SCI-FI AND SUPERHEROES
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx. Directed by Marc Webb.
The web-slinging Marvel superhero returns to take on the villainous Electro (Foxx).
Why you should be excited about it: It’s the potential launchpad for an entire universe of movies featuring Spider-Man characters.
Why you should be dreading it: That means it will be overstuffed with villains and probably end with a bunch of dangling plotlines.
Critic’s pick: Godzilla (May 16)
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe. Directed by Gareth Edwards.
The last time Hollywood attempted its own version of iconic Japanese character Godzilla, the result was Roland Emmerich’s notoriously awful 1998 boondoggle. This time around, the giant monster has been entrusted to director Gareth Edwards, whose 2010 indie horror movie Monsters featured both creepy moments and engaging character development. Previews show a more intense, serious take on the city-destroying creature, and with a cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Elizabeth Olsen, Edwards’ Godzilla has a good chance of being just as smart and complex as his previous low-budget work. —Josh Bell
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen. Directed by Bryan Singer.
The mutant heroes both past (from X-Men: First Class) and present (from the original X-Men trilogy) team up to save the world.
Why you should be excited about it: Singer returns to direct his first X-Men movie since 2003’s X2, bringing together nearly every actor who’s ever played a mutant.
Why you should be dreading it: With approximately 65,425,593,069,876,139,797 characters, the movie might be a little overly ambitious.
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton. Directed by Doug Liman.
A soldier in a future battle against alien invaders repeats the same day over again each time he gets killed.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s based on a Japanese sci-fi novel with the awesome title All You Need Is Kill.
Why you should be dreading it: Do we need Groundhog Day as a sci-fi action movie?
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)
Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz. Directed by Michael Bay.
The giant robots blow stuff up for the fourth time.
Why you should be excited about it: Replacing previous series star Shia LaBeouf with Mark Wahlberg is a big improvement.
Why you should be dreading it: Unfortunately, director Michael Bay has not been replaced.
Earth to Echo (July 2)
Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese Hartwig. Directed by Dave Green.
Three teenagers encounter an alien being after receiving mysterious text messages.
Why you should be excited about it: It could be a heartwarming sci-fi adventure in the vein of E.T. or Super 8.
Why you should be dreading it: It stars some dude named Astro.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman. Directed by Matt Reeves.
Genetically advanced apes do battle with humans to determine the planet’s future.
Why you should be excited about it: 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was surprisingly well-received.
Why you should be dreading it: How much more rising and dawning can they do? Just get to the actual Planet of the Apes already.
Critic’s pick: Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean. Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski.
Cloud Atlas was admittedly a bust, but the Wachowskis remain two of the most aggressively visionary filmmakers in Hollywood, and Jupiter Ascending, their latest, is the first film they’ve made since the Matrix trilogy that they wrote themselves from scratch. Set in a sci-fi future, it stars Mila Kunis as a janitor who discovers that she may be the universe’s rightful queen. That synopsis doesn’t sound especially original (indeed, it smacks of young-adult fiction), but it’s not like the Wachowskis to tip their hand, and odds are they have a few surprises in store, as well as their usual eye-popping images. —Mike D’Angelo
Hercules (July 25)
Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell. Directed by Brett Ratner.
The mythological hero takes on a dangerous warlord.
Why you should be excited about it: The Rock was obviously destined to play Hercules.
Why you should be dreading it: It looks only marginally better than the Kellan Lutz The Legend of Hercules movie from earlier this year.
Critic’s pick: Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista. Directed by James Gunn.
So far, all of Marvel’s superhero movies have fed into the Avengers franchise, but while Guardians of the Galaxy still has ties to the overall Marvel cinematic universe, it stands on its own, introducing a new team of space-faring heroes that includes a talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a sentient tree (voiced by Vin Diesel). Writer-director James Gunn has made some offbeat genre movies (Slither, Super) and got his start working for B-movie factory Troma, so he should be able to bring a different, bolder sensibility to the typical Marvel house style. —J.B.
Lucy (August 8)
Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik. Directed by Luc Besson.
A woman develops superpowers after being exposed to an experimental drug.
Why you should be excited about it: Johansson has proven her superhero bona fides as Black Widow in various Marvel movies.
Why you should be dreading it: Besson’s track record is seriously spotty, and his last movie was the Robert De Niro mob “comedy” The Family.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)
Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
Heroic mutant turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo return as CGI creations in this live-action reboot.
Why you should be excited about it: The Ninja Turtles are back, with all the big-budget resources of producer Michael Bay.
Why you should be dreading it: That means turning the beloved characters into fodder for a Michael Bay-style action movie.
The Giver (August 15)
Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep. Directed by Phillip Noyce.
A young man is entrusted with the greatest secrets of a seemingly perfect future society.
Why you should be excited about it: Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel is a beloved classic (you may have read it in school).
