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04.22.2015by: Paul Shirey

JoBlo.com's 2015 Summer Movie Preview!

It's finally upon us! Summer Movie Season! We've braved the storm that is the dump months of cinema and are now prepared for the onslaught of big-budget popcorn fare with a few sprinkles of laughs, scares, and drama to even it out. For a long time it felt like 2015 was going to be the year to end all years when it came to mega releases and it most definitely has a hell of a line up to get excited over, although the shift of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE to 2016 definitely took a little wind out of that sail. Regardless, though, there's a lot to choose from and a lot to get pumped for. While we're certainly looking forward to more than what's on this particular list, these are the one's that interest us the most, be it for obvious reasons or because of hyped-up curiosity. Some of these we've been looking forward to for years, while others we know very little about, making them a bigger gamble, but ultimately these are the ones we're most looking forward to.

No list will ever satisfy everyone equally, so we encourage you to share yours with us in the comments section. In the end, we'll all be the deciding factor in which films hit or miss (and which ones give us a sequel years from now). We're in this together! Let's dig in, shall we?

#20 Poltergeist (May 22)

There's a lot of heat on the POLTERGEIST remake, particularly because, well, the original is and always will be a great flick. Anytime you wade into the reboot/remake waters, you can find yourself drowning rather quickly, but that doesn't mean that it always has to go that way. MONSTER HOUSE director Gil Keenan takes the helm of the remake, tackling Tobe Hooper's 1982 original with a modern-day twist and a strong cast that gives this a little more street cred than you would think originally. For one, Sam Rockwell is in it and Sam Rockwell can make any movie he's in Sam RockWell. So, there's that. Joining his is Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris, who takes on the "Tangina" role from the original. The trailers show promise and even those adamantly against it have admitted that it looks decent...if not wholly unnecessary. For me, it's got the curiosity factor going for it; while it may not top the original, it may well be something really cool and unexpected. That's always the hope for a remake, but you just never can tell unless you give it a whirl. For some, there's no convincing, but for others it's something we just need to see for ourselves.

#19 Straight Outta Compton (August 14)

The true-life story of the rap group NWA and their impact on society when their brand of music wasn't readily accepted, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON feels all the more relevant with our current focus on social issues. The film taps into the uneasy first days of the group and how their music impacted culture and how it continues to play out to this day. Director F. Gary Gray has enlisted a crop of young actors to portray the group in their youth, including Ice Cube's own son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., to portray his father. Paul Giamatti stars as record producer Jerry Heller, who helps guide the group to stardom, with a virtual who's who of hip hop making appearances either as themselves or as portrayed by an actor, taking us back to the early days of NWA and how they challenged the society they came from. While films like this can certainly run the risk of falling into excessive exaggeration or overhyped glorification, there's always the chance that it could be a balanced, flaws-and-all kind of biopic, which is certainly what we're hoping for. Any time you start trying to recreate reality you run the risk of falling into fantasy, but I'm hoping that STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON finds a balance and delivers a worthy real-life tale.

#18 Ted 2 (June 26)

While Seth MacFarlane's western/comedy experiment A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST didn't quite pan out, he's still got that raunchy, foul-mouthed, oversexed Teddy Bear to lean back on. And lean back he does, as TED 2 hits theaters this summer, reuniting the pot-smoking bear with his best bud Mark Wahlberg and new love interest Amanda Seyfriend, who acts as an attorney to help Ted fight for his civil rights. Or something. While Ted and his wife Tami-Lynn try to conceive a child, they must prove that Ted is an actual person and not just a possessed talking stuffed animal, leading to a story of Ted attempting to find his humanity. But, let's not get all wrapped up in story; let's be honest...we're here for the dick and fart jokes. I mean, the concept is all about a talking teddy doing and saying naughty shit, so if anything, let's hope they don't try to tone down the aspect that made it a hit to begin with, which rests largely on MacFarlane's personification of Ted and the relationship between him and Wahlberg. Without that foundation, this could quickly sink into "they should've left it at one" territory, but judging by the box office of the first film, audiences are certainly ready to give the series another go.

