Friday, May 6 brings us "Captain America: Civil War," and you know what that means: The summer movie season is upon us again. Forget that it's early May, now begins the annual rite of sequels, spinoffs, remakes, and reboots, all jostling for maximum hype and awe in the effort to separate audiences from their cash.
This summer, though, the movie studios seem to be going for baroque and digging deeper into the depths of inspiration — or is that desperation? — than usual. How else to explain the "Angry Birds" movie, a wannabe blockbuster derived from a game you play on your phone? What's next, a three-hour IMAX epic based on Snapchat cat videos? (Note to Hollywood: WE'RE KIDDING.)
There are sequels, but they're soaring in from left field. We don't know anyone who was asking for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to digitally mug Lewis Carroll a second time in "Alice Through the Looking Glass." Or for Disney/Pixar to crank out "Finding Dory," a sequel to the 13-year-old "Finding Nemo." Do we want to go back to "Independence Day: Resurgence" two full decades after the original "Independence Day"? Does the 2013 magician-nerd heist thriller "Now You See Me" really warrant a revisit? The proof, as always, will be at the box office.
There are head-scratchers as well in the remake/reboot department. Certainly, plenty of people are looking forward to the new "Ghostbusters," starring Melissa McCarthy and "Saturday Night Live" stalwarts Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. And we haven't had a Tarzan movie since 1998's live-action "Tarzan and the Lost City" and 1999's animated "Tarzan," so "The Legend of Tarzan," with Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie — he Tarzan, she Jane — is probably overdue.
But only the success of the "How to Train Your Dragon" movies — and possibly "Game of Thrones" — explains why Disney is putting out a remake of 1977's live-action/animation mash-up "Pete's Dragon." And 57 years seems an awfully long time between versions of "Ben-Hur," that storied epic of the Roman Empire. At least the chariot races will now be pumped up with digital sound and fury; best to think of it as the latest car chase extravaganza and call it "Rapidus et Furiosus XII."
Also, this just in: "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie." Your call.
There are the expected superhero installments, including a fresh "X-Men" from Marvel/Disney, and "Suicide Squad" from DC/Warner Bros. But even the summer's other offerings seem a tad bizarre this year.
There's a big, serious biopic called "The Founder" — about Ray Kroc, the man who created McDonald's (played by Michael Keaton). And the digitally animated film to keep an eye on is the decidedly kid-unfriendly "Sausage Party," in which Seth Rogen and pals voice randy grocery items.
Leave it to Steven Spielberg to bring the normal this summer — with "The BFG," which is based on a Roald Dahl kiddie classic, stars recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance as a Big Friendly Giant, and features characters named Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater.
Maybe normal is overrated.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Chris Evans returns as the shield-wielding superhero. He and Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark (Iron Man) clash. Also on hand are such other Avenger standbys as Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye.
THE MEDDLER A comic drama about what happens when widow Susan Sarandon decides to "improve" the life of daughter Rose Byrne. J.K. Simmons costars.
MEN & CHICKEN Mads Mikkelsen stars in this Danish comedy about two brothers who discover that their father was a geneticist who believed that the family that experiments together stays together.
TOO LATE John Hawkes stars as a private eye in a neo-film noir that consists of five 22-minute takes. Also on hand are Robert Forster and Joanna Cassidy.
MONEY MONSTER Jodie Foster directed this thriller about a financial-TV personality (George Clooney) who's kidnapped and held hostage by a viewer led astray by his advice. Julia Roberts and Dominic West costar.
A BIGGER SPLASH Rock megastar Tilda Swinton is on a Mediterranean vacation with boyfriend Matthias Schoenaerts when former flame Ralph Fiennes shows up with daughter Dakota Johnson.
HIGH-RISE J.G. Ballard's dystopian novel about London falling apart comes to the screen. Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, and Elisabeth Moss head an impressive cast.
MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART Jia Zhangke's eighth film begins in a provincial Chinese city in 1999 and ends in Australia in 2025. In between comes further evidence for his status as one of today's foremost directors.
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THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE You've played the game, now watch it on the big screen. Voice talent includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, and Peter Dinklage.
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING Poor Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. Having survived frat-boy uproar in the 2014 original, now they have to deal with the distaff side. The new trou
blemakers are Chloë Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez. Zac Efron and Dave Franco return.
THE NICE GUYS It's "Boogie Nights" as buddy movie, sort of, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a private eye and his enforcer helper on the case in '70s LA.
THE LOBSTER Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell star in this futuristic comedy about a world in which adults have 45 days to find a partner. If they don't, they're turned into the animal of their choice. Birds and bees, anyone?
LOVE & FRIENDSHIP Whit Stillman ("Metropolitan," "The Last Days of Disco") did this adaptation of the Jane Austen novel "Lady Susan." Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny star.
A MONSTER WITH A THOUSAND HEADS Set in Mexico, this Spanish-language feature isn't a horror movie. The monster in question is bureaucratic in nature. It's a David-vs.-Goliath hostage thriller.