Why you should be dreading it: Thanks to the glut of young-adult sci-fi novel adaptations, Lowry’s classic ends up looking like a Hunger Games rip-off.
Moms’ Night Out (May 9)
Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton. Directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin.
A group of moms heads out for a night on the town, entrusting the care of their children to their clueless husbands.
Why you should be excited about it: There should be room for some wholesome family comedy amid the bombast of summer blockbusters.
Why you should be dreading it: It sounds like Gender Stereotypes: The Movie.
Neighbors (May 9)
Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne. Directed by Nicholas Stoller.
A suburban couple wages war on the frat house that moves in next door.
Why you should be excited about it: Stoller directed the surprisingly heartfelt comedies Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Five-Year Engagement.
Why you should be dreading it: Zac Efron, comedy star? Seems dubious.
Blended (May 23)
Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Joel McHale. Directed by Frank Coraci.
Two single parents who hate each other find themselves on the same African safari vacation with their families.
Why you should be excited about it: It features animals?
Why you should be dreading it: Sandler’s latest vacation home movie with his buddies should not be encouraged in any way.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30)
Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson. Directed by Seth MacFarlane.
Family Guy and Ted creator MacFarlane satirizes the Old West in this tale of a reluctant gunfighter.
Why you should be excited about it: With a movie set in the Old West, MacFarlane may finally be unable to rely on cheap pop-culture references for his jokes.
Why you should be dreading it: He’ll find a way to use them anyway.
22 Jump Street (June 13)
Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
The bumbling cops from 21 Jump Street return to go undercover as college students.
Why you should be excited about it: Lord and Miller have proved themselves very good at turning branded properties into clever movies like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie.
Why you should be dreading it: 21 Jump Street was the duo’s least appealing project so far.
Think Like a Man Too (June 20)
Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Meagan Good. Directed by Tim Story.
The couples from romantic comedy Think Like a Man head to Las Vegas for a wedding weekend.
Why you should be excited about it: It takes place in Las Vegas. We are in Las Vegas!
Why you should be dreading it: The first movie was a grating infomercial for Steve Harvey’s book disguised as a romantic comedy.
Tammy (July 2)
Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney. Directed by Ben Falcone.
A loudmouthed fast-food worker loses her job and sets out on a road trip with her grandma.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s a dream project for McCarthy, who co-wrote the screenplay with director (and McCarthy’s husband) Falcone.
Why you should be dreading it: After Identity Thief and The Heat, McCarthy’s screen persona is getting a little worn out.
Sex Tape (July 25)
Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry. Directed by Jake Kasdan.
A married couple accidentally releases their intimate video to everyone they know.
Why you should be excited about it: Segel and Diaz were a strong comedic team in Kasdan’s Bad Teacher.
Why you should be dreading it: How many jokes can be made about being caught having sex?
Let’s Be Cops (August 13)
Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle. Directed by Luke Greenfield.
A pair of slackers pretend to be cops so they can pick up women and get respect.
Why you should be excited about it: Johnson and Wayans are funny together on New Girl.
Why you should be dreading it: They may not be movie-star material.
Chef (May 23)
Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo. Directed by Jon Favreau.
A star chef quits his high-profile job to launch a food truck.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s Favreau’s return to his indie roots after directing blockbusters like Iron Man.
Why you should be dreading it: The last movie Favreau wrote and starred in was the abominable Couples Retreat.
Million Dollar Arm (May 16)
Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal. Directed by Craig Gillespie.
The true story of a sports agent who recruited Indian cricket stars to play baseball in the U.S.
Why you should be excited about it: Hamm deserves a breakout movie role after his excellent work on Mad Men.
Why you should be dreading it: A Disneyfied feel-good sports movie is maybe not the ideal use of his talents.
The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe. Directed by Josh Boone.
Two teenagers fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group.
Why you should be excited about it: The novel by John Green is a highly acclaimed bestseller.
Why you should be dreading it: Hollywood is good at screwing up subtle, emotionally rich books.
Begin Again (July 4)
Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld. Directed by John Carney.
A singer-songwriter and a former record executive fall in love in New York City.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s another music-infused romance from Once writer-director Carney.
Why you should be dreading it: Recapturing indie magic with Hollywood stars is a risky proposition.
Critic’s pick: Boyhood (July 11 limited; Las Vegas release TBD)
Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette. Directed by Richard Linklater.
For 12 years, even as he worked steadily on other movies, Richard Linklater set aside a couple of weeks annually to shoot a bit of footage on a project that would depict a child growing up in “real time,” with the actor aging alongside the character. The result, Boyhood, provides the paradoxical impression of watching slow-motion time-lapse footage, mostly ignoring big moments in order to focus on fleeting impressions as the protagonist (newcomer Ellar Coltrane) metamorphoses from a 6-year-old kid to a college freshman. It’s a delicate, beautifully observed character study—of an entire family, not just a boy. Not to be missed. –M.D.
