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The 25 hottest summer movies

From left, Bradley Cooper as Phil, Zach Galifinakis

From left, Bradley Cooper as Phil, Zach Galifinakis as Alan, and Ed Helms as Stu in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' comedy, "The Hangover Part III."
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

This summer's style tip from Hollywood: Dark is the new light.

If you're looking for breezy, escapist fare this summer, you'll find plenty. Judging by the trailers, however, you'll also find themes of social collapse, apocalyptic scenarios and inner turmoil. The sun may be shining outside, but inside theaters, Iron Man has insomnia, Superman feels alienated and Captain Kirk is leading his crew on a "Star Trek Into Darkness." You'll see Will Smith wandering through "After Earth" and Brad Pitt battling zombies in "World War Z." And could any story be darker than "The Great Gatsby," a tale of money and unhappiness scheduled for release in the merry month of May?

Granted, most of the season's movies are going for action and spectacle, not profound messages. Hollywood is probably just following an angsty fashion trend set by the successful "Dark Knight" movies. Still, there are hints of doomsday even in some of this season's comedies: Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill will face the apocalypse in "This Is the End," while Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will seek alcohol-fueled oblivion in "The World's End."

The summer won't be a total bummer. Possible angst-free bright spots include "The Heat," a buddy-cop flick with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and chipper-looking children's films like "Despicable Me 2" and "Disney's Planes" (a spinoff of Pixar's "Cars"). And surely there won't be much hand-wringing in "Fast & Furious 6."

Here are the 25 biggest movies of the summer:


Iron Man 3 (May 3)

Robert Downey Jr. returns as billionaire superhero Tony Stark, with Ben Kingsley as new villain The Mandarin. Directed and co-written by Shane Black.


The Great Gatsby (May 10)

Will this fourth adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel about wealth and scandal on Long Island be the first to become a hit? Leonardo DiCaprio takes the title role, supported by Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. Jay-Z collaborated on the music. Directed by Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge").


Peeples (May 10)

Craig Robinson plays an underachiever trying to impress his girlfriend's posh family during a weekend in Sag Harbor. With Kerry Washington.


Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

The youthful crew of the USS Enterprise returns in J.J. Abrams' ominous-looking sequel. With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Benedict Cumberbatch. Opens in IMAX and 3-D May 15.


Epic (May 24)

A computer-animated adventure about a human girl who shrinks to a tiny size and discovers a whole new micro-world. With the voices of Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hutcherson.


Fast & Furious 6 (May 24)

With movie No. 6, this car-flick franchise is becoming almost as venerable as James Bond. With Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez.


The Hangover Part III (May 24)

Members of the Wolf Pack come full circle to Las Vegas for their final(?) blowout. With Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Ken Jeong. Directed by Dix Hills' Todd Phillips.


After Earth (May 31)

Will Smith and his son, Jaden, play father and son on-screen as well in this sci-fi adventure set on a not-quite- abandoned planet. Directed and co-written by M. Night Shyamalan from a story by the elder Smith.


Now You See Me (May 31)

Four illusionists, whose act includes bank robbery, plan their biggest trick yet. With Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Louis Leterrier.


The Internship (June 7)

Two unemployed salesmen (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) talk their way into a Google internship, then find themselves competing with whiz kids half their age.


This Is the End (June 12)

Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride and many others play versions of themselves trying to survive an apocalypse in Los Angeles. Directed and written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg ("Superbad").


Man of Steel (June 14)

The long-awaited Superman reboot, with Henry Cavill -- a Brit! -- in the title role. With Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") as General Zod. Directed by Zack Snyder ("Watchmen").


Monsters University (June 21)

The prequel to Disney-Pixar's "Monsters, Inc." goes back to the college days of monocular Mike (Billy Crystal) and fuzzy Sulley (John Goodman).


World War Z (June 21)

Brad Pitt plays a UN employee trying to stop a global zombie pandemic. Based on the novel by Max Brooks (son of comedy legend Mel) and directed by Marc Forster ("Quantum of Solace").