HOCKNEY A documentary portrait of the artist David Hockney.
I DON'T BELONG ANYWHERE: THE CINEMA OF CHANTAL AKERMAN A documentary tribute to the late Belgian director, a key figure for four decades in both European and feminist cinema.
NO HOME MOVIE Akerman's last film, it's a series of conversations between the filmmaker and her mother, a survivor of Auschwitz.
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE When an ancient mutant named Apocalypse sets out to take over the world, the X-Men (X-Women, too) have their work cut out for them.
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS "Alice in Wonderland" (2010), directed by Tim Burton, was a big hit. So why not send Mia Wasikowska there again? This time James Bobin helmed, with Burton producing. Also on hand are Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
CHEVALIER A Greek comedy about six friends on a luxury yacht who decide to get competitive — very, very competitive. Pass the testosterone, please.
DARK HORSE A documentary about a group of Welsh villagers who invest in a horse that becomes a steeplechase champion.
WEINER A behind-the-scenes documentary look at former US Representative Anthony Weiner and how his 2013 New York mayoral race fell apart.
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP STOPPING When his latest album flops, rapper Andy Samberg decides to bring back the boy band that made him famous. Samberg helped write the script. Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, and Imogen Poots costar.
MAGGIE'S PLAN In this romantic comedy written and directed by Rebecca Miller, Maggie (Greta Gerwig) likes everything just so, and that extends to reuniting her love interest (Ethan Hawke) with his ex-wife (Julianne Moore).
ME BEFORE YOU Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin star in this romantic drama about a young woman and the paralyzed man she cares for. Jojo Moyes did the adaptation of her best-selling novel.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS The shellbacks return, with Tyler Perry, no less, as villain.
TIME TO CHOOSE In his latest documentary, Oscar-winning director Charles Ferguson ("Inside Job") tackles global climate change.
WARCRAFT Duncan Jones ("Moon," "Source Code") directed this fantasy film inspired by the popular video game. Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, and Dominic Cooper head the cast.
THE CONJURING 2 Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as married ghostbusters – er, paranormal investigators. This time their ectoplasmic hunt shifts from Rhode Island to London.
GENIUS Legendary editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth) goes page to page with novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law). Perkins authors Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) show up, too. Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney costar.
THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS Morgan Neville ("20 Feet From Stardom") directed this documentary about cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Project, which brings together Western classical music with indigenous musical traditions the world over.
NOW YOU SEE ME 2 Larcenous illusionists Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson return from the 2013 caper film. This time they're forced to use their talents for ruthless tech magnate Daniel Radcliffe.
FINDING DORY Pixar's summer offering is a sequel to its much-loved "Finding Nemo" (2003). Ellen DeGeneres again voices Dory. Other returnees include Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, and the film's writer-director, Andrew Stanton.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE Espionage operative Dwayne Johnson shows up at his high school reunion, where he recruits accountant classmate Kevin Hart to join him in top-secret derring-do. Aaron Paul and Amy Ryan costar in the action comedy.
DE PALMA Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow (Gwyneth's brother) co-directed this documentary about the controversial career of the director, whose credits include "Carrie," "Scarface," and the first "Mission: Impossible" movie.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE Earth, watch out: 20 years later, those evil space aliens are back. So are actors Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Vivica A. Fox. No Will Smith, though.
FREE STATE OF JONES Matthew McConaughey stars in this based-on-fact story of a Mississippi farmer who leads a biracial revolt against the Confederacy during the Civil War.
CLOWN A dad dons an old clown suit he finds in the attic to entertain at his son's birthday party. Not a good idea: It's actually the skin of a centuries-old demon.
THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE If you're a vampire, Vienna is vastly preferable to Transylvania — or at least it is in the 1930s — since then you can have therapy sessions with a doctor by the name of Freud. That's the premise of this Austrian comedy.
UNLOCKING THE CAGE A documentary about a New York court case trying to establish that animals, in the form of four captive chimpanzees, have civil rights. Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker directed.
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THE SHALLOWS Surfer Blake Lively gets trapped on an offshore rock by a great white shark. Is she going to need a bigger board?
THE BFG Steven Spielberg directed this live-action adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's book. Mark Rylance plays the big friendly giant whose initials provide the film with its title.
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN Alexander Skarsgard is you-know-who, and Margot Robbie is Jane. But what are Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz doing there among the apes?
LAST CAB TO DARWIN An Australian comedy-drama about euthanasia. When a taxi driver learns he's terminally ill, he decides to do something about it.
THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR In this dystopian series, one night a year every crime goes unpunished. This time around, as the subtitle indicates, there's a civic angle. Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Mykelti Williamson star.
