Dinosaurs, Minions and Ted, too: 15 films to see this summer

Updated 5/19/2015

Some movies are so nice they’ve got to make them twice. Or three times. Or four. Remakes will figure heavily in the approaching tug of war for audiences that movie studios hope to cram into their new clown cars.


Mad Max: Fury Road

After decades of development hell (the third Mad Max film, “Beyond Thunderdome,” appeared in 1985), the racing champion of barbarian post-apocalypse Australia returns. Director George Miller, who invented the car-combat genre of real stuntwork and bonkers driving, shifts into 11. Rising star Tom Hardy is the new incarnation of bandit-battling hero Max Rockatansky, a part even gnarlier than his turn as Batman’s back-cracking nemesis Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Charlize Theron goes full buzz cut as Imperator Furiosa, because what else can you name a character gunning a war rig across the wasteland — Mary Sue? Makes you glad that Miller returned to berserker society after all those Babe the pig and the “Happy Feet” penguin movies. May 15



When Walt Disney opened this futuristic branch of Disneyland in 1955, he called it “a vista into a world of wondrous ideas.” Sixty years later, things are not quite so upbeat. This extravaganza stars George Clooney as a former boy genius who has some worrying insights into the future and desperately needs the help of egghead Britt Robinson to travel to “a miraculous place where you could actually change the world. You wanna go?” Buckle up for a lot of ray-gun gothic future design and PG-13 combat. Bonus point: It was directed by Brad Bird, the Michelangelo/Einstein/Spielberg behind “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” May 22



Love & Mercy

Tent-pole movies are fine, but indie originals are important, too. Case in point, this breathtaking drama about the disturbed life of legendary Beach Boys composer Brian Wilson. Director Bill Pohlad presents a remarkably touching fact-based biography. Paul Dano plays Wilson in his 20s, when his talent was beginning to be surpassed by schizophrenia. John Cusack picks up the part in his 40s, when Wilson was controlled by an unprincipled therapist (Paul Giamatti). Elizabeth Banks plays the woman whose love affair with Wilson offered him an escape route he had needed for years. Pohlad shifts movingly between past and future, subtly suggesting where Wilson’s famed vibrations emerged from. June 5



In the cop comedy “The Heat,” Melissa McCarthy proved she could be a fall-down-funny action star. Here she re-teams with Paul Feig, director of that film and “Bridesmaids,” for a globe-trotting espionage parody. She plays a mild-mannered deskbound CIA agent who blossoms in her first field assignment. Jude Law and Jason Statham appear as suave 007 types who don’t take her seriously; Rose Byrne is a haughty enemy gun dealer who takes her seriously enough to launch bazooka-level insult humor. June 5


Jurassic World

Welcome back, tourists, the grounds are open. The fourth installment in the “Jurassic Park” saga returns us to scenic Isla Nublar 22 years after the prehistoric theme park’s — ahem — unfortunate extinction-related events. Those naughty velociraptors have been domesticated by trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to be protective of humans. Which could be handy. Park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has decided to rekindle public interest in the resort with a new dinosaur breed, the big, bad Indominus rex — undoubtedly the star of the show. Original director Steven Spielberg returns as executive producer, while new filmmaker Colin Trevorrow (of the sci-fi indie charmer “Safety Not Guaranteed”) yells, “Action.” June 12


Inside Out

Pixar ace Pete Docter (“Up,” “Monsters Inc.”) wrote and co-directed this in-the-brain animated comedy. It follows 11-year-old Riley while she copes with the ever-busy emotions in her head as her family moves from their home in Minnesota to San Francisco. The stars of this journey to the center of the brain are Joy (Amy Poehler), hair-triggered Sadness (Phyllis Smith), paranoid Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and tart-tongued Anger (Lewis Black). June 19


Ted 2

The sequel promises to return audiences to a world of gross-out humor that is unforgivably hilarious. Did you see that part in the trailer where Ted, the stuffed animal that acts like a bro, and his childhood pal John (Mark Wahlberg) sneak into Tom Brady’s bedroom to give him a — er — cuddly massage? Raunchy brilliance, I say. Writer/director/Ted vocalist Seth MacFarlane misses the bull’s-eye pretty often, but there’s a reason this story of a man and a doll serving as each other’s lifelong enabler of foul-mouthed mischief is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. June 26


