Are you ready for one wild summer? This year brings legendary superheroes, famous monsters, and fantasy icons. There are two Michael Bay films, but also the ultra-weird Guardians of the Galaxy. Plus the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer. Here are 33 science fiction and fantasy movies you need to know about this summer.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
Andrew Garfield is back as the wall-crawler, and he's facing the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and Electro (Jaime Foxx). And we're delving more into the mysterious disappearance of Peter Parker's parents, and the secrets of what they were working on. This time around, Sony is hoping to launch a franchise that will support annual films, so they're piling a lot of world-building onto Spidey's shoulders.
Decoding Annie Parker (May 2)
This is a drama about scientists rather than straight-up science fiction — but it's still worth knowing about, because watching scientists do science is something we like seeing on the big screen. Based on a true story, this movie follows Mary-Claire King (Helen Hunt), the geneticist who fought to prove that some forms of breast and ovarian cancer have a genetic basis, until she achieves a major breakthrough in the 1980s. We also follow Samantha Morton as Annie King, a breast cancer survivor whose mother and sister both died of it.
The Double (May 9)
Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd directs and writes this Dovstoevsky adaptation about a shy, retiring government worker (Jesse Eisenberg) who meets his exact doppelganger — except that the other Jesse Eisenberg is confident, swaggering and charismatic. To make matters worse, they're coworkers. This movie is getting a lot of comparisons to Terry Gilliam's Brazil, although the mostly enthusiastic reviews also call it "derivative."
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (May 9)
The long-delayed animated movie in which Dorothy (Lea Michele) comes back to Oz, based on the book sequel by L. Frank Baum's grandson Roger Stanton Baum. The voice cast includes Patrick Stewart, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer and Bernadette Peters as Glinda the Good Witch. And apparently, it's a musical, with music composed by Bryan Adams. Yes, the "Summer of 69" guy.
Godzilla (May 16)
The king of the monsters is back, and hoping to make you forget all about that terrible Roland Emmerich film. Monsters director Gareth Edwards is shepherding this reboot, which seems to have lots of ties (or shout-outs) to the 1954 original. All the trailers make Godzilla look powerful and massive, and by all accounts his battle against the brand new monster Muto is impressive. High hopes for this one.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
The mutant outcasts are back — and this time, they're getting wiped out in a dark dystopian future, by shape-changing robots. So they send Wolverine's mind back in time to the 1970s, so he can fix what went wrong in the beginning. The main selling point in the trailers is the beautiful moment where Professor X (Patrick Stewart) speaks directly to his younger self (James McAvoy). The only question is whether this film can reinvigorate the X-Men after 14 years on the big screen, or whether it'll be too overstuffed with mutant cameos and shout-outs.
Maleficent (May 30)
Angelina Jolie plays the famous villain of Sleeping Beauty, in a movie that looks frankly insane — half the imagery looks like an old-school Disney cartoon, the other half looks creepy and gothic. This movie is the directorial debut of veteran production designer and VFX artist Robert Stromberg (Avatar), so the design work is sure to be uniformly stunning. So whether this actually turns out to be good, this film will be fascinating to watch, and it's already inspired some beautiful GIFs.
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
At first blush, this movie sounds like yet another overblown Tom Cruise vehicle — this time, he's a soldier reliving the same disastrous battle over and over, Groundhog Day-style. But it's based on a Japanese novel that we loved called All You Need Is Kill, and the trailers look pretty great. In particular, Emily Blunt as the war hero who whips Cruise into shape day after day is kind of inspired casting, and Bill Paxton plays a tough-as-nails drill sergeant. If nothing else, this will have some really pretty action.
The Sacrament (June 6)
Ti West blew our minds with his horror film The Innkeepers, and now he's trying his hand at straight-up found footage horror. A Vice Magazine film crew goes to investigate Eden Parish, a utopian Christian commune in the middle of nowhere, and at first everybody seems ridiculously happy — but then sinister undertones begin to appear. Variety gave this film a glowing review out of the Venice Film Festival, and even though it's another found-footage movie, it could still be an innovative piece of horror.
Rigor Mortis (June 6)
This Hong Kong horror movie has been getting pretty upbeat reviews at festivals, so it's great that it got a theatrical release in the U.S. To most people, the phrase "a tribute to the Hong Kong film series Mr. Vampire" won't mean much, but to true devotees of 1980s Asian horror, that's an amazing boon. These vampires are hopping, and the fun is not stopping!
