CAESAR'S BACK in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.'
Summer started earlier than ever this year with the likes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, and X-Men: Days of Future Past busting blocks well before Memorial Day. But as the sweaty season rolls along, there will be plenty of reasons to retreat into an air-conditioned sanctuary with a giant screen for a couple of hours, whether you’re into superheroes, satire, or sequels.
What was once considered a lazy filmmaking strategy has become the norm, as more movies are being concocted as franchises as opposed to stand-alone experiences (with all of Marvel’s recent releases exemplifying this perfectly). And it’s clear that audiences love them — Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, and Star Trek Into Darkness all grossed more than $200 million last year — so why would Hollywood stop feeding its addiction? This summer is no different, as a new batch of old ideas will make millions and millions of dollars.
The special effects sequel parade kicks off with Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27), which is Michael Bay’s fourth Hasbro-core entry, but the first with Mark Wahlberg in the leading role (replacing confirmed crazy person Shia LaBeouf). Bay has said that this will be the last Transformers film he directs, but also noted that this marks the beginning of a new trilogy. Confusing? Sure. But the first three movies made nearly $3 billion worldwide, and it likely wasn’t because of the director or actors involved — people just like seeing robots and aliens at war.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11) teases a war between Earth’s remaining humans and a band of hyper-intellectual apes led by Caesar (played by motion-capture savant Andy Serkis). Since Charlton Heston already spoiled us in 1968, we unfortunately know how this one turns out, but that doesn’t mean this flick will be devoid of drama. Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Judy Greer also star.
Proving once again that people love watching shit blow up, the third Expendables movie in four years — aptly titled The Expendables 3 — arrives on August 15. This is not a franchise that favors subtlety — the films are basically just one beatdown after another. The badass cast, featuring capital-M men Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, and Terry Crews, adds Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, and Mel Gibson to the ranks for the third go-round. Any movie that’s co-written by Sylvester Stallone (who also stars) is absolutely worth seeing.
Perhaps the most anticipated sequel of the summer is Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22), which comes nine years after its predecessor. Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, and Mickey Rourke reprise their roles from the beloved original, while Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ray Liotta inject some new blood into the pulpy crime thriller. Fans of Frank Miller’s source-material comics may be upset that the film deviates from the original, but the fact that this long-awaited sequel is coming out after years of doubt should keep fans happy — for awhile, anyway.