The summer movie season is starting earlier and earlier, with “Iron Man 3” already having officially kicked off this year’s blockbuster bonanza in early May.
But lots of big, loud, explosive and action-filled movies are still headed our way. Here’s a look at what’s in store as the weather heats up, with Hollywood hoping for an even hotter box office (release dates subject to change).
“The Hangover Part III” — These boys are getting hard to shake, kind of like a real hangover, but this promised final installment finds the guys back where it all started — Las Vegas (we know they make it to Tijuana, as well, from the trailers). Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and director Todd Phillips return, as well as Justin Bartha — who hopefully will finally get more to do than just talk on a phone and look perplexed.
“Fast and Furious 6”— “You’re talking vehicular warfare,” Vin Diesel mumbles in the film’s screeching trailer for the fifth sequel — and counting, as a sixth is in the works — to the ridiculously successful stunt-driving series. This time, Dwayne Johnson enlists Diesel, Paul Walker and crew to take down a rogue special-ops team. Interesting tidbit: Somehow Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) miraculously returns after being killed off two movies ago. What is this? “Lost”?
“Epic” — The makers of the “Ice Age” movies bring us this new animation following a teenager who finds herself transported to a deep forest, where a battle between the forces of good and evil takes place. With the voices of Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Josh Hutcherson and Colin Farrell.
“After Earth” — At one point, I used to really admire director M. Night Shyamalan. I was even one of the very few who didn’t hate “Lady in the Water.” Then he delivered “The Happening” and he lost me. Hopefully he’s recharged and in top form for this sci-fi actioner starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith (his son), who crash-land on Earth 1,000 years after events forced humanity to abandon it.
“Now You See Me” — FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. A fine cast includes Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Caine. This is an interesting choice for director Louis Leterrier, as this is quite a departure from his previous films “Transporter,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Clash of the Titans.”
“The Internship” — This comedy reunites stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (last seen together in “Wedding Crashers”) as two struggling middle-aged salesmen who wind up in a coveted internship at Google, where they struggle to be relevant against a group of young, tech-savvy geniuses. Here’s hoping it’s LOL and not lame.
“Man of Steel” — This highly anticipated reboot of the Superman films based on the comics follows young journalist Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by dangerous members of his race. I’m pretty sure that director Zach Snyder (“Watchmen,” “Sucker Punch”) has been on a tight leash with backing studio Warner Bros. and DC Comics, so the film is probably going to be good. But a lot rides on its success, as this could be the setup for DC’s potential Justice League films. So, yeah, no pressure, Snyder. Just don’t blow it, that’s all.
“This Is the End” — This comedy sounds fun (and perhaps creative), as James Franco, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and other actors play themselves (bet that took a lot of method acting preparation). The actors all meet at Franco’s house for a party when the apocalypse happens. Now that’s a party foul.
“Monster’s University” — Disney and Pixar bring us this prequel to “Monsters Inc.,” which introduces us to Mike Wazowski and Sulley in their college days — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends. This sounds risky to me, but with strong talent behind it, hopefully the film recaptures the magic of the original and doesn’t go the route of, say, “Cars 2.”
“World War Z” — Many thought a film adaptation of Max Brooks’ wildly popular novel was impossible. And it did look like that for a while, as the film stalled in pre-production and rumors surfaced of major crew members asking to leave once filming began. Then there was the bump in release date (from December 2012) to allow for extensive reshoots in the film’s third act. Not to mention the escalating budget costs. But we finally get the film, starring Brad Pitt as a United Nations employee who must stop a zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments around the world. The undead are almost always a hot commodity, but this is going to take lots of fanboy word-of-mouth praise to not be DOA.
“The Heat” — Oscar winner Sandra Bullock returns to comedy — this time of the raunchy variety ala “Bridesmaids” (same director here) — with Melissa McCarthy as mismatched FBI partners who must take down a ruthless drug lord.
“White House Down” — The second White-House-in-despair film this year (following “Olympus Has Fallen”) finds a policeman (Channing Tatum) springing into action to save his child and protect the president (Jamie Foxx) from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders who try to take over the Oval Office.
