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Summer movie preview
The Thing's stone body gives him epic strength and makes him virtually indestructible. Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Summer movie preview

Summer’s a season for blockbusters. From sequels to spinoffs to superhero sagas, the next three months are going to be jam-packed with a variety of films for every taste. Below, the Daily previews a few films to look out for this summer.

June

“Jurassic World”

The much-anticipated sequel to Steven Spielberg’s epic, “Jurassic World” has been a long time coming. The series, based on the best-selling science-fiction novels by Michael Crichton, details the newest chapter in the fallout from mad science gone awry.

In “Jurassic World” the pre-historic theme park of millionaire John Hammond’s dreams has come to fruition in the form of Isla Nublar, a fictional island off the coast of Costa Rica. In a bid to attract more visitors to the park, scientists have successfully created a hybrid dinosaur — the Indominus rex. The name — indomitable — already means trouble.

Chris Pratt stars as Owen in "Jurassic World".  Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Chris Pratt stars as Owen in “Jurassic World”. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

If we’ve learned anything about attempts to create new life and tame it, it’s that “life finds a way.” These words, a motif in the original “Jurassic Park,” stand testament to the permanence of human folly. Can we control what we’ve created? If we’d learned anything from the end of “Jurassic Park,” it seems, “Jurassic World” would be a non-entity.

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio, this summer’s installment of the dinosaur park-gone-wrong promises to thrill. Directed by Colin Trevorrow.

In theaters June 12.

“Inside Out”

Directed by Pete Docter, the kindred spirit who brought us “Up,” “Inside Out” is an animated flick about human minds and emotions. In the world of “Inside Out,” our emotions are personified: Joy, Happiness and Sadness are vividly-colored inhabitants of our Headquarters (situated punningly in — you guessed it — our heads) whose every move determines the direction of our feelings. In “Inside Out,” the trauma of a young girl’s move to a new city throws Headquarters into disarray as two emotions, Joy and Sadness, trek through the maze of their human owner’s mind.

Disney Pixar's "Inside Out." Courtesy of Pixar Studios.

Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out.” Courtesy of Pixar Studios.

Deep stuff for a kid’s movie, you might say, but Pixar brings a practiced hand to its exploration of profound subject matter and its presentation of these topics in a format that’s at once engaging, enjoyable and heart-warming. “Inside Out” screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will screen at the Los Angeles Film Festival in the next week. The star-studded cast includes Saturday Night Live! alums Bill Hader and Amy Poehler. Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black and Phyllis Smith also star.

In theaters June 19.

July

“Minions”

They’re everyone’s favorite sidekicks. And now, the lemondrop-yellow accomplices of 2010’s breakout animated hit “Despicable Me” are starring in their own spinoff film.

While there’s a third “Despicable Me” in the works (slated for a 2017 release), “Minions” whisks audience away through time immemorial to learn about the origins of the little yellow sidekicks themselves. As it turns out, they’ve been around since the dawn of time. And they exist solely to wreak havoc — intentional or otherwise — on the behalf of supervillains the world over.

“Minions” deserves praise for its unforced incorporation of a female supervillain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). Minions Kevin and Bob want nothing more than to work with Scarlet and her husband, Herb (Jon Hamm), to take on the most classic of supervillain objectives: world domination. Directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda situate the minions’ tasks on a historical timeline — they’re the behind-the-scenes henchmen for Genghis Khan, Napoleon and Dracula, among others. For a family-friendly animated adventure with an amusing dose of historical relevance, give “Minions” a go.

In theaters July 10.

“The Gallows”

There’s something special about high school memories — or at least that’s what the horror films of recent years seem to think. Stephen King’s “Carrie” set off a wave of thrillers and horror flicks set in schools or featuring high school-age main characters (“Prom Night,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Scream”). The iconic prom scene in “Carrie” — the titular character, dripping in pig’s blood — has become something of a pop culture fixture.

This summer, directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing will present their take on the tried-and-true high school horror model.

“The Gallows” is a performance within a performance. On the anniversary of a freak accident during the staging of a high school play (called, ominously, “The Gallows”), a few old classmates set out to restage the performance in memoriam. It sounds like a bad idea from get-go, but, if there’s anything we’ve learned about horror movie tropes, it’s that the worst of ideas will inevitably become the best course of action in the minds and hearts of our unsuspecting protagonists. Dredging up old and scary stories never seems to work out well, either, but the protagonists of “The Gallows” do just that. For a healthy dose of high school horror, “The Gallows” is your summer scare.

In theaters July 10.

August

“Fantastic Four”

Mister Fantastic, The Thing, Human Torch, Invisible Woman: our superheroes’ names are perennially bland: easily digestible but oddly impersonal.

Fortunately, the superheroes of the upcoming adaptation of Stan Lee’s “Fantastic Four” comics appear to treated as far more human than many of their predecessors.

Directed by Josh Trank, the film explores the complexities of superhero backstory. When four otherwise average humans teleport into another universe, they’re suddenly granted superhuman abilities. Trank allows his viewers to observe this transition from the ordinary to the extraordinary — far from ready-made, the “Fantastic Four” are works in progress. With their newfound powers, they set out to protect planet Earth from a familiar foe. Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan as the titular heroes, “Fantastic Four” will give moviegoers a glimpse of the human side of the superhuman.

In theaters August 7.

“Straight Outta Compton”

It’s pretty telling that N.W.A., the group credited with originating the subgenre of gangsta rap, referred to their own music as reality rap. The tumult of 1980s Los Angeles is evident in their lyrics and their hometown pride: “It’s not the Bronx, it’s L.A. but just as hard,” reads a lyric from “L.A. is the Place.”

Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr., Jason Mitchell, O'Shea Jackson Jr. and Corey Hawkins in "Straight Outta Compton." Courtesy of Universal Studios.

Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr., Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Corey Hawkins in “Straight Outta Compton.” Courtesy of Universal Studios.

In “Straight Outta Compton,” a biographical drama about the hiphop group N.W.A., director F. Gary Gray details the formation, rise and fall of a pioneer of West Coast rap and hiphop. Original group members Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Easy-E, Arabian Prince, DJ Yella and MC Ren are played by Corey Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Jason Mitchell, Brandon LaFourche, Neil Brown, Jr. and Aldis Hodge, respectively. O’Shea Jackson plays his father, Ice Cube. Paul Giamatti stars as Jerry Heller, the manager and businessman who’s represented ELO, Elton John and the Who, among others.

The film, named for N.W.A.’s debut studio album, is a turn from your standard summer fare. There are no superheroes here, no animatronic monsters — only the musicians and the odds stacked against them.

In theaters August 14.

Contact Madelyne Xiao at madelyne ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Madelyne Xiao

Madelyne Xiao ('18) is a film writer for the Daily's Arts and Life section and the editor of Vademecum Magazine. She enjoys words and images, particularly those of Quentin Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin, Francis Ford Coppola, and Wes Anderson.