The summer movie season is now upon us, having officially kicked off with the release of Iron Man 3 this past weekend. This summer, like we see every year, Hollywood studios will be aggressively vying our hard-earned dollars in order to justify the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars they have thrown into these movies. Some will be busts, sending those studios into a quick panic, but others are sure-fire hits (anything with a superhero involved is pretty much a guaranteed success nowadays).

With such a loaded summer season, it might be difficult to know where to spend your extra money, so we here at Cinefessions are here to help. Each writer has gone through the assortment of films being released this summer season, and thoughtfully – or not – picked out the five films they are most excited to see. These may not be the best or biggest movies coming out this season, just the ones that we are anticipating the most.

Zuzana Urbanek

The summer “blockbusters” tend to be a mixed bag. Everyone tries to snag a share of the vacationing and AC-seeking crowds, and many of the movies we get, unfortunately, are more hype than substance. But I readily admit to being a sucker for the action-packed flicks released in summer, as long as they haven’t been thrown together just to grab a portion of the summer crowds. This year, there are some pretty good-looking hopefuls. Here’s my most-anticipated film list:

Now You See Me#5. Now You See Me – May 31st
This looks like a winner, with a fabulously twisted cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and many more) and a sophisticated heist-flick storyline. Sounds like my kind of movie!

#4. Star Trek: Into Darkness – May 17th
What self-respecting sci-fi fan is NOT looking forward to this one? After the success of the exciting 2009 Star Trek reboot, the crew returns for another adventure. For me, the best aspect of this series is the casting (including Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, and Simon Pegg) coupled with beautifully executed FX.  I can already see myself munching popcorn while watching the Enterprise cruise across the big screen.

#3. The Great Gatsby – May 10th
What’s not to love? Leo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby – a brilliant choice– and director Baz Luhrmann’s (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet) opulent production chops. This promises to be a wild ride, literati style, albeit a loosely-based interpretation.  Who knows; maybe it will even inspire a few people to pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel. This will be a riotous yet substantive addition to the summer film fare.

#2. Iron Man 3 – May 3rdIron Man 3
I am barely squeaking by with the “anticipation” part on this one; as I write this, I am planning to attend a screening in a couple of days. Naturally, a mini-marathon of the first two Iron Man films precedes the viewing, and I look forward to seeing Robert Downey Jr. (one of my favorite contemporary actors since WAY before this role) return to kick some bad guy butt!  Like the rest of the Marvel pantheon, the Iron Man series ranks among the best of comic book and graphic novel adaptations, and I trust this film will continue that tradition.

#1. The Lone Ranger – July 3rd
As most people know, I am a Johnny Depp devotee. I can’t wait to see what he does with the role of Tonto; I’m curious how much it will take from his much earlier and very dark portrayal of a disenchanted Native American in The Brave. I also really like Armie Hammer, who plays the Lone Ranger, and admire the work of Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean). Finally, I do love a righteous Western. From the trailer, the film looks wonderfully stylized and mythic. The production of this movie was plagued by issues and delays, but I’m banking on Disney’s continued triumph and hoping it will be a hit rather than a miss.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

The Wolverine
More Marvel – bring it on! It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Marvel comics’ adaptations and also greatly appreciate the talented Hugh Jackman (Les Mis notwithstanding). Plus, any script by Christopher McQuarrie should be worth its salt.

The World’s End
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up again in a film written and directed by Edgar Wright, promising a winning combination of silly absurdity and poignant merriment. If you liked Shaun of the Dead and/or Hot Fuzz, you’d be daft to miss this movie. Apparently, this one is all about an epic pub crawl. Can’t wait!

Monsters UniversityMonsters University
Monsters Inc. is one of my favorite animated films, and I have plenty of favorites. I’m on the edge of my seat awaiting the marvelous magic of Pixar and the return of our favorite green and blue cuddly-scarries (voiced so perfectly by Billy Crystal and John Goodman).