#17 Aloha (May 29)

It's been a long time since Cameron Crowe delivered a film that inspired or moved us like his earlier works like SAY ANYTHING, JERRY MAGUIRE, and ALMOST FAMOUS have. The disappointment of ELIZABETHTOWN and WE BOUGHT A ZOO seemed to suggest that Crowe had hit a speedbump on his path to creating strong ensemble films that pulled at the heartstring, while supplying those awkward and hilarious moments we navigate throughout our lives. With ALOHA, his first film in four years, Crowe looks to be tapping into some of his former glory while bringing along a new cast to help recapture it. Starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, and Bill Murray, ALOHA looks to explore the pangs of lost love and newfound love, along with the emotional turmoil that both bring. Cooper had great success with the romcom genre in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and co-stars Stone and McAdams are old hats at the genre, so we know the cast can pull it off. However, the real concern is if Crowe can, but so far it's looking like a step in the right direction and with a hearty balance of concept, location, talent, comedy, and drama, ALOHA could be the film we've been waiting for from the filmmaker.

#16 San Andreas (May 29)

While Roland Emmerich may have helped set the standard for big-budget disaster pics in the last few decades, there's a new duo in town that looks to shake things up in a big way. Dwayne Johnson and director Brad Peyton have set out to give Team Emmerich a run for his money with SAN ANDREAS, an Earthquake disaster pic that looks to marry family drama and human disaster into one blockbuster event; also known as every one of my family reunions. All joking aside, SAN ANDREAS has got a lot going for it, chief among them the mere presence of Dwayne Johnson, who always injects his utmost energy and dedication to whatever role he's in. He's also joined by a couple of lovely ladies; Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario, playing his estranged wife and daughter, respectively. However, the special effects are nothing to scoff at, either, with some seriously heart-stopping destruction being recreated before us with some awe-inspiring visuals. Based on what we've seen thus far, SAN ANDREAS looks to have all the ingredients for some big-budget summer escapism. The only question is; Will audiences smell what the Rock is cooking?

#15 Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5)

The third sequel to the runaway hit franchise, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 serves not only as a prequel to the popular horror franchise, but also as a new direction that is meant to set up the series for years to come. The new film find's Lin Shaye's psychic Elise Rainier in a story set long before she met the Lambert family, who were the haunted patrons in the previous entries. In this outing, Rainer uses her abilities to help a teenage girl ward off an evil entity in typical INSIDIOUS style. Joining Shaye is Dermot Mulroney as well as Leigh Whannell, who not only co-stars, but takes over for FURIOUS 7 helmer James Wan on the writer/directing duties. With higher-end horror franchises once again making a name for themselves, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 looks to help continue that legacy, which is a nice change for horror fans who typically had to wait until October to get their scares. Thanks to the success of INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING, SINISTER, etc., there's no time period safe from horror, including summer.

#14 Maggie (May 8)

In what seems to be a quiet indie about zombie's, we ironically find the king of blockbuster mayhem at the center; Arnold Schwarzenegger. In what may be his most endearing performance to date (okay, not discounting COMMANDO), the trailer for MAGGIE shows a more somber, toned-down, and emoting Arnold, devoid of his usual pithy catchphrases that have defined him for decades. While there's sure to be plenty of that in this summer's true-to-form flick, TERMINATOR: GENISYS, this small zombie tale may be the real winner for former Governor, who has struggled to find footing after leaving office and attempting to reclaim his former movie star glory. While some may see his status as a distracting hindrance to taking on an indie role, it very well may prove to be the opening of a new path for the star. Co-starring Abigail Breslin as his daughter-turned-zombie, MAGGIE has potential to be a sleeper hit if audiences find it (the film will only have a limited and VOD release), but my curiosity is certainly piqued to see if it's up to snuff. If anything, I'd just love to see Arnold take a step forward instead of another step back.

