Superheroes and other comic book creations
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley. Directed by Shane Black. The armor-clad superhero returns to face down mystical villain the Mandarin (Kingsley). Why you should be excited about it: Marvel’s superhero movies hit a high note with The Avengers, and this movie marks the start of Phase 2. Why you should be dreading it: After two movies of his own, plus The Avengers and various cameos, Iron Man may have run his course.
Man of Steel (June 14)
Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon. Directed by Zack Snyder. Superman returns in a movie that is not Superman Returns. Why you should be excited about it: Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan is onboard as a producer, and Snyder proved he knows something about comic books with 300 and Watchmen. Why you should be dreading it: Snyder’s bag of tricks is pretty limited, and Superman may just not be suited for another big-screen adventure.
R.I.P.D. (July 19)
Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon. Directed by Robert Schwentke. A pair of undead cops police the afterlife. Why you should be excited about it: Haven’t you always wanted to see The Dude as an undead detective? Why you should be dreading it: No, you haven’t.
Red 2 (July 19)
Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins. Directed by Dean Parisot. The crew of retired secret agents takes on a new mission. Why you should be excited about it: Anthony Hopkins joins the cast to increase the badass-old-guy quotient. Why you should be dreading it: Badass old guys: Amusing once, then tiresome.
The Wolverine (July 26)
Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova. Directed by James Mangold. The X-Men’s resident bad boy travels to Japan to take on new challenges. Why you should be excited about it: It’s based on some of the most renowned stories from Wolverine comic books. Why you should be dreading it: The first Wolverine solo movie was a complete disaster.
2 Guns (August 2)
Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur. A pair of undercover operatives team up, neither knowing that the other is really a law-enforcement agent. Why you should be excited about it: It’s based on a comic book written by Vegas’ own Steven Grant. Why you should be dreading it: The filmmakers may have turned Grant’s comic into a generic late-summer action movie.
300: Rise of an Empire (August 2)
Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro. Directed by Noam Murro. Sure, all of the Spartan soldiers died valiantly at the end of 300, but that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from creating a sequel built around Persian King Xerxes fighting against a unified Greek army. Why you should be excited about it: It promises to be “told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300.” Why you should be dreading it: Original 300 director Zack Snyder is too busy hanging out with Superman to bother with this sequel.
Kick-Ass 2 (August 16)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Directed by Jeff Wadlow. The homemade superhero returns to take on his arch-nemesis Red Mist and team up with a new street-level hero played by Jim Carrey. Why you should be excited about it: Moretz’s Hit Girl was a breakout character in the first movie, and Carrey looks like he is bringing similar gonzo energy to this one. Why you should be dreading it: With villains, team-ups and new heroes, these “realistic” superheroes are starting to sound like every other fantasy superhero.
The Great Gatsby (May 10)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan. Directed by Baz Luhrmann. The classic novel of Roaring ’20s excess gets an adaptation from the king of excess. In 3D! Why you should be excited about it: Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) knows how to create a lush world of gaudy luxury. Why you should be dreading it: Luhrmann’s more-is-more aesthetic might drown out the subtleties of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose.
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples (May 10)
Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier. Directed by Tina Gordon Chism. A regular Joe crashes an upper-crust family reunion to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. Why you should be excited about it: Tyler Perry knows what audiences want, and this is the first movie he’s put his name on that he didn’t write or direct himself. Why you should be dreading it: Perry’s idea of what audiences want involves lots of pandering and moralizing.
