Summer movie preview: The skinny on 99 films
Hollywood has plenty to offer moviegoers this summer.
Blockbusters promise conclaves of superheroes (Batman and Spider-Man and the Avengers, oh my!) and alien invasions ("Men in Black 3," "Battleship"), the animals of "Ice Age" and "Madagascar" return to entertain the kids, and Tom Cruise rocks out.
Here's more on 99 new movies:
"The Avengers" • The mega-mashup of fanboy dreams, "The Avengers" (May 4), teams up Marvel's heavy-hitters: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, when he's not green), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and their boss, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). But the real superhero here may be director Joss Whedon ("Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"), who speaks geek better than anyone.
"The Amazing Spider-Man" • Marvel also brings out its other big hero, "The Amazing Spider-Man" (July 3), in a reboot of the franchise that casts Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") as young Peter Parker, Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and Emma Stone as potential love interest Gwen Stacy.
"The Dark Knight Rises" • Meanwhile, on the other side of the great comic-book divide, "The Dark Knight Rises" (July 20) finishes Christopher Nolan's epic trilogy about DC Comics' legendary hero, Batman (Christian Bale). This time, the Caped Crusader faces the monstrous Bane (Tom Hardy), and comes in contact with Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).
"Battleship" • The U.S. Navy in the form of Taylor Kitsch ("John Carter"), Liam Neeson, Rihanna and a whole lot of hardware goes up against an alien invasion in "Battleship" (May 18), an action movie inspired by the board game.
"GI Joe: Retaliation" • Elsewhere in the land of Hasbro, "GI Joe: Retaliation" (June 29) brings the freedom-fighting action figures (led by Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis) back to the big screen.
"Men in Black 3" • Will Smith is back in black, trying to save the world as alien-immigration enforcer J in (May 25) this time, discovering history has been altered, forcing J to go back to 1969 to find his partner K (Josh Brolin in the role of young Tommy Lee Jones).
"Snow White and the Huntsman" • "Snow White and the Huntsman" (June 1) rewrites the classic fairytale with a "Game of Thrones"-style grittiness, with Kristen Stewart as the not-so-helpless princess, Chris Hemsworth ("Thor") as the ax-swinging huntsman, and Charlize Theron as the evil queen.
"Prometheus" • Explorers search for humanity's origins, and find a threat in outer space, in Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" (June 8), which may or may not be a prequel to Scott's classic "Alien" but it does boast a super-cool cast including Noomi Rapace ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," the original), Michael Fassbender ("Shame") and Charlize Theron (again).
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "The Raven" • The history/horror genre blender works overtime in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (June 22), which suggests the Great Emancipator (Benjamin Walker) was also chopping up the undead. Meanwhile, a bit north of Washington, D.C., Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) becomes detective to track a Poe-inspired serial killer in 19th century Baltimore in "The Raven" (April 27).
"Premium Rush" • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who also appears in "The Dark Knight Rises") plays a bike messenger who picks up a very important and sought-after package in "Premium Rush" (August 24).
"Lawless" • In Depression-era Virginia, bootleggers run afoul of the law who want their cut in "Lawless" (Aug. 31).
"Safe" and "The Expendables 2" • Jason Statham has double duty: He guards a little girl in "Safe" (April 27), and reteams with Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables 2" (August 17), which also gets action out of old-timers Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.
"The Bourne Legacy" and "Total Recall" • "The Bourne Legacy" (August 3) reboots Robert Ludlum's spy series, with Jeremy Renner in the middle of amnesia-induced action. Colin Farrell finds his memories aren't his own in "Total Recall" (August 3), a remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger action classic based on a Philip K. Dick story.
"Chernobyl Diaries" • Adventure tourists find something nasty in the found-footage horror thriller "Chernobyl Diaries" (May 25).
"The Apparition" • A college experiment unleashes a supernatural horror on a couple (Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan) in "The Apparition" (August 24).
"Piranha 3DD" • The tiny biters return in "Piranha 3DD" (June 1).
"The Possession" • An antique box takes control of a little girl in "The Possession" (August 31), starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick.
"7500" • And something nasty takes over an airliner in "7500" (to be determined).