Technically, I should not include this film, since it won’t be released until September, but I just have to mention it, as a rabid fan of the Riddick-verse. When Pitch Black, the film that started it all, first came out, I swear I watched it over and over and over, soaking up the atmosphere, loving writer-director David Twohy’s handling of the gray areas in people’s psyches, and becoming a permanent fan of Vin Diesel. So, I am awaiting this one hungrily!

Fast & Furious 6
OK, this might be jumping the shark … but six movies in a series do attest to the popularity of a franchise. Besides, how can I mention one Vin Diesel flick releasing this summer without mentioning the other? The F&F movies (only the ones starring Diesel, naturally) have been a guilty pleasure of mine for years, and I certainly won’t stop watching them now.

This Is the End
For absolute ridiculousness and political-incorrectness, this will be the movie to see. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad) have penned another outrageous comedy. Apparently, it’s something about our wayward heroes facing the apocalypse, or maybe an alien invasion. But really, who cares about the premise when the trailer shows a bunch of celebrities disappearing down sinkholes? The cast (including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Emma Watson) promises to deliver some memorable moments, even if the film as a whole is as deliciously nonsensical as Pineapple Express.

Kick-Ass 2
Having been very pleasantly surprised by the first Kick-Ass film, I am looking forward to seeing this one, though I am approaching it with a bit of wariness, knowing that oftentimes very creative films are not easy for follow up with worthy sequels. I am not excited by the addition of Jim Carrey to the cast (used to adore him, but he seems to be nothing but annoying lately). The attitude about this one right now is: wait and see.

OblivionPacific Rim
I’m curious about this film, since it’s a project of Guillermo del Toro, whose work I adore.  But I am a bit puzzled and apprehensive as well. Transformers meets Godzilla?  This is another “wait and see.”

OK, I am cheating here, since I just saw this film.  But I was looking forward to seeing it – honest!  From its promos, it looked like a suspenseful and well-made sci-fi flick (based on a graphic novel), and it did live up to its buildup. It’s kind of a cross between The Matrix and Independence Day (to cite well-known examples) plus Moon (to cite a less familiar film). But that is part of the problem – there are so many derivative scenes, it’s like watching a rehash of other films.  Though not very original, it’s definitely an entertaining summer film.

And now, just a brief word about the films I am NOT anticipating with bated breath and currently have no intention of seeing: Man of Steel (though the cast looks decent, I am just so tired of generation after generation of new Superman reinterpretations) and 300: Rise of an Empire (HUH? I am a huge fan of 300, but it was a finite tale about a singular event – period, done, over – so whatever this is, I am sure it will be a stretch).

Thank for reading, and have a great summer of movie watching!

Chris Ranson

I love the summer movie season. It’s when we get the pictures that explode to life and kill my brain cells. The true downfall of it is that the teens are out of school, so it’s never safe to go. Thankfully I have a random taste in cinema so I’m going to assume many teens won’t see the films I’m most excited for.

Kick Ass 25. Kick Ass 2 – August 16th
I wouldn’t be a comic fan if I said I wasn’t excited for this one. The original was a blast and a very well made film that didn’t take itself too seriously. The first red band trailer for this looks great and I have some pretty high expectations for it.

The only downside is that we have a new director on board whose past credits are Never Back Down and Cry Wolf so I do have some minor concerns. But, again, if the movie is as good as the trailer makes it out to be, I can easily ignore his past errors.

4. Before Midnight – May 24th
I didn’t even know this movie was being made until a friend posted about it on Facebook, and now I am stoked.  Before Sunrise is easily one of the best romantic films out there and its sequel, Before Sunset, expands upon it tenfold.

Before Midnight jumps ten years after this same couple has met and shows where they are now. It’s the same actors (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy), the same director (Richard Linklater) and the buzz surrounding the movie from the film festivals is solid. It all has me very excited. If you haven’t seen the first two films, go watch them now and just enjoy a solid cinematic experience.

