Summer is the biggest movie season of the year, and tends to produce the biggest (not to mention loudest) movies. And with the hottest part of the summer fast approaching, everyone will need a bit of a respite from the sun. Here are six films to catch when it’s too hot to spend the day outside:
1. 22 Jump Street
Released on June 13, 22 Jump Street is the rare comedy sequel that is not just a cynical ploy for reliable box office numbers. By all accounts, the film actually improves on its critically acclaimed predecessor, capitalizing on the impeccable comedic timing and palpable chemistry between stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as they maintain an abundance of self-aware, cheeky humor.
It’s also the rare comedy that has some kind of redeeming social value, with the New Statesman claiming it “normalizes the emotional transactions between men.” The movie has received an 85% on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus: “Boasting even more of the bromantic chemistry between its stars—and even more of the goofy, good-natured humor that made its predecessor so much fun—22 Jump Street is the rare sequel that improves upon the original.”
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The sequel to the acclaimed 2012 reboot of the classic series may have just come out on July 11, but the reviews are already in: It’s a critical smash. The film garnered a 91% on the review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes thus far, with the consensus: “With intelligence and emotional resonance to match its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement.”
The special effects and performances have been singled out for praise, with Andy Serkis’ motion capture performance as Caesar, the leader of the titular apes, hailed as moving and technologically groundbreaking. It hasn’t performed too shabbily at the box office either, earning $73 million domestically on its opening weekend.
The newest film from Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Professional), Lucy has a similar premise to the Bradley Cooper vehicle Limitless, but with a female protagonist and a darker, more violent edge. It follows a woman (Scarlett Johansson) who is forced to work as a drug mule for the Taiwanese mob. When one of their drugs accidentally leaks into her system, she suddenly gains access to the full capacity of her brain, as opposed to the normal 10% (which incidentally, is nothing more than a scientific myth, but it still makes for exciting cinema).
As a result of her newfound brainpower, she acquires a myriad of abilities, such as instantly learning a language, telekinesis (moving objects with the mind), and, most interestingly, the ability to turn off her emotions and operate on a purely logical level. Besson is famous for his distinctive, unique, strong female characters, such as the titular Nikita or Natalie Portman’s pint-sized assassin in The Professional, and Lucy looks to be no different, providing us with a female action star in an age when most action stars are still white men. Also starring Morgan Freeman, the film was released on July 25.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
The highly anticipated installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy boasts a talented cast (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Josh Brolin and Bradley Cooper), an established director in James Gunn (Slither, Super), the potential for lots of Marvel allusions, and plenty of irreverent humor, judging from the slew of trailers and TV spots.
In this film, a team of petty criminals becomes reluctant heroes as they are tasked with saving the entire galaxy from an impending threat of doom. The tone and plot of the film are deliberately silly, especially since the band of “heroes” includes a mean raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree. With its mass appeal and Marvel pedigree, it is already projected to gross $60 million in its opening weekend.
5. The Giver
The adaptation of the classic and very much beloved children’s novel of the same name by Lois Lowry, The Giver stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift, as well as newcomers Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush. The dystopian film follows a young boy as he discovers that his seemingly idyllic society is built on a dark secret: The forefathers sacrificed emotions, color and humanity for the sake of peace and stability.
There was some controversy at the release of the first trailer, as it was filmed entirely in color. Fans of the novel lamented that the film would not be true to the book, as the colorlessness of the protagonist’s world is central to the novel’s themes. But the subsequent trailer revealed that there will, in fact, be black and white footage, and fans’ excitement for the apparently faithful adaptation has been fully restored.
6. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
As the sequel to the popular 2005 film Sin City, inspired by Frank Miller’s acclaimed comic book series of the same name, this film is guaranteed to be worth seeing based on the cast alone. Starring Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Jaime King, Ray Liotta, Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis, calling it an all-star cast would be a massive understatement. The neo-noir series is known for its distinctive visual style; the films are almost entirely in black and white with splashes of color, such as blue eyes or red blood. The film will be released on August 22.