Snow White and the Huntsman – June 1
To clarify, no, this isn’t a copycat of that fantastical Julia Roberts Snow White “Mirror Mirror,’ – that’s the copycat. This darker, action-packed telling of the classic story (closer to the Grimm Brothers version) adds dwarves as fierce as those in “Lord of the Rings,” Kristen Stewart as a warrior princess Snow White, and an ambiguous hunter (Chris Hemsworth) on her tail. Oh, and best of all, Charlize Theron as the ultimate evil queen. I don’t usually get excited about Hollywood takes on fairy tales, but this one looks so awesome, and carries such a high pedigree, it seems like the rare time it’s warranted.
Prometheus – June 8
Director Ridley Scott returns to the series that made him famous and turned space into the scariest place in science fiction – and fans of the “Alien” franchise couldn’t ask for more. This pseudo-prequel follows a team of scientific explorers searching for the beginnings of the human race, which (as series fans can probably guess), also leads them to their own destruction. With an international cast featuring the brilliant Michael Fassbender and the Swedish “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Noomi Rapace, this effects-heavy spectacle is primed to return the “Alien” franchise to its former glory.
Moonrise Kingdom – June 29
If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, you know that no other director can replicate his rapid-fire wit, detailed quirk and colorful characters. His latest gem takes place in the wistful 1960s as two young lovers hatch a romantic escape from the summer camps and adults around them, while all those adults – including Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton – run about like headless chickens trying to find them. Chances are this will be the funniest, most clever comedy all summer, so if you’re unfamiliar with Anderson’s genius, this treat of pure delight will be the perfect opportunity to get acquainted.
To Rome with Love – July 6
After producing one of his career best last year with “Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen’s globe-trotting creative renaissance continues with another light comedy of oddball romance in a city of beauty and adventure. This time it’s in Rome, featuring a hilarious cast including awkward-extraordinaires Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page, Woody playing his neurotic self, a sexy-as-ever Penelope Cruz, the lovably smarmy Alec Baldwin, and a slew of other international stars. With so many enjoyable performers, who cares if the plot is typical Woody Allen? He can do this stuff in his sleep, but at least he maintains the quality.
Savages – July 6
Provocative director Oliver Stone steps away from his politically minded dramas and documentaries of late to embellish that wild, stylistic and violent side that he’s better known for. This fast-paced thriller follows two successful marijuana growers/dealers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) near the Mexican border as the cartel comes to take over their business. When they refuse to join, cartel operators (Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro) kidnap their shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) and give them no option but to go on a berserk charge to save the girl they love. It’s gonna be a wild ride.
The Dark Knight Rises – July 20
The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s earth-shattering Batman trilogy is nearly upon us. As high a precedent as “The Dark Knight” set, Nolan’s finale seems ready to blow even that modern masterpiece, the greatest superhero film thus far, out of the water. Taking place eight years after the last film, Batman (Christian Bale) has been exiled and Gotham rests at peace…until Bane (the insanely scary Tom Hardy) arrives, ready to tear it to the ground. Nolan takes this story to a dark, dark place and won’t be pulling any punches, so expect this to live up to all the hype and stand as the summer’s best.
Lawless – Aug. 31
Director John Hillcoat’s “The Proposition” is my all-time favorite western, and with this all-star crime thriller, he’s aiming for nothing short of the best Prohibition-era tale of outlaws. Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy play brothers leading a Robin Hood-like group of bootleggers that control a small Virginian town, under the intimidating direction of a Chicago mobster (Gary Oldman). But when a spine-chilling special agent (Guy Pearce) enters the picture, aiming to shoot them down, all hell breaks loose. Not only does this drama end the summer with a serious bang, but opens up an Oscar season for the ages.