First off, forgive us for not having the budget to upgrade this summer movie preview to 3-D. Rest assured, there are plenty of eye-popping (brain-numbing?) epics in the preview list that follows, but to our pleasure and surprise, there is a surplus of attention-worthy 2-D flicks too. Happy summer, movie fans. And this time we mean it. (All dates are subject to change.)
Sex and the City 2: Manhattan columnist and shoe maven Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and friends (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon) vacation in Abu Dhabi, land of cranky camels and hunky sheiks. Written and directed by Michael Patrick King.
Agora: In this new film from gifted Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, The Sea Inside), Rachel Weisz portrays Hypatia, the fourth-century Greek philosopher-astronomer whose death at the hands of a Christian mob was not pretty. Max Minghella is the slave who loves her.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: A long-haired, muscled-up Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a Persian prince trying to find a magical dagger in this action megapic from director Mike Newell and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who never makes a movie he can't sequel-ize.
Get Him to the Greek: Jonah Hill plays a record company intern whose career-making assignment could be considered a music business rite of passage: Escorting a drug-addled rock star (British comic Russell Brand) to a big gig. From the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Nicholas Stoller.
Killers: Jen (Katherine Heigl) and Spencer (Ashton Kutcher) are blissful newlyweds until the day Jen discovers that her dream man was once a government assassin. The news does not thrill her. Catherine O'Hara costars in this action-comedy from Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic.
Ondine: Maybe she's a mermaid, maybe she's not, but either way, the mysterious beauty Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) is quickly stealing the heart of the Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) who pulled her from the sea. Stephen Rea costars in the new drama from writer-director Neal Jordan (The Crying Game).
Splice: Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are geneticists whose experiment in human cloning goes creepily awry in this thriller from director Vincenzo Natali and executive producer Guillermo Del Toro.
The A-Team: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, and UFC champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson are a disgraced special ops team out to clear their names in director Joe Carnahan's adaptation of the 1980s TV show [insert Mr. T joke here].
The Karate Kid: This remake of the 1984 Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita flick about a teenage boy who gains personal wisdom as well as mad skills from a kung-fu master stars Jaden Smith (son of Will) as the pupil, and Jackie Chan as his teacher.
Cyrus: Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly are newly, blissfully in love in this drama from the brotherly filmmaking duo of Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair). Jonah Hill costars as Tomei's clinging, interfering son.
Jonah Hex: Based on a long-running DC Comics character, this supernaturally tinged comedy-Western features Josh Brolin as badly scarred post-Civil War bounty hunter in search of a mad-dog killer, played, of course, by John Malkovich.
The Killer Inside Me: Casey Affleck is Lou Ford, a 1950s-era West Texas deputy sheriff who also happens to be a psychopathic killer. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart) and based on Jim Thompson's brilliant and brutal 1952 novel. Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba costar.
Grown Ups: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider star as childhood buddies reuniting for the first time in 30 years. We're thinking it's a comedy. Directed by Dennis Dugan (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry).
Knight and Day: Tom Cruise is a renegade secret agent; Cameron Diaz is his unwitting blind date and, all too suddenly, his reluctant sidekick in a mission to save a brilliant scientist (Paul Dano). Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma).
Restrepo: Journalist Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and photographer Tim Hetherington take along a movie camera to shadow the 173rd Airborne Brigade as it battles the Taliban amid the unforgiving terrain of the Korengal Valley. Winner of this year's Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Love Ranch: Taylor Hackford (Ray) directs his wife, Helen Mirren, along with Joe Pesci, in the so-crazy-it-has-to-be true story of Sally and Joe Conforte, whose 1970s Reno brothel, known as "Mustang Ranch," led the way to legalized prostitution in Nevada.
Twelve: Gossip Girl heartthrob Chace Crawford is the best-looking drug dealer on Manhattan's Upper East Side and Emma Roberts his clueless girlfriend in this adaptation of Nick McDonell's best seller, published, famously, when the author was only 17. Directed by Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo's Fire) and featuring Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as Crawford's rival.
The Kids Are All Right: Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play a Southern California lesbian couple with two teenagers they had with the sperm of an anonymous donor. When the kids track down their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), the mothers are more than a little freaked. Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon).
Despicable Me: There are villains aplenty in this 3-D animated comedy, chief among them the cranky, unfulfilled Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) whose plan to steal the moon is hitting a few snags.
Predators: The alien creature that stalked Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 and then spawned a host of bad sequels is back, thanks to executive producer Robert Rodriguez. Adrien Brody, Lawrence Fishburne, and Topher Grace are the unlucky mercenaries about to become alien bait.
