Here it begins, the summer movie season, the time of year for superheroes and sequels and giant robots and more sequels. If big and loud is not your thing, look more closely, though, and you’ll find smaller, more thoughtful fare too — new films by Pedro Almodóvar and Woody Allen and Richard Linklater, and a Shakespeare adaptation by the guy who directed The Avengers last year. During the summer, anything goes at the multiplex. Here is a list of some of the 50-plus movies scheduled to open between now and Labor Day.
Iron Man 3: See review here.
To the Wonder: See review here.
The Great Gatsby: Baz Lurhman ( Moulin Rouge) shot this $150 million adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel using 3D cameras, so you know the movie will look sensational. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the party-loving millionaire living the high life in 1920s New York. Tobey Maguire is the aspiring author from the Midwest who starts hanging out with the rich crowd.
Peeples: Craig Robinson (TV’s The Office) crashes the eponymous family’s annual gathering in the Hamptons to propose to their daughter (Kerry Washington).
Star Trek Into Darkness: Director J.J. Abrams kicks things up several notches in the second installment of the Star Trek reboot. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and the rest of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are tasked to travel to dangerous territory and capture a fugitive (Benedict Cumberbatch) who committed an act of terrorism in London.
Simon Killer: The team that made Martha Marcy May Marlene returns with this unusual thriller about a man (Brady Corbet) who moves to Paris after a breakup and discovers his dark side.
At Any Price: Dennis Quaid is an Iowa farmer who wants to hand the family business down to his kids. Zac Efron play the rebellious son who yearns to be a NASCAR driver instead.
Kon-Tiki: In 1947, Norwegian adventurers use a raft made of balsa wood to sail on an extraordinary journey of 4,300 nautical miles.
The Iceman: Michael Shannon stars as a contract killer who was arrested in 1986 for murdering more than 100 men over several years, yet still fulfilled his roles of husband and father. Think The Sopranos, only based on a true story. The strong supporting cast includes Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer and James Franco.
Venus and Serena: A yearlong look into the lives of the Williams sisters, as they grapple with health issues and plan their return to the game.
Fast and Furious 6: Justin Lin returns for a fourth time to direct Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and the rest of the rubber-burning crew. This is the rare kind of movie franchise that gets better with each new film .
Francis Ha: Director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg) goes low-budget, black-and-white French New Wave with this whimsical study of a young woman (Greta Gerwig) trying to survive in New York.
Epic: Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz and Josh Hutcherson provide the voices for this 3D animated fable about a teenage girl who is magically transported into an alternate universe.
The Hangover Part III: For the final chapter in his hugely successful trilogy about guys behaving badly, director Todd Phillips shakes things up by doing away with weddings and bachelor parties altogether. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha are all back for more punishment.
After Earth: M. Night Shyamalan tries to rebound from the Last Airbender debacle with this sci-fi thriller starring Will and Jaden Smith as father and son who crash land on Earth 1,000 years after it was abandoned by mankind.
Now You See Me: Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco are a team of bank-robbing magicians. Mark Ruffalo is the FBI agent trying to anticipate their next move.
The East: Actress/screenwriter Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij (Sound of My Voice) reunite for this thriller about an intelligence officer (Marling) trying to infiltrate a group of ecoterrorists (including Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Shiloh Fernandez).
Love is All You Need: Pierce Brosnan is a bitter widower whose closed heart is finally opened by a woman (Trine Dyrholm) struggling with cancer. Directed by Susanne Bier, who won an Oscar for 2010’s In a Better World.
The Internship: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play obsolete salesmen trying to compete in the digital age who take internships at Google and try to outdo their college-age peers.
Before Midnight: Two decades after they first met, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reunite in Greece. According to the reaction at the Sundance Film Festival, director Richard Linklater has nailed the ending to his romantic trilogy (including Before Sunrise and Before Sunset).
The Purge: Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are a couple trying to protect their children from intruders during a 12-hour period in which the government has deemed everything legal, including murder.
This is the End: During a giant party at James Franco’s house, Emma Watson, Seth Rogen, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Jonah Hill (all playing themselves) find out the apocalypse is coming and the world is about to end.
Man of Steel: Now that the Batman franchise has been put in mothballs for a while, Warner Bros. turns to its other iconic superhero — Superman — in director Zack Snyder’s reboot. Henry Cavill wears the cape. Russell Crowe is his father Jor-El, Amy Adams is Lois Lane and Michael Shannon is General Zod, still demanding people kneel before him.
Much Ado About Nothing: Writer-director Joss Whedon rounded up a bunch of his actor friends and shot this modern-day adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy at his house in 12
days, as a way to recover from the making of The Avengers. Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz and Clark Gregg form the cast.
Monsters University: Pixar continues its foray into sequels and prequels with this look back at the college days of monsters Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman), when they were studying how to be scary.
The Bling Ring: Writer-director Sofia Coppola explores our cultural obsession with celebrity via this comedy, based on actual events, about a group of teenage girls (Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien, and Taissa Farmiga) who burglarize the homes of famous people in L.A.
World War Z: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of the Max Brooks novel, playing a United Nations official racing around the world to try and stop a zombie pandemic. Directed by Marc Forster ( Quantum of Solace), who clashed with Pitt on the set and was forced to film some extensive reshoots.
The Heat: A cop-buddy comedy, only with women! Sandra Bullock is the by-the-book FBI agent who pairs up with an unpredictable Boston police officer (Melissa McCarthy) to take down a drug kingpin.