[Critic’s Pick] Three reasons to see Frances Ha (June 7)
Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver. Directed by Noah Baumbach. A 20-something dancer in New York City tries to figure out her life. 1. Gerwig may be the most original, intelligent and gifted actress of her generation. Not only does she play the title character here, but she also co-wrote the screenplay with director Baumbach. 2. Baumbach, whose previous films include The Squid and the Whale and two collaborations with Wes Anderson, has a loopy yet grounded sensibility that meshes perfectly with Gerwig’s depressive effervescence. 3. The movie’s musical choices are inspired, from an homage to an earlier French film’s use of David Bowie’s “Modern Love” (film buffs will cheer) to a montage in which Gerwig’s Frances psyches herself up by constantly playing the ’70s funk hit “Every 1’s a Winner.” –Mike D’Angelo
[Critic’s Pick] Three reasons to see Before Midnight (June 21)
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy. Directed by Richard Linklater. Lovers Jesse and Celine, now a couple, spend a day on a Greek island. 1. The two previous films in this remarkable trilogy, Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), were both superb, and many critics who saw this one at Sundance proclaimed it the series’ capping masterpiece. 2. Few duos in recent memory possess the sort of effortless chemistry that Delpy and Hawke do as Celine and Jesse. They’re the rare onscreen couple that seem genuinely interested in each other. 3. In a season devoted almost entirely to spectacle and pyrotechnics, you’re gonna need a breather, and the only explosion in Before Midnight involves powerful emotions held in check for far too long. –Mike D’Angelo
Thrills and chills
Fast & Furious 6 (May 24)
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson. Directed by Justin Lin. The car-racing outlaws take on a gang of mercenaries for the chance to receive full pardons for their past misdeeds. Why you should be excited about it: This time, the cars are racing tanks and airplanes in addition to other cars. Plus, Michelle Rodriguez’s character is back from the dead for some reason. Why you should be dreading it: By the sixth movie, is there really any outlaw-car-racing territory left to explore?
Now You See Me (May 31)
Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman. Directed by Louis Leterrier. A gang of magicians uses the power of illusion to pull off daring heists. Why you should be excited about it: You just know that Criss Angel and David Copperfield would be out there robbing banks if they could. Why you should be dreading it: That doesn’t sound like a very interesting movie, though.
The Purge (May 31)
Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane. Directed by James DeMonaco. In the future, there’s one night every year in which all laws are suspended. It’s not very fun. Why you should be excited about it: The dude in the mask on the poster is super-creepy. Why you should be dreading it: It’s just another home-invasion thriller dressed up in sci-fi clothing.
White House Down (June 28)
Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Directed by Roland Emmerich. A police officer must save the president when the White House comes under attack from terrorists. Why you should be excited about it: Emmerich did an excellent job of blowing up the White House in Independence Day. Why you should be dreading it: This movie already came out in March. It was called Olympus Has Fallen, and it was terrible.
The Lone Ranger (July 3)
Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson. Directed by Gore Verbinski. The classic Western hero is reimagined, with Depp as an oddball version of Native American companion Tonto. Why you should be excited about it: Depp and Verbinski previously teamed up for the insanely successful first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Why you should be dreading it: Depp’s “weird guy” persona has almost completely lost its charm.
The Conjuring (July 19)
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston. Directed by James Wan. A pair of paranormal investigators help a family whose farmhouse is haunted. “Based” on a “true” story. Why you should be excited about it: Wan proved fairly adept at horror atmosphere with Insidious. Why you should be dreading it: He’s also responsible for inflicting the Saw franchise on the world.
Getaway (August 30)
Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight. Directed by Courtney Solomon. A race car driver must follow orders from a mysterious man in order to save his kidnapped wife. Why you should be excited about it: It has a pretty cool self-contained premise. Why you should be dreading it: It’s exactly the sort of late-summer throwaway thriller that is likely to get delayed all the way until next year’s summer movie preview.
