The Verge summer movie guide: the biggest and buzziest films of the season

Explosions and hugs

50

Solstice be damned: in the movie business, summer begins in May. Theaters become awash with equal parts over-the-top blockbuster action and family-friendly escapades — explosions and hugs, in other words, mapped to innumerable sequels and reboots. It's a place where all the trailers, teaser trailers, extended trailers, preview scenes, television spots, and pint-sized blips finally get to germinate into real, honest-to-goodness audience pleasers.

So what exactly is there to watch in this post-Furious 7 world — a movie that upped the ante both in explosions and hugs? We've got a couple dozen suggestions that will be hitting theaters between now and the end of August.

Updated July 2nd with reviews for Entourage, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, and Magic Mike XXL.


    May

  1. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

    It's the 11th film in Marvel's highly interconnected Cinematic Universe, and once again, Earth's Mightiest Heroes (aka the box office's most lucrative ensemble) team up to take on an evil, sentient AI with an arsenal of weaponry and witticisms. The marketing blitz has been rather epic in scale, so chances are you already knew about this one. Which is to say this blurb really isn't necessary, so... hello there, how are you doing? Good weather today? — May 1st

    Review: With Age of Ultron, has the Marvel universe outgrown Joss Whedon?

  2. Pitch Perfect 2

    To see Pitch Perfect is to love it. Don't write it off because it's a movie about college a capella groups. More importantly, it's dozens of hilarious actors and actresses, many of whom actually can sing. The sequel seems to follow suit by raising the stakes (world championship singing?) and additionally puts David Cross in the role of an a capella aficionado. That should tell you everything you need to know. — May 15th

    Review: Pitch Perfect 2 is trying too hard

  3. MaD Max: Fury Road

    Thirty years. That's how long it's been since the last Mad Max film was released. Time has apparently been good to the franchise, however, as Fury Road looks to be one long and utterly insane car chase complete with over-the-top violence and eccentric character. It might even best Furious 7 in crazy automotive stunts, which is no small feat. — May 15th

    Review: Mad Max: Fury Road is the future of pulp

  4. Tomorrowland

    The Iron Giant. The Incredibles. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. As a director, Brad Bird has had an impressive run of films over the last 16 years, and Tomorrowland looks like it has all the makings of another hit. Written by Bird and "mystery box" expert Damon Lindelof, Tomorrowland has something to do with a parallel futuristic world that also somehow ties into the Tomorrowland exhibit at Disney theme parks and... hey, look! There's George Clooney! We're sure it'll all make sense when we see the film. Probably. — May 22nd

    Review: Tomorrowland is the most earnest theme park movie in history

  5. Poltergeist

    From what we've seen so far, the modernized Poltergeist remake seems to follow eerily closely to the 1982 classic horror film produced by Steven Spielberg, wherein a family moves into a house built on top of a cemetery, and ghosts — nay, poltergeists — start causing chaos. Even if that's ultimately the case, the new Poltergeist is being produced by horror vet Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, The Grudge), so worst-case scenario, it's going to have some really freaky jump-scare scenes. — May 22nd

  6. San Andreas

    First: this movie has nothing to do with Grand Theft Auto. Still with us? San Andreas is a disaster movie that explores what would happen if an earthquake utterly destroyed Los Angeles — or more specifically, what would Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson do when faced with an unstoppable force of nature (spoiler: it's acts of heroism). — May 29th


  7. June

  8. Spy

    It seems like Paul Feig loves nothing more than to give Melissa McCarthy a gun and roll camera. Following in the footsteps of Bridesmaids and The Heat, Spy is about a CIA desk worker (McCarthy) who has to go into the field to stop nuclear calamity. The reaction to its SXSW screening was overwhelmingly positive, and the rest of the cast (including Jude Law, Jason Statham, and Allison Janney) add surprising gravitas to a film that looks to blend slapstick comedy with real summer movie action moments. — June 5th