SWISS ARMY MAN Stranded on a desert island, Paul Dano encounters a talking corpse, played by Daniel Radcliffe.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS Claws are out, as happy pets fight unhappy ones in this animated future. Among those providing voices are Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, and Albert Brooks
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Viggo Mortensen stars in this drama about a father, raising his six children in isolation in the Pacific Northwest, forced to bring his family back into society.
LIFE, ANIMATED Roger Ross Williams's documentary won a directing award at Sundance this year. It's based on journalist Ron Suskind's book about his autistic son's obsession with Disney animation.
MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES Adam DeVine and Zac Efron play the title characters in this comedy about brothers who need dates for their sister's wedding. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza come to the rescue. Or do they?
THE INFILTRATOR A based-on-fact story about DEA agent Bryan Cranston, who discovers a Colombian drug lord's money-laundering scheme. Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo, and Amy Ryan costar.
GHOSTBUSTERS Who you gonna call? Why, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Actually, Chris Hemsworth will be taking the call, since he's the receptionist.
EQUALS Some time in the distant future, a strange new disease infects Nicholas Hoult. He and lover Kristen Stewart become outcasts. Guy Pearce and Jacki Weaver play supporting roles.
TULIP FEVER Scripted by Tom Stoppard, this historical drama set in 17th-century Holland tells the story of an affair between a wife (Alicia Vikander) and her artist lover (Dane DeHaan).
ZERO DAYS Oscar winner Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side") directed this documentary about cyberwarfare and the Stuxnet virus.
STAR TREK BEYOND The Starship Enterprise is stuck on an unknown planet. That's OK, since this third film in the series reboot boasts known quantities Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Simon Pegg (who helped write the script). Justin Lin directed.
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE In this fifth go-round in the Cenozoic-set animated series, events take a cosmic turn — starting with Scrat, the sabre-tooth squirrel, heading into outer space in pursuit of an acorn.
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) find themselves at the center of a massive media kerfuffle, as the '90s British sitcom arrives on the big screen.
LIGHTS OUT Uh-oh, a supernatural something-or-other haunts a family. It's visible only in the dark, hence the title. Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, and Maria Bello star.
JASON BOURNE Matt Damon returns for his fourth appearance in the title role, a human killing machine minus a memory. Bourne better watch out. Playing the head of the CIA is Tommy Lee Jones.
INTO THE FOREST Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood star in this dystopian fantasy about sisters who learn that great danger threatens their sylvan existence.
BAD MOMS Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, and Kristen Bell play good moms gone wild. This puts them in conflict with goody-goody moms Christina Applegate and Jada Pinkett Smith.
THE FOUNDER The force behind the rise of McDonald's was a salesman named Ray Kroc. Michael Keaton plays Kroc in this offbeat biopic, with support from Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, and Patrick Wilson.
SUICIDE SQUAD The DC comic book heroes come to the screen. Heading a starry cast are Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, and, as their boss, Viola Davis.
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS Meryl Streep stars as the title character. A New York socialite, she dreams of becoming an opera singer — despite the fact that she sings very badly. Hugh Grant costars in this based-on-fact story directed by Stephen Frears.
PETE'S DRAGON Does a certain supernatural creature live deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest? This remake of the 1977 original answers in the affirmative. Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, and Robert Redford star.
SAUSAGE PARTY It's a hot time for some supermarket cold cuts in this R-rated animated feature. Listen for the voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, and Danny McBride. Somewhere Ralph Bakshi is smiling.
WAR DOGS Jonah Hill as an arms dealer — Miles Teller, too — on contract to the Defense Department to supply the Afghan government? That's the premise of this comedy. What's even weirder? It's based on a true story. Todd Phillips ("The Hangover") directed.
BEN-HUR Oh boy, imagine the chariot race with CGI. This remake of the 1959 Charlton Heston epic (itself a remake of a 1925 silent film, both based on Lew Wallace's novel) has Jack Huston in the title role.
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS An animated feature about a little boy in ancient Japan who goes in search of a suit of magical samurai armor. Voice talent includes Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, and Ralph Fiennes.
SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU One summer in Chicago, a young lawyer (Tika Sumpter) and an associate (Parker Sawyers) at the same firm fall in love. The twist? Her name is Michelle Robinson, his is Barack Obama.
THE SPACE BETWEEN US Talk about long-distance love: A teenage boy on Mars falls in love with a girl on Earth and goes in search of her. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, and Carla Gugino star.
HANDS OF STONE Édgar Ramírez stars as Roberto Durán in this biopic about the champion welterweight boxer. Robert De Niro plays trainer Ray Arcel, and Usher is Durán rival Sugar Ray Leonard.
DON'T BREATHE Bad things happen when a trio of young people break into the home of a wealthy blind man (Stephen Lang) — and they're not the bad things you might expect.
MECHANIC: RESURRECTION Contract killer Jason Statham returns from "The Mechanic" (2011) with not one, not two, but three hits to carry out.
PATIENT ZERO A global pandemic involving a mutant strain of rabies has infected much of humankind. The search is on for the original victim in hopes of finding an antidote.