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HOLLYWOOD — “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters this weekend, opening the floodgates to our much-anticipated 2015 summer blockbuster lineup.
Some people have predicted this to be the best season for tentpole cinema in decades, while others have written it off as just another example of Hollywood peddling sequels, remakes and adaptations. Who’s correct? I don’t care. I don’t plan on turning my brain back on in a movie theater until at least September.
In the words of Calvin from the beloved Bill Waterson comicstrip, Calvin and Hobbes: “Shock and titillate me! I've got money!”
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" (May 1)
Let’s start here. If you haven’t had the chance to see “Ultron,” it’s a pretty fun action ride. John Clyde reviewed this for KSL.com and summed up the experience nicely. Is it as good as the first? No, probably not — though I must say I found Ultron to be a more compelling villain than Loki. But a weaker Avengers movie is still an Avengers movie, and Earth’s mightiest heroes saving the world is a great way to kick off the summer.
"Hot Pursuit" (May 8)
The buddy cop genre has never been my popcorn companion of choice, but Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon might just be the perfect unlikely duo. To be clear, only Witherspoon plays a cop (unless there’s some twist at the end I don’t know about). Vergara plays a drug-boss widow under Witherspoon’s protection. Somewhere in that setup, hilarity will show up and pilot the rest of the story.
"Pitch Perfect 2" (May 15)
Anna Kendrick leads the cast again, this time trying to help her singing team go international. This is also Elizabeth Banks' first shot at directing a feature film.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" (May 15)
George Miller, director of the 1979 original Mad Max trilogy, is finally revisiting his post-apocalyptic setting with “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The trailers for “Fury Road” look both beautiful and insane, and with Tom Hardy leading the charge, many fans are letting their hearts believe this will not be the “Crystal Skull” of sequels. Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Zoe Kravitz also star.
"Poltergeist" (May 22)
If there are two reasons to see this remake, it’s Sam Rockwell and that creepy clown on the movie poster. OK, really the creepy clown is a reason NOT to see it, but as far as selling an unsettling experience, that clown is perfect. Again, I’m not a fan of the genre, but I might see this just because the original was a big movie from my childhood. Here’s hoping Rockwell can make this worth our while.
"Tomorrowland" (May 22)
Brad Bird, director of “Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” is tackling a theme park setting with Disney’s “Tomorrowland.” So far, the theme park spin-offs have been more miss-than-hit, with “Curse of the Black Pearl” being the only clear exception. Still, Bird has a pretty impressive track record, and the marketing team is doing their best to keep the film’s secrets secret, so I’m hopeful for this one.
"Insidious: Chapter 3" (June 5)
While I personally dislike the horror genre, dark and scary fright-tales have been part of the summer movie experience since drive-in theaters deemed it so. And then, as far as scary movies go, the original “Insidious” was a step above the rest so it wouldn’t seem right to omit it from the list. Especially since, well, we let "Ted 2" on.
"Jurassic World" (June 12)
The Jurassic series has enjoyed one amazing movie and many amazing moments, though to be clear, the amazing movie tally is just one. “Jurassic World” hopes to double that number by introducing a totally new dinosaur and casting everyone’s favorite leading man, Chris Pratt. Is that what the series needs? I don’t know, but I hope so. Jurassic movies are the only kids in town telling dinosaur tales, and what good is all our photorealistic computer wonderment if we’re not using it to bring dinosaurs to life?
"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (June 12)
I wasn’t lucky enough to catch this while covering Sundance this year, but every critic I spoke to told me “Me Earl and the Dying Girl" was one of their highlights. And, if you followed any of my 2015 Sundance coverage, you know I could’ve used a highlight or two. The story centers on a young filmmaker and his friend with cancer, and, well, that’s about all I know. Seeing how well “Fault in our Stars” did last year, it’s not surprising to see a teenage cancer story ready to take on the summer super-budget projects.