  9. Entourage

    For eight seasons HBO’s Entourage served as a mash-up of Hollywood satire and wish fulfillment, following the adventures of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), his crew of hangers-on, and his agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, in the role that’s pretty much overshadowed everything he’s tried to do since). While it wasn’t clear that anybody was asking for more, the entire gang is getting the big-screen treatment this June — and if the trailers are any indication, fans of the series should be more than satisfied. — June 5th

    Review: Entourage is possibly the most harmless film of all time

  10. Insidious: Chapter 3

    When director James Wan jumped aboard the Furious 7 franchise, he left the burgeoning Insidious series behind. The new installment is being helmed by Leigh Whannell in his feature directing debut, and if the name sounds a little familiar that’s because Whannell wrote the first two installments. He also co-created the Saw series with Wan, so he knows his way around a scary movie — and many, many sequels. — June 5th

  11. Jurassic World

    The prospect of another Jurassic Park seemed almost too good to be true, and the selection of Colin Trevorrow as director — a filmmaker known best for the small, quirky Safety Not Guaranteed — was nothing short of inspired. But the trailers have failed to set the world on fire, and after a recent clip showed off some rather antiquated gender politics on behalf of Chris Pratt’s character, we’re not feeling as bullish as we once were. But still: DINOSAURS! — June 12th

    Review: Jurassic World is bigger, louder, and has more teeth

  12. Pixar's Inside Out

    Pixar’s been touting Inside Out for years now as one of its most inventive new films, and judging by the concept, it’s with good reason. The film takes place inside the mind of a young girl as she struggles with a move to a new city, and each of her emotions — Fear, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, and Joy — are portrayed as separate characters unto themselves, all operating in the "headquarters" of her mind. Director Pete Docter brought audiences to tears in record time with his last movie, Up — and from what we’ve seen so far he’ll have the opportunity to do even more this time around. — June 19th

    Review: Inside Out plays with our emotions both effectively and recklessly

  13. Ted 2

    Seth MacFarlane crashed and burned last year with A Million Ways to Die in the West, but this year he’s returning to the magical land of talking teddy bears and Mark Wahlberg that’s treated him so well in the past. Nearly 30 seconds of the trailer is dedicated to a sperm donor gag, which should tell you pretty much everything you need to know. — June 26th


  14. July

  15. Terminator: Genisys

    After four feature films and a cancelled TV series, the Terminator franchise is back for another round of films, starting with Terminator: Genisys. Here, Kyle Reese goes back in time to save Sarah Connor, just like in the first film. But the timeline has changed. Now, Sarah’s already teamed up with the T-800 and is fighting the war for the future early: a future where John Connor is an evil cyborg. This movie will either be great or an incredible mess. Hopefully it’s the former. — July 1st

    Review: How far can nostalgia carry an ill-advised reboot?

  16. Magic Mike XXL

    The Magic Mike series knows what it is: pure female-gaze fan service. It wants to have fun with that idea, and it doesn’t need explosions to pull that off. It — and, specifically, Channing Tatum — made "Pony" the song of a generation. For Magic XXL, it’s more of the same, and that’s just fine. We’ll see you at the club. — July 1st

    Review: Magic Mike XXL is bigger, looser, and here to please

  17. Minions

    If there was ever a breakout star in Despicable Me and its sequel, it was definitely the Minions. In their first titular film, we get to see the minions' origins and how they found their way to Gru. Having existed from the beginning of time (seriously), they live only to serve the most diabolical of villains. That imperative leads them to New York in the '60s, where they eventually meet Scarlet and Herb Overkill, two villains played by Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm. Is Universal milking as much money as they can out of this franchise? Sure. But it still looks cute. — July 10th

  18. Self/less

    Self/less looks intriguing, but between the bizarre marketing campaign and Ryan Reynolds’ track record at the box office, chances are this movie will be terrible. Here, Ben Kingsley plays a rich and successful aristocrat who discovers he has cancer. After paying to have his consciousness transferred into Reynolds’ body, he soon finds that his new body still retains its old consciousness. For some reason, guns are involved. We’ll just have to see on this one. — July 10th

