With summertime comes a surge of trips to the beach, sleep-away camp sessions, and ice cream eating, but this time of year also boasts a bunch of new film and music releases.  Here’s a glimpse into the movies and albums that are sure to be noteworthy this upcoming summer.

The Fault in Our Stars

This film’s story puts romance alongside tragedy as it follows Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), an intelligent, witty teenager diagnosed with lung cancer, as she falls in love with the charming yet pretentious Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) who also has experience with cancer.  The Fault in Our Stars is based on a beloved novel of the same title by legendary young-adult author John Green, and the book has gained both critical acclaim and a devoted group of fans.  With a huge publicity campaign including a movie tour called Demand Our Stars that spans across four states and a trailer view count of over 18 million, this movie definitely has high expectations. Fans and new viewers alike can only hope the actual production lives up to all of the hype, so be sure to add this to your to-watch lists.  (Released June 6)

22 Jump Street

To kick off the summer, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back in 22 Jump Street, the sequel to the popular comedy 21 Jump Street from two years ago.  In the movie,  two goofy police officers named Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) take on an undercover drug bust at a nearby college.  Conflict rises when college life and newfound friendships instigate drama and tension between the two, and they have to work through their personal problems while also trying to bust the crime.  The first film was a both huge commercial success, grossing about $138.4 million in North America alone and one of the most-loved comedy films of 2012; so the bar is set high for this sequel.  With screenwriter Michael Bacall returning, the film promises to be another comedic favorite despite its somewhat recycled plotline.  (Releases June 13)

Step Up: All In

The Step Up series is releasing its fifth film this July starring two Step Up alumni, Ryan Guzman (Step Up Revolution, Pretty Little Liars) and Briana Evigan (Step Up 2: The Streets, S. Darko).  The film’s story yet again revolves around a make-or-break dance competition, this time in Las Vegas; but, the twist is that many Step Up series all-stars are returning, sans Channing Tatum.  The series overall hasn’t received much positive critical reception, but it has gained commercial success and popularity.  While the dancing scenes are commendable, the Step Up series has been beaten to death, so hopefully this film will be a nice wrap-up.  (Releases July 25)

Guardians of the Galaxy

Superhero fans will be glad to hear that Marvel is releasing a new flick this summer that has already built up a lot of excitement in the fan base.  Most Marvel movies that we’re familiar with are set on Earth (think Iron Man and Captain America), but Guardians of the Galaxy branches out into the cosmos.  The plot follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, Her), an adventurer who ends up being caught in an intergalactic bounty hunt when he steals a powerful orb that the ruthless villain Ronan desires.  Quill teams up with a misfit gang of aliens to battle Ronan’s forces and protect the orb, thus setting off a whirlwind tale of sci-fi action with some guaranteed comedic bits.  The cast includes notable people such as Zoe Saldana (Avatar), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), and Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), and it’s going to be a film that superhero sci-fi fans won’t want to miss.  (Releases August 1)

The Giver

Based on the novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver is a science fiction movie set in a seemingly “perfect” world called The Community where pain, sadness, and war are absent, but so are concepts such as color, love, and music.  The protagonist is 13-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites, Oculus) who is deemed the society’s Receiver of Memory and thus meets The Giver (Jeff Bridges), a man who is meant to train Jonas.  Instead of training, though, The Giver imparts groundbreaking knowledge to Jonas, which leads the teenager to question both his and his society’s values.  The film has a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, and even Taylor Swift.  It will be worth a watch to see how the film adapts the story that most students are familiar with from middle school language arts classes.  (Releases August 15)

If I Stay: 

Fitting the trend of young adult book to movie adaptations, If I Stay is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Gayle Forman.  The movie follows Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz, Hugo), a high school girl who starts out facing typical teenage dilemmas about college and boys who soon finds herself face-to-face with death after a tragic car accident.  Mia is allowed one day in this transition stage to decide whether to live in a post-accident life without her family or choose death instead and leave everyone else behind.  The novel is told through a series of flashbacks into Mia’s life, so it will be especially interesting to see how this translates into film.  While it may turn out not to be the most cute or cheerful summer flick, If I Stay will certainly be a deep exploration of love and grief that will captivate many viewers.  (Releases August 22)Foo Fighters: Expected late summer release

The infamous eleven-time Grammy-winning grunge band, Foo Fighters, is releasing their new album sometime late summer.  The currently untitled album will be their sixth, following Wasting Light in 2011.  Lead vocalist and founder of the band, Dave Grohl, says “the entire concept will take people by surprise” and “[The album] starts with a fuse then it explodes.” (nme.com).  The album is expected to be something entirely different from their old sounds, according to interviews.  Any rock fan should be anticipating the new twist on an old favorite.

Ed Sheeran: X to be released June 23

Acoustic artist and international sensation, Ed Sheeran, is releasing his new album X (read as multiply) this summer.  The album’s lead single Sing has been the only song released thus far, and it has reached number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, Sheeran’s highest chart placement for a single in this country.  He recorded the album in LA with the legendary producer Rick Rubin, who advised that the album be acoustically based with happier tones than his previous album, + (pronounced plus; we’re sensing a pattern).  He co-wrote much of the album with Foy Vance who was a supporting act to Sheeran’s tour.

Death Cab for Cutie: Expected late summer/ early fall release

Lead singer Ben Gibbard is finally back from his brief and awkward solo stint.  This trademark indie band is hard at work on their eighth full studio album.  The band has been pretty tight-lipped about it, but have reassured fans that they are in fact recording and that people should expect something a little different from their usual sound.  Release date and album name have yet to be confirmed, but they predict a very late summer or early fall release.

Miranda Lambert: Platinum to be released June 3

This will be country star Miranda Lambert’s fifth album since Four the Record, her 2011 album.  She co-wrote eight of the album’s sixteen tracks. Collaborations include Little Big Town, The Time Jumpers, and Carrie Underwood.  Expect strong vocals and more of Lambert’s addictive take on country.  The single off the album, Automatic, was released in February and received much praise from music critics across the board.  Country fans and music enthusiasts alike should be anticipating this ground-breaking new album.

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