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Apocalyptic films loom large, but heroes and hilarity may rescue us

Ryan Huddle/Globe Staff

Ah, summer: time to lie back, pour yourself a tall lemonade, and watch the world go to hell in a handbasket. If there is a theme to the studio blockbusters coming out between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is that Apocalypse is nigh, is here, or has already happened.

Consider: In “After Earth,” arriving in June, Will and Jaden Smith play futuristic father-and-son adventurers stranded on Earth 1,000 years after it was abandoned by the human race. In the same month’s “World War Z,” a heroic UN employee (Brad Pitt) is the only person who can stop a global zombie pandemic. July sees “Pacific Rim” from “Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro, in which monsters from beneath the sea assault humanity and we respond by building ginormous robots (think “Transformers” meets “Godzilla” with a sense of style).


August brings a baldheaded, cyborgified Matt Damon in “Elysium,” directed by South Africa’s Neil Blomkamp (“District 9”). Set in the year 2154, it’s the ultimate 99-percenter’s nightmare, with the ultra-rich living on a cushy space station and the rest of us sweating it out on a ruined Earth. Demons erupt from an alternate dimension in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” and zombies invade London in the antic “Cockneys vs. Zombies.”

Cartoons and comedies stare into the void, too. A mythical forest is the setting for a face-down between the forces of good and evil in the animated “EPIC.” “This is the End” casts Seth Rogen, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, and Rihanna as themselves at a Hollywood party as the planet goes kerplooey, and “The World’s End,” the latest from the “Sean of the Dead” gang, envisions a pub crawl on the eve of apocalypse. Even “Man of Steel,” the much awaited Superman relaunch, climaxes with bad alien dude Michael Shannon bent on destroying Earth.


What the heck is going on here? The summer movie lineup does include the usual share of sequels — “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Kick-Ass 2,” “The Hangover: Part III,” “The Fast and the Furious 6” (!) — and there are a number of major releases that aren’t specifically pegged to disaster, although fans of “The Great Gatsby” and “The Lone Ranger” may disagree once they see what Baz Luhrmann and Gore Verbinski, respectively, have done to those properties. And there are a few small, witty mammals running between the feet of the dinosaurs: A new Woody Allen (“Blue Jasmine”), a new Sofia Coppola (“The Bling Ring”), a second collaboration between “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling (“Only God Forgives”).

There’s even “Before Midnight,” the third film in the beloved series begun by 1995’s “Before Sunrise.” That’s cause for cheer in a summer slate that desperately needs some. Is it that our global calamities have finally seeped into our escapist entertainments? Or is this just natural Hollywood escalation? If summer movies are all about blowing things up louder and better than last year, it stands to reason we’d eventually have to blow everything up. In any event, sit back, relax, and enjoy Armageddon.

Note: Like summer weather, opening dates are subject to change.

MAY 10

THE GREAT GATSBY Leonardo DiCaprio is Jay. Tobey Maguire is Nick. Carey Mulligan is Daisy. Baz Luhrmann is the director. Guess which one of those names has the ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald feeling a mite nervous.


THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST After “Amelia,” director Mira Nir returns to more familiar, cross-cultural ground. Riz Ahmed plays a Pakistani man trying to make it on Wall Street. Also on hand are Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, and Kiefer Sutherland.

PEEPLES Tina Gordon Chism makes her directorial debut with this very broad comedy, which she wrote and Tyler Perry produced. Craig Robinson, sensible man, wants to marry Kerry Washington. First he has to meet her parents. Uh-oh.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR Director Olivier Assayas looks at how ’60s politics and ’70s art did, and did not, merge, in this autobiographical story of an aspiring painter-filmmaker (Clément Métayer) set in 1971.

THE SOURCE FAMILY Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille directed this documentary about a post-’60s commune that started out in Hollywood, moved to Hawaii, and did not end up at all well.

Zachary Quinto (left) as Spock and Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek Into Darkness.”Zade Rosenthal

MAY 17

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Having done so well by the franchise four years ago, Chris Pine (as Kirk), Zachary Quinto (as Spock), Zoe Saldana (as Uhura), and J.J. Abrams (as director) return. Benedict Cumberbatch provides villainy.