3. Star Trek: Into Darkness – May 17th
I’m not a big Star Trek fan but I did watch The Next Generation television series when it was on, and loved the 2009 reboot. My excitement for this was high and then I saw a ten-minute IMAX preview and was instantly let down. Yeah, it looks great, but that preview did nothing for the movie.

It’s J.J. Abrams, though, so my expectations remain high; that just might be my downfall when it comes this movie. Everything looks good, and I’m just hoping the plot and pacing hold up to what the reboot gave us.

2. The Great Gatsby – May 10th
I LOVE Moulin Rouge. It’s one of my favorite musicals. In the next breath, I hate Romeo + Juliet. Luhrmann is clearly a bit of a mixed bag for me, but the cast looks amazing. Not only that, but the music in the previews is fantastic and the film looks visually stunning. The likelihood of a movie based on a book being great is slim, but this is one of the few times where I haven’t read the source material. I haven’t really heard anything positive or negative on the film so far but that doesn’t matter because I’ll be seeing this one opening day in the theater.

Pacific Rim1. Pacific Rim – July 12th
I am super excited for this film, and the trailer looks great. It’s giant robots fighting aliens, and, Guillermo del Toro, who created one of the best horror films in the past ten or so years, is directing. He usually has beautiful set pieces, and when given complete controls he can make a rather epic film.

Pacific Rim could go either way: it could be downright awesome, or it could fall into the bad, B-movie range. Only time will tell, I guess, since very little has been revealed, and the trailers show just enough to whet my appetite. Although I’m definitely more of an independent film type of guy, and most of the movies on my list are sequels, my number one spot goes to Pacific Rim, a giant blockbuster and original film, which goes to show how much faith I have in Guillermo del Toro.

Honorable Mentions (in order of release):

Now You See Me
I never heard of this film until I saw the trailer, which is currently playing before every movie. It looks like a solid and fun mystery/caper and I actually can’t wait to check it out. Who doesn’t like a good magic flick?

Much Ado About Nothing 2013Much Ado About Nothing
I knew nothing about this until I started looking up what was coming out this summer season. Joss Whedon? Check!  Shakespearian dialog? Check! Black-and-white cinematography? Check! I was sold from the trailers, and I love Whedon’s style. It could go either way, but I’ll keep my expectations high.

The World’s End
A movie from the writer/director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright), and featuring the stars of said films (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost)? I’m all over this, and it was the one film I was torn about cutting from my top five. I seriously love the other two films and I’m all about the British humor.

The Bling Ring
I adore Sofia Coppola films. They are usually beautifully shot and offer a great script and they sometimes have a neat little quirk about them. Plus this has Emma Watson in it, who has really been pulling off some amazing roles post-Potter.

This Is The End
The trailers for this look down right stupid/funny. It has actors playing themselves in a Hollywood disaster style film. Plus it has Emma Watson and the entire Seth Rogen gang, so it should be rather funny. Let’s face it: comedies have been rather weak as of late, so this should be a nice change of pace.

Ashe Collins

The Summer Movie season is upon us and I’ve got a number I’m looking forward to, but only five or so will be must-see for me in theaters, while the others will wait for the home market before I watch them.  So what do I think is worth seeing in the theater?

5. Kick Ass 2 – August 16th
I waited to see the first Kick-Ass until it had popped up on Netflix and regretted it.  I figured it was more of a comedy than anything else and I usually wait on those, but it had some great action sequences and I loved the turn on the comic book genre.  While I haven’t read the comic at all, trying to judge the movie on its own merits, I’m really looking forward to this. As long as it shows in my local theater, I’ll be heading out to go see Kick-Ass and Hit Girl laying the smack down.

