The Summer Movie Season starts earlier every year. In fact, one could argue that March releases like Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer were summer-season-caliber, big-budget extravaganzas with lots of Hollywood pop. Yes, they blew ass, but they had a summer-season pedigree.
For organization’s sake, let’s just say the summer season starts on May 3 this year with the release of Iron Man 3, and ends around Sept. 6 with Vin Diesel’s Riddick. Here’s a round up of some of the biggies that look great—and others that offer reasons for concern.
Iron Man 3 (May 3): How in the heck are they going to top The Avengers? It looks like Marvel and company are going to try, starting with this, the first stand-alone superhero film after last year’s massive roundup. Shane Black, who piloted Downey to one of his best performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, takes over the franchise from Jon Favreau. I think this franchise will avoid the dreaded third-in-the-series curse that has afflicted superhero films before (Spider-Man 3, Superman 3).
The Great Gatsby (May 10): Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the title role for director Baz Luhrmann. (The two worked together before, on Romeo + Juliet.) This was originally slated to be released last year; let’s hope the delay was to make it better, and not because it stinks like Luhrmann’s overblown Australia.
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17): Will this be J.J. Abrams’ last time in the director’s chair for this franchise now that he is taking over Star Wars? My guess is yes. If this is half as good as Abrams’ first blessed effort with the Trek characters, then we are in for a good time. Have you seen the footage of the Enterprise underwater? This one has to be good!
The Hangover Part III (May 24): I’m betting on a return to form after the lousy second chapter in what director Todd Phillips promises will just be a trilogy. The preview footage of a euphoric Zach Galifianakis and his giraffe has me excited. However, if Mike Tyson shows up and sings again, this will get an automatic “F.”
After Earth (June 7): Uh oh … somebody has given M. Night Shyamalan a lot of money to do science fiction again. Will they ever learn? In Shyamalan’s favor, he has the likable duo of Will Smith and son Jaden starring as a father and son crash-landing on Earth many years after humans have left. Also … Shyamalan only contributed to the script, rather than writing it all himself. So there is hope. There is hope.
Man of Steel (June 14): After doing a decent job with Watchmen and then sucking balls with Suckerpunch, director Zack Snyder takes on the Superman franchise. This time out, Henry Cavill (who was really bad in Immortals) wears the cape, replacing Brandon Routh, who actually did a great job in Superman Returns. Amy Adams is on hand as Lois Lane, and oh my goodness, there’s Michael Shannon as arch villain Zod. OK, I want to see this.
This Is the End (June 14): The likes of Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill play themselves in this apocalyptic comedy. While they’re hanging at Franco’s place, the apocalypse strikes, and they don’t deal with it in the best of ways. If this isn’t the year’s best comedy, I will be disappointed.
Monsters University (June 21): A prequel to Monsters, Inc., this will make millions upon millions upon billions upon trillions of dollars, whether it is good or not.
World War Z (June 21): Another postponed movie from last year, this one has Brad Pitt squaring off against crazed zombies. I love the previews, but its delayed status is worrisome.
The Heat (June 28): Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play an FBI agent and a cop teaming up to take out a drug kingpin. McCarthy got an Oscar nomination the last time she was with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids); I doubt that will happen this time out. Still, it could be fun.
White House Down (June 28): Following in the footsteps of Olympus Has Fallen, this is another film in which the president and his pad are in jeopardy. This time, we get Jamie Foxx as the president, and Channing Tatum as the hero.
The Lone Ranger (July 3): The idea of Johnny Depp playing Tonto—not to mention his crazy getup—has me concerned. Gore Verbinski directs, with Armie Hammer as the title character. This could be very, very bad.
Pacific Rim (July 12): Big alien-monster-type things strike the Earth, and huge robots piloted by humans are sent to defend the planet. This looks amazing, and Guillermo del Toro is directing, so this will be something to see. I’m hoping this puts MichaelBay’s big robots to shame.
Grown Ups 2 (July 12): I miss Adam Sandler. That dude used to make me laugh—and laugh hard. The key phrase is “used to.” His first Grown Ups was one of his worst movies, and it looks like his Sandler comedy slump will continue with this one.
The Wolverine (July 26): I thought the first solo Wolverine movie was OK, but many people hated it. James Mangold directs this film, which is set in Japan. There’s no word on whether Jackman sings live on set.
The Smurfs 2 (July 31): This movie is proof that Satan loves you.
2 Guns (Aug. 2): The good news is that this film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The bad news is that it is directed by the guy who did Contraband.
Elysium (Aug. 9): From the director of District 9, this stars Matt Damon (with a shaved head) in a future in which the Earth has gone to shit, and the rich live in space. Jodie Foster co-stars.
Kick-Ass 2 (Aug. 16): Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all return for a new round of comic vigilantism. Jim Carrey joins the cast as Colonel Stars and Stripes, and all signs point to hilarious.
The To Do List (Aug. 16): Aubrey Plaza blew my ass out of the water with her performance in Safety Not Guaranteed. This one has her starring as a soon-to-be college freshman looking to get some things out of the way before starting college.
Riddick (Sept. 6): After The Chronicles of Riddick, I never wanted to see Riddick again. Hell, I never wanted to see Vin Diesel again. After seeing the teaser—a teaser that features weird monsters—I’m optimistic this will be a return to the coolness that was Pitch Black.