Multiplexes Heat Up For Summer Blockbuster Season

May 26, 2014
Originally published on May 26, 2014 3:43 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. The long Memorial Day weekend usually marks the start of Hollywood blockbuster season. But it's been well underway with "Godzilla" and "X-Men" already in theaters. That said, there are another 87 would-be hits scheduled before Labor Day. We asked critic Bob Mondello for a selective preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: What's the plural of apocalypse? Apocali (ph)? Apocalypses (ph)? Whatever. A whole bunch of coming to the multiplex. So prepare to be rescued, especially from intergalactic invasions by a janitor turned goddess in the Wachowski's "Jupiter Ascending."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUPITER ASCENDING")

CHANNING TATUM: (As Caine) Jupiter.

MONDELLO: Or Mark Wahlberg in the fourth installment of a franchise with an all-new cast.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION")

MARK WAHLBERG: (As Cade Yeager) I think we just found a transformer.

MONDELLO: And by Tom Cruise in the "Groundhog Day" style "Edge Of Tomorrow"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EDGE OF TOMORROW")

TOM CRUISE: (As Cage) This isn't the first time.

MONDELLO: ...Where the aliens know how to zip back in time for do-overs when they lose a battle, meaning humanity is getting clobbered until Cruise discovers he can sit zip back, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EDGE OF TOMORROW")

CRUISE: (As Cage) I'm not a soldier.

EMILY BLUNT: (As Rita) Of course you're not. You're a weapon.

MONDELLO: More terrestrial disasters include a trio of dystopian futures; "The Giver," about a world where people are content until they stop taking their drugs.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GIVER")

ODEYA RUSH: (As Fiona) There's something missing from our lives, something that has been stolen.

MONDELLO: "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes," about a world where humans are no longer at the top of the food chain...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES")

KERI RUSSELL: (As Ellie) There was a virus created by scientists in a lab. You can't blame the apes.

MONDELLO: And "Snowpiercer," about a world where the last remaining humans are passengers on the train, with the 1 percent in front and the rest of us in steerage.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SNOWPIERCER")

TILDA SWINTON: (As Mason) You belong to the tail. Keep your place.

CHRIS EVANS: (As Curtis) He's a security expert. He's in the prison section now. If you can get him to cooperate, he can take us all the way to the front of the train.

MONDELLO: Not feeling apocalyptic? Well, Hollywood has another theme this summer, the music biopic, in a wide range of musical styles - early '60s pop in a film version of the Broadway musical "Jersey Boys."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JERSEY BOYS")

ERICH BERGEN: (As Bob Gaudio) Set up the 8-track. We're going to double Frankie's voice. It's going to explode right off the radio.

BILLY GARDELL: (As unidentified character) It's got a different sound. I love this record.

MONDELLO: The director of this tale of The Four Seasons, believe it or not, is Clint Eastwood. Fans nostalgic for '60s' rhythm and blues should get a kick out of "Get On Up"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET ON UP")

CHADWICK BOSEMAN: (As James Brown) Hit it.

MONDELLO: ...The story of the godfather of soul.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET ON UP")

NELSON ELLIS: (As Bobby Byrd) Every man who's a pimp walk taller 'cause they with James Brown.

BOSEMAN: (As James Brown) Are we done, Mr. Byrd?

ELLIS: (As Bobby Byrd) I'm afraid not, Mr. Brown.

BOSEMAN: (As James Brown) I said, are we done?

ELLIS: (As Bobby Byrd) I think we got more funk in the trunk.

MONDELLO: And in "All Is By My Side," rapper Andre 3000 plays rock legend Jimi Hendrix in his stoned, psychedelic period just before he hit it big.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALL IS BY MY SIDE")

ANDRE BENJAMIN: (As Jimi Hendrix) For me, it's colors. I want people to feel the music the same way I see it. You know, it's just colors. That's it, and the rest is just painted with a little science fiction here and there. I don't want to freak you out.

BURN GORMAN: (As Michael Jeffery) I've got to get you over to London.

MONDELLO: Speaking of London, this musical biopic trend also has a classical component in "One Chance."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ONE CHANCE")

ALEXANDRA ROACH: (As Julz) I knew you were mad for opera, but I didn't know you were completely psycho for it.

MONDELLO: It's the story of a snaggle-toothed retail clerk who entered a "Britain's Got Talent" competition on TV and wowed even Simon Cowell.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ONE CHANCE")

JAMES CORDEN: (As Paul) (Singing opera).

MONDELLO: And as if that weren't enough music for one summer, the folks who made the semi-true musical romance "Once" a few years ago have a new fictional tale about the music business called "Begin Again."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEGIN AGAIN")

MARK RUFFALO: (As Dan) Let's record an album. We don't even need to rent a studio.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: (As Greta) You mean record outside?

RUFFALO: (As Dan) Whatever happens, we record it.

KNIGHTLEY: (As Greta) If we get arrested?

RUFFALO: (As Dan) Keep rolling.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (As unidentified character) Hey, you, get back here.

