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Movie News & Reviews
Summer film offerings for the family
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Photo courtesy of WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) joins The Smokejumpers and battles a massive wildfire in “Planes: Fire & Rescue.”
As usual, most of the blockbuster films destined to hit movie theaters this summer aren’t really suitable for the youngest members of the family.

Never fear – Hollywood didn’t forget there was money to be made at the box office with family-friendly films this summer.

Following is a list of this year’s most anticipated summer family films.

Maleficent

Release date: May 30
Genre: Action and adventure
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville
Director: Robert Stromberg
Rated: PG

“Maleficent” is said to explore the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic “Sleeping Beauty.”

The film catalogs the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. A live action feature film, this may not be standard Disney family fare: The wee ones might have a rough time with some of the scary sequences – hence the PG rating.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Release date: June 13
Genre: Action, adventure, animation and family
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington, Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig
Director: Dean DeBlois
Rated: PG

It’s been five years since Hiccup and Toothless successfully united dragons and Vikings on the island of Berk.

While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

Earth to Echo

Release date: July 2
Genre: Adventure and science fiction
Cast: Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese Hartwig and Ella Linnea Wahlestedt
Director: Dave Green
Rated: PG

Even the synopsis for “Earth to Echo” evokes aspects of Steven Spielberg’s genre classics.

The story revolves around Tuck, Munch and Alex, three inseparable friends whose time together is coming to an end because their neighborhood is about to be razed by a highway construction project.

Just before their families are forced to relocate, the boys find a cryptic signal has infected their phones. Convinced something bigger is going on and looking for one final adventure together, they set off to trace the messages to their source and discover something beyond their wildest imaginations: hiding in the darkness is a mysterious being, stranded on Earth, and wanted by the government.

It’s as if the Goonies discovered E.T.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Release date: July 18
Genre: Animation and adventure
Cast: Dane Cook and Julie Bowen
Director: Bobs Gannaway
Not yet rated

“Planes: Fire & Rescue” is a new comedy-adventure about second chances, featuring a dynamic crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire.

The movie is a sequel to last summer’s “Planes,” which was a spinoff of Pixar’s “Cars” franchise.

In “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” world-famous air racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again. He must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris) and his courageous team, including spirited air tanker Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (voice of Captain Dale Dye) and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers.

Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.

Although the film has not yet been rated, it will likely score either a G or PG rating.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Release date: Aug. 8
Genre: Action and adventure
Cast: Megan Fox, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Will Arnett, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville and Tony Shalhoub
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Not yet rated

The city needs heroes – specifically, heroes that originated in the 1980s.

Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future seems grim – until four teenage anthropomorphic turtles rise from the sewers.

Although the new film has not yet been rated, all previous cinematic incarnations of TMNT have earned PG designations.

Box office bargains

Several area movie theaters are offering free or discounted kids’ movies this summer.

The 2014 Summer Movie Express will kick off Tuesday, June 10 and will run for nine weeks at participating Regal Cinema locations. Admission to these films during the Summer Movie Express is $1 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Will Rogers Institute.

The following Tampa Bay area theaters will participate in the 2014 Summer Movie Express:

• Regal Largo Mall 8, 10500 Ulmerton Road E., Largo

• Regal Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19, Pinellas Park

• Regal Citrus Park Stadium 20, 7999 Citrus Park Town Center Mall, Tampa

Each location will screen select titles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Following is the 2014 Summer Movie Express schedule:

• June 10 – “Hotel Transylvania,” PG

• June 11 – “The Smurfs 2,” PG

• June 17 – “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” PG

• June 18 – “The Pirates: Band of Misfits,” PG

• June 24 – “Arthur Christmas,” PG

• June 25 – “Despicable Me 2,” PG

• July 1 – “The LEGO Movie,” PG

• July 2 – “Free Birds,” PG

• July 8 – “Adventures of TinTin,” PG

• July 9 – “Rise of the Guardians,” PG

• July 15 – “Kung Fu Panda 2,” PG

• July 16 – “Madagascar 3,” PG

• July 22 – “The Croods,” PG

• July 23 – “Epic,” PG

• July 29 – “Turbo,” PG

• July 30 – “Walking with Dinosaurs,” PG

• Aug. 5 – “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” PG

• Aug. 6 – “Rio 2,” G

For more information on Regal Theaters, visit www.regmovies.com.

TouchStar Cinemas is hosting its own program at Seminole 8, 7990 Liberty Lane, Seminole.

Family movies will be shown Tuesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m., at the theater beginning Tuesday June 10. Admission will cost 50-cents. In addition, the concession will offer discounts including 46-ounce popcorn for $2.50 and 16-ounce drink for $2.50.

Following is the TouchStar Cinema schedule:

• June 10 – “The Croods,” PG

• June 14 – “The Croods,” PG

• June 17 – “The LEGO Movie,” PG

• June 21 – “The LEGO Movie,” PG

• June 24 – “Despicable Me 2,” PG

• June 28 – “Despicable Me 2,” PG

• July 1 – “Rise of the Guardians,” PG

• July 5 – “Rise of the Guardians,” PG

• July 8 – “The Nut Job,” PG

• July 12 – “The Nut Job,” PG

• July 15 – “Free Birds,” PG

• July 19 – “Free Birds,” PG

• July 22 – “Walking with Dinosaurs,” PG

• July 26 – “Walking with Dinosaurs,” PG

• July 29 – “Madagascar 3,” PG

• Aug. 2 – “Madagascar 3,” PG; and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” PG

• Aug. 5 – “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” PG; and “Rio 2,” G

• Aug. 9 – “Rio 2,” G

For more information on TouchStar Cinemas, visit www.touchstarcinemas.com.

Cobb Theatres also will host special summer kids’ shows at Countryside 12, 27001 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater.

The films will be shown Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m., beginning Tuesday, June 17. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. Admission is free.

Following is the Cobb Theatres schedule:

• June 17-19 – “Turbo,” PG; and “Walking Dinosaurs,” PG

• June 24-26 – “Epic,” PG; and “Free Birds,” PG

• July 1-3 – “The Croods,” PG; and “Shark Tale,” PG

• July 8-10 – “The Smurfs 2,” PG; and “The SpongeBob Square Pants Movie,” PG

• July 15-17 – “The LEGO Movie,” PG; and “The Nut Job,” PG

• July 22-24 – “Despicable Me 2,” PG; and “Babe,” PG

• July 29-31 – “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” PG; and “Escape from Planet Earth,” PG

• Aug. 5-7 – “Rio 2,” G; and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” PG

For more information on Cobb Theatres, visit www.cobbtheatres.com.
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