#13 Trainwreck (July 17)

Judd Apatow is back behind the camera again, this time bringing a new comedian into the mix; Amy Schumer, who brings her stand-up style to the big screen for the first time in a leading role. Apatow had mixed reactions to his last two efforts, 2009's FUNNY PEOPLE and 2010's THIS IS 40 (which I loved), but this time out he's trying a female lead and an unlikely love interest in Bill Hader, who isn't the first name that pops into your head for such a role. However, based on the trailer and early reviews, it looks like TRAINWRECK may be a return to form for the comedy filmmaker, who is known for balancing raunchy humor with human gravitas. With Schumer as a "commitment-phobic career woman" meeting a potentially good guy, it feels very much like a role reversal of the old romcom model, which may be the breath of fresh air the genre needs to find some new life. If nothing else, it could end up being a date movie that makes it tolerable for both sexes, if not outrageously hilarious to boot.

#12 Southpaw (July 24)

Originally written as a starring vehicle for Eminem, Kurt Sutter's boxing drama SOUTHPAW has had a long journey from page to screen. After going through development hell for seven years, Dreamworks eventually dropped the film with Eminem dropping out of the lead to focus on his music. However, MGM picked up the film, replacing Eminem with Jake Gyllenhaal and hiring Antoine Fuqua (TRAINING DAY, THE EQUALIZER) to shoot Sutter's script, which used boxing as an analogy for Eminem's early struggles. Eminem's presence is hardly felt in the trailer for the film, which has all the telltale Sutter-isms that were prevalent in his Sons of Anarchy series, most notably the troubled protagonist driven by a love of family while dealing with tragedy and struggling to overcome his demons. Gyllenhaal has become a master of transforming himself for a role, and after last year's NIGHTCRAWLER, has proven to be a true talent when it comes to character pieces like this. Although the trailer feels like it let the cat out of the bag in terms of the overall story, I'm willing to bet that Gyllenhaal's performance will elevate SOUTHPAW to new heights. Having Fuqua at the helm is a smart directing choice as well as he too has proven over the years to be something that can deliver the dark and gritty as well as the popcorn fare. SOUTHPAW could very well be the "dark" Rocky of the summer.

#11 Entourage (June 3)

After eight seasons on HBO, the ENTOURAGE crew closed up shop as a series, but that hasn't stopped the adventures of Vinnie, Ari, and the crew. Creator Doug Ellin has found a new home for Vinnie (Adrian Grenier), E (Kevin Connolly), Johnny (Kevin Dillon), and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), as well as the powerhouse that is Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold, picking up where the boys left off in the season eight finale and turning it (ironically) into a theatrical film. While some argue that ENTOURAGE lost steam towards the end of its run, I'd argue that they were always consistent in their antics and I never found myself bored. They were a fun crew to watch and I'm happy to see them back, if even just for a one-off film (or potential new franchise kickoff). Part of the fun of ENTOURAGE was the guest appearances, and the film isn't skimping on that, with appearances from the likes of Liam Neeson, Ronda Rousey, Billy Bob Thornton, Emily Ratajkowski, Jessica Alba, Haley Joel Osment, Ed O'Neill, Armie Hammer, Kelsey Grammer, Gary Busey, Pharrell Williams, Tom Brady, Andrew Dice Clay, and tons more. If you felt that the series hit a slump at some point or got weary of the boys, this may well rejuvenate your interest or compound your distaste, but make no mistake, the crew is back and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of shit they get into.

#10 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (August 14)

It's been four years since director Guy Ritchie has put out a film, the last one being the sequel to his highly energetic SHERLOCK HOLMES franchise, which coincidentally was the series that showed Ritchie was more than just a one-note Brit gangster auteur. Full of flashy style, colorful characters, and hardcore violence, Ritchie made a name for himself with the early scrappers LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS and SNATCH, before wading into mediocre waters and then re-emerging with the cleverly awesome SHERLOCK HOLMES films. Now he's tackling THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., based on the 1960's era TV series of the same name. Starring Superman (Henry Cavill) and The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) as CIA and KGB agents teaming up to stop a mysterious criminal organization from proliferating nuclear weapons. While that set-up doesn't scream sexy, the cast and director certainly do and have every means to capitalize on their considerable acting and directing skills, respectively. Based on the trailer it looks like Ritchie has found a blend of his old school and new school styles, which should make for one hell of an entertaining ride. With Cavill hitting his stride in popularity and Hammer needing to, they couldn't be in better hands to make something cool out of a seemingly forgotten old show.

