The summer movie season heats up
As "Godzilla" stomps into theaters this weekend, the summer movie season is officially underway. From big-budget blockbusters to small indie thinkers, the summer season is sure to feature something for every type of movie fan.
The summer months are, unsurprisingly, small on original story properties. Sequels, adaptations and "untold stories" of classic characters dominate the release schedules. Though Hollywood is deep in the midst of a phase that caters to the "geek" audience, this summer is light on comic book fare — the calm before the storm that is the summer of 2015, which will see "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Ant-Man," "Fantastic 4" and the as-yet-untitled Batman vs. Superman film.
While last summer featured a steady stream of chaos and humanity fighting for survival (caused by attackers of foreign, domestic, extraterrestrial, biblical and supernatural origins), the main theme that may unite this summer's releases is relationships: A romantic entanglement, the friendship of two police officers, a group of rock stars or how a boy interacts with his family.
As the summer heats up, take refuge in the dark of a cool theater to catch some of these films playing in theaters around the Rogue Valley.
"A Million Ways to Die in the West" — When cowardly farmer Albert (Seth MacFarlane) backs out of a gunfight, the mysterious Anna (Charlize Theron) helps him find his courage and they begin to fall in love. When her husband, the notorious outlaw Clinch (Liam Neeson), rides into town, Albert must put his newfound courage to the test. Directed by Seth MacFarlane. Rated R.
"Maleficent" — In the untold story of one of Disney's most infamous villains, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), driven by the desire to protect the moors she calls home, places a curse on the human king's newborn daughter. As the princess, Aurora (Elle Fanning), grows older, she becomes caught in the conflict between the human kingdom and the forest kingdom. Maleficent soon realizes that Aurora may be the key to peace. Directed by Robert Stromberg. Rated PG.
"The Fault in Our Stars" — Hazel Lancaster (Shailene Woodly) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Engort) share an acerbic wit and a disdain for the conventional. The teenagers, who met and fell in love in a cancer support group, explore what it means to be alive and in love. Directed by Josh Boone. Rated PG-13.
"22 Jump Street" — After surviving their first undercover mission with Jump Street, officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Janko (Channing Tatum) are back on the job with a new drug bust at the local college. When Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene and Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, the pair begin to question their partnership and their friendship. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. This film is not yet rated.
"Edge of Tomorrow" — When Maj. William Cage (Tom Cruise) is killed within minutes of his first deployment against an unbeatable alien race waging war on Earth, he finds himself in a time loop, forcing him to relive the same brutal combat over and over. Cage becomes increasingly skilled at engaging his enemies with each battle and, with the help of special forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), moves ever closer to victory for the human race. Directed by Doug Liman. Rated PG-13.
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" — Five years ago, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, united the Vikings of Berk and the dragons. Now, the inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories. When one such adventure leads to a secret ice cave with hundreds of new, wild dragons and a mysterious dragon rider, the friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace. Directed by Dean DeBlois. Rated PG.
"Jersey Boys" — Four boys from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey come together to form the iconic '60s rock group, The Four Seasons. The Tony Award-winning musical comes to the big screen to showcase the group's triumphs, trials and hit songs to a whole new generation. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Rated R.
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" — Four years after the invasion of Chicago, mechanic and struggling inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), discover Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and reawaken the ongoing war between the Autobots and the Decepticons while a new threat, the Dinobots, appears. Directed by Michael Bay. Rated PG-13.
"Earth to Echo" — With their neighborhood being destroyed by highway construction, a trio of closely bonded boys will soon part ways. Two days before they move away, the boys' cellphones have been infected by a cryptic signal. The boys set off on one final adventure to trace the signal's source, only to discover Echo, an alien being that has become stranded on Earth. Directed by Dave Green. Rated PG.
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" — As the growing nation of genetically evolved apes, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), continues to grow, the fragile peace between them and the human survivors breaks, which leads to a war that will determine which side will emerge as the Earth's dominant species. Directed by Matt Reeves. This film is not yet rated.
"Jupiter Ascending" — Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) dreams that she is destined for great things but wakes to the cold reality of a dead-end job and a lifetime of bad breaks. When genetically modified ex-military hunter Caine (Channing Tatum) arrives on Earth to track her down, Jupiter gets a glimpse at a fate that could alter the balance of the cosmos. Directed by The Wachowskis. This film is not yet rated.