"Headhunters" • The title characters in the Norwegian "Headhunters" (to be determined) are a corporate employment exec (Aksel Hennie) and a would-be CEO (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who team up for art theft.
"Unforgivable" and "Easy Money" • A crime writer (AndrÃ© Dussollier) obsesses over his new wife (Carole Bouquet) and her sexual past in AndrÃ© TÃ©chinÃ©'s "Unforgivable" (to be determined). Organized crime and drugs mean "Easy Money" (to be determined) in this Swedish thriller.
"Dark Shadows" • Director Tim Burton puts a comic spin on the '60s Gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows" (May 11), reuniting with Johnny Depp as the undead Barnabas Collins, patriarch of a clan that includes Michelle Pfeiffer and ChlÃ¶e Grace Moretz.
"The Dictator" • Sacha Baron Cohen returns as "The Dictator" (May 16), a Middle Eastern despot who finds himself broke and beardless in the Big Apple.
"We Have a Pope" • The Italian satire "We Have a Pope" (May 11) imagines the conversations between a nervous new Pope (Michel Piccoli) and his psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti, the movie's writer and director).
"Darling Companion" • In Lawrence Kasdan's "Darling Companion" (May 18), partly filmed in Park City, a woman (Diane Keaton) bonds with a dog when she's feeling neglected by her surgeon husband (Kevin Kline).
"Hope Springs" • Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play a long-married couple who try therapy (with Steve Carell) in "Hope Springs" (Aug. 10).
"Peace, Love & Misunderstanding" • Jane Fonda returns to the screen in Bruce Beresford's "Peace, Love & Misunderstanding" (June 8), as the hippie grandma of two teens (Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff), brought to see her by her uptight daughter (Catherine Keener).
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" • British retirees including Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith find new life in Jaipur, India, in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (May 11).
"The Salt of Life" • Meanwhile, an Italian retiree (Gianni Di Gregorio) wonders if he's still got sex appeal in "The Salt of Life" (June 1).
"To Rome With Love" • Italy is also Woody Allen's latest European destination, in the ensemble piece "To Rome With Love" (to be determined).
"The Intouchables" • And in the French comedy-drama "The Intouchables" (to be determined), a paraplegic (FranÃ§ois Cluzet) hires a man from the projects (Omar Sy) to be his caretaker.
"The Five-Year Engagement" and "Lola Versus" • Marriage gets delayed for Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in "The Five-Year Engagement" (April 27), while Greta Gerwig gets dumped just before her wedding in "Lola Versus" (to be determined).
"Ruby Sparks" • A luckless writer (Paul Dano) writes himself a romantic partner and wills her to exist in "Ruby Sparks" (to be determined), co-starring Zoe Kazan.
"Your Sister's Sister" • Emily Blunt also stars as a woman who invites her best friend (Mark Duplass), still mourning his brother's death, to spend some time at the family cabin where he has a game-changing encounter with her sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) in Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" (June 29).
"Delicacy" • Audrey Tautou plays a widow who, three years on, encounters a Swedish co-worker (FranÃ§ois Damiens) in "Delicacy" (to be determined).
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" • A married couple (Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones) splits up, kind of, in "Celeste and Jesse Forever" (to be determined).
"Nesting" • In "Nesting" (May 11), two 30-year-olds (Todd Grinnell, Ali Hillis) rekindle their relationship by living illegally in their old neighborhood.
"2 Days in New York" • And in "2 Days in New York" (to be determined), a Frenchwoman (Julie Delpy, who directed) introduces her new boyfriend (Chris Rock) to her parents.
"Hello, I Must Be Going" • A divorced woman (Melanie Lynskey) is pulled from her rut by a much younger man (Christopher Abbott) in "Hello, I Must Be Going" (to be determined).
"What to Expect When You're Expecting" • Pregnancy and parenthood weigh heavily on the ensemble cast including Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Lopez and Anna Kendrick in "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (May 18), inspired by the best-selling self-help guide.
"That's My Boy" • Parenthood is a new sensation for a playboy (Adam Sandler) reunited with his uptight adult son (Andy Samberg) in "That's My Boy" (June 15).
"Ted" • Another childhood relationship comes to light in "Ted" (July 13), about a kid who wished his teddy bear to life and now, as an adult (Mark Wahlberg), still deals with the profane stuffed pal (voiced by the movie's writer-director, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane).