Wish I Was Here (July 18 limited; Las Vegas release TBD)
Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin. Directed by Zach Braff.
A husband and father takes stock of his life and career.
Why you should be excited about it: Braff makes his long-awaited return to writing and directing for the first time since Garden State.
Why you should be dreading it: Braff undercut the fan passion of his Kickstarter campaign by partnering with a Hollywood production company for financing, and the movie itself might turn out to be similarly cynical.
Get on Up (August 1)
Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer. Directed by Tate Taylor.
A biopic of funk legend James Brown.
Why you should be excited about it: Rising star Boseman showed plenty of charisma playing Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42.
Why you should be dreading it: Historical biopics are one of the dullest movie genres.
If I Stay (August 22)
Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley. Directed by R.J. Cutler.
A teenage girl, in a coma following a car accident, must decide whether to return to life or move on.
Why you should be excited about it: It looks more thoughtful and low-key than other adaptations of young-adult literary sensations.
Why you should be dreading it: It could just be a bunch of sentimental nonsense.
When the Game Stands Tall (August 22)
Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig. Directed by Thomas Carter.
The true story of a high school football team with the longest winning streak in sports history.
Why you should be excited about it: Because we’re never getting a movie out of the Friday Night Lights TV series.
Why you should be dreading it: It will just make you miss Friday Night Lights more.
Deliver Us From Evil (July 2)
Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn. Directed by Scott Derrickson.
A New York City police detective takes on supernatural evils.
Why you should be excited about it: Derrickson has effectively scared audiences with Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Why you should be dreading it: Beware of horror movies based on “true” stories.
The Purge: Anarchy (July 18)
Frank Grillo, Michael K. Williams, Carmen Ejogo. Directed by James DeMonaco.
It’s time for another Purge, the annual event in the near-future U.S. when all crime is legal for 12 hours.
Why you should be excited about it: It expands the suburban setting of the first movie into a look at the way the Purge plays out among city dwellers.
Why you should be dreading it: Can this premise really support an entire film series?
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
Voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington. Directed by Dean DeBlois.
Young Viking Hiccup and his dragon Toothless return to take on new challenges.
Why you should be excited about it: The original How to Train Your Dragon was one of DreamWorks Animation’s most endearing movies.
Why you should be dreading it: So it’s time to cash in with a sequel!
Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18)
Voices of Dane Cook, Julie Bowen, Wes Studi. Directed by Bobs Gannaway.
The world of Cars expands again, this time with the adventures of firefighting planes that protect a national park.
Why you should be excited about it: The cute planes talk and fight fires!
Why you should be dreading it: Disney seems grimly determined to run this franchise into the ground.
Maleficent (May 30)
Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning. Directed by Robert Stromberg.
The story of Sleeping Beauty, retold from the villain’s perspective.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s been a few years since Jolie has taken on an unabashed movie-star role, and she looks to be relishing it.
Why you should be dreading it: Didn’t Wicked already cover this territory?
Jersey Boys (June 20)
John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda. Directed by Clint Eastwood.
The stage musical about the early days of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons gets the big-screen treatment.
Why you should be excited about it: Many of the original stage performers have been cast in the movie’s main roles.
Why you should be dreading it: Clint Eastwood seems like an odd choice to direct a Broadway adaptation.
Step Up All In (July 25)
Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Misha Gabriel. Directed by Trish Sie.
Characters from all previous installments in the dance-movie franchise unite for a tournament in Las Vegas.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s like the Ocean’s Eleven of dance movies.
Why you should be dreading it: It’s like the Ocean’s Eleven of dance movies.
Into the Storm (August 8)
Sarah Wayne Callies, Richard Armitage, Matt Walsh. Directed by Steven Quale.
Storm chasers are caught in the middle of an onslaught of tornados.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s like Twister if Twister had a bunch more twisters.
Why you should be dreading it: How many twisters is too many?
The Expendables 3 (August 15)
Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li. Directed by Patrick Hughes.
The team of mercenaries is targeted for elimination by the man who founded their group.
Why you should be excited about it: Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Kellan Lutz and Ronda Rousey are all added to the cast of action-movie all-stars this time around.
Why you should be dreading it: They’re kind of stretching the definition of “action-movie all-stars,” aren’t they?
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)
Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.
More stories from the hard-boiled, crime-ridden world of Frank Miller’s comic book series.
Why you should be excited about it: Rodriguez and Miller’s 2005 Sin City was a bold stylistic experiment.
Why you should be dreading it: Their respective output since then hasn’t been nearly as promising.
Jane Got a Gun (August 29)
Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor. Directed by Gavin O’Connor.
The wife of an Old West outlaw fights against the men who want her husband dead.
Why you should be excited about it: It’s about time we got another serious Western.
Why you should be dreading it: Original director Lynne Ramsay and original stars Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper all departed the film during various stages of production.