Godzilla (May 16)
Energized by a sensational Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Godzilla stomps its way past mixed critical reviews to the top of the box office. "Looks like the man can do more than cook meth!” tweet 14 film critics, more or less simultaneously. At a red carpet showing, no one mentions “Heisenberg,” “Jesse Pinkman" or “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” Only one reporter calls Cranston “Walter White.” Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Ken Watanabe (previously, Batman, Inception) nearly steals the show—he hasn’t sounded this profound since The Last Samurai. America forgets that this exact movie has been done ten times before and will be done ten times again.
Godzilla stumbles in its opening weekend, as Cranston’s gruff performance gets buried in an avalanche of negative reviews and poor ticket sales. A week after the premiere, a Good Morning America segment goes sour when Cranston admits his angry, saliva-spewing performance “wasn’t exactly acting.” Meanwhile, Ken Watanabe hasn’t sounded this ridiculous since The Last Samurai. "The arrogance of man is thinking nature is under our control,” he says at a press conference, repeating one of his own lines from the movie. “Relax Ken,” says a reporter, "this is Godzilla, not An Inconvenient Truth.”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
Part action flick, part time-travelling psychological thriller, X-Men: Days of Future Past reinvents the aging series overnight. Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) snarls convincingly, Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) smirks alluringly, and obnoxious pretty-boy James Marsden (Cyclops) is nowhere to be found. In a next-day Jimmy Kimmel Live sketch, theatergoers say the wonky title “actually makes sense.” Neck-deep in royalties, Jackman commits to five more X-Men movies, while Lawrence postpones all Hunger Games filming to shoot X-Men: Nights of History’s Present.
More convoluted than the title itself, Days of Future Past brings an already aging X-Men series to an unceremonious halt. Lawrence’s too-famous-for-this-shit performance is so lousy that the Academy holds an emergency meeting to rescind her Silver Linings Playbook Oscar. Jackman sues Fox for sabotaging his career, refusing to do any future films (or, according to his lawyer, “paraphernalia that copies, imitates, or otherwise resembles the client's likeness.”) Apart from the terrible performances, the film is indistinguishable from its predecessors, proving that Fox should have shut the tired series down in 2006. In his review, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir re-posts his 2011 post on X-Men: First Class. No one notices.
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
Warner Bros strikes gold with its Tom-Cruise-in-cyborg-armor recipe, banking an 8-figure opening weekend and millions of new Cruise devotees. Even Katie Holmes buys a ticket. The film’s bizarre, Groundhog Day meets Source Code premise proves a revelation: it’s got all the action without any of the gaping plot holes. Following the credits, a thoughtful Tom Cruise speaks about work-life balance, keeping an open mind, and treating your loved ones with respect.
Disjointed and incomprehensible, Edge of Tomorrow edges out Jupiter Ascending for the most confusing film of the summer. From the first minute, plot holes accost viewers like beach balls at a One Direction concert. “Every time Mr. Cruise blows up, so too does a part of American cinema,” writes A.O. Scott of the New York Times. A day after the film’s release, a surprise Katie Holmes tell-all book drowns the film’s few supportive voices in a wave of anti-Cruise press. Panicked, Warner Bros books a desperation Cruise media tour. Everyone cancels the night before in favor of Katie Holmes.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)
Freed from the boyish babbling of Shia LeBeouf, the Transformers series regains the respect of auto mechanics and matchbox-car-owning children across America. New star Mark Wahlberg does it all at once: hard-boiled hero, witty everyman, and concerned American dad. “We got a rule about messing with people from Texas,” he says, whereupon even California and New York liberals roar with applause. In a surprise development, Michael Bay ends the film not with skimpily clad women, bad jokes, and illogical plot developments, but with a nuanced commentary on fatherhood, loyalty, and the transforming power of the nuclear family.
Louder and dumber than ever before, Age of Extinction free falls past Revenge of the Fallen to become the worst Transformers movie to date. Mark Wahlberg is way too serious. Ken Watanabe (voice of “Drift”) is way too philosophical. Michael Bay is way too Bay. Amidst a 1.5-hour-long final action scene, Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox make an extended, uncredited appearance, whereupon Fox proudly exposes her midriff and LeBeouf babbles boyishly. Offended, proud Texas families leave the theater in droves.
Part II: Planet of the Apes, Jupiter Ascending, Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -->