By Gina McIntyre
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
Once again we’re in a summer of sequels – or to be more accurate, sequels, prequels, reboots and what one filmmaker calls “inbetweenquels.” For those who don’t follow big tent-pole movies, it can be confusing. So we’ve compiled our own guide to some of the summer’s most familiar franchises. (Opening dates are subject to change.)
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
• Director: Marc Webb
• Opening: May 2
• The story: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” sees Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawling hero face off against several foes, including Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich, an Eastern bloc criminal who becomes the Rhino, and Dane DeHaan as Oscorp heir Harry Osborn, who is poised to inherit the mantle of the Green Goblin. But it’s Jamie Foxx’s Electro, who begins the movie as the meek Oscorp employee Max Dillon, who has the most showstopping moments thanks to his masterful control of the power grid.
• Timeline: “Spider-Man 2” is the sequel to Webb’s 2012 hit “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which rebooted the Sony franchise just five years after the concluding installment in Sam Raimi’s Spidey trilogy, 2007’s “Spider-Man 3,” which starred Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker.
• What’s next: The studio already has announced that the third and fourth installments in the saga are set for release on June 10, 2016, and May 4, 2018.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
• Director: Matt Reeves
• Opening: July 11
• The story: When a group of survivors – including Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, a single father and former architect; Keri Russell’s Ellie, a nurse; and Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus, the leader of the human colony in the ruins of San Francisco – seeks to restore electrical power to San Francisco, it comes into conflict with the rapidly expanding tribe of sentient apes, led by Andy Serkis’ Caesar, the orphaned offspring of a laboratory chimp who has evolved into the leader of his own expanding tribe.
• Timeline: 2011’s breakout hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” rebooted the sci-fi franchise inspired by Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel (which was previously rebooted by Tim Burton with his 2001 “Planet of the Apes”). “Dawn” is set 10 years after its predecessor and sees director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield,” “Let Me In”) take over.
• What’s next: Reeves is already confirmed to direct a third installment in what is planned as an “Apes” trilogy.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
• Director: Jonathan Liebesman
• Opening: Aug. 8
• The story: The heroes on the half shell get a new origin story in this latest movie adventure starring the Turtles, who first appeared in the comics created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in the early 1980s. Megan Fox stars as reporter April O’Neil, who becomes allied with the masked crime fighters who bear the names of famous Renaissance painters and must protect New York City from a villain known as Shredder.
• Timeline: The Turtles were last on the big screen in the 2007 animated film “TMNT”; before that, they starred in a live-action franchise launched in 1990 that concluded with 1993’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.” They’ve continued to build a following over the years with TV shows, comics and video games centered on the characters.
• What’s next: Too soon to tell, but the cast boasts an eclectic list of actors including William Fichtner (rumored to play Shredder), Whoopi Goldberg, Abby Elliott and others, in addition to Fox. Michael Bay produces.
• Director: Gareth Edwards
• Opening: May 16
• The story: Edwards had directed only the low-budget indie “Monsters” before he was tapped to resurrect the King of All Monsters for the big screen. The new model “Godzilla” stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston as a family torn apart by natural disaster.
“This is a complete rebirth,” Edwards said. “We tried to put a lot of Easter eggs and things in for the fans, but really it’s for people who have never seen a Godzilla movie. It’s the origin story, but it has elements that, I think if you’re a fan, you’ll be happy.”
• Timeline: Godzilla has starred in 28 movies for Japanese studio Toho, which unleashed the beast on the world in 1954.
• What’s next: Will largely depend on how Edwards’ update fares at the box office, but the film has generated positive buzz in advance of its release. Fans seem cheered by the serious approach, which wasn’t necessarily shared by the most recent “Godzilla” reboot, the critically maligned 1998 version directed by Roland Emmerich.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”
• Director: Bryan Singer
• Opening: May 23
• The story: Seeking to prevent a dystopia ruled by robots known as Sentinels, who have rounded up mutants in camps for extermination, the X-Men send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time so that his younger self can help broker peace between friends-turned-adversaries Charles Xavier and Magneto. Uniting the enemies is key to averting the events that lead to the rise of the Sentinels.
• Timeline: The time-travel element unites the casts of both the original “X-Men” trilogy – including Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as professor Charles Xavier and Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr, better known as Magneto – and Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 prequel, “X-Men: First Class,” which featured James McAvoy as a younger Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, a role played in the original films by Rebecca Romijn.
• What’s next: “Future Past” lays the groundwork for a subsequent film, 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” announced late last year.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction”
• Director: Michael Bay
• Opening: June 27
• The story: Mark Wahlberg replaces Shia LaBeouf as the Autobots’ primary human bulwark against the marauding Decepticons. Complicating matters is the arrival of the Dinobots, another race of warring alien creatures long believed to have faded into history.
• Timeline: Bay gave the beloved animated series the live-action blockbuster movie makeover with 2007’s “Transformers.” That film spawned two sequels that have combined to gross a staggering $2.7 billion worldwide.
• What’s next: Bay had said that this film would be his last “Transformers” movie, but the outspoken director subsequently stated that “Age of Extinction” marks the beginning of a new trilogy.
Los Angeles Times staff writers Noelene Clark and Chris Lee contributed.