Man of Steel4. Man of Steel – June 14th
While Batman has been my favorite since I was first introduced to the character in 1989, I did like the Donner Superman film way back when, but never really liked the character much apart from when he showed up in Justice League’s animated runs.  This new take on the character as an outcast and a recluse at the start – as well as hopefully sticking to more realistic expectations of what he can do – has me interested, and the last trailer they released has given me goosebumps.  While he’s no Batman, I will definitely be seeing this caped guy in theaters, especially with Zach Snyder at the helm, as it’ll be eye candy either way.

3. The Wolverine – July 26th
Where Batman got me into comics, Wolverine and the X-Men kept me in them through the ‘90s, and the ornery Canadian holds a special place with me.  With Hugh Jackman as the lead it’s guaranteed that my wife will want to see it too, and I’m fond of the comic run it’s based on.  As long as the visuals and the story hold up it’s sure to be better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine which I didn’t think was terrible, but is one I have to really shut my brain off to watch. That one was still better than X-Men The Last Stand, which will serve as the catalyst that happens in this one.  Either way, bring on Logan.

2. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd
Yes, another comic book movie.  It’s not my fault that there are so many “Doom and Gloom to the Earth” sci-fi movies coming out this summer.  Those get relegated to later viewings, and the comic book movie doth flow.  Robert Downey Jr’s take on the Tony Stark character actually made the guy likeable for me.  Still detest Tony in the comics, but Downey is a joy to watch on screen.  We’re finally getting to see the Mandarin, and the PTSD angle for Tony after The Avenger’s not only makes sense, but should also lead to some great character moments.  With Iron Man 3 possibly being Downey’s last go-around as Stark I’m definitely not missing this one.

Star Trek Into Darkness1. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th
While I’m a big comic book fan, I’m a Trekkie at heart.  I got hooked on the original series with Kirk, Spock and McCoy when I was six or seven and latched on with both hands.  While Shatner and the original actors, and series, will always hold a special place, I’m open to new takes on the Star Trek universe, and I’m hoping that this latest entry creates an original idea and makes it their own instead of just retreading it.  I would have liked an exploration setting more than another ‘defend the earth’ deal yet again, but I think the revenge angle works for the second film in what might be a trilogy for these actors and the film crew. This is technically the twelfth Star Trek film and the rule used to be that even numbered Trek movies don’t suck.  Either way this is my top must-see this summer.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado is Joss Whedon’s weekend take on the Shakespeare play that he filmed while he was on a break from The Avengers. It has some of the actor’s pulled from all sorts of Whedon’s past works and looks like fun.

The Conjuring
This has my interest, mainly because in a sea of big action and comic book films, it’s a horror film. That, and it’s not a slasher and doesn’t sound like torture porn so I can definitely get into it.

The World’s End
Another entry in Simon Pegg’s comedy trilogy, including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which should be fantastic fun.

This is the End
This is the End has actors playing versions of themselves in an end of the world scenario, and it had me hooked just from the opening party scene. It will have to wait until it comes out on home video, though.

Pacific Rim
I might convince myself to go see Pacific Rim after the ones listed above because I love the director and mechs versus Cthulu has an instant appeal.

See you at the movies.

Branden Chowen

The Purge5. The Purge – June 7th
The Purge if one of the lesser-know summer releases, so let me give you a plot summary: one night every year, for 12-hours, there are no laws in America. Literally anything goes as the police take the night off, and hospital services shut down. When the Sandin family provides refuge for an unknown man from attackers during the purging, strangers break in to their gated community and threaten to attack if they don’t give them their target for the evening.

This is an incredibly original idea, and I cannot wait to see how it is executed. It has a The Strangers vibe to it in the trailer, which is exciting. The Purge has the potential to be my favorite horror/thriller film of the summer, and I can’t wait to check it out.

4. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th
Star Trek was one of my favorite movies from 2009. Abrams took a franchise that I had never watched before, and made me a lifelong fan (I now own all the original movies, and started watching the original series via Netflix, which is awesome, by the way). He absolutely knocked Star Trek out of the park. There is nothing that leads me to believe this sequel will be lesser in any way, and I hope it is just another chapter in a long line for this newly rebooted series.

