2015 Summer Movie Preview: The 25 Films You Can’t Miss This Year
Temperatures are getting warmer, days are getting longer and the movies are getting bigger. Yep, summer is here and it’s brought with it one of the most jam-packed movie schedules in years. From superhero movies and post-apocalyptic adventures to rom-coms and animated family flicks, the summer of 2015 has something for everyone. In fact, it may have too much of everything for everyone. You are going to be spending a lot of time in movie theaters over the next three months.
And with that, these are the 25 movies you have to have on your radar this summer. Read this list. Study it. Watch the trailers. Create a game plan. Oh, and stay hydrated. Living on popcorn is thirsty business.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The sequel to the biggest superhero movie of all time somehow looks even bigger, beefing up the superhero roster and throwing Earth’s mightiest heroes into an all-out-war with James Spader’s villainous Ultron and his army of robot minions. If early buzz is any indication, this is going to be the movie that tears down the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe so it can be rebuilt over the next few years. In other words, you aren’t allowed to skip this one. Your attendance is mandatory.
Just when you thought popular culture had reached peak-zombie, some madman decided to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as a grieving father who is forced to watch his teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) slowly become one of the walking dead in a barely controlled sort-of-post-apocalypse. Maggie is uncharted territory for everyone’s favorite Austrian-accented bodybuilder and evidence that Arnie’s twilight years may hold some pretty crazy surprises. — May 8
Mad Max: Fury Road
Director George Miller’s long-gestating return to the gasoline-starved wastelands of Mad Max and The Road Warrior couldn’t look any crazier and if the trailers don’t get your blood pumping, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to watch movies. With the great Tom Hardy stepping into the title role and Charlize Theron playing a badass convoy leader with a robot arm, Mad Mad: Fury Road looks like the welcome return of old school, practical vehicular mayhem with a 21st century sheen. No 2015 film seems to be promising more bang for your buck than this one. — May 15
Pitch Perfect 2
The first Pitch Perfect was a sleeper success in theaters that exploded in popularity when pre-teen girls of all ages (and their initially reluctant parents) discovered it at home. Now, the second a cappella adventure of Anna Kendrick and the Barden Bellas has been given prime summer real estate to compete against the biggest movies of the year. Can a small-scale, witty musical sequel stand toe-to-toe with superheroes and dinosaurs? Pitch, please! There’s nothing we love more than an underdog. — May 15
Poltergeist faces one major problem right off the bat: it’s a remake of one of the best haunted house movies ever made. And yet, not every haunted house movie has a cast that includes terrific actors like Sam Rockwell and Jared Harris. And not every haunted house movie is directed by Gil Kenan, who helmed the massively underrated all-ages animated horror movie Monster House. If the new Poltergeist can capture even a portion of the original’s sense of dread and adventure, it will be worth checking out. — May 22
Brad Bird, the genius behind The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, is back with a family-friendly science fiction adventure featuring a secret city of the future, massive conspiracies, killer robots, the Eiffel Tower turning into a spaceship, and George Clooney playing a former child genius turned bitter old grump. Even after three trailers, we have no idea how these individually insane elements tie together, but we’re certainly determined to find out. — May 22
Writer/director Cameron Crowe has had his fair share of ups and downs, but it’s hard to ignore a romantic comic drama starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Billy Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride and Alec Baldwin. With an ensemble like that leading the charge, Aloha looks like the kind of movie that could propel Crowe back to his Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous heights. Plus, it promises to be a slightly more low key time at the movies and a welcome break from all of the capes and car car chases filling the rest of the summer. — May 29
What happens when Dwayne Johnson faces a foe that he can’t punch in the face? We’ll find out in San Andreas, which casts The Rock as a rescue-helicopter pilot who finds himself battling Mother Nature when the biggest earthquake in human history threatens to to wipe California off the map. This thing looks big and silly and totally outrageous, which is everything we want from a disaster movie. And then there’s the mere presence of Dwayne Johnson, who can sell a million tickets with the flash of a smile and the flex of a bicep. — May 29
Four years after the series reached its apparent conclusion on HBO, Entourage is back with a big screen outing. For better or for worse, the new adventures of Vinnie, Eric, Turtle and Johnny look a lot like their old adventures, which should instantly tell you whether or not this movie is going to be for you. The big question now is whether or not fans of the series will come out and make this a Sex in the City-sized hit or if we’re looking at another Veronica Mars. — June 5
Insidious Chapter 3
Although director James Wan has departed for more furious pastures, Insidious Chapter 3 is now in the capable hands of series screenwriter Leigh Whannell. A prequel to the first two films, the third entry in this reliably scary franchise follows Lin Shaye’s psychic Elise Rainier as she embarks on her first case as a paranormal investigator. Since Elise and her ragtag crew of assistants were easily the best parts of the first two films, this makes Chapter 3 sound like an instant winner and a nice change of pace. — June 5
We didn’t know the world needed an action comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham, but here we are. Spy exists and it looks pretty funny. The third collaboration between McCarthy and her Bridesmaids and The Heat director, Paul Feig, this film casts the Oscar-nominated comedienne as a desk-bound spy who is forced to embark on a dangerous mission when the identities of the actual field agents are compromised. Hilarity, hopefully, ensues. — June 5
If there’s a surefire recipe for Hollywood success, two of the key ingredients are surely dinosaurs and Chris Pratt. Oh, and being the latest entry in a genuinely beloved movie franchise that has waited an agonizing 14 years between entries. The existence of Jurassic World has inspired all kinds of reactions across the internet: tentative excitement at the prospect of another Jurassic Park movie, wariness at the thought of a new movie even coming close to touching the original, and genuine rage over “good guy” Velociraptors. But none of that matters because everyone will be there on opening day anyway. — June 12
