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Summer Movie Preview: The old(ish), the new(ish) and the indie(ish)

As ever, there are a lot of movies coming out this lazy season. Also as ever, many of them are sequels, remakes and reboots (or some mixture).

Everything old is new again. This is the season when brains are turned off, rebuilding for the fall, when they will be once again overused. Luckily Hollywood has your back. Starting with the sequel “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” out Friday, many of this summer’s blockbusters boast numbers or new secondary titles, and even the original films tend to be mish-mashes of proven entities. But hey, at least there’s zero Adam Sandler films!

The old(ish)

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (May 15)
Type:
Sequel/secret reboot
Behold, the first “Mad Max” entry in 30 years, 25 of which were spent in development hell. For many reasons, Mel Gibson is now Tom Hardy, but the director — George Miller, who had to make a couple “Happy Feet”s to get this made — is the same, meaning we’ll be once again treated to a singularly kinetic/insane twist on the action movie.

‘Poltergeist’ (May 22)
Type:
Remake
On the list of movies that needn’t be remade goes the 1982 creeper, no less because its key image — television fuzz — doesn’t even exist anymore. No matter: the cast is a critic’s dream — Rosemarie Harris, Sam Rockwell AND Jane Adams? — and director Gil Kenan, of the sharp “Monster House,” knows how to do more than boo scares.

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‘The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)’ (May 22)
Type:
Threequel
OK, so we actually like this vomit-y franchise, even the mega-unpleasant second one, which took the comparatively restrained one in a hilariously nasty direction. Here, both the original’s mad scientist (Dieter Laser) and the second’s shlubby fanboy (Laurence R. Harvey) return and this time try to fix a disorderly prison by using the ass-to-mouth business as punishment for mischievous inmates. Actually, that should do it.

‘Entourage’ (June 3)
Type:
The show is now the movie
Apparently this was a televisual program that ran for a number of seasons. It is no longer on the air, therefore a follow-up will be beamed into movie theaters via digital projectors. So there’s that. Enjoy, if this is your thing. And if it isn’t and you have to see it anyway, maybe it’ll be OK? Haley Joel Osment is in it.

'Insidious: Chapter 3' (June 5)
Type:
Threequel/spin-off
Title be damned, this is actually a prequel to the ghost movies that ditches both the original cast (Rose Byrne can be seen in "Spy," opening the same day), as well as director James Wan, who preferred to make "Furious 7" instead.

‘Jurassic World’ (June 12)
Type:
Sequel/quasi-reboot
Don’t lie: when you saw the indie time travel rom-com “Safety Not Guaranteed,” your main takeaway was, “The guy who directed this should make a movie about killer dinosaurs.” Either way, Colin Trevorrow took the reins of this 20-years-later fourquel, where humanity has forgotten the lessons of the original three, namely that dinos and humans don’t mix — unless one of those humans is Chris Pratt.

‘Terminator: Genisys’ (July1)
Type:
Sequel/quasi-reboot
No one much liked “Terminator: Salvation” — excepting J.D. Salinger, that is — but, to borrow a phrase from another of this summer's mighty franchises, life finds a way. The fifth entry pits Ah-nuld, Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor and Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese (aka the Michael Biehn guy) against a robo-John Connor (Jason Clarke), as well as a digitally younger Ah-nuld. Does this even make time machine-y sense? Or are they just trying to milk more out of a barren series? Either way, it’s directed by the guy who made a movie about Napoleon in love.

‘Magic Mike XXL’ (July 1)
Type:
Sequel
It’s not yet clear if the second stripper Channing Tatum number will be more of the same or another “Staying Alive,” the ridiculous (and fascinating) post-disco sequel to “Saturday Night Fever.” But take heed: Steven Soderbergh may not be directing, but he did serve as cinematographer and chose as director a protege, Gregory Jacobs. And any film that encourages Tatum to be silly is never bad.

