It’s the first weekend in May, so you know what that means: there’s a new Marvel movie in theaters (seriously, it’s been their weekend since 2007), and the summer movie season has officially begun. It’s a tricky minefield to navigate, rife with sequels and reboots and sequels and adaptations and sequels, but Flavorwire is here to help: our summer movie guide takes you through the entire season, month by month, spotlighting the films that might be worth seeing (Might! Maybe! No promises!) and delicately averting your eyes from the certain dogs. Take a deep breath and put on your 3D glasses; here we go.
The Great Gatsby (May 10)
Sure, a big-budget adaptation of Fitzgerald’s classic, in pointless 3D with a hip-hop soundtrack and ADD-afflicted director Baz Luhrmann at the helm sounds like a terrible idea. And it may very well turn out to be! But you’ve gotta hand it to Baz for going all in on this one, and in all fairness, the trailers do look pretty spectacular. He’s going to have to pull off quite a balancing act if he’s going to get the mixture of spectacle, cinema, and literature right — but nobody ever made a great movie by being timid.
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
The Star Trek franchise had been so thoroughly rode hard and put away wet by the time it was handed over to J.J. Abrams back in 2009 that it was kind of surprising he could do much of anything with it — much less that he could transform the creaky enterprise (and Enterprise) into something as fresh, funny, and thrilling as he did. The glimpses provided thus far suggest that first picture wasn’t an anomaly.
The Hangover Part III (May 24)
No bones about it: The Hangover Part II was a rancid, cheap, lazy piece of cynical studio exploitation, a quickie attempt to wring more cash out of an unexpected blockbuster by spewing out so blatant a copycat picture that it played less like a sequel than a remake. So why might The Hangover Part III be worth seeing? Because its stars (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis) and director (Todd Phillips) aren’t stupid; they know how widely disliked their first sequel was, and that although it made a mint at the box office, word of mouth for this one is going to have to be stronger. So maybe they put a little effort into this one, right? Maybe?
Before Midnight (May 24)
You must be tired of hearing about this one, so, in brief: sequel to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. A perfect extension of that story, yet a remarkably successful standalone film. Tougher, trickier, more complicated, more adult. Probably the best movie of the year so far. There you go. See it on the 24th.
Now You See Me (May 31)
Say what you will about the summer movie season, but this year it’s giving us two new Isla Fisher movies (in the same month, even), so that’s gotta count for something. The cast alone is tantalizing on this one: besides Fisher, you’ve got Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco as a quartet of Robin Hood magicians, Mark Ruffalo doing the haggard-FBI-guy thing, Michael Caine doing the evil-rich-guy thing, and Morgan Freeman doing the wise-man-with-gravitas thing. Good cast, good trailer, hopefully a good movie.
Also in May:
- Surprisingly, Generation Um… is just a movie starring Keanu Reeves, and not his biopic. (Today)
- Few words in media are as terrifying as “Tyler Perry Presents,” but the Kerry Washigton/Craig Robinson factor could still make Peeples worth seeing. (May 10)
- A pair of dull 30-somethings turn a drab holiday into a killing spree in the deliciously dark comedy Sightseers. (May 10)
- Actor-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley (Take this Waltz) helms her first nonfiction film, the fascinating family documentary Stories We Tell . (May 10)
- Noah Baumbach lightens up, with the help of sunny star/co-writer Greta Gerwig, in the delightful comedy Frances Ha . (May 17)
- Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) finds his most complex subject, and creates his most accomplished film to date (and that’s saying something) with We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. (May 24)
- Everyone tried to insist that Fast 5 was actually a fun, escapist treat, but your film editor is convinced it was an elaborate conspiracy. At any rate, Fast & Furious 6 is happening. (May 24)
- Sound of My Voice director Zal Batmanglij and star/co-writer Brit Marling reunite for the cracklingly smart cult thriller The East . (May 31)
- A trio of teens run away from home and build a house in the woods, to chagrin of their family (including Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Alison Brie), in The Kings of Summer . (May 31).
- Clive Owen tries to turn an IRA member into an informant in the low-key thriller Shadow Dancer . (May 31)
- The best thing about the Will Smith vehicle After Earth — which, to be clear, looks terrible — is how every single bit of advertising is trying to pretend like M. Night Shyamalan didn’t direct it. (May 31)
Much Ado About Nothing (June 7)
Loose, sparkling, and breezy, Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic was thrown together on a whim, in lieu of a vacation, after he finished shooting The Avengers. In the process, he and a cast of his favorite actors (including Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, and Alexis Denisof) make a very old play feel very fresh and new — a sweet and coy romantic comedy with a classical streak.
This Is The End (June 12)
Seth Rogen and his Pineapple Express/Superbad co-writer Evan Goldberg move the director’s chairs for this end-of-the-world comedy, with Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Jay Baruchel playing themselves, attempting to survive an apocalypse that breaks out during a big Hollywood party. There’s a healthy chance that this could end up playing like one long inside joke, but the trailers are funny and energetic, and these guys have proven pretty reliable thus far. (Warning: this comes from a Green Hornet apologist.)
