With audiences still somewhat reeling from 2014’s manic summer of ape-battling, robot-smashing, galaxy guarding mayhem, the new year brings another chance for Hollywood’s best and brightest to battle it out for total market domination. Somehow boasting even more explosive insanity than ever before, 2015 looks to be very much a defining year for the epic summer blockbuster, and its smaller (though just as mighty) dramatic cousin.
Mad Max: Fury Road (14th May)
Racing back into cinemas for the first time in 30 years, the latest instalment in the Mad Max series
looks set to be the biggest, baddest, and brawniest of the bunch. Fronted by Bane himself – Tom Hardy – alongside a notably intimidating Charlize Theron, Fury Road is set to resurrect George Miller’s iconic post-apocalyptic wasteland and send it screaming into the 21st century. As the director of the original trilogy, it’s great to see Miller firmly behind the wheel again on this project – who knows what sort of pent-up violence he has set to unleash upon his return, after directing Babe: Pig in the City and two Happy Feet films?
The premise of the movie is set in a dystopian world that has suffered from numerous catastrophes; valuable resources are extremely tough to come by, rogue motorcycle gangs plague the few civilizations left, and things generally are quite unfortunate for those who live there. Fury Road introduces us to Imperator Furiosa (Theron) and ‘The Five Wives’, women on the run from a gang that had held them captive and kept them as precious tools for continuing the human race. Max (Hardy) soon becomes entangled in their endeavour – leading he and Furiosa to team up in an attempt to restore order and safety to their lives; though it wouldn’t be in true Mad Max style without plenty of vehicular based fighting, dust storms and explosions – most of which can be found numerous times in the trailer alone.
Fury Road is a true piece of 80’s nostalgia, that has been pumped so full of adrenaline it might tear at the seams. With the original being cited as inspiration for directors such as David Fincher, Guillermo Del Toro and James Cameron; this next installment could be a defining piece of cinema for its age – it is definitely not one to be missed.
Words by Ashleigh Millman
Listen Up Philip (5th June)
Like his breakout feature, The Color Wheel, Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip is a sharply written, excellently observed comic psychodrama, but this follow-up is decidedly more ambitious in theme and scale, using its intimate focus on character as a means to vigorously deconstruct the archetype of the Great American Author.
Jason Schwartzman’s magnificent performance in the title role – a young novelist suddenly granted his first taste of semi-fame after the release of his second book – helps to create one of the most complex and fully realized characters to hit the silver screen in years. He buys into the antiquated idea that a serious author must uphold the values of abrasiveness, isolation and solemnity as a way of self-justifying his own aloofness, and hence tries to sculpt his own persona to match this philosophy – an effort which fails to register as anything more than comically misguided, considering that the only ordeals he’s had to endure in life are incredibly petty. Noticing that nobody he knows is fooled by this shtick, he latches onto the reclusive literary icon Ike Zimmerman, who, flattered by his admiration, happily takes him on as his protégé and sets out to mould him in his own image. As a consequence, he grows increasingly distant from his long-term girlfriend Ashley, whose emotional openness and dynamism serve as a direct contrast to Philip’s closed-off stasis. This description may make Listen Up Philip sound like a potentially dour affair, but Perry’s approach is refreshingly generous and invigorating. It’s filled with hilariously caustic dialogue and farcical non-sequiturs, which, remarkably, manage to heighten the film’s emotional weight rather than undermine it.
Words by James Slaymaker
Jurassic World (12th June)
It’s been 14 years since the last installment of the Jurassic Park series, so naturally expectations were always going to be high for Jurassic World. There was definitely still some apprehension though. After all, the first film in the series is a cultural landmark and commonly regarded as one of the greatest blockbusters of all time, but the ensuing sequels, whilst not necessarily bad, did leave something to be desired. Thus when news tidbits about Jurassic World started to emerge, fans were cautious about getting too excited. There was certainly potential for the film; with a fresh premise, interesting ideas and an apparent emphasis on practical effects, things were generally heading in the right direction.
And then the first trailer hit, and reactions were mixed to say the least. Whilst some praised the trailer’s tone and sense of wonder, others were skeptical that the dialogue was a bit iffy and that the much triumphed practical effects were nowhere to be seen. Things continued in this vein as the months rolled on; for every intriguing new plot development or cool piece of concept art, there was a troubling clip or some more cartoony CGI. But come on, this is Jurassic Park: surely we can give it the benefit of a doubt?
