Summer Times

Movies: Creatures populate the big screen

Sure, you can watch a movie on your phone but should you? Godzilla, Transformers and those talking apes deserve and demand the biggest screen possible.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and "Godzilla" helped to get the summer off to a spectacular start. "Neighbors" provided raunchy comedy and "Million Dollar Arm" pitched family entertainment our way in early May.

Every weekend will bring one or sometimes two big titles through Labor Day with a healthy sprinkling of smaller movies, many of which were mentioned in our May 1 roundup.

Opening this week: "X-Men: Days of Future Past," "Blended," "Belle," "Ernest & Celestine," "Chef" and "The Immigrant." As always, dates are subject to change and the list will grow or shrink some weeks.

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.


“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. Pittsburgh plays Indianapolis and even a tiny bit of Amsterdam on screen.

“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.

“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.


“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.


“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.


“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.


“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.


“A Hard Day’s Night”: The Beatles will be back, thanks to a restored version of the 1964 black-and-white comedy.


“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.


“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.


“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.

“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.

“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.

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.

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog:

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