THE ENGLISH TEACHER Julianne Moore plays a teacher in a small Pennsylvania town. When a favorite pupil returns home, having failed as a playwright in New York, she gets a colleague (Nathan Lane) to stage his work. Things then get complicated.

BLACK ROCK Three childhood friends (Katie Asselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth) decide to have a weekend reunion on an island off the coast of Maine. Bad idea. Asselton helms. It’s the Maine native’s second directorial effort.


MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN Salman Rushdie’s epic 1981 novel about Indian independence comes to the screen. It would seem more miniseries material, or maybe maxiseries, but director Deepa Mehta’s feature has a 140-minute running time. Whew!

STORIES WE TELL Triple threat actress-writer-director Sarah Polley turns to documentary. She uses her parents’ history as a point of departure for looking at how reality and fiction, family and memory, intertwine.

AT ANY PRICE Agribusiness magnate Dennis Quaid wants son Zac Efron to take over the family farm. Zac would rather drive race cars. Wouldn’t you? His plans shift into neutral when dad’s investigated for business hanky-panky.

THE ICEMAN Not a biopic about George Gervin or Jerry Butler – although it is based on a true story. Michael Shannon plays a contract killer whose wife (Winona Ryder) doesn’t suspect a thing – until his boss (Ray Liotta) puts out a hit on him.

KISS OF THE DAMNED Now here’s an eye-opening prospect: a high-gloss, Cassavetes-directed vampire romance. The catch is that the Cassavetes directing isn’t John, but his daughter Xan.

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED A romantic comedy, set in Denmark and Italy, about a lonely Englishman (Pierce Brosnan) who gets involved with a Danish hairdresser whose husband has left her. Co-written and directed by Susanne Bier.

NICKY’S FAMILY A documentary about Sir Nicholas Winton, the Nicky of the title, who in 1939 intervened to save 669 children in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Winton, who’s still alive, at 102, is among the interview subjects, as are Elie Wiesel and the Dalai Lama.


SCATTER MY ASHES AT BERGDORF’S Some stores are also a state of mind. That’s true of Bergdorf Goodman, as director Matthew Miele’s documentary shows. Among those onscreen singing the luxury emporium’s praises are Karl Lagerfeld, the Olsen twins, and Joan Rivers.

SIGHTSEERS Imagine the Who’s “Going Mobile” (definitely) crossed with Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” (sort of). Then imagine it in England’s Midlands played for laughs. Alice Lowe and Steve Oram star. Ben Wheatley directs.

MAY 22

CLEOPATRA This re-release honors the 50th anniversary of the most expensive movie ever made. That’s adjusted for inflation, of course, and what inflation there was, with Elizabeth Taylor’s Egyptian queen and Richard Burton’s Mark Anthony.

MAY 24

THE HANGOVER: PART III Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ed Helms, and Ken Jeong are all back from the first two installments. Intriguingly, Heather Graham’s back from the first one. Melissa McCarthy turns up, too.

FAST AND FURIOUS 6 Bye-bye Rio, hello London. Think of this latest drive around the block as a V-6. Two more sequels, and everyone’s favorite vroom-vroom vehicle becomes a V-8. By V-12, Vin Diesel could be a grandfather.

EPIC Your basic American teenage girl finds herself in a forest where good and evil are epically (you might say) doing battle. Voice talent for this animated feature from “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge includes Amanda Seyfried, Beyoncé, and Steven Tyler.

FRANCES HA Greta Gerwig, who stars, collaborated on the script with Noah Baumbach, who directed. She plays the sort of woman Greta Gerwig tends to play (likable, intelligent, at a bit of a loss) in the sort of movie Noah Baumbach tends to direct (sensitive, intelligent, slightly off-kilter).

THE PAINTING A French animated feature about a painting that’s been left incomplete by its maker. Inhabiting the canvas are three types of creatures: Toupins (painted), Pafinis (who are minus some colors), and Reufs (sketches). They do not get along.

