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. (As always, all dates are subject to change.)MAY
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.
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 mega-pic from director Mike Newell and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who never makes a movie he can't sequel-ize.
George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead: In his sixth film about flesh-eaters, horrormeister George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) sends his disgruntled band o' zombies to an island off Delaware where they shuffle into the gun sights of two feuding Irish families.
John Rabe: John Rabe, a German businessman and Nazi Party member, is believed to have saved at least 200,000 Chinese laborers from sure death during the brutal Japanese occupation of Nanking in 1937. In writer-director Florian Gallenberger's epic re-creation, Ulrich Tukur stars as Rabe, and Steve Buscemi as Robert Wilson, the American surgeon who teamed with him.JUNE
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 who pulled her from the sea (Colin Farrell). Stephen Rea costars in the new drama from writer-director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game).
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 name in director Joe Carnahan's adaptation of the 1980s TV show [insert Mr. T joke here].
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead:There are vampires in the state of Denmark, or so it appears to a young Manhattan director (Jake Hoffman, son of Dustin) whose staging of Hamlet has more bite than he expected. Written and directed by Jordan Galland.
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.
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.
Toy Story 3: Where do toys go when their kid grows up and moves away? After they survive one of their patented Pixar adventures, be prepared to well up as Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the toys of Andy's room see their favorite human off to college. Written by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and directed by Lee Unkrich. (We hear Mr. Potato Head steals the movie.)
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, and Cameron Diaz 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).
South of the Border: Early reviews suggest that director Oliver Stone's documentary about America's rocky relationship with its South American neighbors, which features the director taking a road trip with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, is surprisingly even-handed, though we aren't expecting Fox News to snap up the broadcast rights.
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.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: A dreamboat vampire, a hunky werewolf, a confused teenage girl — stop us if you've heard of this one. Directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night).JULY
The Last Airbender: Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) adapts Nickelodeon's animated fantasy series about a twelve-year-old (Noah Ringer) with the ability to control all four elements — Water, Earth, Air and Fire. No pressure there.
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 bestseller, published, famously, when the author was only seventeen. 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 Schwarzennegger back in 1987 and then spawned a host of bad sequels is back, thanks to executive producer Robert Rodriguez. Adrien Brody, Laurence 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 up a team of "dream thieves" that includes Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe (though maybe he's the bad guy).
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).
Ramona and Beezus: In the film version of young adult novelist Beverly Cleary's iconic "Ramona" character, first created in the 1950s, eleven-year-old Joey King plays the spunky third grader with Disney Channel star Selena Gomez as her older sister Beatrice, a.k.a. "Beezus."
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 who's accused of being a Russian spy. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor costar.
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.AUGUST
Cairo Time: Patricia Clarkson is a Canadian journalist who's come to Egypt to meet up with her husband. When he's delayed, husband sends an Egyptian friend (Alexander Siddig) to keep his wife company. Probably not a great idea. Written and directed by Ruba Nadda.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed: There's reportedly a memorably clever bit of business involving a stray bullet casing in this British kidnapping thriller from first time filmmaker J. Blakeson. Eddie Marsan, the addled driving instructor in Happy-Go-Lucky, stars.
Middle Men: In this fact-based drama set in the late 1990s, Luke Wilson stars as a fixer of troubled businesses who meets two guys (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) who've figured out a way to transmit pornography over the Internet. Wilson helps them get organized and super-rich, and then the real trouble begins. Costarring James Caan and directed by George Gallo.
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).
The Wildest Dream: In June 1924, English mountain climber George Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, vanished near the summit of Mount Everest. Mallory's body was found 75 years later by the American climber Conrad Anker, who joins first-time filmmaker Anthony Geffen to re-create Mallory's original climb. Narrated by Liam Neeson.
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 bestselling memoir about her worldwide search for enlightenment after a rough divorce. James Franco, Billy Crudup and Richard Jenkins costar.
Lottery Ticket: It takes luck to win a mega-millions lottery ticket, but it may 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 4th of July weekend. Ice Cube and Loretta Devine costar in Erik White's debut comedy.
Nanny McPhee 2: When two spoiled city kids visit their country cousins on an English farm, it's a culture clash that only the ugly-yet-magical Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) can resolve. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maggie Smith costar for director Susanna White in the second film of a projected trilogy.
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, super-efficient LA 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 LA detectives played by Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez have one of their own. Paul Walker, Zoë Saldana and Hayden Christensen costar.
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.