A comprehensive look at the hottest (and coldest) summer cinemas

With summer finally upon us the biggest season in movies has arrived. Indeed, theaters will be packed with high budget blockbusters aplenty. Whether these films will be worth your time and money is still questionable, but the following five standouts certainly seem like potential candidates for a spot on your must-see list.

Kicking off the summer is the highly anticipated sequel, 22 Jump Street. After busting a drug trade at a local high school in 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back, and this time they are undercover as college students. Now, not only do they have to solve the case but also solve problems in their partnership as college life changes them for the better. Expect more action, more laughs, and more heart in this “bromantic” comedy.

Speaking of sequels, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be released about a month later than 22 Jump Street on July 11. The film is the follow up to the surprise hit of 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The mystery behind the film has significantly heightened fan expectations, since few trailers and very limited information on the plot has surfaced. However, with what little information that has been released, it is safe to say that heading to theaters to catch this blockbuster would be far from monkey business.

Also getting a release date on July 11 is Boyhood. Filmed over the course of 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is the first film of its kind. The main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane,) literally grows up right before audience’s eyes in a heartfelt and nostalgic story about the rocky road of adolescence. Highlighting this onscreen growth is the fact that the film’s soundtrack corresponds directly to the time period being depicted; from Coldplay’s 2000 single “Yellow” to Arcade Fire’s 2010 “Deep Blue.” Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette also star in the film as Mason’s parents.

A talking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, a tree-like humanoid played by Vin Diesel, a green alien assassin played by Zoe Saldana, and an abducted human from Missouri played by Chris Pratt: the diverse characters and talented cast of Marvel’s The Guardians of the Galaxy are enough of indication how awesome this superhero flick is going to be. Guardians serves as an extension of Marvel’s already expansive cinematic universe, so expect some continuity with Marvel’s The Avengers when it hits theaters on Aug. 1.

Ending the summer movie season is an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s critically-acclaimed dystopian science fiction novel, The Giver. The Giver takes place in a world with no conflict, no racism and no sickness, a society in which every member has a specific role. Main character Jonas is chosen to be the dystopia’s Receiver of Memory, and soon uncovers the truth behind his world’s past. The Giver stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, and Taylor Swift, and is set to release on Aug. 15.

After two failed attempts with sequels to the 2006 movie Cars, an ordinary movie studio might call it quits with the “vehicles” franchise. However, Disney is no ordinary movie studio. Planes: Fire & Rescue will be released on July 18, and if these difficulties are not enough of a reason to skip this movie, the weak storyline should certainly convince you. Not only is this film completely devoid of racing action, but also the main conflict involves the protagonist, Dusty, facing a wildfire. This appears to be yet another Disney movie that is extremely predictable to anyone over the age of eight, and is not advised for anyone who does not fit that demographic.

However, no film coming out this summer better represents a series that should have abandoned ship years ago than The Expendables 3. Considering that the original star-studded film lost nearly $7 million, the announcement of a second sequel surprised many. Budgets for action movies are typically around $200 million, and this movie will only have a budget of around $80 million: definitely a red flag for viewers. If you crave a bunch of celebrities flailing around on the silver screen, then The Expendables 3 might just be the movie for you.

Contrasting the star-saturated nature of The Expendables series, The Purge: Anarchy finds itself without a single household name. Although celebrities are not prerequisites for a fantastic movie, the lack of them is certainly an indicator that a film may not shape up. The sequel to the unimpressive The Purge, the plot of the film revolves around a young couple trying to survive as their car conveniently breaks down in the middle of a twelve-hour period during which all crime is legal. It looks as if the producers and writers brought absolutely no new ideas to the second film. However, the good news is that, if you are looking forward to The Purge: Anarchy, you can simply go online to find The Purge, where the exact same things happen.

Speaking of repetitive movies, the next summer movie you are advised to skip is about children finding an alien and trying to keep him hidden so that the scary government officials will not find him. The fact that the movie just described could be anything from E.T. to Lilo & Stitch says a great deal about its originality. However, the film is actually called Earth to Echo, and when it is released on July 2, there will certainly be a few people asking why they came to watch a movie they have already seen.

Finally, the list of “Skip Its” ends with the fourth installment in a series known for its replacement of a serious plot with explosions: Transformers: Age of Extinction. The series’ ridiculous nature has had viewers asking for this movie to prompt the extinction of the series.

Producers will not call it quits until the cash cows have been completely drained. While summer movies are the most jam-packed, they are also the best examples of this greed.