Magic Mike XXL

Channing Tatum’s male stripper cautionary tale/dramedy hit of 2012 is back. Can the same male bodies be presented as sex objects in two films in a row? Ha, ha, ha, never mind, just kidding. Steven Soderbergh, who created the original before taking a break from directing, remains attached as cinematographer and film editor, so this may be a quality production once again. And yeah, it’s rated R. July 1


Terminator Genisys

The fifth film in the “Terminator” epic is designed as the start of a new trilogy. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as a killer robot who has evolved into a good guy “pops” figure shielding humans. That is the film’s strongest parallel to its earlier chapters, so throw away your timelines and pay attention. When a time-traveling warrior ventures to the present to protect the mother of a future resistance leader, he discovers that she has survived future assassination attempts, and that more advanced killing machines are on the way. At which point things become hectic. July 1



They’re small, yellow and pill-shaped, and they’re not Tylenol capsules. Those little Oompa Loompa-style henchpeople from the “Despicable Me” films are back, talking gibberish and being as adorkable as ever, probably. The not-so-evil villain’s assistants this time bumble their way through a bad guy Villain-Con convention in Orlando, where they cross paths with triple-evil Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock.) Uh-oh. July 10



It sounds like a big disaster, but it’s a romantic comedy. Writer/star Amy Schumer plays a writer with no appetite for any relationship beyond a bit of one-night dating, except for her meathead go-to guy (John Cena), who performs their get-togethers like sweaty workouts. When she’s assigned to profile a thoroughly decent doctor (Bill Hader), she begins moving in the direction of boring monogamy. Directed by Judd Apatow, who is very good at ramming family values full speed against great comedy. July 17



If a retired inventor is going to bail a career thief out of prison to pull a big heist, he’ll want to disguise him, right? As a microscopic insect! Paul Rudd plays the burglar turned itty-bitty superhero. As Marvel showed in last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it’s getting light-spirited as it prepares to close down Phase 2 of its Cinematic Universe slate. This romp was written by Adam McKay (“Anchorman”) and directed by Peyton Reed (Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man”). Knocking over a toy train set’s Thomas the Tank Engine looks to be par for the course. The cast includes comedy stalwarts Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll and Judy Greer. July 17


– Rogue Nation

It’s like Old Home Week for the spy team as Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames battle an unknown criminal assassination ring called the Syndicate. Alec Baldwin plays the CIA head aiming to shut down the IMF superspy agency. Cruise’s last stunt for the series was a tall order, hanging onto Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper 2,500 feet above the ground in 2011’s “Ghost Protocol.” This time he clings to an Airbus A400M transport plane 5,000 feet above the English countryside. Luckily, he was not killed by a seagull. July 31



Fantastic Four

The third effort to launch Marvel’s very first superhero quartet will probably be better than the 1994 and 2005 attempts because, really, how could it be worse? Stretch Armstrong loves the Invisible Man’s sister; her bro is a literal hothead, and there’s a guy made out of rock rubble. Josh Trank, director of the cool sci-fi thriller “Chronicle,” guides the 20th Century Fox reboot, apparently aiming for a back story a bit more grounded than the kitschy comic book predecessors. Ever-interesting dramatic actor Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) flexes his comic book chops as the group’s elastic leader, with Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell. Aug. 7



Three Oscar winners unite as Meryl Streep, the reigning queen of American acting, stars in a musical drama scripted by Diablo Cody (“Juno”) and directed by Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs,” “Philadelphia”). Streep plays aging rock star Ricki, who abandoned her family when she was younger to find success and celebrity in California. Decades later, she returns home to be a mother again. Streep’s own daughter, Mamie Gummer, plays one of Ricki’s estranged offspring. Given the team’s track records and Streep’s breathtaking singing skills, this sounds excellent. Aug. 7


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