By Ashley Bergner

Box Office Buzz

It’s that time of year again—summer blockbuster season is here, the time when superheroes and sci-fi movies rule the box office. So far, 2015 has gotten off to a bit of a slow start movie-wise; I’ve actually only been to see one 2015 movie, “Cinderella,” in theaters so far, and though a few movies piqued my interest, I felt like I could just wait to rent them. That’s about to change, with one of the year’s most anticipated movies, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” kicking off the summer movie season. Here’s a few of the highlights from this summer’s group of films:

Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)

This is my most anticipated movie of the summer and my overall second most anticipated movie this year (the top honor goes to a certain little J.J. Abrams film coming out in December). 😉 I’ve watched the trailers that have been released but have purposefully tried to avoid finding out much about the plot, since I’d like to be surprised. Director Joss Whedon is likely going to take the characters to a darker place this time around, and they’ll have to face a challenge of their own making: an artificially intelligent robot named Ultron who decides to unleash his own brand of justice on the world. It will be challenging to top “The Avengers,” but Marvel has proven it can successfully keep one-upping itself (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” etc.).

Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)

Reboots of classic franchises are always risky, and this is just one of several major reboots planned for this summer. This is a gritty, post-apocalyptic twist on the classic road movie. Tom Hardy plays Mad Max, a drifter who gets pulled into a mission to help a band of fugitives escape from a dangerous warlord. The trailer looks intense and action-packed, and Tom Hardy is a talented actor, but it’s tough to live up to the pressure of nostalgia for the original films.

Tomorrowland (May 22)

Imagine if you could travel to a futuristic utopia where the realm of possibility is limited only to your imagination: flying cars, skyscrapers that reach beyond the clouds, jet packs that can take you anywhere you want to go. The only trick is figuring out how to get there. That’s the question posed to characters played by George Clooney and Britt Robertson in Disney’s sci-fi adventure film, “Tomorrowland.” The movie is based on the premise that famous inventors from the 1880s put together a secret society that led to the creation of this utopia. I’m not quite sure what to expect from this one, but that’s what I like about it; hopefully this will be a creative, imaginative summer surprise.

Jurassic World (June 12)

1416937655_chris-pratt-tooth-zoom“Jurassic Park,” released back in 1993, is now one of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic films, introducing a world where dinosaurs have been brought back to life. Originally I was skeptical about the new movie, but the trailers have won me over (it’s impossible not to get pulled back in, thanks to that soaring theme from John Williams). This one looks like it’s captured some of the old magic from Spielberg’s original film, and Chris Pratt—who plays a velociraptor wrangler—and his rising star power also will likely give this film a boost. It doesn’t look as if this one will stray too far from the formula found in the original, but that’s OK. I’m hoping this will just be a fun summer blockbuster, like the movie that started the franchise.

Terminator Genisys (July 1)

Like “Mad Max: Fury Road,” this is another 1980s action movie reboot. “Genisys” features a time-traveling plot, jumping between past, present and future and following well-known franchise characters John and Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. The previous Terminator reboot, “Terminator Salvation,” wasn’t overly well received, but this movie’s Independence Day weekend release leads me to believe film makers are confident this one could give the franchise a shot of adrenalin. It also will be fun to see past “Doctor Who” actor Matt Smith in a role in this film.

Ant-Man (July 17)

I’ve gone on record as a Marvel fangirl, so of course I’m looking forward to “Ant-Man,” a film about a superhero who can change size. However (and you can go ahead and call me crazy), I think “Ant-Man” might be an even bigger risk than Marvel’s supposedly more obscure property-turned-blockbuster, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Hung up by some development issues, including the departure of director Edgar Wright, “Ant-Man” is coming right on the heels of what is likely to be the summer’s biggest movie, “Age of Ultron.” There’s a chance that, no matter how good “Ant-Man” is, it will feel like a bit of a letdown after “Ultron.” Or, it could ride the wave of fan excitement about “Ultron” to also top the box office. I like Paul Rudd, who plays the lead role, and I’m hoping this is a success.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (July 31)

Although this is now the fifth Mission: Impossible movie, the franchise certainly doesn’t appear to be losing steam. “Ghost Protocol” (2011) was a taut, witty thriller, and most of the same crew is back for the follow-up, which pits Tom Cruise’s spy Ethan Hunt against the Syndicate, a shadowy organization seeking to bring down IMF, the organization Hunt works for. Say what you will about Cruise, but the actor never phones in a performance, and based on the trailer for “Rogue Nation,” the new movie should be just as fun as its predecessor. And as a Cornetto trilogy fangirl, it’s also great to see the always-funny Simon Pegg return for a role in this film.

Fantastic Four (Aug. 7)

Marvels-The-Fantastic-Four_0Of all the movies on this list, this one is, unfortunately, most at risk to be a flop. The trailer looks intriguing—the special effects are strong, and it seems less cheesy than the previous Fantastic Four films, which don’t seem to be well regarded by Marvel fans. However, I’ve heard a lot of skepticism from fans about this one, and this reboot may not be able to generate enough excitement to beat some of the other big movies coming out this summer. Audiences also tend to get a bit burned out by the end of summer, though “Guardians of the Galaxy” performed very well in this similar time frame.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Aug. 14)

I loved Guy Ritchie’s Victorian steampunk take on the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I’m very excited to see his new spy movie based on the classic TV show. It takes place during the Cold War and appears to have the same vibe as the retro-cool “X-Men: First Class” and stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as CIA and KGB agents, respectively. I’m expecting this film to have some fun action sequences and Ritchie’s trademark stylized shots. Again, audience burnout can be a threat for films released later in the summer, but this film’s retro setting sets it apart from some of the other movies this summer.

So, what movies are you most looking forward to this summer? What will be the biggest hit? What will be the biggest flop?

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