May 01--The cineplex in summertime offers a retreat from the heat and an escape from reality, as a flood of sequels and films based on comic books take center stage.
Familiar heroes (Iron Man, Wolverine) share screen time with mere mortals we've gotten to know over ("Grown Ups 2") and over ("The Hangover Part III") and over ("Fast & Furious 6") again.
While many of this summer's movies feel like retreads, there is new life being breathed into one comic legend. "The Man of Steel" reboots the Superman franchise, with Brit Henry Cavill donning the cape and leggings.
It's not all popcorn movies and fantasy in the summer. There's still (a little) room for more interesting and challenging fare from young directors like Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring," Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha," Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" and newcomer Ryan Coogler's Sundance hit "Fruitvale Station."
Austin will get its share of the spotlight, as well. Two of the biggest names from the local film scene have summer releases, with Robert Rodriguez reintroducing Machete to the world in "Machete Kills" and Richard Linklater revisiting the romance of Jesse and Celine in "Before Midnight."
Below we take a look at 40 of the most anticipated movies coming to a theater near you this summer. Dates are subject to change. Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," with Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, and Pedro Almodovar's "I'm So Excited," with Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, are expected to be released in the late summer.
"Iron Man 3"
"Lethal Weapon" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" writer Shane Black is the man putting the words into Tony Stark's mouth this time around, so expect some clever and crackling dialogue to go along with all the things that go "boom." Ben Kingsley should make for a fine and eloquent villain.
This Spanish reimagining of "Snow White" took home an armload of Goya awards and played to a receptive audience at Cine las Americas in April.
"The Great Gatsby"
One of the prettiest men in the world plays one of the prettiest men in literature, as Leonardo DiCaprio reteams with "Rome and Juliet" director Baz Luhrmann for this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Carey Mulligan plays the enchanting Daisy.
"Star Trek Into Darkness"
J.J. Abrams returns to helm the U.S.S. Enterprise with the same cast of characters (portrayed by Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Simon Pegg). The question everyone wants to know the answer to: Will there be a Khan sighting?
"At Any Price"
Native Texan Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron star as father and son in director Ramin Bahrani's story of a family burdened with a failing farm.
"Stories We Tell"
Filmmaker Sarah Polley's documentary explores the complexity of families and the elusiveness of objective truth in this film that drew strong reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival.
Brilliant acting and writing serve as the centerpiece of the third installment of Richard Linklater's love story between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). Funny, cynical, uplifting and sad ... this is one that's not to be missed.
"Fast and Furious 6"
Say what you will about the lack of character development and the abundance of testosterone, but there's no denying the draw of a movie that has had as many lives as most cats.
"The Hangover: Part III"
The second installation was as lazy and unnecessary as sequels come. The third time around there's no wedding, but there is a road trip. We can't wait for this franchise to run out of gas.
Despite his declining popularity and his increased role as a target of ridicule, M. Night Shyamalan continues to be given tens of millions of dollars to make movies. Maybe the father-son combo of Will and Jaden Smith can save this one. Or was it all a dream?!
"Now You See Me"
A group of street magicians team to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from banks in a show of altruism. Despite a strong cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson, this one looks like it's stuffed with cliches from five different writers.
Greta Gerwig ("Greenberg") stars in the titular role in Noah Baumbach's ("The Squid and the Whale") comedic charmer about a woman who dreams of being a dancer in New York City.
Overgrown boys Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play workplace veterans forced to compete with youngsters for an internship in a film that looks a lot like an extended Google commercial.
"The Kings of Summer"
Frustrated with their boring lives and their obnoxious parents, a trio of friends retreat to the woods in an attempt to gain some measure of independence, but they come to learn that they can't simply run away from their problems. Nick Offerman and Alison Brie in small parts should add to the slight but sweet movie's draw.
Native Texan Ethan Hawke proved adept at handling horror material in last year's "Sinister" and finds his way back to the genre with this creepy-looking thriller.