‘Ted 2’ (June 26)
Type:
Sequel
After his misbegotten but noble “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” Seth MacFarlane returned to duties, making this follow-up about Marky Mark and a talking plush bear. Amanda Seyfried has taken over for Mula Kunis, but we’ll just assume there will be jokes about marijuana and ’80s pop culture, many of them made by dolphins arranging “idea balls.”

‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’ (July 31)
Type:
Sequel
The shape-shifting series winds up in the hands of Christopher McQuarrie, author of “The Usual Suspects” and, perhaps more importantly, the enjoyably terse Tom Cruise vehicle “Jack Reacher.” There will be insane stunts where Cruise truly risked his life and limb just to entertain us, but whatever happens it will probably be almost nothing like the “Mission: Impossible” show.

‘Vacation’ (July 31)
Type:
Sequel/quasi-reboot
The Griswold kids, notoriously, changed with every film, so now Rusty has taken the scenic route from gangly Anthony Michael Hall to Ed Helms, who has apparently gone from a cynical teen into an incorrigible, sometimes insane optimist just like his dad. Alas, Rusty breaks from the wanderlust spirit of his pop, who would hit up Europe and Vegas, and just takes his own fam to Walley World again.

‘Fantastic Four’ (August 7)
Type:
Straight-up reboot
When the last batch of “Fantastic Four” movies emerged, it was a simpler time, when characters from comic books weren’t yet moody brooders out of a Thomas Hardy novel. Now with a new cast, two of them airlifted from last year’s Zac Efron rom-com “That Awkward Moment,” we can learn the true anguish of being a guy who turn into fire and stuff.

‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ (August 14)
Type:
Movie of the show
Who remembers this spy show, about English and Russian agents, apart from Steven Soderbergh, who was once hard at work on this splashy movie version? Guy Ritchie instead wound up at the helm, and it actually keeps the 1960s setting, which is cool, as is the presence of Hugh Grant as a boss. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer star, though “It” Girl Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”) should be the real draw.

'Sinister 2' (August 21)
Type:
Sequel/spin-off
Another horror follow-up shorn of its original cast and filmmakers, this second haunted house movie replaces Ethan Hawke with Shannyn Sossamon and James Ransome ("The Wire"'s Ziggy himself). First "Sinister," then "Insidious"; someone make something called "Nefarious."

‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Legend’ (August 28)
Type:
Belated sequel
It only took 15 years — psst, you’re very old — but the sequel to the art-house ass-kicker is here, albeit with only Michelle Yeoh returning. This looks altogether more like traditional martial arts fare; instead of directed by the tasteful Ang Lee, it’s handled by legend Yuen Woo Ping, who made the early Jackie Chan greats “Drunken Master” and “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow.”

The original(ish)

‘Tomorrowland’ (May 22)
If “the theme park ride is now the movie” always sounded dodgy, what about the words “theme park section”? At least this one’s packed with overqualified talent, from George Clooney — as an inventor/dad journeying to an alternate world spiritually similar to the Disney World area — to filmmaker Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”), although perhaps this one will be missing the director’s usual crypto-Objectivist subtext.

‘Aloha’ (May 29)
In a way this is a throwback, namely to the old funny-earnest comedies of Cameron Crowe, who, “We Bought a Zoo” aside, has been in the dumps since 2005’s sometimes misjudged (but sometimes spot-on) “Elizabethtown.” This time he has the combined power of Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone, playing the staff of a Hawaii missile base overseeing a new weapons satellite. Oh, and they fall in love against sensitive dad rock hits and of course the tagline is, “Sometimes you have to say goodbye before you can say hello.” So true! Or wait, what does that even mean?

‘San Andreas’ (May 29)
The Rock (we will never call him Dwayne Johnson unless he scares us with his muscles) tries to save her daughter after a massive earthquake, and Paul Giamatti is in there somewhere too because why not?

‘Spy’ (June 5)
Because no one else will make high concept blockbuster comedies starring women, director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”) is at it again, this time pairing Melissa McCarthy with Rose Byrne, but also with Jason Statham for some comedic action shenanigans. Sadly, the women may get upstaged by Statham, a gifted comedic actor rarely allowed to be funny outside of Guy Ritchie and “Crank” entries.

