With dozens of movies coming out each week over the course of the summer, we took the time to pick out 22 of the best and most noteworthy coming to the silver screen near you. This list is in chronological order, starting with ...
1. Iron Man 3
The second highest opening in history means that they must have done something right. Featuring Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Tony Stark, thus far everything I have read says this installment is eons better than Iron Man 2, which in my opinion was decidedly average. This giant popcorn movie is a great way to open up the summer movie season.
2. The Great Gatsby
Anyone who has ever taken a high school English class has likely read quite possibly the greatest American novel ever written. Baz Luhrmann of Chicago and Moulin Rouge! fame takes his stab at trying to create the definitive version of this classic tale with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Gatsby and Tobey Maguire playing Nick Carraway. The film was just released and is sure to be one of the most polarizing films of the year in terms of opinion, as some will be blown away by its spectacle and others will likely be underwhelmed by the blatant overlooking of certain aspects of the plot that made this so great. Also, a nod must be given to the Jay-Z produced soundtrack featuring a fresh batch of hip-hop tunes to accent the Jazz Era film.
3. Star Trek Into Darkness
Coming out on May 16, the twelfth installment in the Star Trek feature film franchise has been met with rave reviews thus far and should be a hit with those familiar with the series and non-fans alike. J.J. Abrams has proved time and again how proficient he is as both a director and a producer.
4. The Hangover Part III
To conclude the wildly successful Hangover series, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper come back together for the third and final installment in the trilogy. This time, there is no bachelor party, which is a relief for me as the second movie was a complete re-hash of the first film and this third movie looks to be a completely different story; however, the setting has been moved back to Las Vegas. Coming out on May 23, this is a sure-fire hit for Memorial Day weekend.
5. Now You See Me
In a movie that has not generated quite as much buzz as it probably should, Now You See Me has an unbelievable cast, which features Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and others as this team of magicians who commit bank heists and give the money to their audiences are chased by the police. Directed by Louis Leterrier, who did both Transporter films, and scored by The Chemical Brothers, this movie has the potential to be unbelievable. The film is set to come out on May 31.
6. After Earth
This futuristic movie, set to be released on May 31, features Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith, directed by M. Night Shyamalan has all the elements to be a summer blockbuster. The first time Will Smith and his son acted together, it was a massive success in The Pursuit of Happyness, which was easily one of my favorite movies of 2006 and let's hope that their father and son chemistry can carry over into this action movie role.
7. The Internship
After a tremendous opening month of Summer movies, The Internship opens June off on a lighter note. Starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, this is a tale of two employees trying to find their way as out-of-place interns at Google. Though the plot sounds absurd enough, Wilson and Vaughn have proved on their own that they are phenomenal and who could forget their work alongside one another in Wedding Crashers eight years ago. This is set to come out on June 7.
8. This Is the End
One week later, a set of Judd Apatow protegés come together to make another "can't-miss" comedy of the Summer. Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Paul Rudd, and others and directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this film features a whole host of famous actors portraying fictionalized versions of themselves in the wake of the apocalypse. If you are scratching your head, watch the trailer above, or, if you are not at work, watch the red band trailer here. The film is due to be released on June 12.
9. Man of Steel
Another superhero franchise re-boot, Christopher Nolan has slid out of the directing chair and into the producer's as Zack Snyder of 300 fame takes on the task of re-imagining Superman. Ever since I saw the first trailer for this movie, I have been hook, line, and sinker-ed. With a release day of June 14, I would pencil this in as the definitive summer movie in the same way The Dark Knight series dominated the silver screen with each new installment.
10. World War Z
Based on the unbelievable 2006 Max Brooks novel, production of this movie has been plagued with reports of indecision among those in charge on what to do and how to make this movie jump off the page. Regardless, I am excited for this apocalyptic story (seems to be a trend). Starring Brad Pitt, this film has tons of promise; however, director Marc Forster has never made an action movie of this scale to date, making him an interesting choice for this nearly $200 million movie. Be the judge yourself on June 21 when the film comes out.
11. Monsters University
Sequels are always crap-shoots on building on the success of the prior movie as they typically fall into a "sophomore-slump" of sorts. This prequel once again stars Billy Crystal and John Goodman, this time as they meet in college. This is the first bona fide kids movie of the summer, and should do well as a result of that. The film is set to be released on June 21.
12. The Heat
How does one follow up one of the biggest summer blockbusters in recent vintage? Director Paul Feig, famous for creating Freaks and Geeks (a show which has shown year after year that it was a breeding ground for future stars), and director of 2011's Bridesmaids brought back Melissa McCarthy and added in Best Actress winning celebrity Sandra Bullock to create another female-led comedy. Throw in Tony Hale, who since Arrested Development has found a spot on Veep, and this should be another great comedy, set to come out on June 28.
