Hollywood is ready to unleash the summer blockbusters with superheroes, sequels and monsters


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You may not have tan lines, mosquito bites or invites to graduation parties just yet, but you, my friend, are on the brink of summer -- at least when it comes to movies.

Every season has its talking points and this year is no exception:

• Sequelitis: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the first of 12 sequels opening Friday through Aug. 22. Some years have had more.

• Pittsburgh postcards: Look for Pittsburgh to double as Indianapolis and a bit of Amsterdam in "The Fault in Our Stars." And expect local connections in "Million Dollar Arm," too.

• Adult Appreciation Day: For the past six years, the Friday around Aug. 7 has become the landing spot for movies aimed at women and/or adults. It started with "Julie & Julia" in 2009 and continued with "Eat Pray Love" in 2010, "The Help" in 2011, "Hope Springs" in 2012 and "We're the Millers," 2013. This year, watch for Helen Mirren in "The Hundred-Foot Journey."

• Reaching for records: Can 2014 releases muscle into the summer record books? Rentrak reports that, since 1984, the top opening weekends have belonged to: "Marvel's The Avengers," "Iron Man 3," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Dark Knight."

• Fresh places and popcorn: In the past year, we gained a Cinemark theater at Monroeville Mall, a remodeled Galleria 6 in Mt. Lebanon and a dine-in cinema with second-run features at Latitude 40, North Fayette. Targeted for June is a new Cinemark at McCandless Crossing.

As always, dates and titles are subject to change, but these movies are coming our way:

FRIDAY

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”: Andrew Garfield returns as the web-slinger, but this time, he faces off against Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan).

“Only Lovers Left Alive”: Director-writer Jim Jarmusch says his unconventional love story, about outsiders who happen to be vampires, was partially inspired by Mark Twain’s “The Diaries of Adam & Eve.”

MAY 5

“Godzilla: The Japanese Original”: This is the granddaddy of Godzillas, the 1954 cautionary tale about the monster living in ocean caves until H-bomb tests damaged his natural habitat. If you’ve seen only the Americanized version with dubbed dialogue and Raymond Burr, you’re in for a treat. Look for the original, in Japanese with English subtitles, May 5-8 at Regent Square Theater.

MAY 9

“Neighbors”: You may never complain about your neighbors again unless you, like Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, are parents of a newborn living next door to a raucous frat house.

“Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return”: “Glee” standout Lea Michele speaks for Dorothy in this 3-D animated musical based on the books by the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum. Kelsey Grammer is the voice of the Tin Man, James Belushi the Cowardly Lion and Dan Aykroyd, the Scarecrow.

“Fading Gigolo”: John Turturro directs his fifth film and casts himself as a man who enters into the world’s oldest profession, at the suggestion of a friend (Woody Allen), in a look at sex, love, longing and loneliness.

“Jodorowsky’s Dune”: The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s staggeringly ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the science fiction novel “Dune.”

“Watermark”: Documentary about how humanity has shaped water and it has shaped us.

MAY 16

“Godzilla”: My, what a big monster you are these days. Godzilla in the new incarnation is 355 feet tall, more than twice as tall as in the 1954 original. The killer creature gets a makeover, thanks to director Gareth Edwards, 762 visual effects crew members and a cast led by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston.

“Million Dollar Arm”: Jon Hamm plays real-life sports agent J.B. Bernstein, who travels to India to find a young cricket player he can turn into a major league baseball pitcher and discovers his life is transformed in the process, too.

“God’s Pocket”: The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in a dark, dark comedy about a man from a working-class neighborhood who tries to hide the fact he’s responsible for the death of his very unlikable stepson.

“Locke”: An exploration of how one decision can lead to the collapse of a life, played out during the course of a car ride and starring Tom Hardy.

MAY 23

“X-Men: Days of Future Past”: The gang is really all here as characters from the original “X-Men” trilogy join forces with their younger selves to change a major historical event and fight in an epic battle to save — what else — the future.

“Blended”: Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore collaborate for a third time as single parents who have a disastrous blind date and agree to never see each other again. But they end up sharing a suite at a luxurious African safari resort with their children.

“Belle”: Period drama, inspired by a true story, about a woman born to a white British admiral and a black Caribbean slave in the late 18th century.

“Ernest & Celestine”: Oscar-nominated animated feature about a mouse who forms an unlikely bond with a bear.

“Chef”: Audience favorite at Tribeca Film Festival starring Jon Favreau as a chef who has a social media-fueled meltdown and hits the road with his son and sous chef (John Leguizamo) to launch a food truck business.

MAY 30

“Maleficent”: At the time of its 1959 release, the $6 million cost of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was the most costly cartoon of all time. The studio returns to the story of the villainess, this time with live action, 3-D and Angelina Jolie.