Ignoring some of the admittedly valid concerns, if you just focus on what the film does have going for it, then it kind of sells itself. There are dinosaurs (hybrid ones too), Chris Pratt’s in it, Michael Giacchino is providing the score (which incidentally sounds amazing in the trailers), and this time we get to see Jurassic Park finally open and fully operational. Oh, and did I mention THERE ARE DINOSAURS?
Words by Harrison Abbott
Yes, things aren’t exactly confidence inspiring with this one. I’ll be the first to admit, I actually physically recoiled a little when Sarah Conner said “Come with me if you wanna live” during the trailer, and Lord knows what’s going on with the special effects (how we’ve managed to go so far backwards in 24 years is beyond me). But, there’s still a chance right? For a start Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke (no relation) are both very talented actors, and Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor has done some good work in the past, including a pretty impressive run on TV alone with Game of Thrones, Mad Men and The Sopranos. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up surprising us.
There appears to at least be a legitimate reverence for the first two film, and these time-travel-utilizing, franchise-rewriting sequels have worked out well in the past (see Star Trek and X:Men Days of Future Past). That being said, someone really needs to sort out that CGI.
Words by Harrison Abbott
Magic Mike XXL (3rd July)
Ladies gather round, the Tatum is back with an action packed, hip thrusting and body popping sequel to the 2012 surprise hit Magic Mike. At least that seems to be how Warner Bros are marketing the release of Magic Mike XXL, as the ultimate girls night out to see the likes of Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer (Glee) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood) ‘bumpin n’ grindin’ to get the party started in Miami.
The film follows Mike, three years after he bowed out of the stripper’s life whilst at the top of his game. We follow him and the remaining Kings of Tampa – sadly minus Matthew McConaughey as Dallas – on the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance, the ultimate showstopper.
Magic Mike XXL is bound to be a summer hit thanks to a whole legion of devoted female fans, who made the original so successful – it made an astonishing $167 million at the box office in 2012. It is also the only film of the summer blockbuster season that is directly targeting women as their prime audience, and so will hopefully prove to be a hit. With new added female characters including Jada Pinkett-Smith (Madagascar) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) too, this will be one that you will not want to miss, especially as rumour has it, Magic Mike himself is going to be live in Las Vegas in the very near future.
Words by Georgia Simpson
First there was a Spider Man. Then there was an Iron Man. And now? Well, believe it or not, we’re very close to meeting the Ant Man.
At first glance, the heroic prowess of a man with the super-powers of an ant might not seem that cool, but just you wait. Ant Man tells the story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a petty thief who, with the help of physicist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), acquires a technology that allows him to shrink in size, but increase in physical strength. Lang must protect the technology from a number of threats – including ‘Yellow Jacket’ (Corey Stoll), who wants to weaponize the suit – and plot a heist to save the Earth.
And if all that seems a bit hardcore, there’s sure to be a funny side. Not only is the script written by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Adam McKay, it also stars Paul Rudd – who is best known for his work in comedies such as Anchorman. Like Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, Rudd is sure to add both humour and depth to this role – all whilst appearing 12% buffer than we’ve ever seen him before. And as seen in the trailer, there’s a scene in which both Ant Man and Yellow Jacket almost get run over by a toy Thomas the Tank Engine. Now aside from being a brilliant piece of product placement, surely that’s enough to convince you that this is going to be a fun watch over the summer?
Words by Anneka Honeyball
Inside Out (24th July)
Ignoring Brave (which, to be honest, a lot of people do), Pixar haven’t released an original film since 2009, when we all cried like babies at Up. Come the 24th July, though, the wait will be over, with Inside Out hitting cinemas across the country.
(Co-)written and (co-)directed by Pete Doctor, one of Pixar’s key creative minds – he had a hand in Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Wall-E, and Up – Inside Out will take us into the mind of a young girl, whose emotions will be the main characters of the film, going to places like Imagination Land and Dream Productions. With Amy Poehler and Bill Hader as two of the main voice-actors, Inside Out is sure to be funny, while at the same time laced with the bittersweet sadness and that same general cuteness that seems to characterise all of Pixar’s films. Amid the action-packed, explosion-filled whirlwind that is the summer cinema season, Inside Out looks to be a welcome relief – fun, bright, and touching; a chance to recharge before diving back into the ever-growing pile of blockbusters. It will certainly be one of the films to see this summer.