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
The first Train Your Dragon was a delightful surprise, and this sequel seems as though it's trying to move the story forward rather than just giving us another helping. It's five years later, everybody's grown up, and they're exploring the world on the backs of their dragons — meeting new cultures, new dragons and new dangers. Until they find themselves at the center of a new, wider human-dragon conflict. Check out the trailer here.
The Signal (June 13)
This movie about computer geniuses who go out into the middle of nowhere, looking for a famous hacker, made a pretty big splash at Sundance. It looks like a bizarre mind-trip in which there are strange experiments and bizarre conspiracies, and we're curious to delve into its secrets.
The Rover (June 13)
A post-apocalyptic drama in which Robert Pattinson is beaten and left for dead in a harsh, unforgiving landscape. And then, I guess, Pattinson has to go get revenge. Could be some bleak fun. This is directed by David Michod, whose crime movie Animal Kingdom seemed to get a lot of buzz, so hopes are pretty high here.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)
Mark Wahlberg stars in a revamped Transformers — he's a man in Texas who discovers a truck that's not an ordinary truck. And unfortunately, the U.S. government has outlawed Autobots, just when all the interplanetary shit is about to hit the fan. Also, there are big robot dinosaurs and Optimus Prime rides on one of them.
Snowpiercer (June 27)
Bong Joon-ho (The Host) is back with an adaptation of a cult French comic book about a frozen post-apocalyptic Earth, where the last survivors live on a train that's segregated according to social class. The awesome cast includes Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans, and all the reviews from its overseas release are pretty upbeat. The only question was whether the Weinstein Co. was going to butcher this film for U.S. release, which apparently they're not. Check out a trailer here.
Deliver Us From Evil (July 2)
Eric Bana is a cop who is confounded by a series of inexplicable crimes — so he has to team up with an exorcist to try and fight demons on their own turf. This film is directed by Scott Derrickson, who turned in a pretty decent horror film with Sinister, so fingers crossed. This is based on a memoir by an actual cop named Ralph Sarchie called Beware The Night. Oh, and Community's Joel McHale apparently plays Eric Bana's tough-guy partner.
Earth to Echo (July 2)
In a nutshell, this movie looks like a tribute to E.T., only done found-footage style. And judging from the trailer, it looks pretty cute, with kids who feel like real kids and not movie kids. A group of kids find a weird alien critter (or robot, maybe) whom they name Echo, and discover he has strange powers — but the authorities are hunting Echo, presumably so they can experiment on him. Fingers crossed for a weird "drunk on Coors at school" scene.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
The first Apes prequel, a few years ago, was way better than anybody expected. And this sequel, directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves, takes the human race into much deeper trouble. The "simian flu" has decimated the human race, while the apes are building their own awesome society — is war inevitable? We're especially curious to see how Andy Serkis keeps developing the unique motion-capture character of Caesar this time around. Check out a trailer here.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
The Wachowskis are back to making original science fiction, after adapting a Japanese cartoon and an acclaimed novel. In this film, Mila Kunis is a house cleaner who turns out to have a special destiny... beyond the stars. And Channing Tatum is the animalistic alien who is sent to protect her. The visuals are sure to be gorgeous, but it also looks like the Wachowskis are trying to do for chase scenes what bullet time did for fight scenes, thanks to some insane wirework and Tatum's flying shoes. If the Wachowskis can steer clear of their tendency to over-the-top excess this time around, we really could have another Matrix on our hands. Watch a trailer!
I Origins (July 18)
Another Sundance hit, this is the second movie from Mike Cahill (Another Earth). And it sounds way more complicated and layered — there's a researcher who's studying the human eye, trying to prove something about evolution, and he has a brief and beautiful encounter with a beautiful model. This encounter sticks with him, as he begins to make a discovery that turns everything he thought he knew about evolution and the universe on its head. Sounds like this one will inspire a lot of furious debate.
The Purge: Anarchy (July 18)
The first Purge movie was kind of a head-scratcher — not just the ludicrous premise that all crime is legal for one day every year, but also the heavy-handed messages about class warfare and race. But in the sequel, we're getting out of the gated community and onto the streets for America's annual murder Bacchanalia. A group of people, including a couple whose car has broken down at the worst possible moment, try to survive as everybody is breaking every law all at once.