“A Million Ways to Die in the West”: Seth MacFarlane directs, produces, co-writes and stars in this comedy as a cowardly sheep farmer who falls for a newcomer (Charlize Theron), only to learn she’s married to a notorious outlaw.

“Cold in July”: Investigating noises in his Texas house one night in 1989, an everyman (Michael C. Hall) shoots a burglar and is hailed as a hero. But when the dead man’s father rolls into town, he finds himself fearing for his family’s safety in this noir revenge-thriller with Sam Shepard and Don Johnson.

“The Grand Seduction”: A tiny Newfoundland coastal community must try to charm a big-city doctor into staying so a business will move in, in this English-language remake of “Seducing Dr. Lewis.” Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson and Liane Balaban star.

JUNE 6

“The Fault in Our Stars”: Pack tissues and then pack a few more for those who haven’t read the John Green novel about teens (Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort) who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love without the guarantee of a happily ever after.

“Edge of Tomorrow”: Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in a sci-fi thriller set in the near future, when an alien race has attacked Earth. Mr. Cruise is an officer killed in combat and inexplicably thrown into a time loop in which he fights, dies and fights again, with more knowledge than the previous time on how to defeat the enemy.

“For No Good Reason”: Exploration of the connection between life and art through British artist Ralph Steadman, best known for his work with writer Hunter S. Thompson.

“Words and Pictures”: Clive Owen is a prep school English teacher and Juliette Binoche an abstract painter hobbled by arthritis. He declares war between words and pictures, confident the former can convey greater meaning than the latter.

JUNE 13

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”: Cate Blanchett joins the animated franchise as Hiccup’s long-lost mother in the sequel to the 2010 animated hit with the returning voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and America Ferrera.

“22 Jump Street”: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as undercover officers, but this time they’re masquerading as college students who begin to question their partnership.

JUNE 20

“Jersey Boys”: Clint Eastwood adapts the Tony Award-winning musical based on the lives of The Four Seasons and breakout star Frankie Valli (played by Broadway’s John Lloyd Young).

“Think Like a Man Too”: In a sequel to the rom-com inspired by Steve Harvey’s advice book, the couples are back for a wedding in Las Vegas. Plans for a romantic weekend go awry, though, and events threaten to derail the big event.

JUNE 27

“Transformers: Age of Extinction”: Shia LaBeouf is out and Mark Wahlberg is in, with Nicola Peltz as his daughter, in Michael Bay’s reboot of the series. The “Bayhem” this time around will include the Dinobots.

“The Signal”: Three college students on a road trip across the Southwest end up on a detour, tracking a computer genius who hacked into MIT and exposed security faults. They’re drawn to an eerily isolated area where everything goes dark and a nightmare begins.

JULY 2

“Tammy”: Only by movie math would Susan Sarandon (age 67) be old enough to play the grandma of Melissa McCarthy (43). But when Tammy totals her clunker car, gets fired from her job and finds her husband cheating, she takes off with her grandmother for Niagara Falls.

“Deliver Us From Evil”: Eric Bana plays real-life New York cop Ralph Sarchie, who joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez) to battle demonic possessions.

“Earth to Echo”: Three boys, whose neighborhood is being destroyed by highway construction, discover a mysterious being stranded on Earth in this sci-fi adventure.

JULY 4

“A Hard Day’s Night”: The New York Post called this Beatles’ blockbuster “the surprise of the century,” and Academy voters nominated it for two Oscars (it lost). A restored version of the 1964 black-and-white comedy is returning.

JULY 11

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar (performance-capture actor Andy Serkis) is threatened by a band of human survivors of a devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. Just who will emerge as the dominant species?

“And So It Goes”: Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton are paired on screen for the first time in a Rob Reiner comedy about an offensive real estate agent, a 9-year-old granddaughter he didn’t know existed and a lovable neighbor.

JULY 18

“Jupiter Ascending”: Original sci-fi action adventure, from Lana and Andy Wachowski, starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis.

“Planes: Fire & Rescue”: When Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns he may never race again, he joins forces with elite firefighting aircraft in this animated sequel.

“The Purge: Anarchy”: Sequel to the 2013 sleeper about citizens preparing for their yearly 12 hours of anarchy.

“Begin Again”: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine star in the romantic drama previously known as “Can a Song Save Your Life?” from Irish writer-director John Carney (“Once”).

“I Origins”: Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling from “Another Earth” reunite in the story of a molecular biologist (Michael Pitt) studying the evolution of the eye. Researchers make a stunning discovery with far-reaching implications.

JULY 25

“Hercules”: Dwayne Johnson sports some serious hair and (of course) muscles in this action film based on Radical Comics’ “Hercules” by Steve Moore.

“Sex Tape”: After 10 years and two children, a couple decide to make a video of a marathon sex session but don’t count on it going public. With Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz.

