Reboots on the ground!
If the 2014 summer movie season - officially underway with Friday's opening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - will be remembered for anything, it could be its head-spinning deluge of giant-screen sequels, prequels, retreads, and franchise revivifications. Take the aforementioned Marvel-branded action romp starring the arachnoidal crime-stopper: a sequel to a reboot of an original franchise based on a comic book series. Shall we go on?
If some enterprising soul out there has Final Cut Pro and time to burn, there's a great mashup to be culled from the trailers of Spider-Man, Godzilla, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Well, maybe great isn't the word, but the toppling skyscrapers, midair combat sequences, out-of-control patrol cars, and cackling demonic villains are pretty much interchangeable in these four films - and a handful of others among the almost 100 pics coming our way.
What follows are 22 thumbnails of some higher-profile and/or more eagerly anticipated titles headed to the multiplexes between now and Labor Day. There is some smaller, so-called counterprogramming fare on the calendar, too, such as the Tom-Hardy-in-a-car revelation Locke (May 9); the feel-good foodfest Chef (May 16); the haunting post-war Polish gem Ida (May 30); and What If with Daniel Radcliffe (Aug. 8). Then it's on to the brainier stuff of the fall, like Resident Evil 6!
Dates are subject to change.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Friday) - Andrew Garfield is back as Peter Parker, the New York City kid who's been dabbling in web design - and web-slinging, in his alter-ego superhero title role. Dane DeHaan is Spidey's nemesis, Harry Osborn, a.k.a. Green Goblin, and Emma Stone returns as Gwen Stacy, the love of Spidey's life. Times Square supplies the backdrop for much of the mayhem. PG-13
Belle (May 9) - Based on the true story of an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy commander, raised by her grand-uncle, the High Justice of the courts, in 18th-century England. Jane Austen meets 12 Years a Slave, sort of. Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the title role, with Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, and Sam Reid. PG
Godzilla (May 16) - Bryan Cranston faced all sorts of personal demons in Breaking Bad. Now he has to deal with a monster not of his making: a giant reptilian freakazoid that may, or may not, be a walking metaphor for Earth's climate-changing, rain-forest-clearing eco-ruin. PG-13
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23) - The Marvel mutants from the original X-Men trilogy team with their younger iterations from X-Men: First Class (a blue Jennifer Lawrence included) in a time-toggling battle to determine their collective fate. Question for director Bryan Singer: How does the Moody Blues' 1967 concept album figure into the equation? PG-13
A Million Ways to Die In the West (May 30) - Besmirched Oscars host and Ted director Seth MacFarlane stars in his own oater, set in mythic frontier days, with gunslingers, saloon sirens, and outhouse humor. Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, and Charlize Theron star. Dude raunch, anyone? R
Maleficent (May 30) - "There is evil in this world, hatred and revenge," says Angelina Jolie, adding a gleeful cackle to her summation in the "true story" of the villainess from the "Sleeping Beauty" tale. Visual-effects whiz Robert Stromberg makes his directorial debut. PG
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6) - Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are soldiers in a near-future battle against extraterrestrials - a battle the pair are doomed to repeat in a kind of freaky time loop. Groundhog Day of the Alien Apocalypse? PG-13
The Fault in Our Stars (June 6) - John Green's beloved young-adult novel gets moviefied, with Divergent's Shailene Woodley starring as a teen with a terminal diagnosis, and a new boy in her life, courtesy of a cancer patients' support group. PG-13
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13) - Those lovable dragon-riding Vikings return in the second of DreamWorks' planned trilogy of computer-animated fantasies based on the Cressida Cowell book series. PG
Jersey Boys (June 20) - Clint Eastwood directs the adaptation of the smash jukebox musical, chronicling the falsetto highs and bass lows of 1960s chart-toppers Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. R
Think Like a Man Too (June 20) - Kevin Hart oversees the couples-therapy comedy, a sequel to the 2012 hit based on Steve Harvey's bestseller, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. PG-13
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27) - Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Ratchet are back, but the humans are new in this fourth installment of the Michael Bay franchise inspired by the morphing Hasbro toys. Mark Wahlberg is now the center of the action, and thus, all is right with the world. PG-13
Tammy (July 2) - Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon road-trip to Niagara Falls. McCarthy, in the title role, has a run of extremely bad luck (lost her job, catches her spouse in an adulterous position). Sarandon is McCarthy's booze-swilling, potty-mouthed grandmom. Off they go - hopefully not a nightmare reimagining of Thelma and Louise. R
Begin Again (July 11) - From Once director John Carney, a music-driven New York tale about a dejected singer/songwriter (Keira Knightley) and the fired label exec (Mark Ruffalo) who decides to record her songs. R
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11) - A sequel to the 2011 reboot of the original series, and the eighth title in the Planet of the Apes canon, this one finds the simian species on top of the world, with a rebel band of humans (Gary Oldman, Keri Russell) trying to take back what once was theirs - before James Franco messed things up in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. PG-13
Sex Tape (July 25) - Bad Teacher castmates Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel reteam as a married couple who video themselves having sex, only to discover that their intimate masterwork of digital cinema has gone viral. Blame it on the Cloud. R
Boyhood (July TBD) - From Before . . . trilogist Richard Linklater, this acclaimed coming-of-age indie from Sundance and SXSW was shot over the course of 12 years, following its protagonist (Ellar Coltrane) from a kid into a young man. Ethan Hawke is the dad. R
Fifty Shades of Grey (Aug. 1) - The hotly anticipated adaptation of the best-selling erotic novel is here, with Dakota Johnson as brainy college student Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan as hunky magnate Christian Grey. Let the games begin! R
Lucy (Aug. 8) - Scarlett Johansson stars in this Luc Besson (high-)concept about a drug mule in Taipei who accidentally ingests experimental pharmaceuticals she's carrying, transforming her into a super-brained and super-powerful action babe. Happens every day, no? R
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Aug. 8) - A reboot of the 1990s film franchise based on the 1980s comic books about a quartet of anthropomorphized vigilante reptiles named after Italian Renaissance luminaries: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. And of course, Megan Fox costars, as turtle gal-pal April O'Neil. Ms. Fox's old Transformers' boss, Michael Bay, produces. PG
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 22) - A sequel to Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's 2005 hi-def, green-screen digital noir, with many of the hardboiled mugs and femmes fatales from the original returning for more pulpy sex and violence. R
Magic in the Moonlight (August, TBD) - Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine followup is a rom-com set in the Roaring Twenties on the Riviera, with Colin Firth as a British guy (a stretch) determined to expose a mystic played by Emma Stone. Since 2008's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the Woodman's box office has been pretty magical.