Summer is a great time to go see a movie! Yes, in an actual theater with a big screen! Especially when there are awesome blockbusters like “Tomorrowland,” “Minions” and “Jurassic World” heading to theaters. Here’s a sneak peek at 18 summer blockbusters you won’t want to miss. Note that release dates are subject to change.
1. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments | In Theaters 5/1 | Ok for Kids 13+ | Disney, Marvel | Reel Preview: 4.5 of 5 Reels | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Facebook | Twitter
This epic follow-up to the biggest superhero movie of all time, expecting to break box office records this year, finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) trying to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program. But things go awry and Earth’s mightiest heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance.
When the villainous Ultron (James Spader) emerges, it’s up to The Avengers to stop him, as uneasy alliances form. Along with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), the team reassemble to defeat the terrifying techno-villain. Along the way, they encounter two powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and meet an old friend in a new form known as Vision (Paul Bettany). Read Jane’s review.
2. PITCH PERFECT 2
The Barden Bellas are back in this follow-up to 2012’s smash hit. This time, the collegiate a cappella group is singing in an international competition that no American team has ever won.
Directed by Elizabeth Banks, co-star and producer of “Pitch Perfect,” the movie stars Brittany Snow, Anna Kendrick, Katey Sagal, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knaff, Adam DeVine and Hailee Steinfeld.
Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.”
What they must do there changes the world – and them – forever. Also stars Judy Greer, Tim McGraw, Hugh Laurie, and Kathryn Hahn.
4. SAN ANDREAS
PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language | In Theaters 5/29 | Ok for Kids 13+ | New Line, Warner Bros., Village Roadshow | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels | San Andreas | Facebook | Twitter
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good disaster movie, and I love disaster movies! Especially starring Dwayne Johnson! After the infamous San Andreas Fault finally gives, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake in California, a search and rescue helicopter pilot (Johnson) and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) make their way together from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter (Alexandra Daddario).
But their treacherous journey north is only the beginning. Directed by Brad Peyton (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”), this action thriller also stars Kylie Minogue, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi and Paul Giamatti.
5. INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3
PG-13 for violence, frightening images, some language and thematic elements | In Theaters 6/5 | Ok for Kids 14+ | Focus Features | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels | Insidious Chapter 3 | Twitter | Instagram
Ready for some scary shenanigans? This newest chapter in the terrifying horror series is written and directed by franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell.
The chilling prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family, reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity. And you just know bad things are going to happen.
6. JURASSIC WORLD
The park is open! The “Jurassic World” park, that is. Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series. Set 22 years after the horrific events of the original “Jurassic Park,” Colin Trevorrow directs this sci-fi terror adventure based on the novel “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton. Isla Nublar, an island located off Central America’s Pacific Coast near Costa Rica, now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond.
The new park is owned by the Masrani Global Corporation, so you just KNOW they’re always looking at the revenue. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a member of the park’s on-site staff, conducts behavioral research on a group of Velociraptors known as Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo. At the corporation’s request, the park’s geneticists create a genetically modified hybrid mutant dinosaur, known as Indominus Rex, to boost visitor attendance. Never mind that the creature cannibalized its own sibling.
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the park’s operations manager, and her nephews, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), are visiting the island when the hybrid escapes and are subsequently caught up in its deadly rampage. Who will survive?!
7. INSIDE OUT
Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old girl who’s uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith).
The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life, but of course, chaos ensues. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
Directed by Pixar veteran Pete Docter (“Up” and “Monsters, Inc.” are among his many credits), this movie also features the voices of Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind and Paula Poundstone.
8. BIG GAME
In the rugged countryside of Finland, young 13-year-old Oskari (the amazing Onni Tommila) embarks on a traditional quest to prove himself by spending 24 hours alone in the wild, armed with only a bow and arrow. After witnessing a spectacular plane crash, he discovers the escape pod from Air Force One, containing the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson).
