This undated publicity image released by Marvel shows Robert Downey Jr., as Tony Stark/Iron Man, in a scene from "Marvel's Iron Man 3." (AP Photo/Marvel/Zade Rosenthal)
The summer movie season is the ultimate con game, a Hollywood parade of heavily hyped and big-budget “meh.”
And every year we fall for it.
We’re seduced by the “wow factor” of effective film trailers and slick studio marketing campaigns. We convince ourselves that [insert big name] in [insert big film] will deliver this time; that having a 2 or 3 — or its Roman variation — in the movie title isn’t a sign of diminishing quality; that a CGI-heavy flick with only a vague semblance of plot can be good — even if it is based on a toy or game.
And then we look to the coming months of genre favorites — superheroes, science fiction, comedy, action — and we embrace the upcoming summer slate of films.
And every time we say the same thing: “This year will be different.”
But this year, it will be different. Seriously. Have you seen the blood-pumping trailers to Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel? This summer brings us Robert Downey, Jr., as Iron Man and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine; the visual marvel of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Guilleremo Del Toro making a giant monster movie.
The following films are only a few of the highlights of what is sure to be Hollywood’s greatest summer yet. You’ll see.
Thursday: Iron Man 3. After last summer’s blockbuster The Avengers, Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man goes solo again. Strong buzz surrounds what looks to be the darkest Iron Man yet, as action film scribe Shane Black takes over for director Jon Favreau.
May 10: The Great Gatsby. The 1974 film starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow may be the best-known adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, but Baz Luhrmann counters with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire, and 3-D.
May 17: Star Trek Into Darkness. The cast and director J.J. Abrams are back, but there’s a new villain. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a terrorist wreaking mass destruction on Starfleet, whom the Enterprise crew pursues. Has Captain Kirk found Khan, as rumors suggest?
May 24: The Hangover Part III. The gang returns for what’s billed as “the end” to this trilogy of alcohol-fueled mayhem, regret, and revenge. Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms are back, and Melissa McCarthy and John Goodman join them.
Fast & Furious 6. 2011’s Fast Five was the biggest-grossing installment in the car theft-car chase franchise, hence part 6. Jason Statham is along for the ride with Dwayne Johnson, as Vin Diesel and Paul Walker return as car thieves — now offered a fresh start, for a price.
Epic. In this animated tale from the creators of Ice Age and Rio, a teenager (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself caught up in the battle between forces of good and evil in a mysterious deep forest, with two worlds at stake. Other voices include Beyoncé, Pitbull, and Christoph Waltz.
May 31: The Purge, Now You See Me. As proof Hollywood isn’t out of fresh ideas: a film about an annual night when crime is permitted without punishment (The Purge), and a film about Las Vegas illusionists as Robin Hood-like thieves chased by the FBI (Now You See Me).
June 7: The Internship. This comedy about two salesmen starting new careers reunites Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson from Wedding Crashers. After Earth. This sci-fi film about a father and son struggling to survive a hostile and humanless Earth in the future reunites Will Smith and teenage son Jaden on screen.
June 14: Man of Steel. In film, Superman has been great, horrible, and thoroughly dull. With Zac Snyder directing and Christopher Nolan co-writing and producing this reboot, Man of Steel won’t be boring, and it has the potential to reach The Dark Knight level of greatness.
This is the End: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, and more of Judd Apatow’s stable of regulars star as themselves in this comedy about a Franco house party deflated by the apocalypse.
June 21: Monsters University. With its third sequel in four years, Pixar appears to be stuck in a creative rut. But Monsters University trailers suggest there could be serious laughs in this prequel of the college years of Sulley and Mike as rivals before they were best friends.
World War Z. Script rewrites, reshoots, and delayed openings suggest problems for this zombie apocalypse starring Brad Pitt. Fans of Max Brooks’s 2006 horror novel on which the film is based may be turned off by World War Z’s trailer.
June 28: The Heat. Melissa McCarthy plays a no-nonsense Boston police detective forcibly teamed up with Sandra Bullock’s uptight FBI special agent to stop a ruthless drug lord in this comedy from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.
