Niko Tavernise, Sony Pictures

Ah, summer. The sun is shining, the days are longer and school’s out. So what better way to celebrate than to hole up in a darkened theater with a bucket of popcorn and take in the most over-the-top, special effects-heavy movies Hollywood can muster?

Compared to previous (and upcoming) years, this summer movie season might at first seem a little underwhelming — only five movies explicitly about aliens? What gives? — but there are actually a lot of surprising options this year that could make it a summer to remember.

Here’s a look at the titles families might look forward to in the upcoming months. Because some of the films are not yet rated and content descriptors are limited, some of these may not turn out to be ideal family fare (we will let you know which).

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
Niko Tavernise, Sony Pictures

Release date: May 2

Rating: PG-13

Sony hasn’t been shy about the fact that it expects this sequel to its 2012 Spider-Man reboot to be a huge hit. Picking up where the first movie left off, this one sees Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) battling a gaggle of villains, including the Rhino, Green Goblin and Electro, all while trying to keep the romance alive with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

“Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return”
Summertime Entertainment

Release date: May 9

Rating: PG

A 3-D animated musical based on a novel by L. Frank Baum’s great-grandson. Unlike Disney’s 1985 “Return to Oz,” though, this sequel doesn’t look like pure nightmare fuel, which is a good thing for families with kids. Along with the voice talents of Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Kelsey Grammar, Dan Aykroyd and Lea Michelle, among others, it also features original songs by Bryan Adams.

“Godzilla”
Kimberley French, Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: May 16

Rating: PG-13

The King of the Monsters returns to American shores at long last in this dark, gritty reboot (to use some of Hollywood’s favorite buzzwords) of the 1954 Japanese original. But this time around, Godzilla might not be the only gigantic beastie stomping on famous landmarks. Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“The Avengers: Age of Ultron”) and Ken Watanabe (“Inception”) headline the type of cast usually only seen during awards season.

“Million Dollar Arm”
"Million Dollar Arm" Facebook page

Release date: May 16

Rating: PG-13

Based on a true story, Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") stars as J.B. Bernstein, a sports agent who travels to India in search of cricket “bowlers” that can be molded into major league baseball pitchers. Think “Moneyball” meets “Slumdog Millionaire,” except made by Disney.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past”
X-MenMovies.com

Release date: May 23

Rating: PG-13

Original “X-Men” director Bryan Singer — along with most of the original movie's cast — returns to stage another, even bigger last stand, this one involving time travel, murderous robots and a future that must be prevented at all costs. And yes, it does sound a bit like “Terminator.” “First Class”-ers James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence all co-star with 1970s-era Wolverine.

“Maleficent”
Frank Connor, Disney Enterprises Inc.

Release date: May 30

Rating: PG

In this twist on Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” Angelina Jolie — in a bit of truly inspired casting — plays the iconic horned villainess, whose backstory is examined for the first time, including the why and the wherefore of the curse she put on Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). Likely one of the must-see summer movies for families with kids who can handle some scary imagery.

“Edge of Tomorrow”
David James, Warner Bros.

Release date: June 6

Rating: PG-13

A Tom Cruise action/sci-fi mashup from director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”) that’s being described as “Groundhog Day” meets “Call of Duty” — except with aliens. And “Elysium”-style combat suits. Naturally, with a plot like that, it’s adapted from a Japanese comic (with an appropriately batty title: “All You Need Is Kill”).

“The Fault in Our Stars”
TheFaultInOurStarsMovie.com

Release date: June 6

Rating: PG-13

Based on John Green’s best-selling young adult novel, “The Fault in Our Stars” doesn’t feature vampires, werewolves, demons or anything else supernatural. Instead, it’s about a pair of teens (Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, both from “Divergent”) dealing with cancer. An unconventional summer movie, but one worth watching out for.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
DreamWorks Animation

Release date: June 13

Rating: PG

The second in a planned trilogy (loosely inspired by Cressida Cowell’s popular series of kids’ books), “How to Train Your Dragon 2” takes place five years after the original movie and sees a more grownup Hiccup facing a new threat in the form of a dragon rider named Drago Bludqvist (Djimon Hounsou).