  19. Trainwreck

    Trainwreck made its debut at SXSW this year, and it’s already garnered some serious critical acclaim. In a screenplay written by Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, Schumer plays a writer with the kind of sex life normally reserved for men in bro comedies. Bill Hader comes along to not so much sweep her off her feet as watch helplessly and patiently while she makes a mess of things. We have high hopes for this. — July 17th

  20. Ant-Man

    To say that the production of Marvel’s Ant-Man has been troubled would be putting it lightly. After losing Edgar Wright over creative differences, Marvel enlisted director Peyton Reed to get the film over the finish line, and we’re still unsure how the final product will turn out. In the film, Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a former criminal put into the Ant-Man suit by genius inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). He’ll face off against House of Cards alum Corey Stoll as the villainous Yellowjacket. Silly names, we know, but at least the trailer is entertaining. — July 17th

  21. Pixels

    This being an Adam Sandler / Kevin James vehicle, the odds on Pixels being good are pretty low. Based on a popular online video, the story involves aliens declaring war on Earth and taking the guises of classic video game characters like Pac-Man. Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad also show up for the fighting, and it should at least be a nice nostalgia trip for old-school gamers. — July 24th

  22. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

    Tom Cruise strapped himself to the outside of a plane before it took off for this movie. That kind of commitment deserves your attention. Much like the Fast & Furious franchise, the Mission: Impossible series tries to outdo itself with each movie. Plus, it always helps the movies have managed to stay good up until now. This one could be worth it. — July 31st

  23. Vacation

    With so many other franchises getting rebooted, perhaps it was inevitable that the National Lampoon’s Vacation series get a revamp. Here, the Griswolds (and especially Chevy Chase) are all much older. Rusty, played by Ed Helms, wants to do some family bonding, so he sets about dragging everyone to Walley World, the family’s favorite theme park that’s by now ready to be shut down. The movie sounds like the summer’s requisite grownup comedy. Unfortunately, that gives us no hints as to the movie’s quality. — July 31st


  24. August

  25. Fantastic Four

    Yes, Fox has been able to keep X-Men alive, but when it comes to that other Marvel franchise it controls, the studio has never really hit stride. After films in 2005 and 2007, Fox is now rebooting Fantastic Four, and there’s some quality cast signed up: Miles Teller (Whiplash), Kate Mara (House of Cards), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), and Jamie Bell (Jumper). Josh Trank is directing this as his follow-up to Chronicle. Trank was supposed to work on a standalone Star Wars movie until very recently, and rumor has it problems with FF are why he left Star Wars.  — August 7th

  26. Straight Outta Compton

    Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have become such entrenched mainstream media stars — Dre works at Apple, people — that it’s easy to forget they were once controversial. Named for N.W.A.’s debut album, Straight Outta Compton tells the story of how Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella came together in the 1980s against a backdrop of violence and police brutality, changing hip-hop forever. Director F. Gary Grey has had his share of successes (The Italian Job, Friday) and failures (A Man Apart), but with the group’s two biggest stars producing, the movie is sure to have one of the best soundtracks of the year. — August 14th

  27. The Man from UNCLE

    Once upon a time, Guy Ritchie used his trademarked mix of action, violence, and comedy to stand out with films like Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. These days he uses it for gonzo takes on Sherlock Holmes, or — in the case of The Man From UNCLE — 1960s television shows. The movie stars Man of Steel's Henry Cavill and The Social Network's Armie Hammer, both playing it with tongue planted firmly in cheek, as a mismatched pair of agents tasked with stopping a mysterious criminal group. — August 14th

  28. Hitman: Agent 47

    It’s been nearly 10 years since the Hitman video game series got its first movie adaptation, and now it’s time for another go around the block. This time Homeland star Rupert Friend plays the titular Agent 47, a cloned assassin identified by the barcode on the back of his neck, while Zachary Quinto plays a guy going by the name John Smith. This one isn’t going to be violent at all.  — August 28th

Credits

  • Developer Yuri Victor