for work that I feel is overrated, yet underperforms.

Not today. This may be the last time we see Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man armor, so I am definitely on board. In addition, while the majority of the MCU movies have been fair to middling (at least for me), it is a true joy to see all of the individual heroes come together in an ensemble piece. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is almost guaranteed to be two and a half hours of nonstop fun.

But wait! That’s not all the MCU has to offer. If you act now, you also get “Ant Man,” directed by Peyton Reed (Yes Man). Now, “Ant Man” has already achieved some internet notoriety for once being the pet project of Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Shaun of the Dead”). Wright campaigned to make this film for quite some time. He was granted his wish, then halfway through the production, he left. In the press he was very gracious about his departure, but one still questions exactly what transpired between Wright and Marvel that would cause him to make such an unorthodox exit.

Controversy aside, “Ant Man” looks like one hell of a fun ride. It is also certain to hold a place of significance in the overarching story that runs through all of the films in the MCU. Whether or not it will replicate the financial success of its summer 2015 counterpart has yet to be determined.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is another film opening this summer that is hotly anticipated. In fact, response to the trailers has been overwhelmingly positive. If this thing doesn’t open at $80 million, I will be surprised. Based on some level on the original “Mad Max”(1979) starring Mel Gibson, “Mad Max: Fury Road” looks to have more in common with its sequel “Mad Max 2” (a.k.a. The Road Warrior, 1981) than it does with the original. Nevertheless, if the film delivers a fraction of the visually arresting intensity that the trailers promise, it will be an afternoon well-spent.

No list of the most hotly anticipated films of summer 2015 would be complete without “Jurassic World.” While I have seen the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer turn normal humans into catatonic drooling machines, no other film coming out this summer is as anticipated as “Jurassic World.”

In my opinion, the original Jurassic Park films were not that good. The first one is ok, but really relies heavily on its revolutionary special effects. “The Lost World” was pretty terrible, and “Jurassic Park 3” felt so phoned in, it is almost cringeworthy. You can practically feel Sam Neill’s disdain for the project pulsating from the screen.

Yet I am somehow strangely optimistic for this new entry in the Jurassic Park canon. Actor Chris Pratt is riding high on the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and as such, seems the perfect star to lead this film. While the tendency in Hollywood is still to eschew quality writing in favor of dazzling special effects, I don’t think they would have to try too hard to get this one right. The special effects are a gimme. All they need is a decent script, and we might be looking at the best film in the series. Although it doesn’t matter too much, because I’m fairly certain the studio is going to make their money back on this one

There are many other films coming out this summer that look like they will be a ton of fun. For me, the sleeper hit will be “Dope” (Rick Famuyiwa). “Dope” is an action comedy that tells the story of a group of high school outcasts who suddenly become the BMOCs after one fateful night at a party, and a lot of drugs. It may not make a lot of money, but I think “Dope” is going to be the film that everyone is talking about when the whole thing is said and done.

Below is a list of all of the major openings for the months of May-August. Beat the heat this summer by getting into the air-conditioned dark of the matinee.

May 1: Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 8: Hot Pursuit

May 15: Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2

May 22: Poltergeist, Tommorowland

May 29: Aloha, San Andreas

June 5: Entourage, Insidious Chapter 3, Spy

June 12: Jurassic World

June 19, Dope, Inside Out

June 26: Ted 2, Max

July 1: Magic Mike XXL, Terminator Genisys

July 10: The Gallows, Minions, Self/Less

July 17: Ant Man, Trainwreck

July 24: Pan, Paper Towns, Pixels, Southpaw

July 31: The Gift, Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation, Vacation

Aug 7: Fantastic Four, Masterminds, Ricki & the Flash

Aug 14: The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Straight Outta Compton, Underdogs

Aug 21: Me Before You, Sinister 2

Aug 28: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, Hitman: Agent 47, Regression, War Room


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Summer blockbusters ready to thrill