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Friday, April 12, 2024

When faced with dozens of movie releases this summer, you may want to give up and watch whatever your friends agreed on at the last minute. But unless you want to risk watching a total flop, here’s a list of the blockbuster and indie flicks worth checking out in the next few months.

In Theaters 

Iron Man 3: The third entry in the "Iron Man" series is being celebrated as possibly the best in the popular series thanks to director Shane Black, who previously made "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and added some of his distinctive, fun style to the film. If you liked Robert Downey Jr. doing his thing in the first two Iron Man movies, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

The Great Gatsby: Like "Moulin Rouge!" Baz Luhrmann’s similarly stylish film, "The Great Gatsby" promises an extravagant display and a talented cast, this time set in the Roaring '20s. Whether F. Scott Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the unsatisfied American Dream can get through to viewers with a 21st century soundtrack and 3D glasses seems unlikely, but critics say DiCaprio does a good job as Gatsby.

Upstream Color: A heady experimental mix of indie drama wrapped in a sci-fi exterior, director Shane Carruth’s film "Upstream Color" challenges viewers to unravel its themes of identity and intimacy. In the film, a thief infects a woman with a worm to temporarily control her mind. Out of money and a job, she begins a relationship with a man who underwent the same experience. As they become closer, Carruth expands the science fiction elements to explore the nature of identity and the things that shape it. It’s truly exciting and interesting, an uncommon trait among summer blockbusters.

Peeples: This latest "Meet The Parents"-style comedy has been pretty well received as a sweet and funny take on that familiar story. Ignore the Tyler Perry label, it was written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism, who apparently does a good job. See it if you need something family-friendly to watch with mom and dad.

May 17 

Star Trek Into Darkness: The 2009 film reboot of "Star Trek" was a pretty successful and fun modernization of the classic show, so there’s a lot to look forward to in the sequel. More dedicated "Star Trek" fans might be disappointed if the film goes overboard in bringing the action and doesn’t bring in the thoughtful substance of good Trek stories. For everyone else looking for an easy popcorn flick, this will probably be among the better picks of the month.

May 24

The Hangover 3: If you couldn’t get enough of the same shtick after the first two films, the third installment of "The Hangover" series will probably deliver in the raunchy bro comedy department. Check it out if you just want an unchallenging, drunken night at the movies or to give money to Zach Galifianakis.

Fast & Furious 6: Fast 5 was a well-liked entry into the "Fast & Furious" franchise, so it’s likely director Justin Lin will bring the expected over-the-top action and thrills in the latest movie. "Fast & Furious 6" will break with the traditional street racing plot as the crew teams up with a special agent to take down an organization of mercenaries.

Epic: Despite being made by same animation studio that made the not-so-interesting "Ice Age" sequels and "Rio," "Epic" looks like it’ll be a sweet and imaginative story about a girl who finds herself shrunken down into the middle of a war in a forest. It also features some really lovely animation. The huge all-star cast might be distracting (after all, it’s hard to ignore Beyoncé), but the film seems like more than a collection of big names and dumb jokes.

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 May 31 

After Earth: The previews look great in a visual sense and the plot is interesting, but director M. Night Shyamalan has put out some epic flops in the past couple years, which doesn’t bode well for the script, which was co-written by Shyamalan and Gary Whitta ("The Book of Eli"). Check it out if you really love Will Smith, but wait for reviews otherwise. 

Now You See Me: Magicians who perform "Ocean’s Eleven" heists for Robin Hood-style altruism? It’s an exciting premise with a good cast, but director Louis Leterrier’s track record is less than stellar. It probably won’t be boring, but whether it’ll turn out to be smart and not just shiny is a toss up. 

June 7 

The Purge: Horror fans can possibly look forward to "The Purge," which features an alternate America where all crime is legal one night a year. Early reviews say the central idea isn’t fleshed out much and the focus is really on one family whose home is invaded. Go for the blood and decent scares, but don’t expect much satire or social commentary.

Much Ado About Nothing: Director Joss Whedon took a little break from his huge success with "The Avengers" and made a black-and-white indie film that modernizes Shakespeare’s comedic play. Whether you’ll enjoy it depends on how willing you are to sit through Shakespeare and your love of Whedon, who is a skilled comedic director. Early reviews say it’s great, so check it out if you want to add something more literate to your summer movie diet.

June 14 

This is the End: This dark comedy has spoiled celebrities like James Franco and Seth Rogen teaming up to survive the apocalypse and looks silly and really fun. Not to mention watching Danny McBride complain that “Hermione took all our shit” is hilarious. Skip "Hangover 3" and spend money on this.

 Man of Steel: What’s interesting about "Man of Steel"  is the darker tone it sets for a superhero that’s probably the cheeriest and cheesiest of them all. Then again, it’s yet another origin story reboot of a famous superhero franchise. Judging from the trailers, it’s not a movie with much of a sense of humor either. Still, it looks visually stunning and probably has some good fighting scenes. Hopefully it’ll bring something new to a story even non-comicbook fans know well.

The Bling Ring: Emma Watson fans will probably want to check out this feature from Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette director Sofia Coppola. Based on a true story, it stars Watson and a group of unsavory, spoiled teens that rob celebrities to live the high life. It looks like it’ll be a fun satirical look at youth and celebrity culture and a Watson being a vapid jerk is a plus.

June 21 

Monsters University: A prequel to the very successful and beloved "Monsters, Inc.," this looks like a cute and funny second look at the monsters’ world and at college life. Even an okay Pixar movie is better than most other animated films out there ("Cars" excluded), so expect to have your inner child satisfied.

June 28

I’m So Excited: For foreign film fans, a new Pedro Almodóvar movie is usually required viewing. "I’m So Excited" is a colorful screwball comedy set aboard a plane heading to Mexico City. The passengers and crew interact mock each other, drink booze, have sex and dance, making for some funny moments and campy drama. Almodóvar’s last feature, "The Skin I Live In," was an excellent thriller and it’ll be interesting to see the director to try something sillier. 

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