WHAT MAISIE KNEW The Henry James novella gets updated and relocated to New York. Julianne Moore switches from English teacher to rock star and is involved in a custody battle with art dealer Steve Coogan for their 7-year-old daughter.

Jaden Smith stars in “After Earth.” Columbia Pictures/Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

MAY 31

AFTER EARTH A thousand years from now, Earth has been abandoned. Will Smith and his son Jaden play a father and son whose spaceship crashes on the planet. Multiple bonding opportunities arise. M. Night Shyamalan directed.

THE EAST A political thriller about a security expert (Brit Marling) who infiltrates an anarchist group that targets major corporations. The assignment gets tougher when she falls in love with the group’s leader (Alexander Skarsgård). Ellen Page also stars.

NOW YOU SEE ME Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Isla Fisher are Las Vegas illusionists. As part of their act, they knock over a bank. FBI agent Mark Ruffalo investigates. Also on hand are Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine.

DECEPTIVE PRACTICE: THE MYSTERIES & MENTORS OF RICKY JAY Ideally, this documentary about the famed magician-author-actor would run on a double bill with “Now You See Me.” Molly Bernstein directed.

WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) takes a look at Julian Assange and his Web-based assault on governmental secrecy.


THE INTERNSHIP Call this one “Web Crashers.” Eight years after “Wedding Crashers,” Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn reunite. Wilson and Vaughn (who co-wrote the script) play down-on-their-luck salesmen who somehow land internships at Google.

Julie Delpy as Celine and Ethan Hawke as Jesse return in “Before Midnight.”Despina Spyrou/Sony Pictures Classics

BEFORE MIDNIGHT This is the third go-round for Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke’s Celine and Jesse, after “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.” Twenty-first-century film now has its own Nick and Nora Charles.

EVOCATEUR: THE MORTON DOWNEY JR. STORY A documentary about the ’80s syndicated talk-show host, a man who did his best to take the pep out of dyspepsia.

FILL THE VOID An Israeli film about the intersection of religious faith, family loyalty, and personal freedom. When a devoutly Orthodox 18-year-old’s sister dies, she’s pressed by her mother to marry her now-widowed brother-in-law.

THE KINGS OF SUMMER A comedy in which three teenagers (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) assert their independence by building a house for themselves out in the woods. Mary Lynn Rajskub and Megan Mullally show up in supporting roles.

THE PURGE Every year in this imaginary America there’s a 12-hour period where, criminally speaking, anything goes. Do married couple Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke (big week for him!) need to become victimizers to keep from being victims?

RAPTURE-PALOOZA In a summer of end-of-the-world and/or post-apocalypic movies, here’s the real deal. The Rapture comes and . . . Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and her boyfriend (John Francis Daley) don’t make the cut. So how would you like to be living in suburban Seattle having to put up with the Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson)?

SHADOW DANCER Andrea Riseborough plays an IRA member in Belfast in the 1990s. Arrested by the British, she can either go to prison for 25 years or become a police informer. Clive Owen and Gillian Anderson also star.

TIGER EYES Lawrence Blume, who’s Judy Blume’s son, has directed and adapted his mom’s novel. Willa Holland plays a girl whose father has been killed. On a family trip to New Mexico, she begins to overcome her fear and sorrow.

VIOLET & DAISY A comedy about two teenage assassins. They’re the title characters, played by Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel. Danny Trejo and James Gandolfini are around to keep them in line — or at least try to.

WISH YOU WERE HERE Four Australians (Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Antony Starr) vacation in Cambodia. Only three make it home, and they’re haunted by the fate of their missing friend. Kieran Darcy-Smith makes his directorial debut.


THIS IS THE END A comedy in which it’s the end of the world as they know it. The they includes Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plass, and lots of others playing themselves. Needless to say, they feel fine.


DIRTY WARS A documentary about left-wing investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, the author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” It won the cinematography award at Sundance this year.

STUCK IN LOVE Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly are splitsville in this comedy-drama. Their teenage kids, Nat Wolff and Lilli Collins, are having love troubles of their own. Hers involve Logan Lerman.