"Inside Out" (June 19)
I was lucky enough to catch an early screening of this, and let me just say it’s great to see Pixar doing original stories again. An adorable little movie told from the perspective of a young girl’s emotions, “Inside Out” should be on your summer must-see list if you have children over the age of about 9. With this and “The Good Dinosaur,” 2015 is a great year to be a Pixar fan.
"Ted 2" (June 26)
This is more of a public service announcement since I guess people wanted a sequel to the original crude-talking-teddybear movie. If you’re one of those people, guess what, “Ted 2” is happening. For the rest of the world, let’s move onto a horror film.
"Terminator: Genisys" (July 1)
We’re going to add a quick note here that this section contains spoilers. Arnold is back in yet another Terminator movie, this time trying to stop the man he swore to protect back in the second Terminator movie. Why they already let that spoiler slip, I have no idea. That seems like it would’ve been a pretty big reveal in the movie, but well, they want you to know. Regardless, this series started out so strong. I’m hopeful they can find the magic again.
"Minions" (July 10)
I admit, they’re adorable. However, can the tiny yellow sidekicks from “Despicable Me” sustain an entire movie by themselves? I’m not entirely sold on that idea just yet, but as far as family entertainment goes, this is the first solid choice for the younger kids. Sandra Bullock stars as a new female super villain.
"Ant-Man" (July 17)
Everyone points to “Guardians of the Galaxy” as Marvel’s riskiest project, and I concede that up until last year, it actually was. However, someone was taking crazy pills when they decided to make “Ant-Man” the next big hero in the Avenger lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely want it to succeed and expect to enjoy it, but even the super-charming Paul Rudd will have a hard time selling the concept of a shrinking hero to anyone outside the established fanbase. With superhero fatigue already starting to set in with audiences, I think “Ant-Man” is Marvel’s biggest gamble yet.
"Mr. Holmes" (July 17)Can there be a sadder fate extended to Sherlock Holmes than to have him slowly lose his memory? It’s such a great, compelling concept, and with Ian McKellen playing Holmes, how can you not want to see this movie? Unfortunately, it will only be limited release, so keep an eye out for who is showing it and when. This is an absolute must for my personal list.
"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" (July 31)
Did anyone think there was going to be a Mission Impossible movie after two? And then when there was a third, and even though it was a great movie nobody went to see it, so it seemed like it was the final nail in the coffin, right? Somehow this franchise survived two pretty big setbacks, and thank goodness it did. “Mission: Impossible III” and “Ghost Protocol” are some super entertaining action films and if they can continue the trend of getting stronger as they go along, “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” will definitely be something to look forward to.
"Shaun the Sheep" (August 7)
If you haven’t seen an episode of “Shaun the Sheep,” you owe it to yourself to take 20 minutes from your busy day and give it a go. Originally introduced to the world in the Wallace and Gromit short, “A Close Shave,” the hyper-intelligent yet adorable sheep and his friend now spend their days figuring out how to team-solve basic tasks around their little farm. How does this extend to an entire movie? I have no idea. But I bet it will be amazing.
"Masterminds" (August 7)
“Napoleon Dynamite” director Jared Hess teams up with Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig to tell the allegedly true story of the biggest bank heist in American history. Early trailers look genuinely funny and the story sounds interesting, so with this all-star team joining forces, "Masterminds" might be the perfect comedy to transition your brain from summer season to award-season.
"Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny" (August 28)
I find everything Netflix is doing right now to be fascinating. They really have no rules as to what constitutes success, and they continually throw gobs of cash at big talent to make unique and interesting content for movie and TV watchers. One of the projects that illustrates this better than any other is the sequel to “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” a movie Netflix is backing and will also be releasing free to subscribers at the same time it heads to IMAX theaters. When people talk about the state of how consumers consume movies 10 years from now, this project will probably be a staple in the dialogue.
Travis Poppleton has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and KSL.com since 2010 and co-hosts the FlixJunkies podcast. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.