“Byzantium” — Saoirse Ronan (“The Host”) and Gemma Arterton (“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”) star as mysterious women who seek refuge at a coastal resort town, where the residents soon discover that they are vampires. A lot of unsatisfied vampire fans may be looking forward to this after the saccharine “Twilight” films, but they shouldn’t expect a lot of gore. Director Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”) is said to have created more of a mood piece than horror film.
“The Lone Ranger” — Johnny Depp stars as Tonto and Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) stars as John Reid, who becomes the legend of justice known as the Lone Ranger. I was initially skeptical of Depp’s casting, then saw early pictures of his ridiculous feather-hat costume and was completely turned off. But the trailers actually look cool, the film gave lots of roles to Native American actors, and Depp was adopted into my tribe (Comanche), so I’m looking forward to this a little more.
“Despicable Me 2” — Bring on the minions! Steve Carell returns as the voice of Dru, who is recruited by the “Anti-Villain League” to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.
“Pacific Rim” — Fanboy favorite Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”) directs this sci-fi actioner, about an alien race that invades Earth, and the giant robots piloted by Charlie Hunnam (TV’s “Sons of Anarchy”) and others to fight back. Del Toro showed a sneak preview of this at Comic-Con 2012, prompting glowing reviews and hype.
“Grown Ups 2” — In this summer’s most useless sequel department, Adam Sandler and pals return for another vacation filled with sitcom-variety high jinks.
“Red 2” — The original film based on the graphic novel, following a bunch of retired hitmen, was an unexpected blockbuster, so of course we get a sequel — that hopefully recaptures the comedy and tone of the original. Here, retired black-ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives to track down a missing portable nuclear device. Also returning are John Malkovich and Helen Mirren, and joining them is Anthony Hopkins.
“ R.I.P.D.” — Speaking of “Red,” we’ll see if its director, Robert Schwentke, can turn another offbeat graphic novel into a box-office hit. Ryan Reynolds stars as a recently slain cop who joins a team of undead police officers working in the “Rest in Peace Department” and tries to find the man who murdered him. Jeff Bridges also stars.
“The Wolverine” — Apparently we’re supposed to pretend that “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” never happened with this reboot, which is basically a do-over. Hugh Jackman returns as the titular hairy dude who claws his way to modern-day Japan, where he encounters an enemy from his past that will affect his future. Um, don’t they always?
“300: Rise of an Empire” — “300” basically jump-started director Zach Snyder’s (“Man of Steel”) career. He’s in producer mode for this prequel that follows Greek general Themistocles as he battles an invading army of Persians under the mortal-turned-god Xerxes. How come they all sound like antibiotics?
“2 Guns” — Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star in this actioner about a DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer who find they have been set up by the mob.
“The Smurfs 2” — The blues are back, as the Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel and taken to Paris. So it should have been titled “Les Smurfs 2.”
“Elysium” — It has an A-list cast that includes Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, but the plot has mostly been shrouded in secrecy. We do know this is director Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to the hit “District 9,” and we do know that it’s set in the year 2154, where the wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth.
“ Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” — Part two in a trilogy of films based on the books, this follows the son of Poseidon and his friends as they embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece and stop an ancient evil from rising.
“Planes” — Sort of a “Cars” offshoot (though this isn’t done by Pixar), this animated film follows a crop-dusting plane named Dusty who dreams of competing in a famous aerial race — only he’s afraid of heights.
“Kick-Ass 2” — The DIY superhero returns (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who added the “Taylor” to his name when he married Sam Taylor-Johnson) to fight crime on the streets but this time is aided by a new comrade, Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).
“Paranoia” — Harrison Ford, Liam Hemsworth and Gary Oldman star in this corporate espionage thriller about an entry-level employee at a powerful corporation who finds himself promoted, but with a price: He must become an office spy.
“ The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” — Backing studio Sony hopes to build a franchise with this first film based on a series of six books, about a seemingly ordinary teenage girl (Lily Collins, “Mirror Mirror”) whose mom is attacked and taken from their home by a demon, causing her to probe into her own history and bloodline.
“The World’s End” — Fans of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are giddy with anticipation with this re-teaming of stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright for this comedy about five friends who reunite to top an epic pub crawl they did 20 years earlier and unwittingly become mankind’s only hope for survival.