Henry Cavill plays Superman in “Man of Steel.”Warner Bros. Pictures

MAN OF STEEL Onscreen, it’s been Batman, si, Superman, no. Zach Snyder wants to change that. Henry Cavill wears the cape. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are his parents. Amy Adams is Lois Lane. Russell Crowe is Jor-El. Laurence Fishburne is Perry White.

TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM What a great idea for a documentary: the joys and sorrows of backup singing. Interviewees include people you’ve heard, but not heard of, as well as the likes of Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, and Sheryl Crow.

VEHICLE 19 Paul Walker picks up a rental car in a foreign city. His mileage isn’t the only thing that’s unlimited. There’s a gun in the glove compartment and a mysterious woman in back. After that, things get furious fast.

FUGLY! John Leguizamo stars in this expansion of his one-man autobiographical play, “Ghetto Klown.” Now the story has a cast, including Radha Mitchell, Rosie Perez, Ally Sheedy, and Griffin Dunne.


MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Pixar sequels have been superb (the “Toy Story” pair) and not so much (“Cars 2”). Here’s the first prequel: a look back at the college days of Mike and Sulley (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman), from “Monsters Inc.”

WORLD WAR Z Walking dead, smalking dead. Now there’s a zombie pandemic. Don’t worry, though. UN official Brad Pitt is on the case. Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace”) directed. Based on Max Brooks’s novel.

THE BLING RING A group of teens in the Hollywood Hills burgled celebrities’ homes. It actually happened, but sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? Now it is. Emma Watson stars. Sofia Coppola wrote and directed.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Having done rather nicely directing “The Avengers,” Joss Whedon undertakes an intriguing change of pace: updating Shakespeare’s dueling-lovers comedy. Amy Acker is Beatrice, and Alexis Denisof is Benedick.

PLIMPTON! STARRING GEORGE PLIMPTON AS HIMSELF The title is kind of self-explanatory: a documentary about the editor, writer, and raconteur best known for such books about living out sports fantasies as “Paper Lion” and “Out of Their League.”

UNFINISHED SONG Retiree Terence Stamp honors the wish of his late wife (Vanessa Redgrave) that he join the local choral group she belonged to. It’s run by Gemma Arterton. Jane Lynch does not make a cameo appearance.


WHITE HOUSE DOWN What does Roland Emmerich have against the executive mansion? He destroyed it in “Independence Day.” Now he attacks it. Jamie Foxx (!) is president. Channing Tatum is tasked with rescue duty.

THE HEAT Paul Feig, of “Bridesmaids” fame, directs Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, also of “Bridesmaids” fame. Bullock is a buttoned-down FBI agent. McCarthy is a very unbuttoned Boston cop. Do they become partners? Of course they do.

BYZANTIUM In 1994, director Neil Jordan made “Interview With the Vampire.” Now he again tackles the undead. Blood is thicker than water, a lot thicker, for mother-daughter vampires Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Sara (Saorsie Ronan).

COPPERHEAD Ronald F. Maxwell, who previously directed “Gettysburg” (1993) and “Gods and Generals” (2003) completes his 20-year Civil War trilogy with this story of conflict on the Northern home front. Billy Campbell, François Arnaud, Angus Macfadyen, and Peter Fonda star.

A HIJACKING When Somali pirates take possession of a Danish freighter, the negotiations for the crew’s release get complicated — and the moral calculus, on both sides, gets convoluted.

MANIAC Frank (Elijah Wood) owns a mannequin shop. Anna (Nora Arnezeder) is an artist who becomes acquainted with him. So far, so good. The problem is that there’s a serial killer out and about. Where’s Gandalf when you need him?

Johnny Depp (left) plays Tonto and Armie Hammer is the title character in “The Lone Ranger.”Disney/Bruckheimer Films


THE LONE RANGER No one cares that it’s Armie Hammer in the title role. What matters is that Johnny Depp plays Tonto. Gore Verbinski, who made the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, directed.