Inception: Arguably the most anticipated movie of the summer, if not the year, this thriller from writer-director Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) is shrouded in secrecy. We do know that Leonardo DiCaprio heads a team of "dream thieves" that includes Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ken Watanabe (though maybe he's the bad guy).
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Nicolas Cage, teaming up again with National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub, plays a modern-day conjurer who enlists an NYU student (Jay Baruchel) to help him save the world from an evil wizard (Alfred Molina). The adventure film is reportedly inspired by the Mickey Mouse sorcerer sequence in Fantasia (that scares us just a little bit).
Dinner for Schmucks: The schmuck is Barry (Steve Carell), a nerd deluxe who's thrilled to be invited by his boss (Paul Rudd) to a dinner for big shots. What Barry doesn't know is that he's being set up for big-time ridicule in this comedy from director Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers).
Salt: Angelina Jolie channels her inner Jason Bourne — she leaps, she kicks, she kills — in director Phillip Noyce's action thriller about a CIA operative accused of being a Russian spy. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor costar.
The Adjustment Bureau: It's love at first sight for Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) and ballerina Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), but is it fate or sinister earthly forces conspiring to keep them apart? Screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of a 1954 story by Phillip K. Dick.
The Extra Man: It's a collision of eccentrics when a lonely, cross-dressing teacher (Paul Dano) becomes the roommate of an "escort" (Kevin Kline) for wealthy widows. Based on a novel by Jonathan Ames, this new film from codirectors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (American Splendor) features Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly, and the rarely seen but always welcome Patti D'Arbanville.
Get Low: Legend has it there once was a secretly wealthy Tennessee hermit who decided to throw his own funeral so he could hear the stories people had to tell about him. In this beautifully acted 1930s period piece from director Aaron Schneider, Robert Duvall is the hermit, Sissy Spacek his old flame, and Bill Murray the town's newly energized funeral director.
The Other Guys: Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg channel their inner Serpico in this comedy about two mediocre New York detectives who get a shot at the case of a lifetime. Costarring Eva Mendes and Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman).
Step Up 3-D: Filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who received some surprisingly good reviews for his work on Step Up 2, returns to direct the third installment in the popular series about the underground dance scene in New York. This edition has been filmed in 3-D, so expect to be kicked in the face by a hot dancer.
Eat Pray Love: Writer-director Ryan Murphy took time away from his hit TV show Glee to direct Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir about her worldwide search for enlightenment after a rough divorce. James Franco, Billy Crudup, and Richard Jenkins costar.
The Expendables: Action gods Sylvester Stone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren join forces to kick ass and blow things up in a film co-written and directed by Sly himself.
The Lottery Ticket: It takes luck to win a megamillions lottery ticket, but it might take a miracle for Kevin (Bow Wow), a young Atlanta man, to keep his family, friends, and neighbors from getting their mitts on the ticket over a long Fourth of July weekend. Ice Cube and Loretta Devine costar in director Erik White's debut comedy.
The Switch: Drunk and jealous that his best friend Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) didn't choose him to be her sperm donor, Wally (Jason Bateman) replaces the donor's swimmers with his own. Kassie moves away, but seven years later she's back, and — wow — that kid sure looks like Wally, doesn't he? Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory) codirect.
Takers: For the snazzily dressed, superefficient L.A. bank-robbing gang led by Idris Elba (Obsessed), there's one last big heist to pull off. (Isn't there always?) Their plan is brilliant, but the L.A. detectives played by Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez have one of their own. Paul Walker, Zoë Saldana, and Hayden Christensen costar.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Going the Distance: Drew Barrymore and Justin Long play it for laughs in this comedy about the perils of sustaining a long-distance love. Christina Applegate and Ron Livingston costar. Nanette Burstein (American Teen) directs.
The Last Exorcism: An evangelical priest (Patrick Fabian) who has spent his life performing fake exorcisms on deluded people might have finally stumbled upon the real deal. Daniel Stamm directs a horror movie produced by actor-director Eli Roth (Hostel).
Piranha 3-D: Spring break. College kids. Zillions of flesh-eating piranha fish. Got it? Elizabeth Shue and Jerry O'Connell try to save the day (but not their careers). Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes).
Machete: Director Robert Rodriguez, with the help of codirector Ethan Maniquis, has gone and made a real movie out of the fake trailer he created for the 2007 anthology flick, Grindhouse. In his first starring role, the great Danny Trejo plays an ex-Mexican Federale who's been (as the fake trailer puts it) "set up, double-crossed, and left for dead."