While spending your afternoons in one of Birmingham's best pubs, or one of its best attractions, is all well and good, this summer could be the biggest blockbuster season ever recorded, with a stellar slew of sequels, reboots and fresh new stories. As expected, men in tights are very much the order of the day. But there’s plenty of room for rampaging dinosaurs, apocalyptic vigilantes, trash-talking teddy bears and Meryl Streep in leather kecks. Rock on, 2015!
Top summer films in Birmingham
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth
When Tony Stark aka Iron Man creates the world’s first functioning artificial intelligence, Ultron, he doesn’t expect the machine to go rogue and try to wipe out humanity. He clearly hasn’t seen many movies. Expect writer-director Joss Whedon to spice up this classic sci-fi storyline with fresh ideas, snappy dialogue and furious action as the Avengers grudgingly reunite to tackle this deadly foe.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
Wax your moustaches and polish up your swordstick for the latest take on Thomas Hardy’s timeless tale of love among the sheep-pens in nineteenth-century England. Mulligan plays Bathsheba Everdene, the farm girl turned landowner torn between three suitors: honest shepherd Oake (Matthias Schoenaerts), strapping soldier Troy (Tom Sturridge) and kindly but dull aristocrat Boldwood (Michael Sheen).
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Original director George Miller has recruited an all-new Max – British beefcake Tom Hardy – but retained the apocalyptic Australian setting, marauding mutant villains and thunderous dune-buggy chase sequences for this belated franchise reboot. Charlize Theron plays a mercenary tasked with chaperoning a busload of women through the wasteland, with only the Road Warrior standing between her and a tribe of psychotic petrolhead cannibals.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld
The ladies are hitting the high notes (we hope) as Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson return as the fearless frontwomen of campus a cappella group The Bellas. The first ‘Pitch Perfect’ followed the gang on a national competition tour. This time they’re headed to Germany (really?) for a global competition.
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris
We were dubious when this remake of the classic suburban fright flick was announced – it looked like just another cheap Hollywood cash-in. But when it emerged that ‘Monster House’ creator Gil Kenan was set to take charge, The prospects of ‘Poltergeist’ improved immeasurably: his films have precisely the right blend of spooky thrills, oddball invention and emotional heft to suit this story of a young girl abducted by vengeful ghosts. The cast is great, too.
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Taking inspiration from a Disneyland theme park ride, this fantasy from ‘The Incredibles’ director Brad Bird follows the adventures of a young runaway who is transported to an alternate universe where the best of human endeavour has created a flawless utopia. The trailer promises grand vistas, retro-future technology and Clooney laying on the twinkly old-Hollywood charm.
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino
Geologists claim that the San Andreas fault between California and the continental US will one day violently tear apart, turning the state into an island. We finally have a date when this will happen – May 29 2015. Yep, it’s disaster on an epic scale as an earthquake rips through LA, forcing rescue pilot The Rock to go on a quest to rescue his teenage daughter. For bonus weirdness, Kylie Minogue co-stars.
Director: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott
In time-honoured horror franchise tradition, this prequel takes us back to the beginning, following psychic warrior Elise Rainier as she learns to develop her supernatural demon-fighting powers. The first two movies haven’t exactly set the world on fire, but if you like your fright flicks slick, stylish and packed with jumps then this should tick all the right boxes.
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Alison Janney
Before they reteam for next year’s all-female ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig and his regular muse Melissa McCarthy pastiche the ‘Bourne’-style espionage movie in this slapstick action flick. She plays a lowly CIA secretary who must go undercover as a brash American tourist to infiltrate a Russian intelligence ring, with Jason Statham as her long-suffering handler.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio
It’s two decades since the dinosaurs first broke loose, and Jurassic Park is now a fully functioning holiday destination drawing crowds from across the world. But are those fences really as sturdy as they look? Steven Spielberg has passed the directing reins to newcomer Colin Trevorrow for this big-budget sequel, which promises smart velociraptors, genetically engineered mega-saurs and plenty of toothy tourist-munching action.
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker
I’m getting too old for this Shhhh…erlock. While you’re waiting for the new BBC series, get an interim fix with this cosy detective drama. Ian McKellen is perfectly cast as the great detective in his sunset years, coming out of retirement to solve a 50-year-old case that he can only remember fragments of.
Directors: Kyla Balda & Pierre Coffin
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Jennifer Saunders (voices)
Those little yellow fellows from the ‘Despicable Me’ movies have earned their own big-screen outing, which tracks the critters from their prehistoric origins to the present day. When three Minions set out across the globe to search for a new supervillain to serve, the mission hits a snag when one of them is inadvertently crowned King of England…
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
Any old iron? Apparently there’s a reasonable explanation for the fact that the Terminator is looking a little bit long in the tooth these days (it’s something to do with the natural ageing process of the machine’s organic components). Either way, we’re thrilled to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the role that defined his career, returning from the future to make life hell for a whole new family of Connors.
