Back to school and already dreaming of summer vacation? Never fear — this author has scouted the most intriguing movies to be released throughout the spring semester to sustain you until commencement.
“Jupiter Ascending” (Feb. 6)
A “Star Wars”-esque film starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, “Jupiter Ascending” boasts an intricate plot centered on alien dynasties and the inheritance of Earth.
Written, produced and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix” trilogy), the sci-fi space opera is being compared to “Thor” and “Star Trek” with its adventurous pace and classic “good versus evil” plotline.
Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton also star.
“The Last 5 Years” (Feb. 13)
Based on the musical of the same name, “The Last 5 Years” chronicles the relationship of novelist Jamie Wellerstein (Jeremy Jordan, “Newsies”) and actress Cathy Hiatt (Anna Kendrick) primarily through music.
The story is different from a typical romance due to its clever format, where Cathy’s songs begin at the couple’s divorce and work backwards through their love affair while Jamie’s start from the couple’s introduction and moves chronologically through their marriage.
“McFarland, USA” (Feb. 20)
In the same vein as other Disney sports dramas such as “The Rookie” and “Remember the Titans,” “McFarland, USA” tells the underdog story of high school coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) and his efforts to form a championship cross country team in an economically-depressed community.
The film navigates social issues plaguing Latinos during the 1980s, emphasizing the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork along the way.
“Cinderella” (March 13)
A live action take on the 1950 Disney film, “Cinderella” chronicles the classic fairytale of a servant-stepdaughter winning the heart of a prince with a few twists.
The remake boasts an all-star cast with Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) as Cinderella, Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) as the Prince, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother.
After box-office successes with “Alice in Wonderland” and “Maleficent,” “Cinderella” promises to join the ranks of popular live action Disney remakes.
Keep an eye out for “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cruella” over the next couple of years.
“The Divergent Series: Insurgent” (March 20)
Whether or not you read the trilogy, the sequel to the lucrative box office debut of “Divergent” promises to be worth a trip to the theaters. Joining the first film’s cast led by Shailene Woodley and Theo James are a handful of notable Hollywood names, including Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts and Suki Waterhouse. The movie was filmed almost exclusively in Atlanta, so you have extra initiative to see it.
“While We’re Young” (March 27)
Screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, “While We’re Young” stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York couple who befriend the energetic and youthful duo of Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried).
Directed by Noah Baumbach, the comedy explores the significance of age in regards to friendship and promises to be heartwarming and insightful.
“The Age of Adaline” (April 24)
“Gossip Girl” fans rejoice: Blake Lively stars as Adaline, a woman blessed (or cursed) with eternal youth after being in a car accident.
With a plotline that Nicholas Sparks would be proud of, “The Age of Adaline” is reminiscent of “Tuck Everlasting” and looks to be a good date-night distraction amidst the onset of finals. Michiel Huisman (“Game of Thrones”) and Harrison Ford also star.
“Avengers: The Age of Ultron” (May 1)
Need we elaborate? (We still will.) Avengers shattered over a dozen box office records, including biggest domestic opening weekend of all time, and it’s likely “Ultron” will surpass the first.
The 11th installment in the Marvel franchise, “Ultron” boasts an impressive ensemble — Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Stellan Skarsgard, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson — and an intriguing storyline centered on Ultron, a self-aware artificial intelligence program that sets out to eradicate humans from Earth.
Newcomers include Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen) and the Vision (Paul Bettany).
“In the Heart of the Sea” (December 11)
Recounting the true story of the American whaleship Essex’s crash with a sperm whale in the fall of 1820 (the basis for Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick), “In the Heart of the Sea” stars Chris Hemsworth as First Mate Owen Chase.
Directed by Ron Howard (“The Da Vinci Code,” “Rush”), the biographical thriller also stars Benjamin Walker, Tom Holland and Cillian Murphy.
Expect the same high-paced action featured in Howard’s other films — except with a whale.
– By Megan Waples, Contributing Writer