3. Man of Steel – June 14th
When I first saw the trailer for Man of Steel last year, I went berserk in the theatre. The movie looks incredible, in large part to the direction of Zack Snyder. The feel of the trailer is that of an independent film one may have shot on a DSLR, or other inexpensive digital equivalent, but the reality is that there are millions upon millions behind this bad boy (225 of them, according to IMDB). I could care less that the Superman film franchise was rebooted a few years back because this movie looks like it’ll be a ton of fun for summer movie audiences.

2. After Earth – May 31st
It should come as no surprise to regular readers of Cinefessions that I am a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan. He created one my favorite films of all-time (Signs), so any time he has a new movie coming out, I am interested. When it is a sci-fi film with Will Smith and a truly awesome plotline, said movie makes it to #2 on my most anticipated releases list. I know that Shyamalan hasn’t exactly delivered with his last two or three films, but I also know what he is capable of, and I am certain he will once again reach the level of excellence that he did with Signs, Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense. After Earth really looks to be the film that brings him back the respect of average moviegoer.

World War Z1. World War Z – June 21st
World War Z director Marc Forster has a wonderfully unique filmography under his belt, from the thoughtful Finding Neverland and quirky, unforgettable Stranger than Fiction, to the action blockbusters of Quantum of Solace and Machine Gun Preacher. If nothing else, he has proven to be versatile. World War Z will be the first film of his that I am genuinely looking forward to, though.

I was first introduced to the novel that this movie is based upon a few years back. It tells the story of the zombie apocalypse – or World War Z – after the fact. It is incredibly detailed, realistic, and just kicks ass in general. It is a zombiephile’s dream come true when it comes to literature. Some people have complained about the movie already because it is told from the present as opposed to the novel, which is written as a memory. I don’t have a problem with this, as it is easier to create tension for the audience this way.

The fact that Drew Goddard helped pen the script – who wrote one of my favorite found footage monster films, Cloverfield, and co-wrote/directed the best horror film of the last few years in Cabin in the Woods – is just another reason I am excited for World War Z. Top that with a stellar cast led by Brad Pitt, an absolutely insane amount of (fast) zombies (though the fact that they’re mostly CGI does have me a bit concerned), and my overall admiration for the source material, World War Z is at the top of my list of films to see this action-packed summer movie season.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Like the rest of the crew, I had a whole list of honorable mentions, but seeing as everyone else has already touched on them in one way or another, (Pacific Rim, The Conjuring, Kick-Ass 2, and The Great Gatsby), I’ll just list the one that no one else has mentioned.

Insidious Chapter 2Insidious: Chapter 2
I may be cheating a bit since this doesn’t come out until September, but if Zu can do it, so can I! James Wan’s Insidious is the only movie to genuinely scare me since The Descent, and even though the wheels fall off a bit in the third act, I love the hell out of it. Does it need a sequel? Absolutely not. Am I happy there will be a sequel? You bet. If Wan and writer Leigh Whannel can create some of the genuinely tense and frightening moments from the first film in this sequel, and then out-do the original, this will be something special for horror audiences. I can’t wait to see what my favorite horror-duo (Wan and Whannel) can do with this one.

The 2013 summer movie season promises to be a great time, whether you want to overdose on comic book movies, or would rather see the possible fate of the Earth once humans destroy it. Whatever your preference, there is no doubt that we will all have a hell of a good time at the movies this summer.

Which movies are on the top of your radar? Is there anything that we left out, or something you’d like to know more about? Leave a comment below and let us hear about it!

You can find more of Zuzana’s writing on, or purchase her film book on Amazon. Ashe can be found on DieHard GameFAN, where he reviews video games, or on twitter, @DHGFAshe. Follow Chris on twitter @wolverinefactor, and Branden @psymin1.