Avengers, Minions, dinosaurs, robots and more film favourites
Avengers: Age Of Ultron Released: April 30 Joss Whedon’s feverishly awaited follow-up to his own brilliant original has a number of key questions to answer: Can James Spader’s Ultron – the new bad guy of the piece – fill the considerable shoes of Tom Hiddleston’s substituted Loki? Will Chris Hemsworth’s Thor still look like something out of a 1980s Timotei advert? And, from the Marvel/Disney Accounts Department’s point of view, can it build on the gargantuan box office of part 1 (still the third-biggest movie ever made)? The smart money is yes on all counts. Spader’s recent career upturn in The Blacklist promises great things from the titular, Tony Stark-created A.I. programme turned megalomaniacal. Hemsworth got his hair cut for his last movie, and that turned out to be a dud. And, well, no other movie studio has got the stones to go up against what’s a dead cert to be the year’s first billion-buck behemoth. ‘We’re quietly confident,’ says Robert Downey Jr., as ever the master of understatement.
It Follows Released: May 7 A smash at the US box office, David Robert Mitchell’s bone marrow chilling sophomore movie (his first being The Myth of the American Sleepover in 2010) boasts one of the indie scene’s hottest new actresses – The Guest’s Maika Monroe – and already has Hollywood falling over itself in the search for a sequel. The premise is deceptively simple but executed with an expert edge: a group of likeable (and there’s a rarity) teens are pursued by an unstoppable demonic presence that can take the physical form of either strangers or those you love. Shot on a budget but tapping into primal fears, it’s this year’s Paranormal Activity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Mad Max: Fury Road Released: May tbc Somewhat improbably, given its epically disastrous shoot (on location in Namibia the majority of the sets were washed away in floods) and the fact it was originally scheduled for release TWO YEARS AGO, Mad Max: Fury Road is now a majorly anticipated date on the summer fixture list. Quite right, too. Underneath its bonnet purrs a team of serious calibre: original Mad Max trilogy director George Miller is back in the chair, Mel Gibson’s classic hero is reconfigured into the updated form of Tom Hardy and the Oscar-winning Charlize Theron (here with a bonus bionic arm) leads the support. Given Miller’s last three movies have been – kid you not – Babe 2 (1998) and Happy Feet and its sequel (2006, 2011), expect him to cut lose and deliver some long-overdue carmageddon.
Tomorrowland: A World Beyond Released: May tbc Written by Lost’s Damon Lindelof and directed by Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’s Brad Bird, Tomorrowland, with its younger explorer partnering with an older scientist-type and themes of time travel, would very much like to be the new Back To The Future. Whether it can achieve that kind of bottled lightning remains to be seen, but the premise is certainly promising. Britt Robertson is the smart teen transported to a mysterious future world and George Clooney the cranky boffin showing her the ropes. With elements of Harry Potter plus DNA direct from Walt Disney himself (which to say too much about would only spoil things), this could be a huge family hit. ‘And in today’s world, that we’re doing something entirely original will hopefully give us an edge,’ says Lindelof. ‘At least, you’d like to think so.’
Jurassic World Released: June 11 Man of the moment Chris Pratt – rumoured now to be the next Indiana Jones – follows his breakout blockbuster, last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, with this smart retooling of Steven Spielberg’s landmark blockbuster (and its sequels; though the less said about those the better). ‘The movie,’ says director Colin Trevorrow, ‘picks up 22 years after Jurassic Park. And we wanted to ask the question, “What if people are kind of over the dinosaurs now?” We imagined a teenager texting his girlfriend a picture of him with his back to a T-Rex behind protective glass. For us, that image captured the way much of the audience feels about the movies themselves. “We’ve seen CG dinosaurs. What else you got?” You’re about to see our answer.’
