April 26--It's beginning to look a lot like the summer movie season.
Like Christmas, it comes earlier every year. How to tell when it arrives?
Store aisles are filled with movie-related toys for kids -- and by kids, I mean adult males -- and television is peppered with ad campaigns for action films and superhero movies.
In this, at least, it looks a lot like the rest of the movie year.
It had a trial run this month with the sci-fi film "Oblivion," but it officially gets under way May 3 with "Iron Man 3."
Santa Spielberg may not have started the summer blockbuster tradition, but he refined it in 1975 with "Jaws."
And it returns every year a little more timeworn, weather-beaten and Roman-numeral-laden.
I won't lie. It's one of my favorite things.
While adult dramas during Oscar season often inspire feelings of guilt, summer movies are meant to be guilty pleasures, like playing hooky, cat videos or bacon. Summer movies may be bad for you, but they can make you feel good. And they are harmless when administered under a film critic's supervision.
So consider this a blank prescription, to be filled at your local multiplex.
As usual, all dates are subject to change.
"Iron Man 3" The humbled industrialist Tony Stark must rebuild his life while battling a scientist and a supervillain. With Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce.
"Renoir" Story of the elderly Impressionist, his son -- who becomes a filmmaker -- wounded in World War I, and the father's beautiful model.
"The Great Gatsby" Visually elaborate retelling of the F. Scott Fitzgerald tale about an enigmatic millionaire and his ill-fated love affair with a married woman. By "Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan.
"From Up On Poppy Hill" Animated tale by Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao Miyazaki, about teenagers during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
"Peeples" An underachiever crashes his girlfriend's family reunion. With Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" J.J. Abrams again directs a sequel in the revived franchise based on classic TV show. With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Benedict Cumberbatch as a villain who may or may not be Khan.
"At Any Price" Agribusiness drama against the backdrop of a dysfunctional farm family. By "Goodbye, Solo" director Ramin Bahrani. With Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron.
"Epic" Animated film about a teenage girl who becomes miniaturized and helps a group of forest creatures.
"Fast & Furious 6" Another entry in popular muscle-car chase action series. "I'm talking vehicular warfare," says a character in the trailer. With Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson.
"The Hangover Part III" Into the breach one more time go Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong.
"After Earth" Father and son are stranded on Earth 1,000 years after the planet was abandoned. With Will Smith, Jaden Smith. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
"Kon-Tiki" Norwegian drama about an expedition to prove ancient indigenous cultures traveled to the Polynesian Islands by raft.
"Love Is All You Need" Danish woman with cancer, her unfaithful husband and an unhappy businessman clash at the wedding of their children. With Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrhold. Directed by Susanne Bier.
"Now You See Me" Elaborate caper film involving stage magicians. With Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo.
"The Kings of Summer" Indie coming-of-age comedy about three friends who build a house in the forest to escape their families.
"The Internship" Two tech novices con their way into an internship program at Google. Reunites "The Wedding Crashers" team of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
"The Purge" A family must defend itself on the one night a year in which all crime is legal. With Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey.
"This Is the End" Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and others find themselves facing the apocalypse.
"Before Midnight" Third film in a series about a couple's courtship and relationship finds them married with kids and seeking to rekindle their romance. With Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke. Directed by Richard Linklater.
"The Bling Ring" Sofia Coppola's fact-based film about teenagers who rob celebrities' homes.
"Man of Steel" Much-anticipated reboot of the DC Comics franchise, by "300" director Zack Snyder, retells the Superman myth. With Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon and Russell Crowe.
"Monsters University" Animated prequel featuring the characters from "Monsters, Inc." With John Goodman, Billy Crystal.
"Much Ado About Nothing" Joss Whedon's modern update of the William Shakespeare play.
"World War Z" Brad Pitt battles zombie apocalypse in $170 million film by "Quantum of Solace" director Marc Forster.
"The Heat" Buddy-cop comedy with Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, by "Bridesmaids" director Paul Feig.
"White House Down" Secret Service agent Channing Tatum protects President Jamie Foxx during a terrorist attack.
"Despicable Me 2" Animated sequel with Steve Carell.
"Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain" Comic's stand-up performance concert film.
"The Lone Ranger" A $200 million film about a masked, justice-seeking vigilante told from the perspective of his American Indian companion Tonto, played by Johnny Depp. With Armie Hammer. Directed by Gore Verbinski.
"Fill the Void" An Orthodox Israeli woman is forced to marry the husband of her late sister.
"The Way, Way Back" Indie dramatic comedy by the writers of "The Descendants" about an unhappy teen who learns life lessons while working at a waterpark. With Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Liam James.
"Grown Ups 2" Sequel to Adam Sandler buddy comedy. With Chris Rock, Kevin James.
"Pacific Rim" Giant robots piloted by humans fend off aliens in Guillermo del Toro film. With Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam.
"Turbo" Animated film about a snail that dreams of racing in the Indy 500.
"The Conjuring" Based on a "real-life" exorcism from the 1970s. With Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston.
"Red 2" Helen Mirren packs heat again in action-comedy sequel about retired assassins. With Anthony Hopkins, Bruce Willis.
"R.I.P.D." "Men in Black"-type tale about dead cops doling out posthumous justice. With Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds.
"I'm So Excited" Kitschy Pedro Almodovar film about eccentric flight crew and passengers on flight with technical problems. With Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Hugo Silva.
"The Wolverine" Hugh Jackman as Marvel Comics X-Men character in Japan battling samurai and ninjas.
"The Smurfs 2" Animated/live-action film sequel.
"300: Rise of an Empire" Sequel imagines a naval battle between the ancient Persians and Athenians. Eva Green portrays the only female leader in the Persian navy. With Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro.
"2 Guns" A federal agent and military intelligence officer who rob a drug cartel learn the mission was a setup. With Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg.
"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" Mythological teenagers fight evil. Based on series of young adult novels.
"Elysium" In the future, a desperate factory worker from a dying Earth breaches the security of a space station that is home to the elite. By "District 9" director Neill Blomkamp. With Matt Damon, Jodie Foster.
"Planes" Animated Disney film in the vein of "Cars."
"We're the Millers" A pot dealer enlists strangers to pose as his family to help him elude authorities. With Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston.
"Blue Jasmine" Woody Allen film with Cate Blanchett as an unhappily married woman and Alec Baldwin as the husband who will buy her anything.
"Kick-Ass 2" Continuing adventures of regular people who don costumes to fight crime. With Chloe Grace-Moretz, Jim Carrey.
"The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" A teenage girl learns secrets about her past when her mother is abducted by a demon. Based on a series of young adult novels.
"You're Next" A gang of murderers interrupts a family reunion.
"The World's End" "Shaun of the Dead" director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg reunite in story of a group of friends who must save the world during a night of epic partying.
"Getaway" A race car driver must follow the orders of the man who kidnapped his wife. With Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez.
"One Direction: This Is Us" Documentary about singing group.
Keep up with movies on Dudek's blog, The Dudek Abides.
Follow Dudek on Twitter: @TheDudekAbides
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