Movies are as seasonal as mini-golf, food trucks and iced tea. The temperature rises, the studio release schedule heats up, and Pow! Bang! Bam! goes the soundtrack. To help you sort through the coming months of movie madness, we’ve picked 10 popular genres and focused on the likeliest winners in each category.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” A pandemic has left a band of human survivors among genetically evolved apes ruling San Francisco. The chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis), lovingly raised by humans but brutalized by others, is the conflicted leader of the apes’ society. Will he find an accord with the armed humans who emerge from hiding, or lead his colony against them in a species-against-species war? Opens July 11.
The stomping sea monster is a brilliant concept rarely executed well. Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) may be the man to make that right. Starring Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen and David Strathairn, none of whom do schlock. Now showing.
“How To Train Your Dragon 2” This follow-up to the 2010 blockbuster is set in a Viking neverland where dragon racing is the hot new sport. There’s an invasion looming, and the expected aerial combat. At heart, though, it’s about Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a teen with parent troubles, and a steadfast flying lizard. With the voices of Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler and Kristen Wiig. Opens June 13.
Angelina Jolie goes dark and intense in Disney’s villain-centric reworking of the Sleeping Beauty story. The film explains why the spell-caster bitterly cursed the young princess (Elle Fanning) to hibernate on her 16th birthday. From the badly wronged witch’s point of view, it’s simple payback. Look into Jolie’s pulsing eyes and tell her she’s wrong – I dare you. Opens May 30.
“A Million Ways to Die In The West”
Seth MacFarlane serves up a raunchy Western parody. He stars, too, playing a cowardly sheepherder courting the new gal in town (Charlize Theron) while weaseling out of duels with the territory’s meanest gunslinger (Liam Neeson). Look for comically exaggerated violence, celebrities Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi lampooning their screen personas and kooky musical numbers. Opens May 30.
“22 Jump Street”
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return to the scene of the crime for more gags and gunplay. The game plan is supersize every quality that made “21 Jump Street” a crossover hit: More shouty Ice Cube as the cops’ exasperated captain, more bro-tastic emotional tension in the partners’ relationship, and way more drugs. Opens June 13.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction”
The Billion-Dollar Behemoths are back, in a new setting. Instead of pulverizing urban centers, they’re wrecking that nostalgic, rural Chevy commercial America that Bay reveres. Mark Wahlberg stars as a farmer who tinkers with an odd vehicle and declares, “I think we just found a Transformer!” Opens June 27.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
What’s odder? That this Bay-produced actioner gives Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo humanoid noses rather than old-school snouts? Or that Megan Fox, who roundly dissed Bay after acting for him in the “Transformers” movies, plays the pizza-loving mutants’ human sidekick? The ’80s kiddie hit gets an injection of disaster-film scope, and a jolt of eccentricity from Buffalo native William Fichtner as the villainous Shredder. Opens Aug. 8.
Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, a married couple with the blahs, make a naughty video that escapes their control thanks to this new thing called the Internet. Unless they can retrieve it before it’s discovered, they’re a click away from ridicule and worse. Starring Jack Black, Rob Corddry and Rob Lowe. Opens July 25.
“Think Like A Man Too”
The various couples from the first ensemble comedy reunite for a big Las Vegas wedding. Then the bachelor and bachelorette parties spiral out of control, ending with most of the cast in jail. Sounds like a matrimonial “Hangover” movie: engagement ring, wedding ring, suffering. The increasingly popular Kevin Hart stars, with Gabrielle Union, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Romany Malco and Megan Good. Opens June 20.
“Edge of Tomorrow”
The future is glitchy in Tom Cruise’s sci-fi war movie. His starship trooper is trapped in a time loop, dying in battle every day, then back among the living to face the brutal alien enemy once again. Emily Blunt plays a battle-hardened vet who teaches him to use the time-tripping anomaly against the invaders. Directed by “The Bourne Identity’s” Doug Liman. Opens June 6.
Will this be the film that returns the Wachowskis to the glory of their “Matrix” pinnacle? Or another “Speed Racer”/“Cloud Atlas” fiasco? Hard to deduce much from the dazzle and action-heavy previews, which give us Channing Tatum as a pixie-eared space soldier and Mila Kunis as an earthling Cinderella who’s actually an alien empress. Opens July 18.
Song and dance biopics
Clint Eastwood’s prior experience with movie musicals was limited to the regrettable “Paint Your Wagon.” This time, he’s behind the camera for the story of the rise of doo-wop dreamboat Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young, a vocal dead ringer) and the Four Seasons. Expect retro-chic looks, backstage squabbles, hit songs and Christopher Walken as the well-connected wise guy godfathering their careers. Opens June 20.
“Get On Up”
Chadwick Boseman plays the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, in this music-filled biography from Tate Taylor (“The Help”). The mercurial R&B legend rose from poverty to superstardom, battled drug addiction, was arrested for domestic violence and repeatedly faced financial ruin, but the tone here is mostly upbeat. The all-star cast includes Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Dan Aykroyd. Good God! Opens Aug. 1.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”
Marvel’s mutant militia rallies against a future ruled by the Sentinels, giant combat robots. The only way to defeat the threat is by sending Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 to warn Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). Actors from 2011’s hit “X-Men: First Class,” including Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender, fight alongside original players Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and Ellen Page. Reportedly the costliest superhero movie to date. Opens today. (See review on Page 10.)
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
Chris Pratt plays larcenous Earthling Peter Quill, with Zoe Saldana showing her range as his green-skinned sidekick. In the interests of diversity, the team includes the anthropomorphic alien tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and pistol-packing furball Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper). Opens Aug. 1.
“The Expendables 3”
Tongue-in-cheek irony meets bullet-spraying action adventure as a team of aging meatheads (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Statham, Snipes, more) go against ruthless arms trader Mel Gibson. So, another Dinosaurs of Rock tour for steroids-sloshing ’80s action stars. This one includes real-deal MMA star Ronda Rousey adding a bit of bone-breaking cred, but the series won’t light up for me until they pull in Kurt Russell. Opens Aug. 15.
“Sin City: A Dame To Kill For”
Even the good guys in this graphic novel adaptation are so hard you could strike a kitchen match on their eyelids. Robert Rodriguez channels the blood-geysering design DNA of Frank Miller’s urban comic book melodrama. These movies are less about story than ominous atmosphere. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Lady Gaga and Bruce Willis. Opens Aug. 22.
Young adult drama
“The Fault in Our Stars”
Two teens meet at a Cancer Kid Support Group and fall in love. The film stars the extravagantly gifted Shailene Woodley (“Divergent”) and Ansel Elgort (who played her brother in that film – awkward). Novelist John Green has insisted that he wouldn’t sell his books’ film rights unless he was convinced the adaptation would be quality moviemaking. This one looks as if it just might capture the tonal balance of his sad, funny, joyful best-seller. Opens June 6.
Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette star as the parents of Ellar Coltrane in this domestic epic. Director Richard Linklater (“School of Rock”) filmed over a dozen years, capturing his young star’s passage from first grade to college in real time. It’s an enchanting coming-of-age drama like no other. It plays like art, not time-lapse photography. Opens July 11.