#9 Inside Out (June 19)

Director Pete Dockter steps behind the lens of another Pixar film after helming the beloved MONSTERS, INC. and heartfelt UP, once again focusing on what makes the most successful Pixar films so good; emotions. Only this time it's a literal focus on emotions; as actual beings. Following the exploits of Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Anger (Lewis Black) as they struggle to maintain control inside the mind of a little girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) who has just moved to a new town with her mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Kyle MacLachlan). So, you've got a cool concept, a cool cast, and a new take on the meta struggle of how our emotions guide us; sounds like the breath of fresh air that's not always present in the Pixar world of late. With Disney upping their game with their non-Pixar CG animated films like WRECK-IT RALPH, BIG HERO SIX, and FROZEN, Pixar could really use a win and so far INSIDE OUT looks to be their most promising new (and original) flick in years.

#8 Fantastic Four (August 7)

One of the most polarizing films that hasn't even hit theaters yet, the FANTASTIC FOUR reboot has taken some serious heat from fans who think it looks terrible and gotten major kudos from those who think it looks cool. The casting of a black actor as Johnny Storm was also a major source of criticism, which has seen continued debate both for and against it. CHRONICLE director Josh Trank has stated his David Cronenberg influence on the Marvel Comics adaptation and the trailers certainly have a darker sci-fi feel, which elevates the material for some and is seen as a drawback for others. Starring Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm) and Toby Kebbell (Dr. Doom), the reboot sees a much more serious-minded approach to the source material than the 2005 film and it's 2007 sequel, which were much lighter and goofier. If anything, the controversy over FANTASTIC FOUR makes it a must see this summer; either to validate the hate or ignite the love, the only way to know for sure is to see it with your own eyes. As someone who didn't care for the earlier films, I'm looking forward to judging for myself whether or not Trank and co. delivered on this incarnation of the FF.

#7 Terminator: Genisys (July 1)

While the debate over whether TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES and TERMINATOR: SALVATION are either loved or loathed rages, the latest contender in The Terminator franchise is tossing its hat into the ring this summer. TERMINATOR: GENISYS brings back Arnold Schwarzenegger as (one of) the titular time-traveling robotic assassin that has managed to become Sarah Connor's protector/bodyguard this time out. Sarah (now played by Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke) seems to be emulating the spirit of Linda Hamilton in T2, while her baby daddy, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) in tow and fighting off what appears to be a Terminator version of the future John Connor (played by Jason Clarke). THOR: THE DARK WORLD director Alan Taylor takes the reins on this one, which so far has fans seemingly split down the middle on how it'll turn out. Old-school fans (like myself) will see it regardless, because, y'know, Terminator, but there's still trepidation that they may do too much or too little to further the franchise in a genuine way. That said, it's still cool to have a new Terminator film hitting in the summer months, so we're happy to travel back (and forth) with the franchise yet again, ever hopeful for a kickass new entry in the series that we can debate over for years to come.

#6 Ant-Man (July 17)

Marvel's final film in the Phase Two line-up has had a lot of ups and downs since its inception. ANT-MAN, originally scripted and set to be lensed by director Edgar Wright, hit a tailspin when Wright left the project due to creative differences, signaling the first major shake-up on a Marvel film thus far (although they've played the director shuffle before). The search for a replacement director eventually landed on comedic helmer Peyton Reed (BRING IT ON, YES MAN, THE BREAK-UP), shepherding stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, and Corey Stoll into the MCU madness. In what looks to be a more comedic venture, ANT-MAN is still ripe with some staple Marvel characters that have yet to make their big-screen transition and promises some "smaller" action sequences that we haven't seen in any of the other films. Last year's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY proved that you can change it up and still bring in a crowd, so ANT-MAN's more playful vibe may work in its favor. Rudd looks more than up to task as the lead (really, he's due), Douglas should be great as Hank Pym, and we'll be shocked if Lilly doesn't turn into The Wasp, so all things said and done, ANT-MAN has a lot to offer and even at their worst, the MCU films have still been better than most.