White House Down. In the second president-in-peril action drama of 2013, Jamie Foxx is the commander in chief and Channing Tatum is the police officer in the unexpected situation of having to save him from an invasion force. World destroyer Roland Emmerich directs.
July 3: The Lone Ranger. From Disney and director Gore Verbinski, who gave us the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, comes this 21st century take on the 19th century masked man, with Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp as his sidekick Tonto.
Despicable Me 2. Steve Carell returns as the voice of Gru in this sequel to the summer 2010 hit, in which the former villain is recruited to stop an even more diabolical baddie (voice of Al Pacino).
July 12: Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Toro makes his own Godzilla, as giant monsters invade Earth and destroy cities as humanity turns to giant robots to fight back — and hopefully not destroy our cities as much.
Grown Ups 2. Adam Sandler and his stand-up pals are back in this sequel to the 2010 comedy hit about high school friends facing mid-life crisis and responsibility. Expect a story that suggests there’s still more growing up to do.
July 19: The Conjuring. In this summer horror film, a paranormal investigation couple (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) face true terror when trying to help a young family haunted by a dark menace.
Red 2. The gang of retired CIA operatives (Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren) take on a new villain in the comedy action sequel. R.I.P.D. The Rest in Peace Department is a ghostly entity of dead law enforcement officials who keep the world safe from bad spirits. Think Men in Black but with ghosts instead of aliens, and Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges in place of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
July 26: The Wolverine. As part of Wolverine’s ongoing backstory, the immortal mutant moves to Japan, where a familiar villain will shape his present and future. Directing this second Wolverine installment is James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted and Walk the Line).
July 31: The Smurfs 2. In his final film role, Jonathan Winters voices Papa Smurf, who leads his small blue crew on a mission to rescue Smurfette (Katy Perry) from evil sorcerer Gargamel (Hank Azaria).
Aug. 2: 300: Rise of an Empire. Given the finality of 300, there was nowhere to go but the past, as Persian mortal-turned-god Xerxes first battles a Greek army led by general Themistocles. Director Noam Murro bowed out of A Good Day to Die Hard to helm this instead.
2 Guns. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star as undercover agents investigating each other and who discover they are being played by the mob. Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur (2012’s The Deep) directs the film, which is based on a graphic novel by Steven Grant.
Aug. 7: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Thanks to the foreign box office, Rick Riordan’s teen novel hero Percy Jackson survives to see a film sequel, and quests this time to find the Golden Fleece and battle evil.
Aug. 9: Disney’s Planes. In a sign that Disney may be out of ideas for animated movies, this spin-off of Cars features cropdusting Dusty, who must conquer his fear of heights before he competes in an upcoming aerial race.
Elysium. Stars Matt Damon and Jodi Foster will garner the attention, but the reason to be excited for this sci-fi allegory is director Neill Blomkamp (District 9), who tackles our present-day wealth imbalance with a future society and the man fighting to make it equal.
We’re the Millers. Jason Sudeikis plays a small-time pot dealer forced to bring a large marijuana shipment across the Mexico-U.S. border. To do that he creates a fake family, including a stripper as his wife (Jennifer Aniston) and a homeless teen as his daughter (Emma Roberts).
Aug. 16: Kick-Ass 2. Costumed crime fighters Kick-Ass and Hit Girl team up with a new group of masked vigilante heroes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (a virtually unrecognizable Jim Carrey), who must again battle Red Mist, now a renamed super-villain out for revenge.
Paranoia. A promotion for a low-level employee (Liam Hemsworth) at a major corporation comes with a price: he must spy on his boss’ rival. Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, and Amber Heard also star. Romantic-comedy director Robert Luketic tries an intense drama-thriller.
The To Do List. Maggie Carey wrote and directed this semi-autobiographical comedy of a recent high school graduate named Brandy (Aubrey Plaza), who makes an ambitious set of goals in the summer before college, including losing her virginity.
Aug. 23: The World’s End. From Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hott Fuzz) comes this story of five friends who try to recreate their legendary pub crawl and are faced with having to save the world.
Aug. 30: Getaway. After his wife is kidnapped, a former race-car driver (Ethan Hawke) is forced into a behind-the-wheel mission by a mysterious man who is watching his every move with a dashboard camera. A young hacker (Selena Gomez) is his only help.
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.