DESPICABLE ME 2 There’s despicable, and there’s despicable. Steve Carell’s Gru was reformed by the love of three orphans in 2010’s surprise animation hit. He’s now up against super-villain Eduardo (Al Pacino).

KEVIN HART: LET ME EXPLAIN Filmed at Madison Square Garden last year, the popular comedian (who’s also in “This Is the End”) does his stand-up act, interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage.

PASSION A remake, directed by Brian De Palma, of the 2010 French thriller “Crime d’amour.” Things get hot and heated between ad agency head Rachel MacAdams and Noomi Rapace, her protégée (consider that a euphemism).


HANNAH ARENDT No stranger to improbable biopics, Margarethe von Trotta has made films about Rosa Luxemburg and Hildegard of Bingen. Here Barbara Sukowa plays Arendt, the political philosopher who covered the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker.

THE WAY, WAY BACK Water park manager Sam Rockwell helps beleaguered teen Liam James find himself in this coming-of-age comedy filmed in and around Marshfield. Toni Collette is his mom, and Steve Carell her boyfriend.


PACIFIC RIM Guillermo del Toro unleashes his imagination on sci-fi. Aliens attack the Earth. To fight back, humans turn to giant robots. Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, and Ron Perlman (Hellboy himself!) star.

I’M SO EXCITED At long last, Pedro Almodóvar takes off — literally — with this comedy set on an endangered airliner. How do you say “Airplane!” in Spanish? Almodóvar standbys Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz are on hand.

CRYSTAL FAIRY A road movie that’s not so much about the road not taken as one that shouldn’t have been taken. Michael Cera plays an ugly American on a trip to Chile in search of a different kind of trip, one involving a famous local hallucinogen.

DEALING WITH IDIOTS Jeff Garlin wrote and directed this largely improvisational comedy. He plays a famous comedian who tries to get to know the parents of his son’s youth baseball teammates. They include Christopher Guest and Fred Willard.

GROWN UPS 2 Once again, boys will be boys — especially when played by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, and Chris Rock. Watch for Shaquille O’Neal as Officer Fluzoo (a dress rehearsal for “Kazaam 2”?).

THE HOT FLASHES If Oprah remade “Hoosiers” . . . A group of middle-age women in Texas who were once basketball stars (Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Wanda Sykes, Camryn Manheim) challenge the current state champs. Susan Seidelman directed.

THE HUNT Thomas Vinterberg directed this Danish drama about a former high school teacher who becomes embroiled in a small-town scandal. Mads Mikkelsen won best actor at Cannes last year for his performance as the teacher.


TURBO Doesn’t every garden snail dream of winning the Indy 500? Well, the one in this Dreamworks Animation feature does. Ryan Reynolds provides the snail’s voice. Other vocal talent includes Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, and Michael Peña.


ONLY GOD FORGIVES Two years after “Drive,” Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn reunite for this crime drama set in Bangkok. Gosling plays a drug smuggler. At the behest of his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), he may be adding murder to his rap sheet.

GIRL MOST LIKELY It’s like “The English Teacher” (see May 17), only from the failed playwright’s point of view. Kristen Wiig plays the writer. She returns to her New Jersey home, moving in with Mom (Annette Bening) and Mom’s boyfriend (Matt Dillon). Comedy ensues.

R.I.P.D. The letters stand for “Rest in Peace Department,” which consists of cops who are dead but not, so to speak, off-duty. On the force are Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, and Mary-Louise Parker. Based on the Dark Horse comic book and filmed in Boston.

RED 2 “Red” (which stands for “retired and extremely dangerous”) was one of the nicer action-film surprises of recent memory. Three years later, the sequel reunites old but not over-the-hill operatives Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich for more trouble.

THE ACT OF KILLING For this highly unusual and unusually powerful documentary, director Joshua Oppenheimer asked leaders of Indonesian death squads to reenact the mass killings they oversaw in the 1960s — but to reenact them as if in a favorite feature film.

THE CONJURING Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson play a married couple who investigate paranormal events. The one they encounter here, in a Rhode Island farmhouse, is a doozy. Patrick Wan, who made “Saw” and the two “Insidious” films, directed.

