One of the biggest summer movie seasons in memory is about to unspool. Of course, the report from last year wasn’t encouraging. Despite the blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, box office was down and the movies were mostly a bust. But this year, the long line of blockbusters-to-be–even the sequels and remakes–are more promising and diverse than last year.
The worst thing about movies like Minions, Pixels and Ted 2 is that they’re likely to be huge hits, regardless of quality. Also, I’m not writing about Ant-Man or The Fantastic Four, both of which I’m expecting will bomb, though I could be wrong. After all, I didn’t think that movie with Rocket Raccoon and Starlord was going to work, either.
Here are the 10 I’m looking forward to the most:
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (opens May 15)
The Gist: Australian director George Miller returns for the fourth Mad Max adventure, this one starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
The Good: With Mad Miller at the helm, an epic-length shoot and a faithful return to the source, this looks to be an event for film fans, summer movie buffs and genre enthusiasts.
The Bad: Hardy is terrific but Mel Gibson is Mad Max. The replacement may not fully go over. Will it be too weird for mainstream audiences and play more a cult movie than a summer attraction?
TOMORROWLAND (opens May 22)
The Gist: Brad Bird’s top-secret sci-fi fantasy starring George Clooney. Based on the Disneyland theme park attraction.
The Good: After The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, Bird is a consistently dazzling filmmaker. That poetic teaser trailer promises great things.
The Bad: Can a movie based on the Space Mountain ride really be all that good? Instead of what’s-it-about, we should be asking why Clooney is doing a Disney movie.
POLTERGEIST (opens May 22)
The Gist: a Sam Raimi-produced remake of the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg classic horror film.
The Good: Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie Dewitt star. The source material has been duplicated often but still provides a scary blueprint. Appears to be aiming for the big-scares-over-gore approach of 1982 film.
The Bad: The trailer stinks. Gill Keenan directed Monster House, an animated children’s film, which doesn’t make him an obvious choice for an actual horror movie. The original is likely unmatchable.
ALOHA (opens May 29)
The Gist: Cameron Crowe’s Hawaii-set romantic comedy stars Bradley Cooper as a military contractor who reconnects with his ex (Rachel McAdams) and falls hard for his new colleague (Emma Stone).
The Good: The cast includes Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski. Crowe is in full rom-com mode. His love for Hawaii and second chances is all over this one.
The Bad: Shot two years ago, it looks endearing but overstuffed, like Crowe’s Elizabethtown. Will he keep it under two hours? Can he balance multiple characters, a whimsical tone and stick the landing?
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 (opens June 5)
The Gist: Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are out but Lin Shaye returns as the psychic with the ability to travel to… The Further.
The Good: The original creative team behind this horror series remains on board. The PG-13 rating doesn’t matter when your movie is bloodless but still terrifying.
The Bad: “The Darkest Chapter Yet” tagline seems more like an apology for how different this will be from the first two. Opens after the Poltergeist remake.
JURASSIC WORLD (opens June 12)
The Gist: Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard battle genetically modified dinos on the newly opened park.
The Good: The summer movie to beat. Filmed in Hawaii, the cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer and a returning B.D. Wong. Looks as thrilling as the original but has even more star power.
The Bad: Colin Trevorrow made the small, clever comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. Even with Steven Spielberg as producer, Trevorrow has a lot to juggle for his second movie.
TERMINATOR GENISYS (opens July 1)
The Gist: a reconfiguring of “The Terminator,” with Arnold Schwarzenegger back as an aging (!) cyborg who protects Sarah Conner from a liquid metal assassin.
The Good: The directors made Thor: The Dark World and the cast includes J.K. Simmons, Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney. The screenplay has been praised for being clever and not a simple re-boot.
The Bad: As intriguing as this looks, the trailers haven’t been helping. Is Clarke playing John Conner really a step up from Christian Bale?
TRAINWRECK (opens July 17)
The Gist: Judd Apatow directs this Amy Schumer-starring comedy, based on her original screenplay.
The Good: Had an early, well-received preview screening at the SXSW film fest, which shows confidence. Closer to Apatow’s Knocked Up than his dark, divisive Funny People. Bill Hader co-stars.
The Bad: Schumer’s stand-up is confessional and hilarious but can she carry a movie? If audiences don’t find her endearing, this could be her first and last starring role.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (opens July 31)
The Gist: Tom Cruise is back, yet again, as IMF team leader Ethan Hunt. Christopher McQuarrie directs.
The Good: One of the few franchises that appears to be picking up steam a few sequels in. Cruise again performs insanely dangerous stunts. Everyone now: Your mission, should you choose to accept it…
The Bad: This series showcased filmmaking wizards Brian De Palma and John Woo, and up-and-comers J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird. McQuarrie directed Cruise’s Jack Reacher and is an untested underdog.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (opens August 14)
The Gist: The story of N.W.A., the groundbreaking rap group that gave us Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E.
The Good: F. Gary Gray, who directed Cube in Friday, is the perfect filmmaker for this. The story is incredible and everyone from Paul Giamatti to Dean Cameron are in the cast.
The Bad: The leads, playing the young versions of the group, are untested unknowns. If they can’t convey the charisma and danger of their real-life counterparts, this will go straight to the five dollar bin.
Photo from Mad Max: Fury Road: Movieweb.com