It’s been 25 years since the landmark Summer of Sequels swept America. The movie season of May-September 1989 had a then-record eight sequels in theaters (including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and created lines that famously stretched far outside the theaters. Most memorably, Bat-Mania took over the world, as Tim Burton’s Batman set the standard for the Comic Book genre, bringing enough prestige, artistic integrity and gigantic success to make a Joker smile. Here’s a dozen of this season’s most promising looking entries to keep us laughing and clutching our seats (in air-conditioned theaters) all summer long…
NEIGHBORS (Opens May 9)
The Gist: Responsible slob/middle aged dad (Seth Rogen) vs. chiseled/party animal frat boy (Zac Efron).
The Good News: Test screenings had audiences roaring and the trailer suggests another raunchy Bridesmaids, The 40-Year Old Virgin or Superbad.
The Bad News: Will the hard-R rating deliver the goods or will this be a bigger put-off than The Hangover Part III? Can the skit-worthy “story” sustain 96-minutes?
GODZILLA (opens May 16)
The Gist: Gareth Edwards, director of the wonderful Monsters, helms this no-nonsense, large scale revision of the classic Japanese monster mash.
The Good News: A strong, all-star cast, including Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe, along with Edwards’ skillful blend of story and vivid f/x, make this a must-see.
The Bad News: Looks awfully serious and heavy-handed. If it stomps with heavy feet and is even less “fun” than the idiotic 1998 reboot, fanboy adoration could give way to shattered expectations (and buildings.)
EDGE OF TOMORROW (Opens June 6)
The Gist: It’s Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star, action ace Doug Liman directs. No joke–the original title was All You Need is Kill.
The Good News: Liman helmed The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Cruise needs no introduction and the trailer looks exciting.
The Bad News: Could play like Liman’s previous high-concept, f/x-driven thriller Jumper. Should Cruise be doing another sci-fi blow-’em-up so soon after Oblivion?
THE SACRAMENT (June 6)
The Gist: Horror film fictionalizes the nightmarish atmosphere of the Jim Jones cult.
The Good News: Acclaimed film festival entry finally makes its way to theaters. Writer/director Ti West is terrific with suspense and creating anticipation. This is also the only horror film opening this summer.
The Bad News: West’s endings have famously fallen short and don’t live up to the build-up. Will this one actually open or, like his others, barely play in theaters before premiering on iTunes VOD?
22 JUMP STREET (opens June 13)
The Gist: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back. More importantly, so are Ice Cube and Rob Riggle.
The Good News: The original was hilarious. With the same cast, crew and writers, it appears lightening could strike twice. Cube’s beefed up role (and Tatum’s surprise flair for comedy) will keep ’em laughing.
The Bad News: Legally Blonde 2, Big Mamma’s House 2, The Whole Ten Yards, Beverly Hills Cop II, Miss Congeniality 2 and Ghostbusters II were not as good as the original. Comedy sequels are tough.
JERSEY BOYS (June 20)
The Gist: Based on the smash Broadway musical, the troubled life of pop star Frankie Valli.
The Good News: The soundtrack is terrific and director Clint Eastwood knows how to tell a great story. A musical where everyone knows the songs and Valli’s story is a compelling underdog tale.
The Bad News: No-name cast and an odd choice for summer (feels like a Christmas movie). Rock of Ages supposedly couldn’t miss, either. The CD sales might be mightier than the box office.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (Opens May 23)
The Gist: Time travel allows the original Mutants to share the screen with the cast of X-Men: First Class. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellan, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence star.
The Good News: Almost the entire cast of the series returns to bring the franchise back to the glories of the first two entries.
The Bad News: Patient fanboys have endured more than one lousy X-Men sequel. The planned X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016 sounds more like a threat than a treat.
BOYHOOD (opens July 11)
The Gist: Starring Ethan Hawke, director Richard Linklater’s one-of-a-kind comedy/drama of a young man’s baby-to-preteen stage has been filming for years.
The Good News: The rave reviews, gimmick of a film shooting for 12 years (so the little boy actor could age on screen) and Linklater’s reliable skill make this the gotta-see-it art film of the summer.
The Bad News: Will the puberty years be as painful to watch as it was for most of us to experience?
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Opens July 11)
The Gist: Hail Caesar! Apes good, humans suck! Bananas for everyone!
The Good News: Cloverfield director Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis as You Know Who are the MVPs. The cast includes Jason (Zero Dark Thirty) Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and Judy Greer.
The Bad News: Rise of the Planet of the Apes was surprisingly terrific and a tough act to follow. Any sci-fi fan knows the ending is a given. Serkis is a genius but can CGI Caesar carry his own movie?
HERCULES (opens July 25)
The Gist: Dwayne Johnson is Hercules! Brett Ratner directs, swimsuit model Irna Shayk co-stars
The Good News: Johnson is typecast playing a God Among Men. No one will remember or care about The Legend of Hercules flopping back in January. The trailer is gloriously silly and full of CGI beast battles.
The Bad News: Is Ratner really the guy for this pulpy material? John Hurt and Ian McShane have roles but is anyone expecting Shayk (or anyone else here) to put in a real performance?
LUCY (Opens Aug. 8)
The Gist: Scarlett Johansson stars as a chemically enhanced super agent in this action/thriller.
The Good News: The Director is Luc Besson, “the Spielberg of France” who gave us La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element. Looks like the perfect solo action vehicle for Johansson.
The Bad News: Besson writes piles of hit screenplays but hasn’t directed a good movie in years.
THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Aug. 15)
The Gist: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, etc.
The Good News: Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, some kid from Twilight, a couple of tanks, small mountains of TNT, shattered glass and triumphant fist-bumping.
The Bad News: Plot? And how come they’ve done three pictures, but we still haven’t seen Steven Seagal or Jackie Chan? C’mon, Sly!
Photo from Edge of Tomorrow: Movieweb.com