Sci-fi and Fantasy
[Critic’s Pick] Three reasons to see Star Trek Into Darkness (May 15)
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch. Directed by J.J. Abrams. The crew of the starship Enterprise returns to face down a sinister threat from within Starfleet. 1. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek expertly reinvigorated the franchise, respecting the decades of continuity, in both movies and TV, that came before it, while adding in blockbuster-style action and special effects. 2. Cumberbatch, best known as TV’s Sherlock, looks like he’ll be a fantastically creepy new villain, and the movie’s title indicates that Abrams is planning to take the characters into some rough, morally compromised territory. 3. With Abrams hired to take on the next Star Wars movie, this will likely be the last chance to see his exciting, intelligent take on the clearly superior space-based franchise (yes, I said it). –Josh Bell
After Earth (June 7)
Will Smith, Jaden Smith. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. A space explorer and his teenage son are stranded on post-apocalyptic Earth. Why you should be excited about it: Remember when M. Night Shyamalan made awesome movies? Why you should be dreading it: Shyamalan’s dismal recent track record (The Last Airbender, The Happening, Lady in the Water) is not exactly promising.
World War Z (June 21)
Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale. Directed by Marc Forster. Pitt plays a U.N. official racing around the world to attempt to stop a zombie infestation. Why you should be excited about it: It’s based on the wildly popular novel by Max Brooks. Why you should be dreading it: Zombies are so over, man.
Pacific Rim (July 12)
Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. When Earth is attacked by giant monsters, humans fight them off by developing giant robots. Why you should be excited about it: Giant robots are fighting giant monsters. Were you not listening? Why you should be dreading it: It looks like something Michael Bay would deem “too excessive.”
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (August 7)
Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario. Directed by Thor Freudenthal. Despite the generally apathetic response to his first movie, teenage demigod Percy Jackson is back, on a quest for the magical Golden Fleece. Why you should be excited about it: The Percy Jackson book series has proven quite popular. Why you should be dreading it: Thus far, the Percy Jackson movie series has not.
[Critic’s Pick] Three reasons to see Elysium (August 9)
Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley. Directed by Neill Blomkamp. A determined man invades the heavily guarded space-station citadel of Earth’s ultra-rich. 1. Blomkamp’s first film, District 9, was a strikingly original sci-fi vision, and for his follow-up, he’s created another original story, about a future in which the wealthy live above Earth in a sophisticated space station, rather than hitch himself to some bloated franchise. 2. Damon has done well in the Bourne movies as a steely action hero, and here he gets to combine that with futuristic body armor and laser guns. 3. Sure, there are explosions and gun battles, but if District 9 is any indication, Blomkamp is just as interested in using sci-fi to explore social commentary and complex characters. –Josh Bell
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August 23)
Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan. Directed by Harald Zwart. A teenager discovers that she’s a descendant of half-angel warriors and is drawn into a battle against demons. Why you should be excited about it: The source novels by Cassandra Clare have a rabid worldwide fan base. Why you should be dreading it: It’s just Hollywood’s latest attempt to replicate Twilight.
(Allegedly) Funny stuff
The Hangover Part III (May 24)
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis. Directed by Todd Phillips. The third movie returns the series to Las Vegas, where the three irresponsible friends once again get into trouble. Why you should be excited about it: The promo materials promise no wedding and no bachelor party, which means it at least won’t be a rehash of the first movie’s plot, like the second installment was. Why you should be dreading it: That second movie proved there wasn’t really anywhere for the story to go, so taking away the central gimmick may not be the best move.
The Internship (June 7)
Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Max Minghella. Directed by Shawn Levy. Two unemployed middle-aged salesmen decide to restart their careers by becoming interns at Google. Why you should be excited about it: Vaughn and Wilson proved to be an ace comedic team in Wedding Crashers. Why you should be dreading it: It’s basically a feature-length advertisement for Google.
This Is the End (June 12)
Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco. Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. A group of celebrities (all playing themselves) face the apocalypse while at a party at James Franco’s house. Why you should be excited about it: It features dozens of celebrities being killed in amusingly gruesome ways. Why you should be dreading it: It’s pretty much the definition of a vanity project.