Director: Tomm Moore
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt
For his follow-up to the acclaimed ‘Secret of Kells’, Irish animator Tomm Moore has adapted another ancient Celtic legend into a gorgeously crafted, Oscar-nominated family cartoon. It’s the tale of Saoirse, the last of the selkies, an ancient race of women who can transform into seals.
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried
After his comedy cowboy flick ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ turned out to be about as funny as a case of saddle sores, it’s no surprise that ‘Family Guy’ creator Seth MacFarlane has retreated to safe ground and cooked up a sequel to his big-screen debut about a trash-talking teddy bear with an eye for the ladies. He’ll be praying for ‘Ted 2’ to match the original movie’s globe-conquering box-office success.
Director: Peyton Reed
Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
Now that we’ve got over the fact that ‘Shaun of the Dead’ director Edgar Wright is no longer occupying the director’s chair for this Marvel superhero comedy, perhaps we can begin to assess ‘Ant-Man’ on its own terms. The cast is great – Michael Douglas plays the inventor of a shrink-ray, with Paul Rudd as the luckless loser who decides to steal it for himself – but the first trailer was distinctly underwhelming, and replacement helmer Peyton Reed doesn’t fill us with confidence. The jury’s still out.
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Cast: Diane Lane, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling
Could this be the movie Pixar fans been praying for? The animation company’s recent output has been patchy at best, with far too much emphasis on sequels over the brilliantly original work that made their name. But with ‘Monsters, Inc.’ and ‘Up’ director Pete Docter back in the chair, we’re not sure how this oddball story of a little girl with voices in her head can fail.
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Cast: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Joe Mangianello
Inspired by star Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a young male stripper, ‘Magic Mike’ was a surprise hit with both critics and audiences. This sequel offers more of the same peppy, upbeat blend of onstage thrust-and-grind and offstage emotional upheaval, as Mike and the team set out for the beach to take part in a stripping convention. Expect more strapping man-meat than you can shake a stick – or anything else – at.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin
The ‘Mission Impossible’ series seems to have been trundling along forever without ever going anywhere particularly interesting – does anyone out there care what happens to Tom Cruise’s smirking spy hero Ethan Hunt? That said, the films are always a lot of breezy fun, and with ‘The Usual Suspects’ writer Christopher McQuarrie in the chair, expect this fifth instalment to have a little more grit than usual.
Director: Josh Trank
Cast: Milles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell
As superheroes dominate the box office, it was inevitable that someone would reboot this popular series about a quartet of crime fighters with unlikely special powers. ‘Chronicle’ director Josh Trank’s movie skews younger than previous ‘Fantastic’ flicks, aiming for a ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’-style high-school vibe as ‘Whiplash’ star Miles Teller leads his team into battle with a cruel Russian tyrant. Ooh, topical (again)!
Director: Jared Hess
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis
One of the more low-key summer releases, we love the sound (and the cast) of this true-story-inspired heist comedy about a nightwatchman who plans a dramatic break-in. The real Loomis Fargo Robbery was the biggest cash-haul in US history, but it ended in convictions all round, so don’t go hoping for a happy ending.
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer
Are you ready to rock? Put your hands in the air for…Meryl Streep? Yes, the queen of Hollywood plays a retired rock ‘n’ roll hellraiser who heads home to patch things up with her estranged family in this Oscar-baiting indie drama. The premise may not be new (‘Crazy Heart’, anyone?), but with Streep doing her best Janis and Jonathan Demme in the chair, we reckon it’ll be more than just a flash in the pan. See what we did there?
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage
Okay, so what are the kids into these days? 1980s video games! Disaster movies! Adam Sandler! It may be arriving a good 30 years too late, but ‘Pixels’ could be a lot of fun if the jokes are there. It’s the story of an ageing arcade champion who is dragged out of retirement when aliens disguised as old-school Atari characters attack the Earth for some reason.
Director: F Gary Gray
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins
They may have been a fairly reprehensible bunch of reprobates, but there’s no underestimating the impact of NWA when they broke onto the rap scene in the 1980s. Now their story comes to the screen courtesy of ‘Friday’ director F Gary Gray. Expect big hats, big guns, epic machismo, rampant misogyny, incredible music and a whole lot of harsh language when the film drops in late summer.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Hugh Grant
After the controversial ‘Kingsman’, here’s another lad-oriented British spy spoof packed with snappy suits, sneering villains and Bond-ish retro chic. Guy Ritchie’s reboot of the 1960s espionage series is oddly cast – Henry Cavill may be Superman but he’s hardly a household name, while the last time Armie Hammer took the sidekick role, in ‘The Lone Ranger’, the results were disastrous – but we’re sure Ritchie will deliver a crowd-pleasing romp.