"This Is the End"
A who's-who of young comedic talent (Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Michael Cera) star as themselves in this meta film from Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen about a group of friends stuck at James Franco's house and facing the apocalypse. For those wishing for a "Freaks and Geeks" reunion, this may be as good as you get.
"Man of Steel"
Director Zack Snyder has experience with rendering epic stories in eye-catching visuals ("300," "The Watchmen"), and he has the wisdom of producer Christopher Nolan behind him, so there are high hopes for the reboot of "Superman." This will be the first time many audiences will be exposed to Brit Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, and we can't wait to see what the excellent Michael Shannon does with the bad guy character of Zod.
"The Bling Ring"
Sofia Coppola knows something about celebrity. It will be interesting to see the tone she takes with this based-on-real-events story about celebrity-obsessed teens who stalk the famous. We're excited to see more of Emma Watson, who is on her way to becoming a grown-up star and not just Harry Potter's cute buddy.
"World War Z"
Yes, we're all tired of zombie movies. What could it take to make us want to see another? How about the creative duo of Brad Pitt and "Quantum of Solace" director Marc Forster.
"Much Ado About Nothing"
Joss Whedon's contemporary-dress take on Shakespeare's classic blends the Bard's original language with a noirish black-and-white tale shot for next-to-nothing at the filmmaker's house.
Sandra Bullock gets to flash her charming comedic skills in this buddy cop movie that finds her paired with everyone's favorite foul-mouth, Melissa McCarthy.
"White House Down"
Jamie Foxx as the president. What else do you need to know? A ripped Channing Tatum as a Capitol policeman thrust into president-protection duty. Hey, ladies.
Johnny Depp donning "red face" to play Tonto may draw some criticism, but Depp rarely disappoints with his performances. Armie Hammer ("The Social Network") plays the masked man in a movie that features a solid supporting cast of Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter and the under-utilized Barry Pepper.
"Grown Ups 2"
Who went and saw the first one? We need names, so we can take you off of our holiday card list.
Master of spectacle Guillermo del Toro takes some time off from his obsession with hobbits to deliver this story of deep-sea alien invaders and the human race's fight to defeat them.
The geriatric gang (Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich) is back together again trading one-liners and gunfire.
This powerful true story of the tragic death of 22-year-old Bay Area resident Oscar Grant won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the audience award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and marked both its star (Michael Jordan) and director (Ryan Coogler) as names to watch.
Hugh Jackman's been growing out his nails ever since filming wrapped on "Les Miserables." He's going to need all the help he can get as he wages a battle to hold onto his immortal strength.
"300: Rise of an Empire"
Director Noam Murro takes the reins on this franchise known for its massive men and seductive women.
"The Spectacular Now"
This story of the perils of teen alcoholism and a life on the verge of spiraling out of control reaffirms that Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") is a rising star.
Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington star as a DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer turned on each other by the mob.
Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in this futuristic drama, and under the direction of "District 9" filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, this just might work.
"We're the Millers"
Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston are two of the least offensive but uninspiring actors on the rom-com scene, so this will likely be the safest comedy about marijuana ever made.
Chlo Grace Moretz, who greatly impressed in the horror remake "Let Me In," straps the mask back on for this funny adolescent superhero flick.
"The To-Do List"
Austin Film Festival attendees got an early look at this film when writer-director Maggie Carey held a script reading of the comedy two years ago. If the movie is half as funny as that reading, this should be a sleeper summer hit.
Austin native Amber Heard ("The Rum Diaries") joins a cast that includes Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss in this corporate drama.
"The World's End"
Funny British buds Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright pair up again for another genre-bending film about a group of friends whose innocent night on a pub crawl turns disastrous.
The summer of Ethan Hawke continues with this thriller about a man trying to save his kidnapped wife. San Antonio native Selena Gomez co-stars.
Vin Diesel returns as the muscle-bound antihero in the fourth installment of this resilient franchise.
Machete don't text, but he does do blood-soaked, titillating sequels. Charlie Sheen as the president? Sofia Vergara with a weaponized brassiere? Sounds like a Robert Rodriguez movie.
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