“Transformers: Age of Extinction”
Andrew Cooper, Paramount Pictures

Release date: June 27

Rating: Not yet rated

Mark Wahlberg steps in for Shia LaBeouf as the human star of the Transformers movies, playing Cade Yeager, an automobile mechanic who makes a discovery that attracts the attention of Autobots, Decepticons and shady government agents alike. Michael Bay also returns as director for this, which is intended as the first in a new Transformers trilogy.

“Earth to Echo”
Relativity Media

Release date: July 2

Rating: PG

This Disney-produced sci-fi yarn harkens back to family-friendly ‘80s fare like “E.T.” and “Explorers” and centers on a group of kids who discover an extraterrestrial life form with unusual powers that they name Echo.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Release date: July 11

Rating: Not yet rated

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” proved to be a surprising hit for Fox. This sequel picks up 15 years later with a small group of humans, survivors of the simian plague, as they become embroiled in a new conflict. Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight trilogy), Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Keri Russell (TV’s “The Americans”) star alongside Andy Serkis as the ape leader Caesar.

“Jupiter Ascending”
Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: July 18

Rating: Not yet rated

The latest cartoonishly violent sci-fi spectacle from the Wachowski Siblings (the Matrix Trilogy, “Cloud Atlas”) — which is basically Snow White in outer space — looks big, bombastic and possibly really dumb, but that’s not always a bad thing. Mila Kunis stars along with Channing Tatum as a half-wolf/half-human ex-military “hunter.”

“Planes: Fire and Rescue”
Movies.Disney.com

Release date: July 18

Rating: Not yet rated

In the latest installment in the ever-expanding Cars/Planes universe, engine problems force Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) to retire from racing and take up a new career: firefighting.

“Hercules”
Kerry Brown, Paramount

Release date: July 25

Rating: Not yet rated

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson takes on the character previously played by such fine thespians as Steve Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kellan Lutz. Adapted from a comic book (subtitled “The Thracian Wars”), the story follows Hercules and a band of followers as mercenaries under the employ of the King of Thrace. Directed by Brett Ratner (“X-Men: The Last Stand”).

“Guardians of the Galaxy”
Marvel

Release date: Aug. 1

Rating: Not yet rated

Marvel’s biggest gamble to date also looks like it could be one of the freshest superhero movies (if you can even call it that) since the first “Iron Man.” With Bradley Cooper playing a psychotic talking raccoon and Vin Diesel as a sentient tree, this one’s going to be interesting, if nothing else, but also totally essential watching for anyone following the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Get On Up”
"Get On Up" Facebook page

Release date: Aug. 1

Rating: Not yet rated

A biopic of the Godfather of Soul, the late, great James Brown, played by Chadwick Boseman (“42”) and directed by Tate Taylor (“The Help”).

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
Paramount Pictures

Release date: Aug. 8

Rating: Not yet rated

Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello are back, but not everyone’s happy about it. Every detail from the casting to the turtles’ designs is already being mercilessly torn apart by diehard fans. With only one brief trailer out so far, though, it’s still tough to guess what this Michael Bay-produced reboot could have in store.

“Into the Storm”
Ron Phillips, Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: Aug. 8

Rating: PG-13

A “found footage” environmental disaster movie in the vein of “Twister.” A beardless Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield from “The Hobbit”) stars.

“The Giver”
"The Giver" Facebook page

Release date: Aug. 15

Rating: Not yet rated

Based on the 1994 Newbery Award-winning novel by Lois Lowry, “The Giver” stars Brenton Thwaites as a 16-year-old boy raised in a perfectly utopian society who is selected to become the Receiver of Memories, requiring him to learn about the history of the world — warts and all — from an elderly man known as the Giver (Jeff Bridges).

“If I Stay”
Doane Gregor, Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: Aug. 22

Rating: Not yet rated

Another book-to-movie adaptation, this one (based on a novel by Gayle Forman) stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a talented cellist trying to decide between studying at Juilliard or following her heart — that is, until an accident leaves her suspended between life and death with an even tougher decision to make.

“Underdogs”
"Metegol" La Pelicula Facebook page

Release date: Aug. 27

Rating: Not yet rated

A 3-D animated comedy from Argentina about an arcade foosball wiz whose players come to life to help him out when a bully challenges him to a game of real-world football. “Underdogs” is the most expensive Latin American animated feature ever made and won several awards, including Best Animated Feature at the Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the Oscars). For the English-language track, “Harry Potter” alum Rupert Grint lends his voice as the main character, Amadeo.