13. White House Down
If you are asking yourself if you have seen this movie before, if you were one of the people who saw Olympus Has Fallen, which came out less than two months ago, than yes, you have seen almost this exact movie. Replace Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman with Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, and Maggie Gyllenhaal and boom (pun intended), you have "White House Down." This is no slight against the movie as you know what you are getting in this Roland Emmerich directed film, set to come out on June 28.
14. The Lone Ranger
Armie Hammer gets the nod as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp stars as Tonto in this Disney representation of The Lone Ranger, a film re-creation of the American Western serial which has been turned into a film many times before. This enormous-budget film should be a spectacle; however, I personally have been underwhelmed with Depp since he first became Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. To each their own as this movie is set to be released July 3, a mere two years after its original intended release date.
15. Despicable Me 2
Steve Carell and much of the cast of the first installment return for Despicable Me 2 (including those little yellow henchmen). Another animated film here that should do incredibly well at the box office, and be a hit with both kids and parents alike. The original film grossed more than $500 million worldwide and with a spin-off sequel coming in late-2014 in Minions, Illumination Entertainment is betting that Despicable Me 2 will be just as successful as its predecessor. I'd be willing to bet the same. The film is set to come out on July 3.
16. Grown Ups 2
No more Rob Schneider, but Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Kevin James and David Spade return in the sequel to 2010's Grown Ups. Summer movies tend to be heavy on sequels, and this ensemble cast with many more stars to fit in this little blurb will make it a box office hit, I wouldn't go into the film expecting an Oscar winner. This looks like a total copy of the last film; however, with enough star power, people will show up to the theater regardless. Hopefully I'm wrong and Sandler's first ever sequel will be a great success, both commercially and critically. You can see the movie yourself when it opens on July 12.
R.I.P.D., which stands for the "Rest In Peace Department" is an adapted graphic novel directed by Robert Schwentke, who recently directed Red (which has a sequel coming out on the same day with a different director), and stars Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. This 3-D supernatural action film should be a visual spectacle, but I have no idea what this movie is about despite reading tons of synopses. IMDb says, "A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him." If you can make more sense of that than I can, good luck. The film comes out on July 19 and maybe then we can collectively piece together the plot to hope that it is not another Clash of the Titans, written by the same screenwriting duo of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.
18. The Wolverine
Another 3-D movie, this time its your favorite X-Man, Wolverine in his own spin-off film. This is not Wolverine's first spin-off as he got his first one in 2009 with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This is an interesting role for Hugh Jackman, who reprises his role as Wolverine, as this is second movie since Les Miserables, in which he plays Jean Valjean, a character who is just about the antithesis of Wolverine. Regardless, this series has been a giant money maker and I wouldn't expect any different out of this installment. The film is set to be released on July 26.
19. 300: Rise of an Empire
Without giving anything away, everyone knows what happens at the end of "300" as the Battle of Thermopylae is reaching its 2,500 year anniversary. Thus, it seems kind of surprising that there would be a sequel, but this is Hollywood, a place where Troy was made. From a historical accuracy standpoint, I cannot speak to all of the inaccuracies (or maybe they even got it right in this one), but regardless, people came out in droves to see the first one and 300 has only gotten more popular since its release. Gone is director Zack Snyder, who is off onto bigger things (re: "Man of Steel"); however, in comes Noam Murro. Yes, that Noam Murro. Who is Noam Murro you may ask? That's a great question. His IMDb page lists him as the director of Smart People and HBO Imagine, a TV Short. I guess the franchise is in good hands. Find out for yourself when the film opens on August 2.
20. 2 Guns
Apparently this film was originally intended to be a comedy featuring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. I guess they chose The Internship instead. In their place is Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in a straight-up action movie, directed by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, who worked with Wahlberg on 2012's Contraband. I don't really know what to make of this movie, which has been described by IMDb as "A DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer who have been tasked with investigating one another find they have been set up by the mob, the very organization the two men believe they have been stealing money from." This has potential to be really good, but also has extreme flop potential. Be the judge yourself when it comes out on August 2.
Matt Damon and Jodie Foster team up for this sci-fi flick, set in outer-space. Just reading the log-line sounds hyper-political and, kind of like Avatar, is a way of sneaking political issues into a popcorn movie. Director Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame wrote and directed this film and is a rising star in the industry. Similar to District 9, themes of segregation, oppression and class-warfare arise here. The film is due out August 9 and could cement Blomkamp as one of the preeminent sci-fi directors of recent vintage.
22. The World's End
The last film on the list is most certainly not the least as it is one of the films that I am most excited for. The World's End is the finale to the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Following up Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is no easy task, but Pegg and Frost look to be up to the task in this science-fiction film. Little has been revealed about what is actually going to happen in this movie, although if it is anything like the past two movies, I would go in with the expectations of an unexpectedly hilarious film. The film is due out on August 23 and this concludes our Ultimate Summer Movie Guide. This is by no means a totally exhaustive list as there are tons of great movies that could not fit in here. If there is something you think we missed, put it in the comment section.