"Neighborhood Watch" • In "Neighborhood Watch" (July 27), four suburban dads (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and "The IT Crowd's" Richard Ayoade) join forces to patrol their subdivision and end up fending off an alien invasion.
"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" • A more existential threat to Earth an asteroid leads a middle-aged man (Steve Carell) and a charming neighbor (Keira Knightley) to form a bond in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (June 22).
"Safety Not Guaranteed" • Time travel factors into the story of a magazine writer (Aubrey Plaza) who investigates a loner (Mark Duplass) in the Sundance '12 hit "Safety Not Guaranteed" (June 22).
"Moonrise Kingdom" • A boy and a girl escape summer camp in Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" (June 29), pursued by an ensemble cast that includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzman.
"Damsels in Distress" • Director Whit Stillman ("The Last Days of Disco") returns with "Damsels in Distress" (May 4), following three young women (Greta Gerwig, Carrie MacLemore and Megalyn Echikunwoke) trying to bring some life to their stuffy, male-dominated college.
"Hysteria" • A Victorian-era scientist (Hugh Dancy) invents the first vibrator, in the historical comedy "Hysteria" (June 15), co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.
"Where Do We Go Now?" • A more modern clash of attitudes hits when Lebanese women (led by the film's director, Nadine Labeki) find a unique solution to religious tensions in the comedy-drama "Where Do We Go Now?" (June 22).
"Magic Mike" • A male stripper (Channing Tatum) learns the business in Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike" (June 29).
"The Campaign" • An incumbent senator (Will Ferrell) gets himself in a sex scandal, opening an opportunity for a naive Republican challenger (Zack Galifianakis) in "The Campaign" (August 10).
"Madea's Witness Protection" and "Hit and Run" • In "Madea's Witness Protection" (June 29), an accountant (Eugene Levy) hides from the mob by living with Tyler Perry's drag character. Another guy (Dax Shepard) jeopardizes his witness-protection status to help his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) in "Hit and Run" (August 24).
"Brave" • Pixar unveils its first-ever female heroine: Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald), a spirited medieval Scottish teen with a talent for archery, in "Brave" (June 22).
"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" and "Ice Age: Continental Drift" • The lovable zoo animals are back in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" (June 1), this time on the run and joining the circus. And the prehistoric animals are back for a fourth round in "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (July 13)
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" • A hearty band of buccaneers meets Charles Darwin in "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" (April 27), a clay-animated tale by Britain's Aardman Animation (the "Wallace & Gromit" people).
"ParaNorman" • And Laika, the studio that made "Coraline," returns with "ParaNorman" (August 17), about a kid who sees dead people.
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" • A childless couple (Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton) buries their wishes in the garden, and up comes a young boy, in Disney's "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (Aug. 15).
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" • And it's sum-sum-summertime for the middle-school kids in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" (Aug. 3), the third in the franchise based on the popular book series.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" • Benh Zeitlin's one-of-a-kind drama "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (to be determined), a winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival, imagines a Louisiana neverland through the eyes of a little girl.
"Sound of My Voice" • Reporters infiltrate a suburban cult, led by a woman (Brit Marling, who co-wrote) who claims to be from the future, in "Sound of My Voice" (May 18).
"Falling" and "Virginia" • Utah filmmaker Richard Dutcher's tough 2008 drama "Falling" (April 27), about a videographer (Dutcher) and his wife (Virginia Reece) stumbling in moral dilemmas, returns for a re-release. Another ex-Mormon, "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, makes his directorial debut with "Virginia" (June 1), about an LDS sheriff (Ed Harris) running for the Senate and the mentally unstable woman (Jennifer Connelly) with whom he has had a 20-year-plus affair.
"Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed" • Meanwhile, Utah filmmaker Ryan Little returns to World War II in "Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed" (Aug. 17).
"Savages" • Pot growers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) tangle with Mexican drug lords who kidnap their girlfriend (Blake Lively), in the Oliver Stone-directed "Savages" (July 6).
"For Greater Glory" • The battle of church vs. state plays out in 1920s Mexico in the historical drama "For Greater Glory" (June 1), with a cast led by Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria.
