Spider-Man, the superhero swinging into movie theaters today, kicks off the summer movie season that boasts Transformers, dragons and apes. Also, radioactive turtles and a giant lizard. And Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, four boys from Jersey and even a Guardian raccoon.
This summer’s action-packed movie lineup features a range of characters and story lines for many moviegoers, but also features movies with Academy Award winners and nominees in blockbuster, budget-breaking, CGI-heavy films that will fatten many movie studios wallets, as well as anticipated sequels bordering on the overused term “epic.”
Here’s some choice selections from the summer menu with release dates (that are always subject to change):
“Neighbors” (May 9): Seth Rogen and Zac Efron duke it out in this sure-to-be-raunchy, frenemy comedy about a young couple (Rogan and Rose Byrne) that move into their new home next door to a frat house led by Efron doing his best “Animal House” impersonation.
“Million Dollar Arm” (May 16): Meet Don Draper, sports agent. Jon Hamm leaves booze and adultery behind in this true story of a baseball agent who goes to India to find a star pitcher among cricket players. We’re looking forward to the wise-cracking Alan Arkin.
“Godzilla” (May 16): Save us, Walter White. You’re our only hope. “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston stars as a former nuclear engineer who discovers the newest incarnation of the world’s most infamous radioactive, metropolis-destroying monster.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” (May 23): Hugh Jackman grows the mutton chops and dons the claws again as Wolverine goes back in time to stop humans from releasing mutant-destroying sentinels in a complicated storyline that likely will still shatter the box office. Expect to see all the X-Men, both young and older versions in this epic.
“Blended” (May 23): Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore go for the romantic comedy hat trick, this time as a pair of single parents who, after a disastrous blind date, find themselves stuck together at a family resort.
“Maleficent” (May 30): What’s it like to be the villain? Well, Angelina Jolie, wearing brooding black horns, will tell us, as Disney Studios goes dark and takes a different look at Maleficent, the antagonist from “Sleeping Beauty.”
“A Million Ways to Die in the West” (May 30): Seth McFarlane, of “Family Guy” and “Ted” fame, makes his big-screen acting debut (as well as writing and directing) in this western farce that promises to be over the top. It also features Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Lloyd and Giovanni Ribisi.
“Edge of Tomorrow” (June 6): Tom Cruise in another sci-fi movie, this time teaming up with Emily Blunt in a futuristic “Groundhog Day,” in which the last day of an interstellar battle vs. aliens keeps repeating itself. Cruise’s character, an appropriately untrained and untested colonial, dies and is reborn again and again, only to die again and again. Surely, somebody will like that.
“The Fault in Our Stars” (June 6): Shailene Woodley is expected to shine in a tearjerker about two cynical teenagers who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group. Pick up some tissues before heading to the theater.
“22 Jump Street” (June 13): In the sequel to 2012 surprise hit, Jonah Hill and Tampa native Channing Tatum are back and taking the next logical step as cops who were formerly undercover as high school students — going undercover as college students.
“Jersey Boys” (June 20): Clint Eastwood directs this big-screen adaptation of the smash Broadway musical about Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons origins, rise and fall from stardom.
“Think Like a Man Too” (June 20): Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall return in this sequel that sends the group to a wedding in Las Vegas, but then compromising situations threaten to derail the nuptials.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” (June 27): Shia Lebouf is gone in this Michael Bay reboot prompting a new trilogy starring Mark Wahlberg as an inventor who discovers a dilapidated Optimus Prime five years after. This movie also will introduce the fan-favorite Dinobots.
“Tammy” (July 2): After Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) loses her job and catches her husband cheating, she goes on a cross-country road trip with her hard-drinking grandmother played by Susan Sarandon (is that possible?). Sounds like comedy gold to us.
“Earth to Echo” (July 2): If “E.T.” were filmed with a GoPro or iPhones, it would probably be this movie. A group of friends investigating bizarre text messages they receive after a neighborhood construction project begins, find an alien creature that can emulate sounds and other machines.
“And So It Goes” (July 11): Rob Reiner is back behind the camera for this romantic comedy about a self-centered Realtor, played by Michael Douglas, who enlists help from a neighbor (Diane Keaton) when a granddaughter he didn’t know existed is left with him.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (July 11): The human survivors of the simian plague fight an all-out war with Caesar (Andy Serkis), and his growing monkey army in the next chapter of this ape series.
“Jupiter Ascending” (July 18): An out-there plot (do we expect anything less from Andy and Lara Wachowski of “Matrix” fame?) has the fate of the cosmos dependent on a destitute woman (Mila Kunis) with the genetic marker to be the next Queen of the Universe. But first she has to outrun a hunter (Channing Tatum) sent to Earth to kill her.
“Planes: Fire & Rescue” (July 18): In a film only Disney and children can love, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) returns as part of an aerial firefighting crew.
“Hercules” (July 25): An eyebrow-cocking, brooding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as sword-for-hire Hercules who is tested when a king and his daughter want him to overthrow a warlord. Also stars John Hurt and Ian McShane.
“Sex Tape” (July 25): Starring two actors (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) we probably don’t want to see having sex, comes this comedy about a married couple that make a sex tape only to have it go missing prompting a frantic search to keep off YouTube.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug. 1): Marvel’s fourth comic-book movie of 2014 introduces audiences to Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his rag-tag team of star-traveling misfits who have in their possession an orb (perhaps an Infinity Stone, “Thor” fans?) wanted by the ruthless Ronan (Lee Pace). We have to admit we’re hooked on a feeling and high on believing in this movie.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Aug. 8): Our favorite pizza-eating heroes in a half-shell are back but not without controversy from fanboys who think Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo look too human and not enough mutant turtle. Despite that, they will still rise from the Manhattan sewers with rat master Splitter to do battle against evil.