After taking an unplanned year off due to behind the scenes issues, everyone’s favorite animation studio is back with one of their most promising movies in ages. Although the trailers have painted Pixar’s Inside Out as a wild and silly look at what goes on inside the mind of a young girl, early buzz suggests that the actual film is a moving, emotionally devastating tearjerker along the lines of Up. In other words, come for the laughs and the vibrant animation, but stay for the tears and genuinely moving realness. — June 19
No one expected the original Ted to become one of the biggest films of 2012 and one of the highest grossing R-rated movies ever, but audiences turned out in droves for Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed teddy bear comedy. In the sequel, Mark Wahlberg and his fluffy childhood buddy embark on another crazy adventure, this time to prove in a court of law that Ted is a person and should be allowed to have children. And yes, this movie about a living stuffed animal’s desire to procreate co-stars Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson. — June 26
Magic Mike XXL
Director Steven Soderbergh isn’t back for Magic Mike XXL, but Channing Tatum and Channing Tatum’s abs certainly are, which should be more than enough to fill theaters. The sequel picks up some time after the events of the original, tracking Mike and the rest of his crew as they embark on a road trip to Myrtle Beach to compete in a stripping competition. We don’t know if the sequel will have the undercurrent of reality and tragedy seen in the original, but it will have a bunch of obscenely attractive men taking off their clothes and strutting their stuff on stage and that should be more than enough. — July 1
It’s not enough for the fifth Terminator movie to be just a sequel. It has to be a sequel, a reboot, a remake, a prequel, and a, uh, sidequel all at once. Terminator Genisys looks legitimately insane, taking advantage of the franchise’s predilection for time travel to bounce around the events of the previous movies, rewriting canon and burning the entire series to the ground (in a good way, we hope). At the center of it all is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killer cyborg, who will get the opportunity to battle a digital recreation of his 1984 self to the death. Thanks, time travel! — July 1
Those adorable yellow creatures from the Despicable Me movies are back and they’ve brought their own spin-of movie with them! Set in the ‘60s and featuring the vocal talents of Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm, Minions is going to be the movie that your kids will demand to see this summer. Don’t doubt the power of those little things. Hopefully, it will be as charming and sweet as its predecessors, which balanced the crude humor and hijinks with a lot of heart. — July 10
While Marvel Studios has a surefire smash hit with Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man feels like a risk ... which is why we’re so very interested in it. Despite the very public problems that plagued the film’s development, the trailers have been charming and the thought of Paul Rudd playing a superhero in a movie whose screenplay was polished by Adam McKay is more than enough to keep us interested. Plus, we decided to stop betting against Marvel after Guardians of the Galaxy and we’re not going to start now. — July 17
Few directors have an eye for talent quite like Judd Apatow, so it’s not surprising that he cast the hilarious Amy Schumer in his latest project just as her career began to explode. After four movies centered around male slackers who learn to grow up, the man behind The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up is giving Schumer a role that looks worthy of her enormous talent. If the trailers are any indication, Trainwreck is going to be the comedy to beat this summer. — July 17
What happens when you combine an alien invasion story, an Adam Sandler comedy, and ‘80s arcade nostalgia into one movie? You get Pixels, which finds Sandler leading a team of gamers (including Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) who are the final line of defense against an extraterrestrial armada who have taken the shape of classic video game characters. The presence of director Chris Columbus suggests a straightforward adventure. The casting of Sandler suggests, uh, something else. It seems we’ll have to see this thing if we want to understand it. — July 24
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Above all else, know this about the latest entry in the Mission: Impossible series: Tom Cruise actually clung to the exterior of a plane as it took flight for the film’s biggest set piece. Insane, practical stunts like this have become this franchise’s calling card and Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie seems to have embraced that in a big way, putting his leading man in all kinds of absurd danger for our amusement. These movies have always been reliably entertaining blasts of popcorn-fueled fun and this one doesn’t look to stray from that path. — July 31
Vacation is one of those weird projects that sounds like a remake but is actually a sequel despite having the same title as the original film. Anyway, this one follows the now-grown Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) as he takes his family on a road trip to Walley World, following the path of the original movie with similarly disastrous results. Although Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are on hand to reprise their roles, it’s the newcomers, namely Helms and the delightful Leslie Mann, that make this seem promising. — July 31
Josh Trank’s controversial-the-moment-it-was-announced reboot of Marvel’s first family has got to be one of the summer’s most intriguing movies. Between the cast of exceptionally talented up and comers and trailers that sell a dark, character-driven tone, the new Fantastic Four doesn’t look like a Marvel movie. It doesn’t look like a DC movie. It doesn’t even look like one of Fox’s X-Men movies. It looks like its own strange beast and we’re very curious to see what the man behind Chronicle has cooked up. — August 7
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
In this update of the classic television series, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play agents working for the titular spy agency, racing against the clock to save the world during the hottest days of the Cold War. With its snappy dialogue and stylish action, the film looks like another winner from director Guy Ritchie, who has proven his action comedy chops with the Sherlock Holmes movies. Most importantly, this will give Cavill and Hammer’s exquisite jawlines a chance to battle for supremacy before our very eyes.
Straight Outta Compton
N.W.A., once one of the most controversial musical acts in America, is now the subject of their very own Hollywood biopic. Straight Outta Compton could be a breath of fresh air for a genre that has previously felt confined to “safer” performers, taking the familiar beats of Ray and Walk the Line and re-energizing them in a big way. And even though this is a period piece, the trailer paints the picture of a movie that has the potential to strike a familiar, tragic and angry chord with the America of 2015. At the end of a summer of escapist entertainment, this may be what we need. — August 14