The beginning of May, which is now less than two weeks away, officially starts the Summer movie season with big budget action flicks, comedies, and sci-fi films hitting the theaters every week until the end of August. This year’s crop brings us the end of the world (at least three times), post-apocalyptic futures, zombies, giant robots, sequels, monsters, super-heroes, aliens, Greek mythology, men of steel and iron, action, Minions, animated racing snails and planes, old spies back in the game, a hearty Hi-Yo Silver, and new takes on the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Shakespeare. Here’s a look at the big movies of the summer (with a handful of smaller films that just may be worth a look, too).
The summer season starts out with Shane Black taking over the helm of the Iron Man franchise (although Jon Favreau is scheduled to make an appearance as Happy Hogan) with a darker turn that pits Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) against the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and Aldrich Killian‘s (Guy Pearce) Extremis virus. Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, William Sadler, James Badge Dale, Yvonne Zima, and Stephanie Szostak also star. Here’s hoping the third entry doesn’t include any more scenes of drunk Iron Man partying in his armor (Iron Man 2). Opens May 3rd.
One week later (and five months later than planned) director Baz Luhrmann directs Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, and Isla Fisher in this lavish adaptation F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel that includes songs performed by Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Andre 3000, Gotye, Jack White, and Fergie. Opens May 10th.
Director J.J. Abrams and the cast of the first film (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, and Bruce Greenwood) return as Benedict Cumberbatch steps in as the sequel’s villain (who has been rumored to be everyone from Khan Noonien Singh to Gary Mitchell). Peter Weller, Tom Archdeacon, and Alice Eve (as Dr. Carol Marcus) also star. Opens May 17th
The first of three sequels opening this weekend, Fast & Furious 6 brings back all the usual suspects for one more (hopefully fun) ride. Throwing Dwayne “It’s Okay to Call Me The Rock Again” Johnson into the last installment of the series injected some much-needed excitement in the fun, but relatively shallow, Fast Five. The Rock, Vin Diesel Paul Walker, Gal Gadot, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang all return, as does Michelle Rodriguez as part of a skilled mercenary crew led by Luke Evans who the group are tasked to stop. Opens May 24th
Once more into the breach as Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms return to Las Vegas. Melissa McCarthy, Jamie Chung, John Goodman, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham Jeffrey Tambor, and Justin Bartha (who it appears will once again be left out of the shenanigans) also star. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any fun left to be squeezed out of the franchise after the disappointing Part II. Opens May 24th
One of the more intriguing independent movies of the summer reunites writer/director Richard Linklater with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy nearly a decade after the events of Before Sunset and 18 years after the Jesse and Celine met during Before Sunrise. The sequel may not have been quite as good as the original, but it was certainly enough to pique my curiosity about the further experiences of these star-crossed lovers. Opens May 24th.
The final weekend of May offers a star-studded affair which stars Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Woody Harrelson as a group of talented magicinans pulling off impossible robberies. Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Mélanie Laurent, and Michael Kelly also star. Opens May 31st.
While working on bringing The Avengers to the screen last summer director Joss Whedon gathered some old friends for a 12 day shoot in his own home. The result is this black & white adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The film stars Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick, and Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Jillian Morgese, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Spencer Treat Clark, Ashley Johnson, and Riki Lindhome also star. Opens June 7th.
From director M. Night Shyamalan, Will Smith and Jaden Smith star in this sci-fi flick about a father and son stranded on a harsh futuristic version of Earth 1,000 years after humans abandoned the planet. The twist? Knowing Smith’s love of blatant product placement, I’m guessing Starbucks and Converse survived. Opens June 7th.
It’s the end of the world (for the first, but certainly not last, time on this list)! A group of actors (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Martin Starr, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, David Krumholtz, and Rihanna) all playing themselves find themselves at a party at James Franco‘s house during the end of the world. Opens June 12th.
Zack Snyder attempts what Bryan Singer failed to do a few years ago, breathe new life into the Superman franchise with a new origin tale for the Man of Steel. Armed with a new Superman (Henry Cavill) and costume ribbed for Lois Lane‘s (Amy Adams) pleasure, Snyder’s new take on the hero casts Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Ma and Pa Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet Editor Perry White, and Michael Shannon as the film’s villain General Zod. Opens June 14th.
Based on true events, the latest from writer/director Sofia Coppola stars Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, and Claire Julien a group of teenagers who burglarized several celebrity homes over the course of a year. It will be interesting to see if Coppola’s film, which was finished during the same time as Spring Breakers but hits theaters three months later, is helped or hurt by the buzz surrounding Korine‘s film. Opens June 14th.
Brad Pitt vs. the zombie apocalypse (and, you guessed it, the possible end of the world). Adapted from the post-apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks, Pitt stars as an agent of the United Nations who tries to stop the zombie pandemic spreading across the globe. Mireille Enos, David Morse, James Badge Dale, and Matthew Fox also star. Opens June 21st.
John Goodman and Billy Crystal return as the voices of Sulley and Mike Wazowski in this Monsters, Inc. prequel about the pair’s misadventures at college. Steve Buscemi, Ben Kingsley, Helen Mirren, David Spade, Alfred Molina, Charlie Day, Ricky Gervais, Frank Oz, and Dave Foley provide voices as well. Opens June 21st.
