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The countdown is complete, and at least on our end of things, the summer is underway.
So far, members of the HitFix staff have seen at least half of the films from this countdown, including "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "The Great Gatsby," and while we may be embargoed from reviewing them, we can tell you that our enthusiasm for the summer is unchanged. This is a great, diverse line-up of material, and it doesn't matter what your tastes are… something in here is going to appeal to you.
Maybe you're looking forward to seeing some new adventures for some familiar faces this summer. Nothing wrong with that, and Hollywood is happy to help with Robert Downey Jr. facing a very different take on The Mandarin, one of Iron Man's most famous rivals. There's also the follow-up to 2009's successful relaunch of "Star Trek," with JJ Abrams once again directing and playing games with some of the most iconic moments from the original series. Hugh Jackman's playing "The Wolverine" for the sixth time, we check in with a young Mike and Sully for "Monsters University," the anti-social lunatics of "Kick-Ass 2" dish up some more bad behavior, and Superman will finally punch a whole bunch of someones in "Man Of Steel."
Even if you're into the art-house end of things, there's a big sequel coming out this year, and "Before Midnight" is absolutely worth the wait. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater have got something really special in the form of this series, and this latest encounter with Celine and Jesse is the strongest yet. Fans of "Drive" have got to be giddy over "Only God Forgives," which reunites Ryan Gosling with filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Sofia Coppola has already got the real-life subjects of "The Bling Ring" acting defensive about the way they're portrayed. "The Spectacular Now" should be a strong reminder of just how gifted Shailene Woodley is before she disappears into the blockbuster world with "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and "Divergent."
And Wong Kar-Wai tackling the oft-told real-life tale of Ip Man? Sounds great to us.
In the end, the purpose of doing this is trying to steer you towards things you might otherwise miss, things that might get steamrolled by the big competition, and it's to help highlight which of the unmissable monoliths might actually be worth the attention. I'm sure they'll sell the hell out of "The Heat," with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock playing not-quite-buddy cops, but we're automatically interested without any sales pitch just because Paul Feig is directing, and we think the world of his big comedy brain. And when it come to "Frances Ha," I'm guessing it's going to be hard for a black-and-white indie comedy to make the same kind of media splash as, say, Leonardo Di Caprio and Baz Luhrmann and 3D with Jay-Z, our point is that your summer should have room for both. Yes, we know that the pedigree for "Elysium" makes it an automatic contender, but just because James Wan's "The Conjuring" is still somewhat under the radar, don't be fooled into thinking it's less worthy of some pre-release hype. We expect to be thrilled by Edgar Wright's "The World's End," especially with both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost starring, but we love that we got blindsided by Sarah Polley's intimate but important "Stories We Tell."
It's an exciting line-up, and I'd love to know which films (including those not listed here) you are most interested in seeing and why.
"Iron Man 3" arrives in theaters this Friday, and after that, strap in, because the summer will be in full swing.