The Heat (June 28)
Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bechir. Directed by Paul Feig. An uptight FBI agent (Bullock) and a loose-cannon Boston police detective (McCarthy) team up to take down a drug lord. Why you should be excited about it: It reteams McCarthy with her Bridesmaids director Feig for another raunchy female-driven comedy. Why you should be dreading it: Bullock appears to be reprising her role from Miss Congeniality.
Grown Ups 2 (July 12)
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade. Directed by Dennis Dugan. The characters from the first Grown Ups move back to their childhood hometown, so Sandler and his buddies can hang out in another beautiful locale and pretend it’s a movie. Why you should be excited about it: You should not. Why you should be dreading it: The original Grown Ups was definitive proof that God is dead and life is meaningless.
We’re the Millers (August 9)
Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. A group of losers pose as a family so they can smuggle a huge shipment of drugs from Mexico. Why you should be excited about it: The cast also includes strong comedic performers Nick Offerman, Ed Helms and Kathryn Hahn. Why you should be dreading it: It’s not easy to balance comedy with violence in a movie like this.
The To Do List (August 16)
Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader. Directed by Maggie Carey. A young woman makes a list of all the debauched things she missed out on in high school so she can do them all during the summer before college. Why you should be excited about it: Parks and Recreation’s Plaza is due for a breakout movie role. Why you should be dreading it: Her previous starring role in Safety Not Guaranteed was a bit of a disappointment.
The World’s End (August 23)
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman. Directed by Edgar Wright. A group of friends go on a pub crawl as the apocalypse approaches. Why you should be excited about it: Wright and Pegg’s previous collaborations, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, were perfect combinations of comedy and genre smarts. Why you should be dreading it: It sounds an awful lot like This Is the End, doesn’t it?
Epic (May 24)
Voices of Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Jason Sudeikis. Directed by Chris Wedge. A teenage girl is magically shrunk down and finds herself caught in a war between two races of tiny beings. Why you should be excited about it: It’s going to be epic! It’s right there in the title! Why you should be dreading it: Any movie that has to tout its own awesomeness in its title probably has some deficiencies elsewhere.
Monsters University (June 21)
Voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi. Directed by Dan Scanlon. The monsters from Monsters, Inc. are college students in this animated prequel. Why you should be excited about it: Monsters, Inc. was wonderfully entertaining, and Pixar is the gold standard of animation studios. Why you should be dreading it: Pixar’s last sequel, Cars 2, was the studio’s worst movie to date.
Despicable Me 2 (July 3)
Voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove. Directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin. The villainous (but secretly warm-hearted) Gru is back, with his adopted daughters and his minions. Why you should be excited about it: The first movie has been an enduring hit with kids. Why you should be dreading it: This franchise seems driven more by merchandising than creativity.
Turbo (July 17)
Voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Ken Jeong. Directed by David Soren. A snail develops super-speed after a freak accident and decides to compete against race cars. Why you should be excited about it: Certainly no one has yet made a movie about a super-fast snail racing the Indy 500. Why you should be dreading it: There’s probably a reason for that.
The Smurfs 2 (July 31)
Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays. Directed by Raja Gosnell. The little blue whatevers are back, traveling to Paris to rescue Smurfette from the evil Gargamel. Why you should be excited about it: Those Smurfs sure are cute. Why you should be dreading it: Those Smurfs sure are annoying.
Planes (August 9)
Voices of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett. Directed by Klay Hall. If you liked Cars, you’ll love Planes! It’s like Cars, except with planes! Why you should be excited about it: Remember, it’s like Cars, except with planes! Why you should be dreading it: This is what Disney’s purchase of Pixar has wrought.
One Direction: This Is Us (August 30)
Directed by Morgan Spurlock. The popular British boy band gets its own concert documentary, in 3D. (Take that, Justin Bieber!) Why you should be excited about it: Spurlock has directed some genuinely interesting documentaries, including Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Why you should be dreading it: There’s no way this is anything other than a paycheck for him.