EVIDENCE Radha Mitchell is a police detective tasked with investigating a mass killing at a former gas station. The one thing she has going for her efforts is video footage of the event.


THE WOLVERINE Hugh Jackman dons his claws again as the thinking-woman’s favorite superhero. This time he’s off to Japan. Famke Janssen, as Jean Grey, is on hand from the “X-Men” movies to keep him comic-book company.

FRUITVALE STATION Writer-director Ryan Coogler debuts with this based-on-fact story of an African-American shot to death in 2009 by police in Oakland. At Sundance, “Fruitvale Station” won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for a US dramatic film.


SMURFS 2 Neil Patrick Harris, Sofia Vergara, Jayma Mays, and Hank Azaria return from the previous go-round, as do the little blue title characters, of course. Azaria’s evil Gargamel has kidnapped Smurfette, so a rescue needs to be organized — and in 3-D, to boot.


2 GUNS 2013 is turning into the year of Mark Wahlberg at the multiplex. Here he teams with Denzel Washington as government operatives who have to fight both the mob and the CIA. Based on the graphic novel from Boom! Studios and directed by Baltasar Kormákur.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE If “300,” with bad-guy Persians defeating good-guy Greeks, was such a massive hit six years ago, then “300: Rise of an Empire,” with Greeks defeating Persians, in the same war, should be an even bigger one, no? Ah, if only Gerald Butler hadn’t died . . .

COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES The Cockneys are bank robbers — English, of course, and none too talented — and the zombies are all over London. Writer-director Matthias Hoene makes his feature debut. Watch for Honor Blackman, of “Goldfinger” fame, in a small role.


PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS The second film based on Rick Riordan’s popular series of YA novels about a teen who has to deal with the difficulties attendant on being the son of the Greek god Poseidon. Logan Lerman returns as Percy.

A bald Matt Damon stars in Columbia Pictures’ “Elysium.”Kimberley French


ELYSIUM Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) again blends social commentary with science fiction. In 2154, the very rich live on a space station while everyone else suffers below on Earth. Matt Damon wants to do something about that. Jodie Foster also stars.

PLANES A cropdusting plane that’s afraid of heights would seem to be in the wrong profession. A cropdusting plane that wants to fly in a famous aerial race would seem even more deluded than that snail in “Turbo.” This summer’s Disney feature animation release.

BLUE JASMINE Woody Allen returns to drama, in this tale of a troubled family in New York. As usual, he’s assembled an impressive cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C.K. (!), and Andrew Dice Clay (!!).

LOVELACE A biopic about the “Deep Throat” star Linda Lovelace. Amanda Seyfried has the title role. Adam Brody plays Harry Reems. James Franco is Hugh Hefner. Let’s repeat that: James Franco is Hugh Hefner. Also on hand are Sharon Stone, Chloë Sevigny, and Eric Roberts.

PRINCE AVALANCHE It’s the summer of 1988, and two mismatched highway workers (Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch) are sent from the city to repair a country road after a wildfire. David Gordon Green directed this seriocomic character study, a remake of the 2011 Icelandic film “Either Way.”

EUROPA REPORT A multinational mission heads to the moons of Jupiter. The crew consists of Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Daniel Wu, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Anamaria Marinca, and Karolina Wydra. Sebastián Cordero directed.

IN A WORLD. . . Lake Bell, who also wrote and stars, makes her feature directing debut. She plays a vocal coach whose dad (Fred Melamed) is the greatest voice-over artist of them all. At his urging, she tries to join the profession, too. Demetri Martin also stars.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW Miles Teller plays a high school senior who knows how to live it up. Encountering nice girl Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley), he has to rethink his priorities. He also gets to savor the best character name from any movie this summer.

WE’RE THE MILLERS Wanting to import two tons of marijuana from Mexico, Jason Sudeikis enlists stripper Jennifer Aniston and homeless teen Emma Stone to pose as his wife and daughter to fool the authorities. It’s a comedy.


