If there's a common thread to be picked out of the wild fabric of movies making their way from studio think tanks to multiplex screens over the next few months, it's teamwork. From George Clooney's World War II art-heist thriller The Monuments Men to the fifth century B.C. alliance of gods and gladiators in 300: Rise of an Empire to Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie et al. in the furry caper Muppets Most Wanted, it appears advisable to gather friends and cohorts around you.
Even Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton find a reason to join forces - to exact revenge on the man who has cheated on them all - in The Other Woman. And the solo superhero Captain America calls on his S.H.I.E.L.D. buddies to help him in a new battle against an old nemesis.
There are more than 40 titles, from megamillion franchises to bare-bones indies, opening between now and the beginning of May, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kicks off Hollywood's so-called summer season. Here's a quick look at a baker's dozen of the most promising, or most interesting, or possibly most annoying titles in the pipeline.
- Steven Rea, Inquirer movie critic
For expanded coverage, go to www.inquirer.com/springmovies
Labor Day (Friday). Kate Winslet stars as an unhappy single mom who has retreated into a xenophobic cocoon . . . and then a handsome stranger (Josh Brolin) arrives at the front door, upending everything. Adapted from the Joyce Maynard novel by Jason (Up in the Air) Reitman. R
The Monuments Men (Feb. 7). George Clooney directs and stars in - along with Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, and Bill Murray - this based-on-a-true-story about a squad of Allied military folk assigned to save valuable artwork from the clutches of Hitler and his henchmen. PG-13
One Chance (Feb. 7). The true story of Paul Potts, a cellphone store clerk and closeted opera buff who sings arias in secret - and then his girlfriend enters him in the inaugural Britain's Got Talent TV contest. The rest is history. From the director of The Devil Wears Prada. PG-13
RoboCop (Feb. 12). Detroit, 2028: Is Motor City still in bankruptcy? Only Alex Murphy, alias RoboCop, knows for sure. Joel Kinnaman, the stealth Swede of AMC's The Killing, inherits the title role and the updated cyborg get-up in the José Padilha-directed Robo-reboot of the '80s/'90s law-and-disorder franchise. PG-13
About Last Night (Feb. 14). A David Mamet play (Sexual Perversity in Chicago) turns into an '80s Brat Pack yuppie rom-com-dram (Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Perkins). And now it's gone all black (no, not the New Zealand rugby team), with Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant, and Paula Patton in a new African American-centric version of the tale - a year-in-the-life of two couples, from meet-cute to breakup and beyond. MPAA rating tbd
The Wind Rises (Feb. 21). Animation titan Hayao Miyazaki's controversial historical fantasy, set in the 1920s and '30s, about a young man's obsession with flight - and the development of a fighter plane that would end up playing a pivotal role in the Pacific Theater of World War II. An Academy Award contender for best animated feature. PG
The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7). Love, murder, and art in 1920s Hungary, as the inimitable Wes Anderson checks in with another of his idiosyncratic, oddballs aplenty, melancholy romps. Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, and Jude Law are newcomers to the Anderson milieu, while veteran troupers Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, and Owen Wilson are back for more. R
300: Rise of an Empire (March 7). Only "wooden ships and a tidal wave of heroes' blood" can save the Spartans in this follow-up to the surprise 2007 swords-and-sandals smash. Eva Green is Artemisia, calling on gods and men to rally against the Greeks for the epic nautical battle of Artemisium. Bring on the CGI! R
Divergent (March 21). Is Shailene Woodley the next Jennifer Lawrence, and is Divergent - from Veronica Roth's dystopian YA trilogy - the next Hunger Games? Summit Entertainment, forced to retire the Twilight series, surely hopes the answer is yes. PG-13
Muppets Most Wanted (March 21). Kermit and company are on a grand, and grandly successful, tour of Europe when trouble arrives in the form of a Kermit doppelganger, a dangerous criminal who happens to look a whole lot like our green amphibian friend. A follow-up to the 2012 Muppets reboot, with human cameos from, among others, Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais. PG
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4). Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), also known as the guy with the stars-and-stripes superhero suit, teams up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to fight an old baddie in a new context, moving from World War II to the here and now. Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Redford (yes, Robert Redford) join the fight. PG-13
Transcendence (April 18). Upload Johnny Depp's brain?! Sure, why not?! Cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directing debut with a Christopher Nolan-produced futuro-thriller about anti-technology radicals trying to sabotage an epic AI program designed by the renowned cyber genius last seen wearing a black mask and shooting silver bullets from a galloping steed. One thing's for sure: Warner Bros. is hoping Transcendence transcends The Lone Ranger's catastrophic box office. PG-13
The Other Woman (April 25). An adultery revenge-com, with Leslie Mann as the wife, Cameron Diaz as the mistress, and Sports Illustrated supermodel Kate Upton as the other mistress. Once the trio discover their guy is a serial cheat, they plot to ruin him - and form a special kind of sisterhood-y bond while doing so. MPAA rating tbd
And a quick roundup of indies includes Kids for Cash (Feb. 21), a doc about the Wilkes-Barre juvenile justice scandal. . . . Jodorowsky's Dune (April 11), a doc about the Mexican cult director's efforts, in the 1970s, to adapt the Frank Herbert sci-fi classic. . . . The Nymphomaniac Parts 1 & 2 (March 21, April 4), starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, from Danish provocateur Lars von Trier. . .. Omar (Feb. 21), the foreign-language Oscar contender from Palestine. . .. And Tim's Vermeer (Feb. 28), an experiment in science and art centered on a famous painting by the Dutch Master, from director Teller, of Penn and Teller fame.