"Monsieur Lazhar" • An Algerian (played by the one-named comedian Fellag) becomes substitute teacher to a class of grief-stricken Montreal second-graders in the Oscar-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar" (May 25).
"Crooked Arrows" • A Native American lacrosse team faces prep-school competition in "Crooked Arrows" (May 18).
"Coriolanus" • Ralph Fiennes directs a modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" (April 27), starring as the battle-scarred general who discovers no room in his peoples' hearts in peacetime.
"Trishna" • Michael Winterbottom ("Tristram Shandy") adapts Tess of the D'Urbervilles to modern India in "Trishna" (to be determined), starring "Slumdog Millionaire's" Freida Pinto.
"360" • Love and relationships span the globe in "360" (to be determined), with an ensemble cast that includes Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins.
"Chicken With Plums" • In "Chicken With Plums" (to be determined), a violinist (Mathieu Amalric) decides his life is not worth living.
"Oslo, August 31" • A recovering addict has an important day in "Oslo, August 31" (to be determined).
"Take This Waltz" • Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen play a married couple in writer-director Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz" (to be determined), as she contemplates an affair with an artist (Luke Kirby).
"Goodbye First Love" • A romance that starts in adolescence and picks up again eight years later is examined in the French "Goodbye First Love" (to be determined).
"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" • Men search for a body in the steppes of Turkey in the crime drama "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" (May 4).
"Polisse" • In the French police drama "Polisse" (June 15), a photographer (played by the one-named actress MaÃ¯wenn, who wrote and directed) falls for a cop (Joey Starr) investigating crimes against children.
"Elles" • In "Elles" (to be determined), Juliette Binoche plays an Elle magazine reporter who discovers a prostitution ring at a university.
"Compliance" • "Compliance" (to be determined) stirred up controversy at Sundance this year, with its story of a fast-food employee (Dreama Walker) interrogated by her boss (Ann Dowd).
"The Turin Horse" • Hungarian director BÃ©la Tarr examines the whipping of a horse an event that, according to legend, made the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche go mad in "The Turin Horse" (to be determined).
"I Wish" • The first bullet train holds the hopes of a 12-year-old Japanese boy seeking to be reunited with his brother after their parents' divorce in "I Wish" (to be determined).
"Rock of Ages" •The trailer for "Rock of Ages" (June 15) boasts "the music of a generation." It's just not this generation. It's the music of the '80s, with songs by Journey, Twisted Sister, Poison and others put in the mouth of Tom Cruise, playing a veteran rock star in 1987. But the story centers on two young performers (Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta) trying to make their rock 'n' roll dreams come true.
"Sparkle" •Whitney Houston makes her final screen appearance in "Sparkle" (August 24), a remake of a 1976 film, as mama to three girls (one played by onetime "American Idol" champ Jordin Sparks) with musical dreams.
"Step Up Revolution" •Meanwhile, the dancing is fast and furious in "Step Up Revolution" (July 27), the fourth of the franchise.
"Katy Perry: Part of Me" and "Neil Young; Journeys" • "Katy Perry: Part of Me" (July 5) takes us on tour and backstage with the "Teenage Dream" pop phenomenon, while "Neil Young; Journeys" (to be determined) hits the road with the old troubadour.
"Marley" and "Searching for Sugar Man" • "Marley" (May 4) celebrates the life, legend and music of reggae superstar Bob Marley, while the Sundance '12 hit "Searching for Sugar Man" (to be determined) goes in search of "the Latin Bob Dylan."
"Undefeated" •An inner-city high school football team finds a reason to believe in the Oscar-winning "Undefeated" (May 11).
"The Queen of Versailles" • "The Queen of Versailles" (to be determined) is Lauren Greenfield's Sundance winner that follows timeshare mogul David Siegel and his wife Jacqueline as the recession threatens their fortune.
"Whores' Glory" • "Whores' Glory" (to be determined) looks at the lives and aspirations of prostitutes around the world.
"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and "First Position" •The world's greatest sushi chef, 85-year-old Jiro Ono, imparts his wisdom in "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (May 4), while young ballet dancers compete in "First Position" (May 18).
"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" • "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" (to be determined), a hit at Sundance '12, profiles the Chinese artist and defiant activist.