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It's Blockbuster Time: Your Guide to the Summer Movie Season

Movie by movie, here's how to get the most out of this summer without having to cake on sunscreen.

6/28:

The Heat: Melissa McCarthy is funny as hell, and hopefully, reteaming with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for this buddy cop comedy will give her her second big-screen role worthy of her talents. Sandra Bullock co-stars, but then again, so does Marlon Wayans.

I'm So Excited: Pedro Almodóvar chases his masterfully disturbing body horror melodrama The Skin I Live In with this sex comedy about flight attendants who will do anything to keep their customers happy. It's exciting to see Almodóvar return to peppy, deranged farces, especially as he's now a better filmmaker than when he made lopsided gems like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It would be better still if that Almodóvar discovery Antonio Banderas's part in this showcases how far he's come as an actor since Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!

There's a lot of anticipation for The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, even if some people cringe a bit at the idea of Depp playing Tonto.
There's a lot of anticipation for The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, even if some people cringe a bit at the idea of Depp playing Tonto.
Chloë Grace Moretz is set to make a definite impression in purple as Mindy Macready/ Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass 2.
Chloë Grace Moretz is set to make a definite impression in purple as Mindy Macready/ Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass 2.

Museum Hours: Among the most buzzed-about titles at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Jem Cohen's Museum Hours stood out, partly because it didn't star James Franco with a grill and wasn't directed by P.T. Anderson. Set in the historic Viennese art gallery Kunsthistorisches Museum, Cohen's breakout follows a security guard and a mysterious guest as they pore over paintings and talk about their lives and the city's history. 

7/5:

The Lone Ranger: After Rango, we shouldn't underestimate director Gore Verbinski, even if he did direct two of those dire Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Yes, watching Johnny Depp play Tonto sounds borderline offensive, but the film is bound to be visually dynamic thanks to Verbinski's knack for cartoonish set pieces. Jack White provides the score and nostalgia provides the audience.

The Way, Way Back: Once the Sundance Film Festival is under way, it only takes a couple days before a few titles are hyped as that year's must-see films. The Way, Way Back, a sweet coming-of-age story set in a water park, is one of this year's word-of-mouth hits. Word is the directorial debut of Jim Rash — the dean on Community! — is a Meatballs-meets-Adventureland pleasure that benefits from stars Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell.

Hammer of the Gods: This bloody Viking drama is the directorial debut of Farren Blackburn, whose previous TV credits include Doctor Who and Luther. The film follows a young, probably often bare-chested, Viking's quest to reunite with his brother. Let's hope it's not Ragnarok.

7/12:

Pacific Rim: Giant monsters fight giant robot in Guillermo del Toro's high-concept action film. If this is anywhere near as violent and operatic as del Toro would have us believe, it might make up for the fact that the Pan's Labyrinth director will never make that adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness he's been trying to land. Bonus: Sons of Anarchy co-stars Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman turn up along with Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

V/H/S 2: Like pretty much any portmanteau film made by various directors, the first V/H/S, a compilation of found-footage horror shorts, was a mixed bag. Still, it proved that creative things can still be achieved in Paranormal Activity-style found-footage horror films. V/H/S 2 includes new shorts directed by the filmmakers of The Blair Witch Project, The Raid: Redemption and Hobo with a Shotgun. Seriously, one guy we know really liked it!

The Hot Flashes: Susan Seidelman's latest film sounds as if it could be either hellish or delightfully cheesy: a group of middle-aged Texas women try to get their mojo back by challenging a group of high school girls to a basketball tournament. The older women in question include Wanda Sykes, Brooke Shields, Darryl Hannah and Camryn Manheim. It's been too long since Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan, but with luck, Hot Flashes will be Hoosiers for mature actresses who deserve better roles.

7/19:

R.I.P.D.: This M.I.B.-esque, high-as-a-kite-concept action-comedy stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as ghost cops — meaning ghosts that happen to be cops rather than cops that gun for ghosts. The plot: While Bridges shows Reynolds the ropes of ghost cop-dom, the duo try to track down the man who killed Reynolds's character, probably ­either Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker or James Hong. This is director Robert Schwentke's follow-up to Red, the only comic book movie where Helen Mirren teams up with a really big gun.

Computer Chess: Set in the '80s, this comedy concerns the designers of one of the earliest chess-playing computer programs. Within the short-lived cycle of Mumblecore indie dramas about self-involved twentysomethings, Andrew Bujalski's films stand apart. He has an ear for hilarious, naturalistic dialogue, and his scope has grown ambitious: Beeswax, his third feature, was a Whit Stillman-inspired romantic drama as well as a capitalist critique — will Big Chess feel a sting from this one? 

Only God Forgives:Ryan Gosling reteams with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn for this bonkers thriller, recently screened at Cannes. Refn has described Only God Forgives as a contemporary western set in Thailand, and the plot synopsis is no less incredible: Gosling plays a drug-dealing cop-killer and Thai boxing club proprietor who also happens to be a hit man who gets tangled up with the crime lord played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Seriously, this is a real film that's coming out.

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