THE PATIENCE STONE In a war torn country, Golshifteh Farahani (“Chicken With Plums”) lives with her much older husband, who’s been reduced to a vegetative state by a bullet wound. She speaks to him of her frustrations and hopes, seeking a kind of redemption.


AUSTENLAND An unmarried American woman (Keri Russell), obsessed with Mr. Darcy, in “Pride and Prejudice,” travels to a Jane Austen theme park. Jerusha Hess, who wrote “Napoleon Dynamite,” did the script and makes his directorial debut.

HAUTE CUISINE A comic French biopic about the woman (Catherine Frot) who served as President Francois Mitterand’s chief chef. Directed by Christian Vincent, who also collaborated on the script, with Etienne Comar and Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch.

Chloë Grace Moretz in “Kick-Ass 2.” Universal Pictures

KICK-ASS 2 Chloë Grace Moretz was so much foul-mouthed fun as Mandy Macready/Hit-Girl three years ago in the original, a sly burlesque of superhero-dom, that she became a minor sensation. So much so that she’s gone from 21st-billed there to first here. Girls rule!

PARANOIA Amber Heard, Harrison Ford, Liam Hemsworth, and Gary Oldman star in an adaptation of Joseph Finder’s novel. Can a corporation practice corporate espionage on itself? Now here’s a target for those guys in “The East.”

THE TO DO LIST Aubrey Plaza, who turns 29 next month, is a bit mature to play someone about to start college (and resolved to have a number of experiences before doing so). But for her we’re willing to make an exception.


DRINKING BUDDIES Mumblecore maestro Joe Swanberg wrote and directed this romantic comedy-drama. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are brewery workers attracted to each other – except that she’s already with Ron Livingston, and he’s with Anna Kendrick.

GRANDMASTERS Is the only thing better than a martial-arts movie a martial-arts movie about martial-arts movies? Kar Kai Wong directed this biopic about the fighting master (Tony Leung) who trained Bruce Lee. Ziyi Zhang also stars.

THE COLONY Forget about global warming. The real problem is a new ice age. It’s forced people to live underground. Laurence Fishburne is in charge, with Bill Paxton second in command. Their biggest problem isn’t staying warm, it’s (you guessed it) zombies.

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES Harald Zwart (“The Karate Kid”) directed this story of a young New Yorker (Lily Collins) who finds out some unpleasant truths after an attack on her mother (Lena Headey). Adapted from the Cassandra Clare YA fantasy series.

THERESE DESQUEYROUX Audrey Tatou stars in this version of the Francois Mauriac novel, which the late Claude Miller adapted and directed. Tatou plays an unhappily married woman confined by social conventions in southwestern France in 1926.

From left: Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan in “The World’s End.”Laurie Sparham / Focus Features

THE WORLD’S END Writer-director Edgar Wright and writer-actor Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) are up to their old tricks in this comedy about a pub-crawl reunion that turns into . . . well, let’s just say that the end of the world is a theme that keeps cropping up this summer.

YOU’RE NEXT The gang of mysterious marauders who attack a friendly family reunion seem to have overlooked one thing: Sharni Vinson is one of the reunion party. She’s trouble.


CLOSED CIRCUIT It’s like “Adam’s Rib” — except it isn’t. Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana play lawyers who used to be romantically involved. They get involved with each other again, in a different way, on the defense team of an international terrorist.


ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE Two horror stories for the price of one. Onscreen, Amber Heard is a teenage “good girl” who goes to a party where bad things happen. Behind the scenes Jonathan Levine’s feature has been in distribution limbo since 2006 (that’s not a typo).

GETAWAY To protect his kidnapped wife, race-car driver Ethan Hawke agrees to serve as wheelman for a mysterious criminal. His only ally is a young computer hacker (Selena Gomez).

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US A concert film featuring the Irish-English boy band. Here’s the kicker: The director is Morgan Spurlock. Yes, that Morgan Spurlock. Super size who, exactly?

SATANIC Undergraduate Ashley Greene is alone on campus over Thanksgiving break. Is it too late to take a leave of absence? Bad people try to do some very bad things to her. Lucas Till and Haley Bennett also star.