It seems one movie about terrorists laying siege to the White House in 2013 wasn’t enough. This version comes courtesy of disaster director Roland Emmerich and stars Channing Tatum as D.C. policeman who is the only one who can save the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx) from armed insurgents inside the White House. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, and James Woods also star. Opens June 28th.
Our third month kicks off with a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi-ho, Silver! Director Gore Verbinski reunites with his Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp in this retelling of the origins of the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) from Tonto’s (Depp) point of view. Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, and James Badge Dale also star. Opens July 3rd.
Gru (Steve Carell), the Minions, and his adopted daughters (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Kate Fisher) return in this sequel where for former super-villain is recruited to help save the world from a new super-villain (Al Pacino). Opens July 3rd.
Giant robots vs. aliens? Sounds like the the kind of dumb CGI-heavy action flick that could make for an enjoyable summer popcorn movie (or a disaster on the scale of Battleship). The fact that this one is coming from director Guillermo del Toro makes me hope it’s the former. Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Max Martini star. Opens July 12th.
DreamWorks Animation offers up this animated adventure of a snail (Ryan Reynolds) who lives out his dream as an Indy 500 racer after a freak accident (which I assume included a lighting bolt and a rack of chemicals in the Central City crime lab) grants him increased speed. Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Red Foreman, Michelle Rodriguez, and Samuel L. Jackson also lend their voices to the project. Opens July 17th.
Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker are all back for the sequel as the retired spies return for mores shoot ’em up fun. Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough, and David Thewlis also star. Opens July 19th.
The same weekend the geriatric spies return the director of the first Red reunites with Mary-Louise Parker to give us this film based on the Dark Horse comic starring Ryan Reynolds as a cop killed in the line of duty who joins the ranks of the undead police force known as the Rest In Peace Department in order to find his killer. Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges, James Hong, and Robert Knepper also star. Opens July 19th.
Based on the 1982 mini-series, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan where he encounters friends and enemies from his past and an offer of mortality. Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hal Yamanouchi, Brian Tee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Famke Janssen, and Will Yun Lee (as the Silver Samurai) also star. Opens July 26th.
Writer/director Woody Allen‘s latest (and the first to be filmed in New York in years) stars Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, and Sally Hawkins in a story about the life crisis of a New York housewife. Opens July 26th.
Six years after the original, and without Gerard Butler or director Zack Snyder (who only produces this time around), the sequel (set concurrent to the events of the first movie) centers on the Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and the Greek naval battle with the Persians under the command of Artemesia (Eva Green) and Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Jack O’Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Callan Mulvey, Mark Killeen, Andrew Pleavin, and Ashraf Barhom also star. Opens August 2nd.
In what sounds like a very Tango & Cash-style set-up, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington star as rival investigators who have to learn to work together when the pair are framed by the mobsters they are trying to take down. Paula Patton, James Marsden, Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos, Robert John Burke, Evie Thompson, and Fred Ward also star. Opens August 2nd.
Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario return in this sequel to Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief as Percy and his two best friends set out to find the Golden Fleece which is the only thing that can stop the return of Kronos. Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Jake Abel, Leven Rambin, Anthony Head, and Paloma Kwiatkowski also star. Opens August 7th.
Matt Damon stars as the man destined to “bring equality to the polarized worlds” in this sci-fi futuristic class warfare flick from writer/director Neill Blomkamp. Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, and former Bond Girl Talisa Soto also star. Opens August 9th.
Pixar’s latest casts Dane Cook in the role of Dusty Crophopper who, with the help of some new friends (voiced by Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer), overcomes his fear of heights to compete in an aerial race. On the surface this looks to be Pixar’s most uninspired film yet, but I’m sure it will be gorgeous to look at (and I’ll give them points for casting Top Gun stars Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer as Naval jets Bravo and Echo). Opens August 9th.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz return as Kick-Ass and Hit Girl in this sequel to the 2010 film. Adapted from the second mini-series from Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., with some of the more objectionable material removed (thankfully no gang rape scene for Lyndsy Fonseca), the sequel focuses on the growing number of real-life super-heroes inspired by Kick-Ass and the return of Crimson Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as the world’s first super-villain The Mother Fucker. Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Yancy Butler, Clark Duke, Lindy Booth, and Morris Chestnut also star. Opens August 16th.
After struggling for ten years to bring it to the screen, director Kar Wai Wong offers his unique look at the life of Yip Man (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), the Wing Chun master who trained Bruce Lee. Ziyi Zhang, Cung Le, Hye-kyo Song, Chen Chang, and Woo-ping Yuen also star. Opens August 23rd.
The end of the world is the focus of yet another summer film, this time from director Edgar Wright who casts Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan as five friends who reunite to recapture the glory of their old pub crawling days only to become mankind’s best hope for survival. Opens August 23rd.
Not related to either the Steve McQueen original or the Alec Baldwin remake, Ethan Hawke stars as a driver forced to do the bidding of the mystery man who has kidnapped his wife. Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Paul Freeman, and Rebecca Budig also star. Opens August 30th.