‘Inside Out’ (June 19)
Remember when Pixar didn’t just crank out sequels? So do they, apparently, as they’ve taken a break from the likes of “Monsters University” and “Cars 2” to give us something original — or, you know, basically a cartoon version of “Herman’s Head,” with little characters representing emotions inside the mind of a little girl. Close enough!

'Self/less/ (July 10)
Annoy/ing title. Ryan Reynolds plays the younger version of a dying wealthy man who has his consciousness transferred to a less old/more ripped man, which is also the plot of 1991's "Freejack." One thing "Freejack" didn't have was director Tarsem Singh ("The Fall," "Immortals"), who is a whiz at ignoring plot and creating visuals that could be placed in the world's prettiest coffee table book.

'Trainwreck’ (July 17)
Amy Schumer hits the big screen but in a smart way, teaming up with Judd Apatow for a dirty rom-com. We’re excited because of Schumer, but we’re also excited because this was lensed by great cinematographer (and, with “Ballet 422,” director) Jody Lee Lipes, who did up the likes of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Afterschool” and the first season of “Girls.” Apatow’s films tend to look barely serviceable, but this should be a rare comedy that’s actually pleasant to look at.

‘Ant-Man’ (July 17)
The definition of “new-ish,” this Marvel entry promises to be an outlier in the franchise — or at least it would have been had Edgar Wright not walked off the project at the last second, suggesting that the company was into being eccentric but, you know, not actually eccentric. Still, this is a mostly (or kind of) comedic entry starring Paul Rudd and co-written by Adam McKay that we’re assuming will still build to an endless and clanky action super-climax before 10 post-credit sequences touting characters you’ve never heard of.

‘Southpaw’ (July 24)
Jake Gyllenhaal gets back into abs-showing-off duty in this sports drama, playing a boxer attempting a comeback in the wake of his wife’s death. The doomed wife is played by Rachel McAdams, once again confirming that Hollywood has no idea what to do with Rachel McAdams.

‘Ricki and the Flash’ (August 7)
Meryl Streep is at a point that anything she’s involved in gets the coverage of a minor comic book movie, so it’s great that she’s starring in the latest from Jonathan Demme, which also happens to be written by Diablo Cody. She plays a guitar player trying to reunite with her family, and family hang-time is something Demme can do better than most (see: “Rachel Getting Married”). And it has Charlotte Rae! And Rick Springfield!

‘Straight Outta Compton’ (August 14)
You’re not a god until you have a splashy biopic. So congrats, N.W.A.! Better yet, their story is pretty crazy, so even if this is a stuffy genre entry it will at least be one that features hairpin plot turns in addition to some of the best music of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Indie(ish)

‘Maggie’ (May 8)
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Post-Governatorship Comeback Train has come close to derailing thanks to reliably paltry box office. (We recommend the delightful “The Last Stand,” though.) But he’s been getting raves for doing something he’s never done, semi-amazingly: starring in a drama. Of course, it’s a drama with zombies, with him playing a father anguishing as his daughter (Abigail Breslin) slowly becomes one of the undead.

‘Saint Laurent’ (May 8)
The second of the dueling films about the fashion god — after last year’s “Yves Saint Laurent,” and we hope this isn’t confusing — is actually the better one, which is to say the one that’s not a sleepy traditional biopic. Instead, it focuses on his late ’60s-through-mid-’70s drug years, told by director Bertrand Bonello (“House of Pleasures”) as an old school excessive European art film, complete with the late arrival of Visconti regular/lover Helmut Berger.

‘Good Kill’ (May 15)
Director Andrew Niccol (writer of “The Truman Show,” writer-director of “Lord of War,” etc.) reunites with his “Gattaca” star Ethan Hawke to explore another hot-button topic: drones, and the men who command them like they were video games.

‘Slow West’ (May 15)
Michael Fassbender chomps on a cigarillo in this oddball Western, which performs an arty-funny twist on the genre while delivering some old-fashioned goods.