Man of Steel (June 14)
Zack Snyder is, to say the least, a polarizing figure; even admirers of his slavishly faithful take on Watchmen were left scratching their heads by the schoolgirl/steampunk/video game/music video nightmare that was Sucker Punch. But the lovely, leisurely, mythologizing trailers for his Superman reboot were some of the spring’s most promising; if he can sustain the emotion and beauty of those spots for a couple of hours, all is forgiven.
The Bling Ring (June 14)
College-age girls and their lives of crime are proving a popular subject at the cinema this year, but Sofia Coppola’s take on the matter is based on the true story of a crew of privileged girls who swiped jewelry, clothes, and other goods from the rich and famous. Hopefully Coppola will work up something with a bit more life in it than the listless Somewhere — but the subject matter (to say nothing of the ever-watchable Emma Watson and her remarkably credible American accent) is riveting.
Monsters University (June 21)
Pixar seems to be playing it pretty safe these days, loading up their upcoming slate with sequels to their previous hits, which can go well (Toy Story 3) or, y’know, not so much (Cars 2). For the follow-up to Monsters Inc., they’ve gone the prequel route, with the characters and premise of the first film mated to that old standby, the campus comedy. The result looks like something of a mix of Monsters and Animal House — an unexpected combination, but an intriguing one.
I’m So Excited (June 28)
New Almodóvar. I’m so excited, indeed.
Also in June:
- Wedding Crashers stars Vince Vaughn and Own Wilson reunite for The Internship… but this time with a PG-13 rating, and the director of The Pink Panther remake. Oof. (June 7)
- Hanna’s Saoirse Ronan and Gilmore Girl Alexis Bledel are teenage hit girls with James Gandolfini in their sights in Violet & Daisy, a coming-of-age thriller from Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher. (June 7)
- The finest back-up singers from the worlds of rock and soul finally get their due in the joyous, invigorating documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. (June 14)
- The production of Brad Pitt’s in-name-only adaptation of World War Z has been a touch, erm, problematic. Perhaps you’ve heard? (June 21)
- Elijah Wood takes a decidedly non-cuddly turn in the grisly new remake of William Lustig’s notorious low-budget horror flick Maniac. (June 21)
- Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and co-star Melissa McCarthy’s reunion picture The Heat would be a lot more promising if it didn’t look like Miss Congeniality 3. (June 28)
- In case you didn’t get enough terrorists-take-over-the-Oval-Office action in Olympus Has Fallen, or wanted a bit more Channing Tatum-ness up in there, well, good news: White House Down. (June 28)
- Neil Jordan (Interview With a Vampire) returns to bloodsucker territory with the moody Byzantium. (June 28)
The Way, Way Back (July 5)
Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (aka Dean Pelton), Oscar winners for The Descendants, write and direct this coming-of-age comedy/drama, which picked up massive buzz and a nice payday for its filmmakers at Sundance this year. The ensemble cast is to die for — Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Rob Corddry, Maya Rudolph, and Amanda Peet — and if the film is half as warm, funny, and poignant as the trailer, we should be all set.
Pacific Rim (July 12)
After a five-year hiatus from directing (most of it spent developing, and then abandoning, The Hobbit), Guillermo del Toro is back. His new movie involves giant robots, a giant monster, Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, and Charlie Day. What else do you need to know?
Blue Jasmine (July 26)
Woody Allen may be 77 years old, but he’s clearly not one to let advancing age keep him from turning out a new movie every single year, and 2013 is no exception: his latest (a rare Stateside shoot for the increasingly European director — though in San Francisco rather than his beloved New York City) features Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K. (oh, to be a fly on the wall during those conversations), Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Canavale and Michael Stuhlbarg, and (wild card!) Andrew Dice Clay.
Fruitvale Station (July 26)
When this drama premiered at Sundance in January (under its original title Fruitvale) it won not only the Grand Jury prize, but the Audience Award as well. Based on the true story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man shot to death by a BART officer in 2009, it reportedly features a star-making turn by Michael B. Jordan, the remarkable young actor from Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and Chronicle.
Only God Forgives (July 26)
Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn reunites with star Ryan Gosling for this neon-soaked, noir–infused drama, but don’t go expecting a retread of their earlier effort; their latest is “radical and punk,” according to Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival (where the picture will debut this month). Radical, punk, violent Gosling? Sounds like a surefire recipe for awesome.
