The new year is upon us, and for moviegoers, there’s a lot to look forward to. Admittedly, it looks like a mixed bag right now, but that hasn’t stopped the anticipation and excitement.
So, without further ado, here are the ten films I think everyone should check out.
1. Jupiter Ascending
Release Date: February 6
The Wachowskis’ latest film was originally slated to be released last July, but was delayed until spring 2015. In what might be the most anime-like film the Wachowski siblings (no longer brothers since one of them had a sex change operation) have made, other than their big screen adaptation of Speed Racer. A young woman (Mila Kunis) learns she is the heir to the throne of an intergalactic empire and has been targeted by the current ruler for assassination. It looks to be a good, old-fashioned space opera with mesmerizing visuals. Also stars Channing Tatum and Sean Bean.
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Release Date: May 1
This is only one of Disney’s bevy of highly anticipated films, and it is easily Marvel’s biggest film release of the year (the Fantastic Four reboot looks like a flop). Everyone’s favorite superheroes reunite to battle a nefarious robot (voiced fantastically by James Spader) who, to no surprise, is hellbent on taking over the world. In other words, he’s Skynet and the T-850 combined (ironic given another film on this list). Joss Whedon is back in the writer/director’s chair to helm this sequel to one of the highest grossing films of all time. Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson—reuniting after starring together in 2014’s Godzilla—join the star-studded cast as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. If that last name sounds familiar, it should because the character was also in X-Men: Days of Future Past played by a different actor. Dueling Quicksilvers, anyone?
Release Date: May 22
Disney seems to be hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again by making a film based on a theme park attraction, like it did with Pirates of the Caribbean. A curious teen girl (Britt Robertson) and a former boy genius inventor seek a world that exists somewhere in time and space in their collective memories. Directed by the imaginative Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), the film co-stars George Clooney and Hugh Laurie and looks to be jumping on the YA trend, except this film isn’t based on a book. With an intriguing yet mysterious trailer, it has a lot going for it amidst all the big franchises.
4. Jurassic World
Release Date: June 12
After over a decade of being stuck in development Hell, the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise will be unearthed this summer. Sadly, it seems to be fresh and old-hat at the same time. After finally establishing a dinosaur theme park, a new attraction is created to boost declining attendance, but it goes awry. It’s interesting that an operational park was finally opened, but beyond that it seems like a rehash of the original film. Hopefully Chris Pratt, a rising star thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, can inject some life into the movie. Steven Spielberg, director of the first two films, returns once again as executive producer.
5. Inside Out & The Good Dinosaur
Release Dates: June 19 & Nov. 25
After taking a year off, the ever-amazing Pixar will return with two releases this year. The first will be Inside Out, which looks to be its most imaginative and ambitious film in years. The characters are all personifications of the emotions within a little girl. The trailer was charming and delightful. It has the potential to rank as one of Pixar’s best films.
The Good Dinosaur, a project that looks surprisingly like the children’s book Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff, tells the story of an Apatosaurus befriending a human boy. There’s no trailer yet, but the images released bear Pixar’s usual trademarks, so it should be, well, good. The former stars Diane Lane and the latter features Neil Patrick Harris and John Lithgow.
6. Terminator Genisys
Release Date: July 1
A more apt title might be Terminator 5: Wibbly-Wobbly-Timey-Wimey (the Whovians reading this are laughing in agreement). Kyle Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor, the mother of the man leading humanity’s war against tyrannical machines, but instead he ends up in an alternate timeline. With all the time-travel shenanigans going on, this film seems intended to be the J.J. Abrams Star Trek/Days of Future Past for its respective franchise: a sequel reboot. While Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as a now aged T-850—somehow—it has the potential to anger fans by erasing James Cameron’s original films. And what’s with the misspelled title? That hasn’t been cool since the ‘90s, and even then it was kind of silly. This series should’ve stopped after Terminator 2.
Release Date: July 10
You had to know this was coming. Those lovable little yellow dudes stole every scene in the Despicable Me movies, so it’s no surprise they’d have their origin story told. In this, they’re recruited by the fantastically named supervillain Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) to help her take over the world. Michael Keaton co-stars. Hopefully, it won’t be a retread of the Minion antics from the other films.
Release Date: July 17
This is definitely the dark horse on this list. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s based on a lesser-known character from Marvel Comics’ pantheon. In this film, a con man (Paul Rudd) discovers a suit that allows him to shrink and must now use it to help his mentor, the scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) save the world. It’s suffered a troubled production—most notably the departure of director Edgar Wright over creative differences—but has somehow been able to stay on track. It will feature Marvel Cinematic Universe regulars like Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter and John Slattery as Howard Stark. I anticipate this will at least be a sleeper hit and, hopefully, a better follow-up to an Avengers epic than Iron Man 3. Oh how cute, an ant-sized teaser.
9. Mockingjay, Part 2
Release Date: Nov. 20
As per YA movie tradition, the final book of the series gets made into two films. The final film based on Suzanne Collins’ science fiction trilogy will see Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lead District 13’s final battles against the Capital while trying to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from insanity. If Part 2 follows the book as closely as Part 1, those who complained the latter was light on action will be happy to see several climactic battles. I knew as I read it that it would make for an exciting movie. Plus, the ending is a shocker, to say the least.
10. Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Release Date: December 18
I’m not sure if this or Age of Ultron will be the biggest film of 2015. J.J. Abrams, having directed for both Star Trek and this franchise, can now compete with Joss Whedon as the “king of cool.” Little is known about the plot because, as usual, Abrams’ productions have secrecy that rivals the C.I.A. (perhaps they could learn a thing or two from him). What is known for sure is that it takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi and several of the original actors—Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, among others—are reprising their iconic roles. However, the story seems to be focused on a new set of heroes, so this will most likely be a passing of the torch. The 90-second teaser trailer, which showed little or nothing other than it draws more inspiration from the originals and not the prequels, has already sparked much talk in fandom because of its familiar imagery and the broadsword-style lightsaber. Now, if only longtime fans could forgive Disney for retconning most of the Expanded Universe out of continuity. Regardless, expectations will only grow as the release approaches. Hopefully, it will be a great Christmas present for moviegoers.
Are you looking forward to these films? What other 2015 films are you excited about?