Summer movies used to be sexy. Now it's all about spectacle and rude humour, and here and there, a human story. On 2014's seasonal slate:
While Captain America: The Winter Soldier is currently cleaning box-office house, three more Marvel movies are slated for the next few months (from three different studios). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2) sees Andrew Garfield's Spidey facing off against three different villains, including Electro (Jamie Foxx), the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and Rhino (Paul Giamatti). The director of the first two X-Men movies, Bryan Singer, resumes hold of the mutant franchise with X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23) in which the younger cast of the '60s First Class entry interact with the millennial X-Men, with the ageless Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) bridging the gap. Finally, the lesser stars of the Marvel universe get to shine in Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1) featuring Chris Pratt's Star-Lord (who?), Vin Diesel's Groot (huh?) and Bradley Cooper's Rocket Raccoon (wha... ?).
Gargantuan monster Godzilla (May 16) stomps back after the silly 1998 reboot, this time with Bryan Cranston presumably providing a more viable dramatic anchor than Matthew Broderick.
In that spirit, Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27) dumps wheedling protagonist Shia LaBeouf in favour of more macho Mark Wahlberg among the usual clattering robot types.
Missing those flying dragons? How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13) gets you back in the avian-reptilian-incendiary groove.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11) elaborates further on the bio-cataclysm that sees the human population whittled to a few, while the ape population explodes under the leadership of simian overlord Caesar (Andy Serkis).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Aug. 8) combines martial arts action with... amphibious reptiles with yet another reboot, courtesy of producer Michael Bay, starring his formerly exiled Transformers leading lady Megan Fox as reporter April O'Neil.
Sly Stallone rounds up the usual aging action-star suspects with The Expendables 3 (Aug. 15) with Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer (?!) joining the cast.
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 22) brings back the graphic novel/noir goods with Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba returning (from the dead in two of those cases) and new cast members Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin and... Lady Gaga?
Rude comedy practitioners assemble! Seth Rogen stars as a new parent battling a frat in his neighbourhood in Neighbors (May 9). Adam Sandler reunites with Drew Barrymore as a seemingly mismatched couple whose families benefit from their relationship in Blended (May 23). After hitting big with Ted, Seth MacFarlane returns in the flesh for the comic western A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30) as a coward facing a notorious gunslinger (Liam Neeson). Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum re-team for more cop hijinks in 22 Jump Street (June 13), the sequel to the unexpectedly winning 21 Jump Street.
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz are a couple trying to prevent a personal home movie from going viral in Sex Tape (July 25). Finally, The Trailer Park Boys creators abandon their criminal personae for a more rambling, even more profane comedy about the formation of an uncensored Internet TV network in Swearnet: The Movie (Aug. 22).
STILL MORE SPECTACLE
Angelina Jolie offers up a live action, somewhat sympathetic portrayal of Sleeping Beauty's nemesis in Maleficent (May 30). Tom Cruise is a soldier who dies repeatedly in a future war until he realizes he is meant to master the time loop in Edge of Tomorrow (June 6), a movie that seems to owe a debt to the Jake Gyllenhaal movie Source Code.
The Wachowskis (of The Matrix fame) are behind the sci-fi spectacle Jupiter Ascending (July 18) starring Mila Kunis as a young woman unknowingly in line for the title of Queen of the Universe with Channing Tatum as her protector. Finally, Dwayne Johnson does the mythic demi-god thing in Hercules (July 25).
Million Dollar Arm (May 16) sees Jon Hamm as a desperate sports agent recruiting baseball pitchers from the realm of Asian cricket players.
Clint Eastwood directs the movie version of the Broadway hit Jersey Boys (June 20) about the stellar rise of the vocal group the Four Seasons.
Chadwick Boseman plays James Brown in the much anticipated (by me, anyway) biopic Get On Up (Aug. 1).
Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe plays a young man obliged to tamp down his love for a girl (Zoe Kazan) who just wants to be friends in The F Word (Aug. 1), directed by, of all people, Michael Dowse (Goon).
BEST FOR LAST...
Brendan Gleeson plays a much-loved Irish priest threatened with violence in Calvary (Aug. 1), a film that reunites Gleeson with director John Michael McDonagh of the underappreciated comedy The Guard.