Also in July:
- Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski are together again (goody?) for a Lone Ranger reboot that’s clearly trying to be solemn — and thus looks all the more silly. (July 3)
- Despicable Me apparently made some money, so they made Despicable Me 2. (July 3)
- The theatrically released stand-up comedy concert film is increasingly rare these days, but Kevin Hart is on a one-man crusade to keep it alive. It helps that he’s funny. His latest, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, was shot during a sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden. (July 3)
- If you loathe joy and can’t get enough lazy farts-and-fat-guy humor, good news: In two months, you can contribute $12 to Adam Sandler’s next house by seeing Grown-Ups 2. (July 12)
- Michael Cera plays an ugly American — convincingly! — in Sebastian Silva’s drug-induced comedy/drama Crystal Fairy. (July 12)
- Nine months after its predecessor’s release, a new pack of indie directors team up for the tighter, scarier, superior V/H/S/2. (July 12)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Jeff Garlin finally follows up his indie gem I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With with Dealing With Idiots, bringing along fellow improv comedy greats Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, J.B. Smoove, and Bob Odenkirk. (July 12)
- Confession: your film editor genuinely enjoyed the aging-action-heroes comedy Red, so maybe Red 2 is worth looking forward to? (July 19)
- It’s certainly more promising than R.I.P.D., which wants to be Men in Black so bad, you can all but smell it. (July 19)
- We know Dreamworks Animation loves tackling the same subjects and environments as Pixar, but before they made Turbo, shouldn’t someone have mentioned that nobody liked Cars? (July 19)
- Sure, The Wolverine is gonna be totally different and better than Wolverine. Sure thing. Yep. (July 26)
- Smurfs 2, because July wasn’t depressing enough with just Grown-Ups 2. (July 31)
The Spectacular Now (August 2)
Tim Tharp’s popular YA novel gets the big screen treatment, via director James Ponsoldt (Smashed) and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer). It’s a simple story, of a popular bad boy made better by his tender relationship with a genuinely good girl, executed with genuine sweetness and pathos. One of the best films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, anchored by astonishingly accomplished leading performances by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.
Elysium (August 9)
Back in 2009, a sci-fi/action picture with a touch of social commentary opened quietly in a low-profile August slot and ended up a sleeper hit with four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture). The film was District 9, the director was Neil Blomkamp, and his eagerly anticipated follow-up is getting an August release as well. But the profile is noticeably higher this time — thanks in no small part to the presence of Matt Damon in the lead and Jodie Foster in support.
Kick-Ass 2 (August 16)
The original 2010 Kick-Ass was, truth be told, kind of a mess: a tonally inconsistent mishmash of low humor and high concept. But Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit Girl carried the picture almost single-handedly, stealing scene after glorious scene, and the filmmakers appear to have realized that she’s the real draw this time around, title be damned.
The World’s End (August 23)
After splitting off for the individual endeavors of Scott Pilgrim and Paul, director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are together again, seeking to recapture the gloriously irreverent magic of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The story is being kept under wraps; it’s something about a group of friends on a pub crawl who “unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.” Similarity in titles has prompted some question as to whether the film is covering the same apocalyptic ground as This Is the End, but even if that’s the case, surely there’s enough end-of-the-world satire to go around.
The Grandmaster (August 30)
Wong Kar-wai is another filmmaker who’s taken entirely too long between movies; it’s been a full six years since his 2007 effort My Blueberry Nights. That one was much-maligned, but not in these parts; it’s thin, sure, and lacking the emotional punch of In the Mood For Love (most things in this life are), but it’s got a lovely, hanging-out spirit, and it’s just plain gorgeous to look at. Who knows if his latest will prove up to par (reviews thus far have been mixed), but once again — if the trailer is any indication — the aesthetics are astonishing.
Also in August:
- With Snyder off doing Man of Steel, directorial duties for 300: Rise of an Empire went to… Noam Murro, director of the Dennis Quaid/Ellen Page family comedy/drama Smart People. Wait, what? (August 2)
- Denzel Washington continues the peculiar buddy-action phase of his career with 2 Guns, a Mark Wahlberg pairing. You see, each of the two men apparently has a gun. (August 2)
- Disney tries to get some of that Pixar mojo going with Planes… a spin-off of Cars. GOOD GOD WHY DOES EVERYONE THINK PEOPLE LIKED CARS? (August 9)
- Dodgeball director Rawson Marshal Thurber marshals a killer comic cast (Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Jennifer Aniston) for the pot caper comedy We’re the Millers. (August 9)
- Our pretend girlfriend Aubrey Plaza finally gets a starring vehicle, as a straight-A student painstakingly catching up with her sexually active classmates via The To-Do List. (August 16)
- Director David Gordon Green returns from the no-man’s-land of Your Highness and The Sitter, with the help of Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, in the likably shambling comedy/drama Prince Avalanche. (August 16)
- David Lowery made a big splash at Sundance with his Malick-esque Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a Texas outlaw tale starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. (August 16)
- Hey, young readers! Enjoy film adaptations of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (August 9) and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August 23), won’t you?
- Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) directs the concert doc One Direction: This Is Us. On a related note: Morgan Spurlock took care of some bills recently. (August 30)
And there’s your big-time summer movie preview — what are you looking forward to? What will you be carefully avoiding?