Action, disasters, superheroes all on tap for spring
By Tony Rutherford
Superheroes lead the beckoning behemoths that compete for your big screen attention. But, following a tepid 2014 schedule, franchises and sequels have a solid sprinkling of films that are not the next chapter in a trilogy or some other cliffhanger. Science-fiction/fantasy dominate.
“San Andres” (May 29) potentially revives the “disaster” genre, which raged in the 1970s with “The Towering Inferno”, “Earthquake,” “Airport,” and trips on “The Hindenburg,” down “Damnation Alley,” and a plunging “Meteor.” Since then, audiences have escaped “Armageddon” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” Now, the long predicted “big one” unleashes a magnitude nine quake, the pilot of a search and rescue chopper ((Dwayne Johnson) sends him and his estranged wife from L.A. to San Francisco to attempt a rescue of their only daughter.
Darting back to friendly spandex wearers, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” comprises an all-star gathering (ironic, yes, D.C.’s “Golden Age” Justice Society appeared in All-Star Comics!) which hails Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans), as well as The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Clint Barton) , Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and The Vision (Paul Bettany).
The last of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby original Marvel hero creations, “Ant Man,” jumps to the movie screen. The size altering hero first appeared in Marvel’s mystery/horror title, “Tales to Astonish,” just as Iron Man debuted in “Tales of Suspense” and Thor in “Journey Into Mystery”. Biophysicist Hank Pym originated the shrinking formula and in the comic his girlfriend Janet fought alongside him as The Wasp. They were two of the original Avengers. For the July 17 release, Paul Rudd stars and Peyton (“The Break Up”) Reed directs.
Lee/Kirby premiere creation, “The Fantastic 4,” receives a reboot come August. The ‘FF’ initiated the injection of more reality into comics, which opened the Marvel Universe. History suggests that D.C.’s (a.k.a. National Comics) “Justice League of America” team spurred the formation of Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, the Human Torch (played in the 2005 and 2007 films by Chris Evans, now Captain America), and The Thing. Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell make up the new cast. Doctor Doom will be the featured villain.
DELAYED FRESH SEQUELS?
Vin Diesel returns as race car leader Domimic Toretto for “Furious 7” (April 3). After the crew defeated Owen Shaw in “Tokyo Drift,” Shaws older brother (Jason Statham) seeks vengeance. The seventh sequel has been delayed due to the death of Paul Walker, who played Brian O’Conner. With CGI help and relative look-a-like stand-ins, his character will be retired, even as “Furious” has at least a couple more laps around the track.
A terror apocalypse (9/11) reshaped and recast, “Mad Max Fury Road,” which stars Tom Hardy (not Mel Gibson) as the famed Road Warrior. Waiting more than a decade has granted producers the advancement of computer digital graphs for enhancing stunts, beyond old fashioned simple greenscreen magic. (May 15)
It’s been more than a decade since we visited the giant dinosaur theme park. The fourth installment, “Jurassic World” nearly became extinct as it went through revision after revision. Now, the fully functioning park has fallen into economic distress prompting a corporate demand to create a hybrid lizard-like reptile. (June 12)
After a break of four years, Tom Cruise again takes on the persona of I.M.F. agent Ethan Hunt in the fifth installment of “Mission Impossible” where he’s out to silence a syndicate of rogue assassins. (July 31)
“Terminator Genisys” returns Arnold Schwarzenegger to the cyborg role he originated in 1984. Twisting the time frame, an aging T-800 has slid through time in order to protect a youthful Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), so future history will not alter. (July 1)
Ex-special forces operator, Frank Martin, originally played by Jason Statham, receives a “Transformer” prequel/reboot as British actor Ed Skrein steps into the mercenary role refueled by the adrenaline-filled producers of the “Taken” trilogy and “Lucy”.
Comedy sequels in the summer include “Pitch Perfect 2” (May 15), “Ted 2” (June 26) and “Magic Mike XXL” (July 1).
When Walt opened Disneyland in the 50s, one of the theme kingdoms was “Tomorrowland”. His weekly TV show rotated themes with futuristic fantasy a natural for the tomorrow place. Strangely, Disney magic has not ventured into a fertile imaginative venue. Following a red flag on a 2008 project, the upcoming (May 22) George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson project teases a youngster in a place of wonder somewhere in time and space. Still shrouded in mystery, Clooney’s playing an inventor. It’s unknown if imagery from theme parks past or present will be intertwined.
And, on the same day comes a remake of “Poltergeist,” a film franchise dating back to 1982 and filmmakers the likes of Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg, and Tobe Hooper, where a family is terrorized by ghosts stalking their young daughter.
At least three horror thrillers have summer play dates, beginning with “Insidious Chapter 3” (June 5), followed by “Gallows,” in which students at a small town school attempt to honor the 20th anniversary of a tragic production (July 10) featuring Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown & Reese Mishler. “Sinister” receives a follow up debuting August 21.
COMEDIC GENDER ROLE REVERSAL
Judd Apatow christens the U-turn of his many monogamy elusive males. The director places the same behavior, fears and sexual conduct in a woman when Amy Schumer plays a child of divorce, determined to have the one-man-one-woman narrative. She finds it is not realistic until the meeting of a compassionate surgeon turns the romantic comedy formula backwards. “Trainwreck” is due July 17.