When they realize a group of kidnappers is hot on their trail with the intention of taking the President, this unlikely duo must escape their hunters as they search for the American Special Forces team sent out to find them. Jalmari Helander directs this action-thriller, which also stars Jim Broadbent, Ted Levine, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, Ray Stevenson Mehmet Kurtulus.
9. TERMINATOR GENISYS
Everything old is new again! This fresh installment of the “Terminator” franchise finds John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sending Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future. You remember that, right? But what we didn’t realize is that an unexpected turn of events created a fractured timeline.
Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he’s faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future. Directed by Alan Taylor, this movie also stars J.K. Simmons and Matt Smith.
In this provocative psychological sci-fi thriller, a wealthy man (Ben Kingsley) dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds).
But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause. Directed by Tarsem Singh and written by Alex Pastor and David Pastor, this movie also stars Victor Garber, Derek Luke and Michelle Dockery.
Those adorable minions are back! At the dawn of time, they began as single-celled organisms and evolved through the ages, serving the most despicable of masters, from T. Rex to Napoleon. But the yellow creatures fall into a deep depression when they find themselves without someone to serve. So one Minion named Kevin — alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob — embark on a thrilling journey to find their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the world’s first-ever female super-villain.
From frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in mod London (love the groovy 1960s soundtrack), they face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind from annihilation. Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin (the voice of Kevin, Bob and Stuart) direct this cute family movie, which also features the voices of Michael Keaton, Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan and Laraine Newman.
The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time. Armed with the ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats.
Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Directed by TK, this movie also stars Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, and John Slattery.
Directed by Chris Columbus, this action-comedy is based on a short film of the same name by Patrick Jean. The story centers on intergalactic aliens who misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them. Thus, they attack Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults.
President Will Cooper (Kevin James) calls on his childhood best friend, ’80s video game champion Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), now a home theater installer, to lead a team of old-school arcaders (Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) to defeat the aliens and save the planet. Michelle Monaghan plays the team’s unique weapons specialist. Good fun for both kids and grownups.
14. PAPER TOWNS
Directed by Jake Schreier (“Robot and Frank”) and based on a book by “The Fault In Our Stars” author John Green, “Paper Towns” is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin (Nat Wolff) and his enigmatic neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne), who loved mysteries so much she became one. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears, leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher.
The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship and true love. Also stars Austin Abrams, Halston Sage and Justice Smith.
Not yet rated; likely PG-13 | In Theaters 7/31 | Ok for Kids 12+ | New Line, Warner Bros. | Reel Preview: 3 of 5 Reels | Facebook
Following in his father’s footsteps and hoping for some much-needed family bonding, a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their two sons with a cross-country trip back to America’s “favorite family fun park,” Walley World!
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, this movie also stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Michael Pena, Chris Hemsworth, Charlie Day and Regina Hall.
Trailer not available at press time.
16. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION
In “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” Paramount Pictures’ fifth installment in the franchise, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team return for yet more death-defying stunts and amazing gadgetry. Their mission (should they choose to accept it)? Eradicate the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, this action-thriller also stars Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney and Rebecca Ferguson. It’s been 19 years since Cruise first played Ethan Hunt, and he’s still doing his own stunts!
17. FANTASTIC FOUR
Directed by Josh Trank (“Chronicle”) and inspired by the “Ultimate Fantastic Four” comics (the first arc of which was written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, with Joe Kubert illustrating), this movie offers a modern take on Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team.
The story centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The team must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
The cast includes “Whiplash’s” Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, “House of Cards” star Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, “Fruitvale Station’s” Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch, and “Snowpiercer’s” Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing. Stars also include Toby Kebbell as Doctor Doom, Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm, and Tim Blake Nelson as Harvey Elder/TheMole Man.
18. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
Oh boy! I loved this TV show when I was a kid, and the big screen version directed by Guy Ritchie doesn’t disappoint. Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, this spy thriller centers on CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), who are forced to put aside longstanding hostilities and team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization that’s bent on causing chaos via nuclear weapons and technology.
The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization. It’s a race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe. Also stars Alicia Vikander, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani and Hugh Grant.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Images used with permission of the studios and distributors.