"Wish I Was Here" — Aiden Bloom (Zach Braff) is a struggling actor, father and husband who is still in search of his identity at 35. When he begins to home-school his kids, Aiden discovers the parts of himself that he struggled to find. Directed by Zach Braff. This film is not yet rated.
"Planes: Fire & Rescue" — When the now-world-famous plane racer Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) damages his engine, he learns he can never race again. Shifting gears, Dusty enters the world of aerial firefighting and joins forces with rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) and his team of all-terrain vehicles, The Smokejumpers. Directed by Roberts Gannaway. Rated G.
"The Purge: Anarchy" — A young couple must fight to survive on the street when their car breaks down right as the annual purge, a government -sponsored suspension of all law and emergency services, commences. Directed by James DeMonaco. Rated R.
"Hercules" — After the completion of 12 arduous labors, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) has turned his back on the gods and now finds solace only in bloody battle. Now, the son of Zeus and a team of fellow mercenaries are hired by the king of Thrace to train his army, opening the group's eyes to how blood-thirsty they truly have become. Directed by Brett Ratner. This film is not yet rated.
"Sex Tape" — Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) decide to film themselves trying every position in "The Joy of Sex" as a way to rekindle the spark in their love life. However, their private video accidentally becomes uploaded to the cloud, putting it in the hands of their family and friends. The pair races to reclaim the video in order to save their reputations. Directed by Jake Kasdan. This film is not yet rated.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" — Human pilot and space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his team — Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) — find themselves hunted by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) when they steal an orb that he covets. Directed by James Gunn. Rated PG-13.
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" — Four turtle brothers, trained as ninjas, rise from the sewers to fight the evil Shredder (William Fichtner) and his Foot Clan and rescue New York from the darkness he has cast over it. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Rated PG-13.
"Let's Be Cops" — When best friends (Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr.) dress as cops for a costume party, the pair impersonate real police officers and become neighborhood sensations. Soon, they get tangled in a web of mobsters and dirty detectives and must put their fake badges, and their lives, on the line. Directed by Luke Greenfield. Rated R.
"The Giver" — Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a seemingly perfect world without war, pain, suffering or choices. At the age of 12, Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories and enters into training with The Giver (Jeff Bridges). Jonas experiences all of the unhappy truths about the "real" world and must make difficult choices about his life and his future. Directed by Phillip Noyce. This film is not yet rated.
"The Expendables 3" — Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the crew return to face off against Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a ruthless arms dealer who co-founded The Expendables. Ross decides to fight the old with a new era of Expendables team members. Directed by Patrick Hughes. Rated R.
"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" — Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return to direct new tales of the most hardboiled citizens in Sin City as they cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants. Rated R.
The following films have local release dates still to be determined. Check the Tempo movie lists for up-to-date information.
"Snowpiercer" — A failed attempt to end global warming plunges the Earth into a new ice age. The survivors live life on "Snowpiercer," a train set to circle the globe until the ice thaws. Soon, warfare breaks out as the poor, led by Curtis (Chris Evans), rebel against the rich. Directed by Joon-ho Bong. Rated R.
"They Came Together" — When Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Pohler) meet, it's hate at first sight. His corporate candy company threatens to shut down her quirky independent shop. The pair work past their odds and fall in love, break up, date other people and reunite in this spoof on typical romantic comedies. Directed by David Wain. Rated R.
"Begin Again" — Gretta (Keira Knightly) and her boyfriend, Dave (Adam Levine), are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp to New York when David lands a record deal with a major label. When his fame leads him to stray, Gretta is left alone until Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record label executive, sees her perform in the East Village and is captivated by her talent. Directed by John Carney. Rated R.
"A Long Way Down" — Four lost souls decide to commit suicide on New Year's Eve by jumping from a London high-rise. When the group meets on top of the building, the members agree to call off their plans for six weeks and form a dysfunctional family unit in order to search for reasons to keep living. Directed by Pascal Chaumeil. Rated R.
"Boyhood" — Filmed over the course of 12 years, we see life through the eyes of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he literally grows up on-screen. Mason charts the rocky terrain of childhood and relationships with his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), and his parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette). Directed by Richard Linklater. Rated R.