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Movies–The Summer Guide for what to See

By: Michael O’Sullivan
The Washington Post
May 7, 2015

Welcome to the summer of 1985.

I’m not talking about the theme of time travel, that staple of warm-weather movies. But there’s something in the cinematic zeitgeist this summer that reeks of 30-year-old Drakkar Noir. From George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” to “Straight Outta Compton,” there’s a distinct air of nostalgia in the multiplex for Reagan-era America.

Look at “Poltergeist,” a remake of the 1982 ghost story. Then there’s “Pixels,” an action-comedy about gamers defending the planet from weaponized Pac-Man monsters. And how about “Terminator Genisys”? The fifth film in the sci-fi franchise takes place in 1984 – the year the series launched – as well as in 2017 and 2029. Even “San Andreas” feels like a throwback to a bygone age of disaster flicks, which, let’s be honest, peaked in the late 1970s.

It’s not just the popcorn flicks, either. The Brian Wilson biopic “Love & Mercy” jumps between the 1960s and the 1980s, with dueling performances by Paul Dano and John Cusack. Check out co-star Elizabeth Banks’ big hair, which deserves a separate credit.

Speaking of good hair, ’80s pop star Rick Springfield makes an appearance – as Meryl Streep’s love interest – in the dramedy “Ricki and the Flash.” Playing a middle-aged rock singer, Streep covers songs by ’80s icons Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. The horror movie “Regression,” which is set in 1990, features a detective (Ethan Hawke) investigating a Satanic cult. Shades of 1987’s “Angel Heart”?

In more contemporary news, this is the summer of Kristen Wiig and Paul Giamatti. Look for the former “SNL” star in three films: “Welcome to Me,” “Masterminds” and “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” the last of which isn’t a comedy. As for Giamatti, he’s now officially the hardest-working man in showbiz, with appearances in “San Andreas,” “Love & Mercy,” “Madame Bovary” and “Straight Outta Compton.”

Read on. There’s something – or someone – in our summer preview for every taste, especially movie fans still wearing acid-washed jeans. Just a reminder before you dip into the repackaged nostalgia, release dates may change.

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

May 15, R

Stars: Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Charlize Theron

The basics: Not quite a sequel, yet not exactly a reboot, George Miller’s fourth lap around the “Mad Max” track stars Hardy in the role originated by

Mel Gibson. Here, the taciturn loner does battle with bloodthirsty bad guys in a post-apocalyptic world where gasoline is king (and Theron is queen).

“San Andreas”

May 29, PG-13

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino

The basics: After California registers a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s search-and-rescue pilot swings into hero mode,

giving new meaning to the phrase “when the big one hits.”

“Jurassic World”

June 12, not yet rated

Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard

The basics: Have the developers of dino-centric theme parks learned nothing from three “Jurassic Park” movies? In the futuristic amusement park of the title, a genetically engineered beast is introduced, wreaking predictable havoc.

“Big Game”

June 26, PG-13

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila

The basics: When Air Force One is shot down over Finland by terrorists, a 13-year-old boy (Tommila) comes to the rescue of the U.S. president (Jackson).

“Terminator Genisys”

July 1, not yet rated

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney

The basics: The fifth big-screen outing in the seemingly indestructible sci-fi franchise about killer robots introduces a wrinkle in the fabric of the time-traveling tale, which jumps from 1984 to 2029 (and in between): Maybe John Connor – whose role in the salvation of humanity has never before been in doubt – isn’t the solution, but the problem.


July 17, not yet rated

Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
The basics: Expect action and laughs from this screenplay (written by Adam McKay and Rudd) based on the Marvel comic books about an insect-size superhero (Rudd).

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

July 31, not yet rated

Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner
The basics: When his spy organization disbands, superagent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF teammates go freelance to defeat a syndicate of international supervillains. Let’s hope this reunion of Cruise and filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie is more successful than their 2012 collaboration, “Jack Reacher.”

“Fantastic Four”

Aug. 7, not yet rated

Stars: Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Miles Teller
The basics: After critical flops with the first two “Fantastic Four” films, Hollywood tries yet again to make these action heroes happen, reimagining their origin story as a drama about the burden of superpowers.

“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

Aug. 14, PG-13

Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
The basics: Cavill and Hammer play unlikely allies – an American and a Soviet spy, respectively – in this Cold War-era adventure based on the 1960s TV series. It’s directed by Guy Ritchie, whose “Sherlock Holmes” movies prove he’s no slave to source material.


May 22, PG

Stars: George Clooney, Britt Robertson
The basics: A teenage girl (Robertson) finds herself in possession of a mysterious pin, unlocking a portal to a parallel universe. Her guide to this dangerous new world is a reclusive inventor (Clooney).

“Hot Pursuit”

Friday, PG-13

Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara

The basics: Policewoman Witherspoon plays escort to Vergara’s wife-of-a-druglord on the lam in this odd-couple road movie.

“Pitch Perfect 2”

May 15, PG-13

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson

The basics: A competitive a cappella group attempts to redeem itself after an embarrassing loss in this sequel to the 2012 hit. The comedy marks the feature directorial debut of actress Elizabeth Banks.


June 5, R

Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne

The basics: McCarthy’s deskbound CIA agent finally gets a shot at field operations in this fish-out-of-water yukfest from writer-director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”).

“Ted 2”

June 26, R

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried

The basics: The trash-talking teddy bear (voiced by director and co-writer MacFarlane) returns, going to court to prove his humanity in this sequel to the raunchy 2012 comedy.


July 17, R

Stars: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader

The basics: In her first big-screen starring role, Schumer is a happy-go-lucky commitment-phobe who discovers, to her chagrin, that she’s falling for Mr. Right (Hader). Judd Apatow directed, from a script by Schumer.

“Mr. Holmes”

July 17, PG

Stars: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker

The basics: McKellen plays Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved sleuth, now 93 and suffering from incipient dementia, in this drama based on novelist Mitch Cullin’s “A Slight Trick of the Mind,” about inter-generational friendship.


July 24, not yet rated

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker

The basics: Gyllenhaal’s troubled, musclebound boxer is the physical opposite of the emaciated sociopath he played in “Nightcrawler” in director Antoine Fuqua’s drama about a widower struggling to regain custody of his daughter.

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