After an April filled with one blah studio release after another, we come to May, where at least one highly anticipated big budget movie opens every single weekend. As a result, these sorts of flicks dominate our radar-worthy list this month, with a total of six, plus three notable indies and of course, our dubious Turkey of the Month. To the movies!
In keeping with tradition, the first weekend of May is once again home to a big Marvel release, officially kicking off the summer blockbuster season. This time, Tony Stark returns to the spotlight, sans his superhero team, dealing with the trauma one very well might experience after learning about the existence of wormholes and aliens and flying to space, all while attempting to battle a terrorist known as "The Mandarin" (Ben Kingsley).
Proving that the superhero genre has a lot more potential than some may have suspected, "Iron Man 3" feels unlike any Marvel flick to come before, reflecting the style of its director Shane Black through and through. "Iron Man 3" plays by its own set of rules and manages to dodge most of the superhero movie traps. It also features the best movie kid in years (you heard me, Hushpuppy), a Ben Kingsley performance to end all Ben Kingsley performances (Gandhi who?), and a post-credits scene that will divide fans between tumbling with joy or grumbling with discontent. Bottom line - Marvel does it again. Enjoy.
After a significant delay pushed this F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation from Oscar season into summer season and subsequently lowered our expectations tenfold, "The Great Gatsby" finally plays out on screens across the country (in 2D and 3D). If you aren't familiar with "The Great Gatsby", you probably cut a few too many classes in high school, but I don't know that I would recommend rushing out to read it now – if you've gone this long, why not be the rare person to experience this story for the first time the Baz Luhrmann's way, then read it after? No? Sacrigileious? I'm banned from humanity? Fine. Either way, as a member of the "Moulin Rouge" faithful, I'm excited.
The follow up to 2009's successful "Star Trek" reboot, "Into Darkness" follows the Captain Kirk led Enterprise team as they track down the baddie (Benedict I'll-Cumber-His-Batch) responsible for attacking Starfleet. Bad Robot, the company behind the production, is always friendly to the spoiler-sensitive, so those who wish to stay in (to) the dark (ness) about who Cumberbatch is playing and other major plot points have had it easy these past couple months. As the film screens more and more, maintaining that element of surprise may prove more difficult, but fear not, we won't ruin anything here. See you at an IMAX in two weeks!
"The Squid and the Whale" and "Greenberg" helmer Noah Baumbach is back, reunited with "Greenberg" break out Greta Gerwig in this comedy, who stars and co-writes. The film played to solid reviews out of Telluride, Toronto, New York and more and also stars beloved Girls boy Adam Driver. In a month chock full of major studio movies, "Frances Ha", described as a "modern fable exploring New York, friendship, class, ambition, failure and redemption" is a much needed alternative, currently rocking 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
On May 24th, an epic battle will begin - the battle for Memorial Day weekend between two heavyweight franchises, neither of which this trusty blogger has any interest in seeing. This one at least, the sixth film in the feverishly adored "Fast & Furious" series, has me excited for all the people who DO care. Cause man. Man do you guys care about this movie. In this installment, criminal Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) teams up with DDS Agents Hobbs (The Rock. No, I won't call him Dwayne Johnson, are you mad?) and Riley (Gina Carano) to thwart a crime syndicate led by Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans in what may be his first ever not horrible movie. Rejoice! There will be fast cars, there will be furious explosions, there will be lots of people writing about this movie in all caps on Twitter.
"The Hangover Part III"
The other movie fighting for the weekend top spot is the third and (mercifully) final "Hangover" movie. This time, the gang returns to Vegas and probably gets drunk and Ken Jeong inevitabley acts weird and most definitely something awkward happens with an animal at least once. Remember what a fun surprise the first Hangover movie was? Sigh. This is why we cant have nice things.
Ultimately whichever film wins the box office over Memorial Day is irrelevant, because the only movie that actually matters that weekend is "Before Midnight." The third movie in this most unusual of trilogies, following 1995's "Before Sunrise" and 2004's "Before Sunset," the latest chapter again follows one day in the relationship between Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), this time finding them in their early 40s ... and that's all you need to know. A must see for any human, be prepared to experience sensations in your soul you did not know existed. Go go go go go go go go go.
"Now You See Me"
The other magician movie opening this year (do you even remember what the first one was?) is from "Incredible Hulk" and "Clash of the Titans" director Louis Leterrier in what looks like could actually be his best film to date. If we're being optimistic. But with a cast like Jesse Eisenberg, Melanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson, is looking forward to this movie such a crime? The FBI vs illusionists who rob banks! Mark Ruffalo!
Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling collaborate once again after beginning to build a fanbase with last year's "Sound of my Voice". Eco Espionage Thriller is the name of the game this time around, with a healthy dose of Stockholm Syndrome for good measure. In "The East," Brit Marling stars as a rookie FBI agent who infiltrates an anarchist group and starts to connect with its charismatic leader played by Alexander Skarsgard. It's been called captivating and inventive, and apparently features a fantastic performance from Ellen Page. If you make a point to see one Indie this month, make sure it's "Before Midnight." But if you see two, "The East" should definitely be on your list.
TURKEY OF THE MONTH
"After Earth" (May 31)
I am fully aware that M Night Shyamalan and Will Smith doing a movie together is good, exciting news to SOMEone SOMEwhere, unfortunately that someone is not me, and Jaden Smith co-starring with his father certainly does not help the situation. "After Earth" was conceived by Will Smith himself, and follows a father and son who crash land on Earth 1000 years after human kind abandoned it. Look, I would love to support original science fiction, but if there's anything we learned from "Oblivion", it's that bad directors, Scientologists and science fiction don't mix. That's definitely what all people would say they learned from "Oblivion" right? You'd *think* we learned our lesson after "Battlefield Earth", but nooooooo. Consider yourself warned.
Others to keep in mind:
"Post Tenebras Lux" (May 3)
"Something in the Air" (May 3)
"Stories We Tell" (May 17)
"Fill The Void" (May 24)
Spirit Award nominated Israeli drama that competed for the Golden Lion at Venice
"EPIC" (May 24)
3D animated movie from the director of "Ice Age" about a teenage girl who discovers a secret world and helps its denizens fight off some evil as she figures out how to return home
"The Kings of Summer" (May 31)
Sundance premiered coming of age comedy about a group of teenage boys who live in a house in the woods for the summer.