MONDELLO: While those folks are doing their best to turn the multiplex into a concert hall, on other screens, a gang of comedians will be heading for vacation spots in road trip comedies - Kevin Hart and his pals booking flights for a weekend wedding in "Think Like A Man Too."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THINK LIKE A MAN TOO")

KEVIN HART: (As Cedric) This is Vegas.

MONDELLO: Melissa McCarthy taking Susan Sarandon on a road trip in "Tammy."

MELISSA MCCARTHY: (As Tammy) Grandma, I don't know where I'm going.

SUSAN SARANDON: (As Pearl) I've always wanted to go to Niagara Falls. How about a beer?

MCCARTHY: (As Tammy) No.

SARANDON: (As Pearl) Whiskey?

MCCARTHY: (As Tammy) No.

SARANDON: (As Pearl) Oh, my God. You're pregnant.

MCCARTHY: (As Tammy) I'm driving a car.

MONDELLO: And if you missed the road trip comedy "The Trip" with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon doing dueling impressions of Michael Caine, never fear. They're dueling again in the sequel "The Trip To Italy."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TRIP TO ITALY")

ROB BRYDON: (As himself) Did you see him in "The Dark Knight Rises"? (Imitating Michael Caine) And his voice gets even more emotional than it's ever done in the past before. I don't want to bury you, Batman. I will not put you into the ground in a little box. I will not do it, Master Bruce. I will not do it.

STEVE COOGAN: (As himself) (Imitating Michael Caine) I'm not going to bury another Batman.

BRYDON: (As himself) (Imitating Michael Caine) Another Batman? How many Batmans has he been burying? How many are there? I've buried 14 Batmans...

COOGAN: (As himself) (Imitating Michael Caine) I've buried 14 Batmans.

BRYDON: (As himself) (Imitating Michael Caine) ...And their little pointy ears.

COOGAN: (As himself) (Imitating Michael Caine) I'm not going to bury another nylon cloak with pointy ears that people wear at birthday parties.

MONDELLO: Comedians who are not hitting the road include the "21 Jump Street" guys, who will travel about 100 yards to "22 Jump Street," the couple in "Sex Tape," who accidentally send a private video to all their friends and family, and Seth MacFarlane, who will play a skittish old-West rancher in "A Million Ways To Die In The West."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST")

SETH MACFARLANE: (As Albert) The American West is a terrible place and time. Everything out here that's not you wants to kill you. Angry drunk people, hungry animals, outlaws, the doctor.

CHRISTOPHER HAGEN: (As George Stark) I couldn't save her.

MACFARLANE: (As Albert) She had a splinter, doc.

MONDELLO: The summer is not, as you may be gathering, a time when serious pictures come out in much abundance. But there are a few. The most unusual this year is the one director Richard Linklater has been working on with Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and a youngster named Ellar Coltrane for 12 years. It's called "Boyhood," and in 39 days of shooting spread across all that time, the filmmaker traced the family life of its leading child from the age of 6...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BOYHOOD")

ELLAR COLTRANE: (As Mason) I wish I could use the bumpers.

MONDELLO: ...All the way to college.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BOYHOOD")

PATRICIA ARQUETTE: (As Olivia) Have you been partying?

COLTRANE: (As Mason) A little bit.

ARQUETTE: (As Olivia) Oh.

MONDELLO: This kid quite literally passes through his boyhood before your eyes. A more conventionally made film about teenagers, "The Fault In Our Stars," brings together two kids in a cancer support group. They're just starting to bond when one of them, rather startlingly pulls out a cigarette.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE FAULT IN OUR STARS")

SHAILENE WOODLEY: (As Hazel Grace Lancaster) Didn't I just tell you that not being able to breathe sucks?

ANSOL ELGORT: (As Augustus Waters) Hazel Grace, they don't actually hurt you unless unless you light them. I never lit one. It's a metaphor, see? You put the thing that does the killing right between your teeth, but you never give it the power to kill you.

MONDELLO: "The Fault In Our Stars" is based on a young-adult bestseller, whereas a spy story by John le Carre is the basis for what will sadly be one of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's last films, "A Most Wanted Man," in which Hoffman sports a German accent and runs a secret antiterrorism team trying to develop leads in Europe's Islamic community.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A MOST WANTED MAN")

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: Our sources don't come to us. We find them. When they're ours, we direct them at bigger targets. It takes a minnow to catch a barracuda, a barracuda to catch a shark.

MONDELLO: Also on the serious side, but with flashes of humor, a trio of showbiz documentaries; "The Dog," about the real guy Al Pacino played in "Dog Day Afternoon," "Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon," in which comedian Mike Myers steps behind the camera to celebrate an agent who's changed a lot of lives in the entertainment world, and "Life Itself," a look at movie critic Roger Ebert.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "LIFE ITSELF)

ROGER EBERT: (As himself) For me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.

MONDELLO: Sharing this journey, with any luck this summer, after turning off their cell phones. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.