‘Results’ (May 29)
You wouldn’t think Andrew Bujalski (“Funny Ha Ha,” “Computer Chess”) would have a star-studded indie rom-com in him, but this love triangle, with Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders and Kevin Corrigan, is apparently very much in keeping with his unusual and rewarding style. May the obscenely talented former “mumblecore” guy get his first breakout hit.

‘Love & Mercy’ (June 3)
Brian Wilson finally gets a biopic, but appropriately gets an unusual one, with Paul Dano as the younger BW and eternally young John Cusack as the older version. One of the screenwriters is Oren Moverman, who was involved in an even more extreme twist on the genre with “I’m Not There,” so you’re probably in good hands.

‘A Pigeon Sat on a Bench Reflecting on Existence’ (June 3)
It’s always a big deal when Sweden’s Roy Andersson (“Songs from the Second Floor,” “You the Living”) releases another of his painstakingly constructed deadpan comedies. He’s the closest we have in this age to Jacques Tati, so make sure you see this on a huge screen.

‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ (June 12)
Sundance was all about this quirky drama about two young movie lovers who befriend both a stay-at-home dad (Nick Offerman) and a girl with leukemia.

‘The Wolfpack’ (June 12)
Speak of Sundance’s brightest lights that is also rabidly cinephilic, here’s another — a sneaky doc that looks at a gaggle of teens whose parents rarely let them leave their Lower East Side high-rise, forcing them to live off, and learn life from, movies.

‘Eden’ (June 19)
Daft Punk are characters in Mia Hansen-Love’s epic about France’s electronic/club scene from the early 1990s on, which follows a DJ as he gradually gets too old to be making the kids dance.

‘A Little Chaos’ (June 26)
Alan Rickman directs and stars in this costume drama as Louis XIV, who winds up playing inadvertent matchmaker for two landscape artists (Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenaerts) when he tasks them with building a garden.

‘Irrational Man’ (July 17)
Oh, fun, it’s the Woody Allen movie about a professor sleeping with one of his students. That should temper those flames. For what it’s worth, the teacher is Joaquin Phoenix and the student is Emma Stone, and that’s not quite the age of gap of the last Woody, “Magic in the Moonlight,” where there decades separated Stone from romantic pursuer Colin Firth.

‘Mr. Holmes’ (July 17)
Mitch Cullin’s Sherlock Holmes fan fiction "A Slight Trick on the Mind" becomes a tony drama from Bill Condon ("Kinsey," "Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Parts 1 and 2"), with Ian McKellen as the 90-something snoop reflecting on his past.

‘The Look of Silence’ (July 17)
One of the most original docs in recent memory, “The Act of Killing,” gets a less audacious but just as necessary follow-up, with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer this time focusing on the brother of a victim of the Indonesian genocide who takes it on himself to confront the nation’s remorseless mass murderers.

‘End of the Tour’ (July 31)
Jason Segel does his best David Foster Wallace in this look at the late novelist, namely the time he went on a road trip with an admiring journalist (Jesse Eisenberg).

‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ (August 7)
Another Sundance hit, this one focuses on a young girl (Bel Powley) who starts up an affair with the man (Alexander Skarsgard) currently seeing her mom (Kristen Wiig).

'American Ultura' (August 21)
Kristen Stewart seems to only be doing really good movies these days (see: "Camp X-Ray," "Clouds of Sils Maria"), so there's high hopes for this thriller, especially since it reunites her with her "Adventureland" costar Jesse Eisenberg. The two play a stoner and his gal on the run from government agents.

‘She’s Funny That Way’ (August 21)
Peter Bogdanovich’s first picture since 2001’s “The Cat’s Meow” is another stubborn throwback, this one spinning off a labyrinthine farce about a prostitute-turned-actress (Imogen Poots) who creates pandemonium amongst an all-star cast, that also includes Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte and even old Bogdanovich flame Cybill Sheppard. This is a big deal.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
 
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