#5 Tomorrowland (May 22)

Brad Bird has two tremendous credits to his name as a director, THE INCREDIBLES and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL, both of which have us excited to see what he brings to his next live-action film, TOMORROWLAND. Cloaked in secrecy, the cryptic project, written by Bird, Damon Lindelof, and Jeff Jensen, TOMORROWLAND presents a vibe of adventure, exploration, and some mind-warping "science" that harkens back to films like THE GOONIES, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, EXPLORERS, with a little bit of THE ROCKETEER tossed in for jet packs' sake. While we still don't know exactly what the film is about, that's part of what makes it so intriguing. Starring Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hahn, Judy Greer, and Keegan-Michael Key, the sci-fi adventure mystery flick has got all the makings of a satisfying jaunt with some big ideas, although that very thing could also keep audiences away, especially those not looking to unravel a film, but rather soak in the thrills. It's a bit of a gamble, but we're putting our money down for it.

#4 Jurassic World (June 12)

We've been waiting nearly 14 years for a return to JURASSIC PARK and that moment has finally arrived. The only question now is; will it be worth the wait? Director Colin Trevorrow is leading the charge into a new era for the JP franchise, bringing along a strong cast of players (Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Omar Sy, Jake Johnson, Ty Simpkins, Irrfan Kahn, Judy Greer and Nick Robinson) and a familiar setting that realizes the dream of the original park's creator, John Hammond. Now a fully-functioning theme park, JURASSIC WORLD shows what happens when that dream is a reality, complete with a new gene-spliced killer dino, a tamed batch of raptors, and, of course, some evil corporate baddies, which make for a lot of "running and screaming" when "chaos" erupts. Based on the trailers and the information we have on the film thus far it looks like JURASSIC WORLD is working hard to recreate the magic of the first film, while taking it into the realm of the 21st Century and introducing us to some new characters and creatures (well, those that survive anyway) that will pave the way for more frequent trips back to the island.

#3 Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (July 31)

The sudden shift of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION from December to July was a welcome surprise for everyone and perfectly suited for the summer movie season. We've got no complaints. Director Christopher McQuarrie leads the fifth outing of this cash machine franchise, once again featuring it's star player, Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. Naturally, the IMF team is up against insurmountable odds and performing death-defying feats that give The Fast & The Furious franchise a run for its money. Like that franchise, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE has proven to get better with each entry, becoming a true cinematic force to be reckoned with and, most importantly, an exceptionally enjoyable ride. Joining Cruise on the latest installment is returning members Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg, with new castmates Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, and Sean Harris joining the fray. Brad Bird's MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL set the bar high, but seeing the trailer for the latest jaunt insinuates that they may very well be able to raise it again. We're ready to find out. Light the fuse.

#2 Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)

After the box-office phenomenon that was 2012's THE AVENGERS there was no question that we'd have a sequel, especially as it would be a part of Marvel's massively successful barrage of superhero films. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON reunites Earths' Mightiest Heroes to take on one of the comics' oldest foes, albeit with a modified origin to fit the new tale. Director Joss Whedon is at the helm again, leading the cast of regulars, including Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man. (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). However, it wouldn't be a sequel without something new, which comes in the form of long-standing comic characters The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), as well as The Vision (Paul Bettany) and the big bad, Ultron (James Spader). There's a healthy batch of other Marvel players making appearances as well and with the storyline continuing the narrative roll into next year's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and beyond, there's no sign of this superhero franchise train slowing down anytime soon. Judging by what we've seen of this so far that's not a bad thing at all. We are assembled and ready for this one.

#1 Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)

Yeah, we know that some will argue for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON in the top spot, but it felt a bit too obvious. With an already built-in audience it's pretty much already situated to be the hit of the summer, but of all the films coming out this season, the one that has us the most intrigued is MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. George Miller's long-in-the-making revisionist take on his own franchise seemed like it might never see the light of day until we saw that first epic trailer at Comic Con last year and it became obvious that it was worth the wait. Since then the numerous trailers for the film have promised an operatic ball of crazy carnage that looks almost too good to be true and a welcome respite from the PG-13 ranks of "safe" popcorn entertainment. In short, it looks amazing and, if nothing else, we need to see if this thing can live up to the beautifully sliced trailers. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, and that dude with the skull teeth that will haunt your nightmares, we are strapped in and ready for this wild ride.

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