The Heat (June 28)

A humorless FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) and a volatile Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) team up to crack a case. Directed by Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids").


The Lone Ranger (July 3)

Johnny Depp makes for one strange-looking Tonto in this update of the classic Western yarn. With Armie Hammer ("J. Edgar") in the title role.


Grown Ups 2 (July 12)

Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Stony Brook's Kevin James return as old friends still hanging out and learning life lessons. Dennis Dugan directs again.


Pacific Rim (July 12)

The big-budget sci-fi spectacle from director Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") is about human-controlled robots battling giant aliens. With Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman and Rinko Kikuchi.


RED 2 (July 19)

Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich return as AARP-aged secret agents in this sequel to the 2010 action comedy "RED." With new addition Anthony Hopkins.


The Wolverine (July 26)

Hugh Jackman is back as the mutton-chopped X-Man, this time battling foes in modern-day Japan. Directed by James Mangold ("Knight and Day").


Disney's Planes (Aug. 9)

An airborne spinoff of "Cars," with Dane Cook as the voice of Dusty, a little plane who is afraid of heights. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Stacy Keach.


Elysium (Aug. 9)

In 2154, downtrodden Earthling Max (Matt Damon) must reach Elysium, a space-station reserved for the wealthy. With Jodie Foster, East Meadow's William Fichtner and Sharlto Copley, reteaming with "District 9" director Neill Blomkamp.


Kick-Ass 2 (Aug. 16)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is back as a DIY superhero, along with Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and a new colleague, Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).


The World's End (Aug. 23)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost ("Shaun of the Dead") star in a comedy about old friends trying to re-create a youthful pub crawl. With Martin Freeman ("The Hobbit") and Rosamund Pike.


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Aug. 23)

A normal-seeming New York City teenager (Lily Collins) discovers Downworld, an "alternate New York" populated by vampires and werewolves. Based on Cassandra Clare's young- adult novel.





Frances Ha (May 17)

Greta Gerwig rejoins her "Greenberg" director, Noah Baumbach, to play a New York dancer finding her way in life. With Mickey Sumner, daughter of Sting.


Before Midnight (May 24)

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy continue their 18-year on-screen love affair that began with "Before Sunrise." Directed by Richard Linklater.


We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (May 24)

Alex Gibney's documentary examines Julian Assange's controversial website.


Much Ado About Nothing (June 7)

Director Joss Whedon ("Marvel's The Avengers") updates Shakespeare with some of his favorite actors, including Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker and Clark Gregg.


Despicable Me 2 (July 3)

A sequel to the 2010 animated hit, with Steve Carell as the voice of not-so-super villain Gru. Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig and Ken Jeong also provide voices.


Twenty Feet From Stardom (June 14)

Morgan Neville's documentary spotlights the backup singers behind the stars. Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Darlene Love and others are interviewed.


I'm So Excited! (June 28)

In Pedro Almodóvar's latest comedy, Peninsula Flight 2549 is experiencing a technical difficulty.


Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (July 3)

A documentary on the pop-rock-art band Big Star, whose three LPs in the 1970s influenced generations of alt-rockers, from The Replacements to The Flaming Lips.


Blue Jasmine (July 28)

The official line on Woody Allen's latest movie is "the story of the final stages of an acute crisis and a life of a fashionable New York housewife." With Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K.


The Smurfs 2 (July 31)

The blue gnomes in the white hats are back in this sequel, which will mark the final film of the late Jonathan Winters, who provided the voice of Papa Smurf. With Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria.


2 Guns (Aug. 2)

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play guys on the run, though neither knows that the other is an undercover agent. Co-written by David O. Russell.


Lovelace (Aug. 9)

A biographical drama about 1970s porn star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried). With Peter Sarsgaard as her manager-husband and James Franco as Hugh Hefner.


One Direction: This Is Us (Aug. 30)

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") chronicles the British boy band One Direction. Spurlock helped produce with Simon Cowell.

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