Words by Matt Clarson
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was originally intended for a December release, but was brought forward several months into prime summer space in a tremendous display of confidence. Director Christopher McQuarrie (of the decent Jack Reacher and one of the writers on last summer’s superb Edge of Tomorrow) brings back most of the same team, in Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg, as well as newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (not the X-Factor contestant) as the mysterious Ilsa. They face the international rogue organisation the Syndicate, which is committed to destroying the IMF. So far so simplistic. That is why this film will work. From the trailer there appears to be an emphasis on practical effects and stunts, as well as a return to teamwork, but with a greater air of mystery. Oh, and a truly amazing stunt in Tom Cruise hanging off the side of a plane as it takes off. If that does not become the set-piece of the summer, I don’t know what will.
Words by George Seabrook
Fantastic Four (6th August)
To most, 20th Century Fox’s previous Fantastic Four films represent the epitome of noughties comic book adaptations at their most mediocre: enjoyable popcorn flicks that didn’t fully exploit the potential of their source material. With Chronicle’s Josh Trank helming the reboot however, it seems that the Fantastic Four may finally have a shot at the credibility that they deserve.
The leap towards inter-dimensional travel has plenty of exciting possibilities and it’s inspiring to see a thematic shift rather than a straightforward rehash. Despite mixed reactions to the film’s casting, it’s easy to be confident that with Whiplash’s Miles Teller, and House of Card’s Kate Mara on board, they’ll give their predecessors a run for their money. As seen in the trailers, the film has been given a distinct aesthetic too, capturing the hard sci-fi feel that the reboot hopes to emulate. This is reflected nicely by a step down from the vibrant primary colours of Marvel Studios but without straying into the somber palette of the Nolan-verse.
All the initial signs look promising for a film that seemed initially unnecessary, and with only a few teases of the team’s powers in action it appears that there’s still a lot more to look forward to come Fantastic Four‘s August release.
Words by Chris Evans
Paper Towns is the next adaptation from the wildly popular author John Green, whose books fed into the angst and wanderlust of true adolescence whilst achieving a sense of nostalgia and ‘what if?’ for his older readers.
Whilst not as tear-jerkingly sad as the teen sensation The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns presents itself as both an emotional journey through the confusion of idolisation vs affection, and a physical journey to solve the mystery of Margot, who “loved mysteries so much that she became one.” This culminates in the heady love/obsession-fuelled road trip we all wish we could have, as the hero, ‘Q’, searches for the damsel very much not in distress.
Cara Delevigne, the girl many of us wish would be our best friend, plays the mischievous, ‘misunderstood’ Margot, whose pranks look to be an inspiration for all of us who have been wronged. Nat Wolff’s baby-faced excitement makes him endearing to the watchers, most of whom will no doubt cheer him along in his adventure, marking Paper Towns as definitely a film to look out for this summer.
Words by Lois Saia
Legend (11th September)
It looks as if Tom Hardy is all set to take over a corner of summertime cinema. Alongside his role in Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardy’s second summer film Legend sees him re-adopt the gangster persona into which he seems to slip so faultlessly.
Legend tells the story of real life London gangsters Reginald and Ronald Kray and their rule during the 1960’s, with Hardy taking on the role of both brothers. The history of the infamous Kray twins is one that lends potential for what could surely be a London gangster themed classic, and it looks like that’s exactly what director Brian Helgeland is aiming for. The first trailer is superb in recreating the overtly cool, glamorous and sophisticated vibrancy of the 60’s while setting the darkly twisted and disturbed overtone of violence that is sure to authentically recreate the sins of the Kray Brothers themselves.
Whilst he is certainly not unaccustomed to the role of designated gangster, it is most significantly the anticipation of Hardy’s hopefully iconic dual performance that is rousing excitement, as well as Helgeland’s favorable reputation within the genre. Perhaps less of a Hollywood blockbuster and more a slick tribute to the underbelly of the East End, all in all the few insights into Legend that have been released are enough to make it a noteworthy film to end the summer.
Words by Jasveen Bansal
All of the films mentioned above are released on the dates given and the trailers can be viewed in the playlist below.