“Step Up: All In”: Dancers from previous installments (although probably not Channing Tatum or his wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, from the 2006 original) reunite in Vegas for a career-defining competition.

AUG. 1

“Get on Up”: After portraying Jackie Robinson in “42” and a linebacker in “Draft Day,” Chadwick Boseman channels James Brown, splits and all.

“Guardians of the Galaxy”: Space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) becomes the object of a bounty hunt after stealing an orb coveted by a treacherous villain in an adventure with roots in a Marvel Super-Heroes comic dating to 1969.

“Boyhood”: Shot during short periods from 2002 to 2013, Richard Linklater’s film covers a dozen years in the life of a family, starting when a boy is 6 years old. Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater star.

“Wish I Was Here”: Director Zach Braff’s follow-up to his hit “Garden State” in which a 30-something is at a crossroads, forced to examine his life, career and family.

AUG. 8

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”: Thirty years after being introduced in a comic book series, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello are back and working with a reporter (Megan Fox) and wise-cracking cameraman (Will Arnett) to save New York City.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey”: Richard C. Morais’ novel provides the recipe for this story of an Indian culinary ingenue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch and the icy proprietress (Helen Mirren) of a Michelin-starred French restaurant who initially doesn’t take kindly to her rival.

“Into the Storm”: Tornado disaster flick with Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies and others.

“Lucy”: Luc Besson directs Scarlett Johansson as a woman who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

AUG. 13

“Let’s Be Cops”: Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson are struggling pals who dress as cops for a costume party and like the results, until they tangle with real-life mobsters and dirty detectives in this comedy.

AUG. 15

“The Expendables 3”: Sylvester Stallone returns as Barney Ross, who decides to fight old blood with new blood and recruits younger, faster and more tech-savvy team members in this third outing.

“Magic in the Moonlight”: Woody Allen romantic comedy, set in the south of France in the 1920s, about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible scandal. Cast includes Eileen Atkins, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Simon McBurney, Emma Stone and Jacki Weaver.

“What If”: Pittsburgh native Jesse Shapira is an executive producer of this rom-com, formerly “The F Word” and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as friends who try to resist their obvious attraction.

“The Giver”: Film based on Lois Lowry’s young adult novel, winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, about a boy given his life assignment as the “Receiver of Memory.”

“As Above, So Below”: Thriller, set largely in twisting catacombs beneath the streets of Paris.

AUG. 22

“When the Game Stands Tall”: Jim Caviezel plays real-life coach Bob Ladouceur, whose De La Salle High School (California) football team had a 151-game winning streak from 1993-2004.

“If I Stay”: Chloe Grace Moretz is a girl caught between life and death for one revealing day in an adaptation of the Gayle Forman novel.

“Calvary”: Set in Sligo, Ireland, this blackly comic drama is about a good priest tormented by members of his community. Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd and Kelly Reilly star.

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”: Four tales of crime adapted, with style, from Frank Miller’s graphic novels.

AUG. 27

“November Man”: Pierce Brosnan stars in an adaptation of Bill Granger’s novel, “There Are No Spies,” as a former CIA operative pitted against a onetime protege in a deadly game involving high-level CIA personnel and the Russian president-elect.

AUG. 29

“Life of Crime”: Sly crime story, about a ransom, double crosses and a marriage going south, based on Elmore Leonard’s novel “The Switch” and starring Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, John Hawkes, Mos Def, Isla Fisher and Will Forte.

“Jessabelle”: Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a car accident, Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has no intention of letting her escape.

“The Loft”: Psychological thriller, starring Karl Urban and James Marsden, about five married guys who conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city, but the fun’s over when they discover a woman’s corpse and suspect one another.

ALSO

“Joe”: Nicolas Cage is a hard-living ex-con in the South who tries to help a hard-luck kid (Tye Sheridan, “Mud”) who begs for work in this adaptation of Larry Brown’s novel.

“The German Doctor”: Fact and fiction mingle in this thriller based on a novel about Josef Mengele and how he wins the trust of an Argentinean family while hiding out in 1960 near Bariloche. (June)

“Ida”: A young novitiate in 1960s Poland is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating to the Nazi occupation. (June)

“The Immigrant”: Marion Cotillard is a Polish woman who sails to the States with her sister but finds herself alone and struggling with the realities of 1920s New York. (June)

“Obvious Child”: Comedy starring Jenny Slate as a Brooklyn comedian who gets dumped by her two-timing boyfriend, fired and pregnant by a nice young professional who is not remotely her type. (June)

“Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case”: Despite the solitary detention, omnipresent cameras and government lawsuit, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei provokes and challenges the authorities. (July)

“A Most Wanted Man”: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright star in a thriller based on John le Carre’s novel. (August)


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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