This year, Marvel kicked off the year’s Summer Blockbuster Season a little early, thanks to the April 4th release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But it isn’t until the first weekend of May that the season really begins—when the action ramps up, the bullets start flying, and the budgets shoot sky-high. With that annual milestone just a couple of days away, now’s the time to take a look at the summer’s big films—so you can start planning your picnics and reunions and family vacations around your favorites.
Let’s start with a week-by-week look at the first two months of the summer. Please note that while most movies come out on Friday, some will hit theaters earlier in the week (especially on holiday weekends). Others will be opening in limited release, so they may not be opening in your hometown until a later date. Check your local listings for exact days, dates, and times.
It just wouldn’t be the first weekend in May without a Marvel movie. This year, it’s the one Avengers hero who’s not a part of the Disney family: Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, director Marc Webb’s follow-up to 2012’s franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, brings Andrew Garfield back as the web-slinging hero, who finds himself battling a ridiculous number of supervillains. But will Spidey battle his way to the greatness that the trailers promise? Only time will tell.
Also this weekend, director Amma Asante’s Belle was inspired by the true story of the racially mixed illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who has to fight to receive the privileges that come with her social standing. Though it’s hitting theaters in May, the buzz suggests that you might hear about this film again during award season.
Meanwhile, for laughs, there’s Walk of Shame, an outrageous chick flick starring Elizabeth Banks as a reporter who finds herself stranded on the streets of LA with just hours before she’s supposed to be interviewing for her dream job. Or, for hard-hitting action, there’s the martial arts thriller The Protector 2.
Kristin’s Pick: As always, I’m going to go with the Marvel release—though I’ll admit that I’m not as excited about the latest Spider-Man release as I have been about past releases.
Now that the first big weekend of May is behind us, it’s time to have some fun. In Neighbors, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play new parents who find themselves facing off against the rowdy frat boys next door.
Meanwhile, Jon Favreau returns to the director’s chair for Chef, in which he also stars as a disgraced chef who struggles to get his career—and his life—back on track when he opens up a food truck.
Also this week, in the PG-rated comedy, Moms’ Night Out, Sarah Drew heads up a cast of weary moms whose relaxing night out goes horribly wrong. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in God’s Pocket. And Dorothy & Co. make an animated comeback in Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.
Kristin’s Pick: This week, I’m mostly just hoping for the best. With Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) at the helm, Neighbors could be more outrageous fun. But I’m going to give my pick to Chef—just because a post-Cowboys & Aliens Jon Favreau could use the break.
This week, Gareth Edwards, director of 2010’s Monsters returns with the movie monster: Godzilla. Or, for the sports fan, there’s Million Dollar Arm, another behind-the-scenes sports drama about an agent who brings Asian cricket players to Major League Baseball.
Kristin’s Pick: Though both films this week have a certain appeal, I’m going to give my vote to Godzilla—because, even if it’s bad, it has the potential to be so bad it’s good.
As controversy swirls around director Bryan Singer, fans are still gearing up for the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, a time-travelling adventure in which Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine travels back in time to change the course of history.
Or, for something a little lighter, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore once again team up in Blended, a rom-com about an unlikely couple who find themselves and their families stuck together at a tropical resort.
Kristin’s Pick: Though I have a weakness for the Barrymore-Sandler pairing, director Frank Coraci hasn’t made a good movie in more than 15 years. So I’ll give my pick to this week’s other troubled director, Singer, and his latest X-Men installment.
The last week in May brings about another interesting pairing: Angelina Jolie vs. Seth MacFarlane. In Disney’s Maleficent, Jolie stars as the legendary villain from Sleeping Beauty, while the Ted director returns with A Million Ways to Die in the West, a Western comedy about a lowly farmer battling an infamous outlaw for the hand of a beautiful woman.
Kristin’s Pick: The early images of Jolie in Maleficent are absolutely nightmare-inducing. So while A Million Ways looks entertaining, I’ve got to give my pick to Disney’s dark and twisted take on the classic fairy tale.
This weekend, Tom Cruise finds himself in an alien-fighting, sci-fi remake of Groundhog Day in Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, playing a soldier who finds himself reliving his last day of battle.
Meanwhile, for the hopeless romantics, there’s The Fault in Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley and her Divergent brother, Ansel Elgort, as a pair of eccentric teens who meet and fall in love at their cancer support group.
Kristin’s Pick: I was pleasantly surprised by Cruise in last year’s Oblivion, so I’ll give his latest sci-fi thriller, Edge of Tomorrow, my pick this week.
It’s sequel week at your local theater! This weekend, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill head to college in the buddy cop comedy 22 Jump Street (the sequel to 2012’s hilarious hit, 21 Jump Street). And Jay Baruchel once again voices lovable Viking Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Kristin’s Pick: I may have had my doubts when 21 Jump Street was released two years ago, but it quickly won me over. Now, 22 Jump Street is one of my most eagerly-anticipated releases of the summer.
Didn’t get enough sequels last week? You’re in luck! First up this week is Think Like a Man Too, the sequel to 2012’s cute but clichéd rom-com, Think Like a Man. This time, the couples’ weekend in Vegas goes awry—but, don’t worry...I’m sure everything will be okay in the end.
Also this week, Clint Eastwood directs the big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, Jersey Boys, following the rise of the Four Seasons.
Kristin’s Pick: I’ve got to go with Clint. Though I haven’t seen the musical on stage, I’m looking forward to catching it on screen—and the fact that the cast features Christopher Walken doesn’t hurt, either.
Do we call it a sequel—or maybe a reboot? Whatever the case, Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction opens this week—sans controversy-stirring, trash-talking Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. Rumored to be the first in a new Transformers trilogy, Age of Extinction stars Mark Wahlberg as a mechanic who inadvertently draws the attention of the Autobots, the Decepticons, and the government.
Kristin’s Pick: Apparently no one dared to go up against Bay’s cash cow franchise. So the latest big, noisy (and, most likely brainless) Transformers movie gets my pick by default.
So there you have it: the first two action-packed months of this year’s Summer Blockbuster Season! Now that we’ve make it through two months of action, explosions, and other big-budget wonders, I think we could all use a little break. So kick back and enjoy a nice, cool drink—and check back next week for a preview of July and August.