15 big movies to see before the summer movie season - Metro US

15 big movies to see before the summer movie season

Hail Caesar
Universal Pictures

Oh, January. It’s been rough this year, especially since the token right-baiting paean to our troops was a Michael Bay movie about Benghazi (“13 Hours,” which at least had the decency to bomb). But February is right around the corner, and with it some thoughtful fare before the brain-drain of the summer movie season. Just kidding: You’re getting lots of big comic book movies and sequels and other big, dumb fare. On the plus side, there’s a new Coen brothers movie, and it has musical numbers.

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‘Hail, Caesar!’ (Feb. 5)

If you’re a fan of Karina Longworth’s addictive podcast about Old Hollywood, “You Must Remember This,” you’re the target audience for the latest Coen brothers joint. Then again, so is anyone who loves when they go full-on funny. Another one of their movies about idiots, à la “Burn After Reading,” it follows a scarily effective Tinseltown “fixer” (Josh Brolin) based on — and actually named — Eddie Mannix, who has to track down a star (George Clooney) who’s gone AWOL on a shoot in the 1950s. There’s also ScarJo doing Busby Berkeley-style numbers.

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‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ (Feb. 5)

At one point Seth Grahame-Smith’s laborious-sounding reworking of Jane Austen was to be a David O. Russell movie starring Natalie Portman as Lizzy Bennet. Now it’s by Burr Steers, of “Igby Goes Down,” and stars “Cinderella”‘s Lily James. Anyway, watching heartsick quip-monsters taking out the undead may be less of a one-joke affair than reading them carefully embedded in some of the most readable classic lit out there.

‘Deadpool’ (Feb. 12)

So Marvel movies are intentionally funny now, huh? Briefly seen in the dreaded first “Wolverine” movie, Ryan Reynolds’ costumed badass has been repurposed as a quip-slinger prone to even broader jokes than the ones in “Ant-Man.” The movie’s also rated R, a first for the brand, suggesting it might be closer to the dark, sick humor of the comics.

‘Zoolander No. 2’ (Feb. 12)

Hey, the kids who started school when 2001’s first dalliance with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s mindless fashion gods came out are now starting to pay back their undergrad loans! That is all. Except now we’re thinking about the David Bowie cameo in the original, and thus about David Bowie, and oh man, how good is this deep cut?

‘Gods of Egypt’ (Feb. 26)

Hollywood doesn’t make enough bats— crazy doozies, so cherish whatever the hell this is, which appears to be Gerard Butler screeching while that one guy from “Game of Thrones” turns into reptiles or something. If it doesn’t open with a disembodied head vomiting up exposition a la “Zardoz,” there is no god.

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‘Triple 9’ (Feb. 26)

A star-studded heist film from John Hillcoat, of the brutal “The Proposition,” that features Kate Winslet rocking a Russian accent? Oh, fine. It also features Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Woody Harrelson, which all makes this so much more exciting than “London Has Fallen.”

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‘London Has Fallen’ (Mar. 4)

Speaking of which, Gerard Butler’s back in shouty, cut-rate-John McClane mode in the sequel to the undeserved winner of the “Die Hard”-in-the-White-House duel of 2013 (see also: the superior “White House Down,” which tanked why?). Luckily Melissa Leo’s back to maybe warble patriotic songs while being dragged by baddies again.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ (Mar. 4)

This winter’s “Sisters” was almost a worthy vehicle for Tina Fey, who can’t seem to find movies up to her considerable standards. This one seems more her speed: a war satire made by the guys who wrote “Bad Santa,” complete with the return of Billy Bob Thornton.

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’10 Cloverfield Lane’ (Mar. 11)
It wasn’t until last week that we learned that that little J.J. Abrams-produced thriller featuring three actors in a cellar was actually a stealth sequel-of-sorts to “Cloverfield.” It’s also the feature debut of Dan Trachtenberg, the whiz kid behind the much-loved“Portal” short, who ditched the original’s shakycam handheld for actual shots and, at least in the trailer, a seriously unnerving use of Tommy James and the Shondells.

‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ (Mar. 11)

For every Y.A. franchise that keeps going, there’s always one that dies right out of the gate. And yet this blatant “Hunger Games” knockoff has improbably held in there, in part because it would just seem cruel to off a series that gives us Shailene Woodley. Still, apart from her, holy crap do we not care about these movies.

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (Mar. 25)

The trailers are annoying, Ben Affleck is miscast, the DC Comics movies are super gloomy and Zack Snyder is a terrible director — but this tag-team effort also cost $200 million. And it’s the first one in a Marvel Cinematic Universe-esque world-building attempt for the other major comics label. Seeing it is like voting: You have to do it, we guess.

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‘The Boss’ (Apr. 8)

Can we skip the part where we ask, “Is Melissa McCarthy still funny?” The answer is yes, and for proof look no further than “Spy.” We even sort of like “Tammy,” her derided (but often very amusing) vehicle directed by no less than her husband, Ben Falcone. He also helmed this more promising-sounding venture, in which McCarthy plays a greed monster trying — surely not very well — to rebrand herself as a lovable celeb magnet.

‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’ (Apr. 15)

Ice Cube is super popular again, thanks to the “Ride Along”s and “Straight Outta Compton.” So you know what that means: sequels to hits past! Another “Friday” may never happen, but we do have a return to his more laid-back and even socially conscious hangout films, which touch on the ills of urban life in between jokes about Rosa Parks and Jesse Jackson.

‘The Jungle Book’ (Apr. 15)

Not to be confused with next year’s “Jungle Book: Origins,” made by Warner Brothers, Disney’s reboot of one of their most beloved products mixes live action with star-voiced critters, filled by the likes of Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o and Christopher Walken. If you don’t like it we can do this all over again next year, but with the voices of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Benedict Cumberbatch.

‘The Huntsman: Winters War’ (Apr. 22)

Kristen Stewart was too busy winning the French equivalent of the Oscar and kicking ass in small movies like “Clouds of Sils Maria” to return for the “Snow White” sequel. Actually, it’s a prequel about the sister of Charlize Theron’s witch, played by Jessica Chastain and who is fitted with the power to turn things into ice. Just like “Frozen”! Kind of exactly like “Frozen”!

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

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