I hope you all have an excellent Independence Day weekend ahead. I'm spending my week-long vacation with my family. Now it's time to look forward to the movies arriving these next two months, the peak of summer.
WEEK-BY-WEEK MOVIE PICKS FOR JULY 2014
Earth to Echo (July 2) - Does that poster image look a bit familiar to you? It reminds me of the iconic image from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (which was a play on Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel masterpiece). The plot for this kid-friendly science fiction flick also seems pretty close to that 1980s blockbuster as youngsters try to help a cute visitor from another planet return home.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11) - I'm a huge fan of the Planet of the Apes series and this latest chapter in the rebooted franchise looks pretty spectacular. The Earth is devastated by the Simian Flu. The war between humans and the apes begins!
The Purge: Anarchy (July 18) - Two years ago, The Purge was a sleeper hit, so the inevitable sequel is here as more terror and drama take place with a stranded couple trying to survive during the annual ritual of violence and mayhem.
Hercules (July 25) - Back in January, Renny Harlin's version of The Legend of Hercules arrived in movie theaters with a whimper, but now director Brett Ratner and star The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) bring their rendition of the Greek demigod to the big screen.
OTHER KEY MOVIES IN JULY 2014
America - Here's a fascinating documentary just in time to celebrate our nation's birthday. What if the thirteen colonies lost the Revolutionary War?
And So It Goes - Who says Hollywood only panders to teenagers during the summer months? Director Rob Reiner delivers a comedy/drama/romance starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.
Deliver Us From Evil - When I was a kid, I drafted a horror screenplay with this same title. Now let's see what a mainstream production starring Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, and others can deliver.
Life Itself - Here's another documentary, this one tracing the career of the late, great Roger Ebert.
Lucy - Luc Besson directs a sci-fi action movie with Scarlett Johansson as a woman with extraordinary powers. It also stars the always terrific Morgan Freeman.
A Most Wanted Man - One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final performances hits the screen, alongside fellow actors Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, etc.
Planes: Fire and Rescue - Disney's spin-off to the animated Cars sparks a sequel. It might not match the Pixar classics, but it'll be nice to hear the voices of Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Hal Holbrook, Wes Studi, Teri Hatcher, Brad Garrett, Stacy Keach, and others.
Sex Tape - Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in a screwball comedy.
Tammy - Melissa McCarthy tries to continue her streak of excellent comedic performances. Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates also star.
Very Good Girls - Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen play two friends who fall in love with the same guy.
Wish I Was Here - Zach Braff stars in and directs this comedy drama. Kate Hudson is also in the cast.
WEEK-BY-WEEK MOVIE PICKS FOR AUGUST 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1) - Will Marvel's money-making streak continue with this lesser known comic book title?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8) - What makes this latest version of TMNT different from all the others that came before? The answer is producer Michael Bay. Expect more pumped up Turtles, bigger explosions, and Megan Fox as April O'Neil
The Expendables 3 (August 15) - Sylvester Stallone continues his all-star action franchise for a third outing.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (August 22) - Nine years later, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have created a sequel to their graphic novel adaptation.
Jessabelle (August 29) - You may never have heard of this movie, but that hasn't stopped other obscure but creepy horror thrillers from emerging as unexpected blockbusters.
OTHER KEY MOVIES IN AUGUST 2014
Calvary - It was critically acclaimed at the Berlin International Film Festival and now it tries to attract a broader audience.
The Congress - Despite the terrible title, this could be an interesting science fiction film. It stars Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, and Jon Hamm.
Get On Up - This is a bio flick on the life of music legend James Brown.
The Giver - Based on the book by Lois Lowry, another young adult science fiction adventure hopes to spark a franchise.
If I Stay - Chloe Grace Moretz is always amazing (too bad the Carrie remake flopped.) Now she's playing a girl in a coma who has an out of body experience.
Into the Storm - Low-budget movies can now create some of the special effects that amazed audiences back in 1996 with Twister.
Let's Be Cops - Here's a comedy that might disappear as quickly as it arrives, but might offer a few good laughs while it's here.
Life After Beth - Tired of stories about people returning from the dead? Hey, it's supposed to be a metaphor.
Life of Crime - Based on the Elmore Leonard novel, Jennifer Aniston is a kidnapped woman whose wealthy husband refuses to pay the ransom.
Love Is Strange - I don't know if this drama will be any good, but the cast is promising: Marisa Tomei, John Lithgow, and Alfred Molina.
The November Man - Pierce Brosnan is in an action thriller that's not a James Bond movie.
Step Up: All In - Did you know that there have been four previous movies in this dance/romance series? Now comes number five with the "all-stars" of the previous films returning for more of the same.
What If - Originally called The F Word, this is a better title but will it be a hit? Based on the play, it stars Daniel Radcliffe.
When the Game Stands Tall - Jim Caviezel is a legendary football coach.
OTHER TITLES IN JULY AND AUGUST 2014
I mentioned that this is the peak of film distribution for the year, so here's the lineup of many of the other motion pictures hitting theaters in the next eight weeks.
Are You Here
As Above So Below
The Fluffy Movie
The Girl on the Train
The Hundred-Foot Journey
A Long Way Down
Magic in the Moonlight
My Man Is a Loser
The One I Love
The Trip to Italy
Which ones are you looking forward to seeing?