Inside Out Released: June 18 Pixar’s latest Big Idea couldn’t get more high-concept if it took place in space. Set inside the head of a young girl – with occasional exteriors of her family life around the dinner table – its heroes are her emotions, in physical form. The cast is comedy fried gold: Mindy Kaling is Disgust, Amy Poehler is Joy, Bill Hader is Fear, Phyllis Smith is Sadness and Lewis Black is Anger. Imagine if Woody Allen made a cartoon and you’re about halfway there.
San Andreas Released: June tbc Just when you thought Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson couldn’t get any tougher (and if you haven’t seen the bit in Fast & Furious 7 where he busts his broken arm out of his plaster-cast with the SHEER FORCE OF HIS BICEP ALONE then please go now), along comes a movie where he actually has to PUNCH AN EARTHQUAKE IN THE FACE. Okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but given his director here, Brad Peyton, last had him riding a giant bee in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), don’t act shocked if it happens. Also stars Kylie Minogue, so that’s all sense of realism out the window.
Minions Released: June tbc The real stars of the Despicable Me movies (with apologies to Steve Carell) get their very own big-budget blockbuster, a bit like how Breaking Bad has spun off into Better Call Saul. Although, most likely, with less murder and substance abuse. Also stars Sandra Bullock, as the brilliantly named Scarlet Overkill.
Terminator Genisys Released: July 24 The scourge of sub-editors the world over, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s spellcheck defying Terminator Genisys takes as many liberties with the established Terminator timeline as its title does with the English language. The internet is not happy about the former, although, in shock news, doesn’t appear to give a stuff about the latter. Anyway, enough about ‘the kids’. The plot here reboots that of James Cameron’s 1984 original: John Connor (here Jason Clarke) sends back a solider (here Jai Courtney instead of Michael Biehn) to protect his future-mum Sarah Connor (here Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke instead of Linda Hamilton) from the threat of an evil Terminator (in both cases Schwarzenegger). Oh, and the age-appropriate Arnie also plays a good Terminator, protecting Sarah Connor from the CGI baddie version of himself. Confused? Don’t get us started. We got a migraine just writing that. Still, the cast – which also includes a Doctor Who, Matt Smith, and the recently Oscar-winning J.K. Simmons, is a belter, and director Alan Taylor did good work on Game of Thrones and Thor 2. You’d be a fool to write it off just yet.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Released: July tbc How do you top larking about on the top of the Burj Khalifa? Just one of the many questions that go through Tom Cruise’s head, apparently. The answer? Hang off the side of a plane as it takes off, clearly (just check out the trailer). The fifth entry in the franchise that keeps Hollywood’s life insurance industry awake at night has been brought forward from Christmas to summer, which would indicate a massive confidence on the part of its parent studio, Paramount. With good reason, too. Here is that rare thing: a franchise that gets better with age. This time Ethan Hunt and his IMF colleagues (that’s Impossible Missions Force, by the way; if he worked for the International Monetary Fund it would be a far duller series) go up against the nefarious organisation of the suffix. The Usual Suspects’ writer Chris McQuarrie, who directed Cruise to good effect in Jack Reacher (2012), is in the chair, which gives us big hopes.
Fantastic Four Released: August 6 Stop sniggering at the back. Rubbish though the last ones may have been, this new iteration boasts both an outstanding cast and one of the most exciting new directors on the planet. Josh Trank, the man behind the blistering superhero calling card Chronicle (2012) reteams with that movie’s Michael B. Jordan (who here plays, to the dropped jaws of the stupid, a black Human Torch) and adds Jamie Bell (as The Thing), Kate Mara (as The Invisible Woman) and Hollywood’s hot new pin-up, Whiplash’s Miles Teller (as Mr Fantastic). Expect a sci-fi curveball.
Five-word previews Six more for your summer diary
Spy (June) Melissa McCarthy is 007. Grief.
Poltergeist (June) They’re heeere! Again. In 3D!
Ted 2 (July) More from the sweary bear.
Pan (July) Peter, reimagined. Probably still young.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (August) Solo and Kuryakin, via Ritchie.