White House Down: For the second time this year (the first was Olympus Has Fallen), the White House is taken over by terrorists and a policeman (Channing Tatum) must protect the life of the president (Jamie Foxx). Directed by Roland Emmerich, who famously demolished the White House once before ( Independence Day).
Despicable Me 2: The inevitable sequel to the surprise animated hit centers on a now-reformed Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), who is assigned to help stop a new super criminal (Al Pacino).
The Lone Ranger: One of the biggest gambles of the summer, this revival of the legendary gunslinger (Armie Hammer) and his Native American friend Tonto (Johnny Depp) cost a reported $250 million. Directed by Gore Verbinski, who has experience at making a successful blockbuster ( Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango).
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain: Documentary of the comedian’s sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden.
I’m So Excited: Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar first foray into all-out comedy since 1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is set aboard a jetliner that suffers from a potentially catastrophic technical failure. Javier Cámara and Hugo Silva are among the flight attendants trying to keep their passengers calm.
Pacific Rim: When giant monsters rise up from the ocean and attack cities, mankind builds giant robots controlled by soldiers to fight them off. Sounds awfully geeky, but in director Guillermo Del Toro we trust.
Grown Ups 2: Adam Sandler collects another paycheck and brings along his famous buddies (including Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade)..
Turbo: Ryan Reynolds provides the voice for the titular hero of this animated fable — a little snail who longs to be the fastest racer in the world. Yes, this sounds adorable.
The Conjuring: Paranormal investigators (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) are called to a farmhouse where a family is being terrorized by dark forces. Where are Mulder and Scully when you need them?
R.I.P.D.: Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are two cops who work for the Rest in Peace Department, dispatching the souls of dead people who hang around, refusing to cross over into the everafter.
Red 2: Bruce Willis returns as the retired C.I.A. agent, rounding up his gang of old cronies (Helen Mirren, John Malkovich) and some new ones (including Anthony Hopkins) to track down a stolen nuclear device.
The Wolverine: Hugh Jackman tries to make up for X-Men Origins: Wolverine with this new adventure about the clawed mutant, in which he travels to Japan and encounters an old foe. James Mangold (Knight and Day) landed the director’s gig after Darren Aronofsky bailed.
Smurfs 2: Enough said.
The Spectacular Now: Smashed director James Ponsoldt teams up with screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer) for this comedy about a popular high school senior (Miles Teller) whose life is changed when he takes a break from the party animals and starts dating a “nice” girl (Shailene Woodley).
2 Guns: Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington play two agents unwittingly investigating each other for corruption.
300: Rise of an Empire: Director Noam Muro uses the same visual style Zack Snyder used in the original 300, only this time the war is on the open sea. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel Xerxes, the film stars Sullivan Stapleton as a Greek general battling a mortal turned god (Rodrigo Santoro).
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: The second adaptation of one of Rick Riordan’s bestselling young adult novels sends Percy (Logan Lerner) and his friends on a quest to find the Golden Fleece.
Blue Jasmine: The plot of Woody Allen’s latest annual offering has been kept under unusually tight wraps. All we know is that Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K. co-star. Oh, and Andrew Dice Clay, too.
Disney’s Planes: Remember Cars? This is kind of like the same exact thing, only without Pixar. Dane Cook provides the voice of a plane that is afraid of heights.
Elysium: Director Neill Blomkamp’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to District 9 is set in the year 2154, when the 1 percent live in luxury in a space station and everyone else has been left to fend for themselves on a ruined Earth. Matt Damon stars as a man trying to reunite mankind. Jodie Foster plays the government agent who believes the rich shouldn’t mingle with the riff-raff.
Kick-Ass 2: This follow-up to the controversial 2010 action-comedy about teenagers who become superheroes promises to be even mo
re R-rated. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz return as Kick-Ass and Hit Girl. Jim Carrey joins the party as a former mobster who has reinvented himself as a good guy.
Paranoia: In exchange for a corner office, a young executive (Liam Hemsworth) plots with his boss (Gary Oldman) to spy on their corporate rival (Harrison Ford).
The To Do List: A college-bound freshman (Aubrey Plaza) decides she needs to gain more sexual experience before classes start. Andy Samberg, Bill Hader and Clark Gregg are among the people lending her support.
The Grandmaster: The great Wong Kar Wai ( In the Mood for Love) tries his hand at a large-scale martial arts adventure, inspired by the life of kung fu master Ip Man, who trained Bruce Lee.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: A teenager (Lily Collins) discovers she is part of a bloodline of half-angel warriors, destined to protect our world from evil. You know, like Buffy, but with more monsters.
The World’s End: Five longtime friends (including Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) get together to reprise the epic pub crawl they pulled off 20 years earlier. Directed by Edgar Wright ( Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz).
Closed Circuit: Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall play lawyers (and former flames) defending an international terrorist in court.
Getaway: When his wife is kidnapped, a former race car driver (Ethan Hawke) must follow the orders of a mysterious man who is watching every move he makes. Selena Gomez is a young hacker who tries to figure out where the kidnappers are holed up.
One Direction: This is Us: Morgan Spurlock ( Super Size Me) directed this concert documentary featuring the British pop band.
Satanic: A college student (Haley Bennett) decides to stay on campus instead of going home for Thanksgiving and is targeted by a gang of thugs.