Mood Indigo (July 18)
Michel Gondry's first proper movie since Green Hornet! He went back to France instead of making more Hollywood films — and yes, this film sounds weird as heck. A woman who is obsessed with the writer Jean-Sol Partre (not to be confused with Jean-Paul Sartre) has an incurable illness: a flower is growing in her lungs. A flower! To pay for her treatment, her boyfriend Colin has to take a series of increasingly absurd jobs. Depending on who you listen to, it's surreal and transporting or just way too much Gondry.
Hercules (July 25)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays an older Hercules, in a film directed by Brett Ratner. What else is there to say? Luckily, the earlier Legend of Hercules massively lowered the bar for Hercules movies, plus this looks like the sort of film that will be really fun to watch after about 10 pot brownies. At least this Herc has the lion's head on his head, which is all we really ask for. Watch the trailer!
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
Marvel is having a winning streak that would get you kicked out of most casinos, so now they're making a crazy-ass bet. They're adapting a silly and obscure comic about a super-team that includes a machine-gun-wielding raccoon and a tree named Groot that can only say "I am Groot," and the director is James Gunn, whose last movie was the totally unhinged superhero rampage Super. This movie may fail at the box office, but it already owns our souls.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)
The beloved 1980s comics and cartoon characters are back, in a reboot that has given them disturbing baby faces. We're kind of scared of this movie. And yet, to be fair, this isn't just a Michael Bay-produced remake — it's actually directed by Jonathan Liebesman, whose Battle Los Angeles was actually a decent film if you could turn off your inner cynic for a couple hours. Can you see past the weird faces? Watch the trailer and decide.
Lucy (August 8)
Scarlett Johansson is an unwilling drug mule who accidentally ingests a drug that gives her superpowers — so of course, she takes incredibly bloody revenge, in this Luc Besson movie. Everything we've seen of this film looks just astonishing, and in a summer of superhero movies, this could still wind up having a special place in the genre.
The Giver (August 15)
The beloved young-adult novel about a false utopia where history and emotions are suppressed gets a loving adaptation, with a cast that includes Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. Bridges reportedly fought to get this movie made for years, and it definitely looks like a labor of love. Purists may object to the film aging up its protagonist and other changes, but we're still keeping our fingers crossed. Watch the trailer!
As Above, So Below (August 15)
Yep, another low-budget "found footage" movie — this one follows two archeologists searching for a lost treasure in the catacombs under Paris, and instead they find... we're not sure what. This is the first micro-budget film from Legendary Pictures, which is more known for films like Nolan's Batman trilogy and Godzilla.
Life After Beth (August 15)
And here's another Sundance fave — Aubrey Plaza is Beth, a woman who's got everything going for her... except she's a zombie. And her distraught boyfriend, who was just getting over her death, tries to reconnect with her. Which goes about as well as you'd expect.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22)
The long-awaited second helping of Sin City, based on the acclaimed weird-pulp comic by Frank Miller, who also co-directs. Everybody's back, plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt is joining the cast. Expect strippers, damaged tough guys, and lots of splashes of ludicrous color against an otherwise monochrome backdrop. One cause for concern is that Miller wrote a brand new story, not in the comics, for this film — and Miller's writing chops aren't what they once were.
If I Stay (August 22)
Chloe Grace Moretz is a girl who's stuck in limbo, between life and death, after a car accident that kills her entire family. Her disembodied spirit has to decide whether to live or die, in an adaptation of the novel by Gayle Forman. Bring all the Kleenex to this one, basically. Watch the trailer here.
The Congress (August 29)
This movie only just got a U.S. release date, and we couldn't be more excited. Basically, it's a film based on The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem, starring Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti and Jon Hamm. And it's a weird live action-animation hybrid, about an actress who allows herself to be digitally scanned for use as an avatar in movies, and agrees never to act again in exchange for a pile of cash. Early reviews say it's got a lot of strengths but also drops the ball.
Jessabelle (August 29)
What is it with terrifying gross-out images and bathtubs? In this creeptastic horror movie, a woman loses her fiancé in a car accident, and retreats to her father's old broken down house in Louisiana. There, she finds a gift from her dead mother... and a spirit is trying to kill her. From the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious.
Sources: Studio press releases, Box Office Mojo, EW