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Summer Preview

Vroom!

Sequels - and more sequels - will be speeding your way this summer

By Ty Burr and Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / May 8, 2011

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Here is the American film industry’s game plan as it has evolved over the past decade or so: We will keep making the same @%&#!ing movies over and over and over until you get bored and walk away. As a creative approach, it stinks — except when, miraculously, it doesn’t — and, as a business plan, it explains the summer of 2011.

True, a beloved pop property is finally ending its decade-long run, albeit reluctantly (if they could have stretched it out to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part XVI,’’ they would have). But what hopes do you hold out for “The Hangover Part II,’’ “Kung Fu Panda 2,’’ a third “Transformers,’’ a fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean,’’ and “Final Destination 5’’?

Those are the Useless Sequels — yes, yes, one or two may give you a good return on your investment. Then there are the Needless Remakes (“Conan the Barbarian,’’ “Fright Night,’’ the latter of which at least lets Colin Farrell break out the fangs), Franchise Extensions (“X-Men: First Class,’’ “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’’ “Captain America: The First Avenger’’), and Franchise Wannabes (“The Smurfs,’’ “Green Lantern’’).

All chum for the ravenous summer hordes, and so we pin our hopes on the movies that promise to at least build new vehicles from old parts, like the female-centric Judd Apatow raunchfest, “Bridesmaids,’’ or the “E.T.’’ revamp of “Super 8,’’ or the exquisitely-titled “Cowboys & Aliens,’’ which sums up the mash-up mind-set of modern Hollywood in two words and an ampersand. Then there’s “Friends With Benefits,’’ which is the exact same movie as last winter’s “No Strings Attached’’ except with stars we want to see.

At best, two or three of these prepackaged behemoths might stir with actual life and come to stand for the summer of 2011, the way we get a shiver of nostalgia when we find sand in our pockets in December. It might even be one of the anomalies, like Terrence Malick’s mystical “Tree of Life,’’ or the domestic civil rights struggles of “The Help,’’ or the literary love story of “One Day,’’ or — who knows? — Rutger Hauer in “Hobo With a Shotgun,’’ which is about exactly what it says it’s about. The entertainment will be bombastically big over the next few months, but the lasting pleasures are almost always small.

Opening dates are subject to change.

MAY 13 BRIDESMAIDS The movie that should finally answer the question: Is there more to “SNL’s’’ Kristen Wiig than Gilly, Dooneese, and that woman who touches her hair a lot? Advance buzz on this raunchy Judd Apatow-produced comedy about a lonely maid of honor (Wiig) coming to terms with the wedding of her friend (Maya Rudolph) is that the queen of late-night schtick goes boldly into Meg Ryan territory and comes out twisted and triumphant. The late Jill Clayburgh has her final role, as Wiig’s mom.

EVERYTHING MUST GO In Dan Rush’s first film, Will Ferrell plays a relapsing alcoholic salesman whose wife (Laura Dern) is leaving him. He holds a yard sale as a coping strategy. With Rebecca Hall as the rebound woman. A serious comedy based on a story by Raymond Carver.

FORKS OVER KNIVES Another documentary about how our food is killing us. This one, by Lee Fulkerson, argues that giving up processed and animal-based products will save our lives.

HESHER Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a metal-head and uncouth misanthrope in Los Angeles. Written and directed by Spencer Susser. With Piper Laurie, Rainn Wilson, and Natalie Portman, who plans to be in every movie made from here to eternity.

INCENDIES French-Canadian twins (Mélissa Désormeaux Poulin, Maxim Gaudette) heed their mother’s dying wish and visit the Middle East to piece together who they are and who their mother (Lubna Azabal) was. A foreign-language nominee at this year’s Academy Awards. Written and directed by Denis Villeneuve.

LAST NIGHT A young married couple (Keira Knightly and Sam Worthington) parts to spend an evening in the company of others — he with a sultry co-worker (Eva Mendes), she with an old boyfriend (Guillaume Canet). “The Jacket’’ screenwriter Massy Tadjedin makes her directorial debut with a drama that ponders infidelities physical and psychological.

PRIEST Paul Bettany as yet another religious figure mixed up with evil. This time, he’s tracking down the vampires who killed his niece. He ought to find his agent while he’s at it. Directed by Scott Charles Stewart and based on a Korean graphic novel by Hyung Min-wo.

THE ROBBER An Austrian marathoner (Andreas Lust) applies his skills to knocking over banks. Taken from real events. Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg.

SAVIORS IN THE NIGHT A drama based on the true story of German farmers who kept a Jewish family hidden from the Nazis. Directed by Ludi Boeken.

MAY 20 BLANK CITY Céline Danhier’s documentary about New York’s art, music, and film scene in the 1970s and ’80s. With, among many others, Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, Debbie Harry, Richard Kern, and Fab 5 Freddy.

DREAM HOME After saving up to buy a house whose owners raise the price out of her range, Cheng (Josie Ho) goes on a killing spree. Who knows what took Korean slasher movies so long to get around to murdering for real estate? Co-written and directed by Pang Ho-cheung.

THE FIRST GRADER Hanky alert: An 84-year-old Kenyan former anti-colonialist (Oliver Litondo) fights for his right to attend school for the first time. Written by Ann Peacock and directed by Justin Chadwick.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES Further high-seas mayhem, this time with Penélope Cruz as Jack Sparrow’s ex and a plot involving Ian McShane, Judi Dench, and the Fountain of Youth. Directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago,’’ “Nine’’).

THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER France’s Bertrand Tavernier (“Coup de Torchon,’’ “ ’Round Midnight’’) keeps rolling along at 70 with this lavish romantic epic set in the era of 1572’s St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Mélanie Thierry plays the title character, loved and lusted after by four very different men.

THESE AMAZING SHADOWS A documentary by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton about the history and significance of the National Film Registry.

MAY 26 THE HANGOVER PART II Where do you go after you’ve trashed Vegas, found a tiger, and befriended Mike Tyson? To Bangkok, of course, but more important, to the same jokes that grossed $462 million worldwide the first time out. Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis return to their breakout roles, along with Ed Helms, director Todd Phillips, and Justin Bartha. (Justin who? The groom from the first movie; maybe this time they’ll find him something to do.)

KUNG FU PANDA 2 Well, the first one wasn’t bad. The sequel has been executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth’’) and features the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, and, as, sigh, an evil albino peacock, Gary Oldman.

MAY 27 L’AMOUR FOU Director Pierre Thoretton examines the life and enigmatic times of Yves St. Laurent by focusing on the late fashion designer’s massive collection of art and his relationship with Pierre Bergé, St. Laurent’s partner in business and life.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS The annual Woody Allen comedy sends Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams to France. With Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, and Kathy Bates.

SONS OF PERDITION Three teenage boys leave a fundamentalist Mormon community and their strict polygamist fathers to create lives for themselves. Three years in the making, this documentary by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten plays like the dark side of “Big Love.’’

JUNE 3 CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH China’s Lu Chuan directs an epic dramatization of one of World War II’s signature tragedies, the Rape of Nanking by invading Japanese, in 1937. Among the film’s many characters is John Rabe (John Paisley), a Nazi businessman who saved hundreds of Chinese lives.

LOUDER THAN A BOMB Co-directors Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (nephew of the late film critic Gene Siskel) train their cameras on Chicago teenagers from different neighborhoods and classes coming together for the city’s annual poetry slam. A festival fave with at least one break-out wordsmith in 18-year-old Adam Gottlieb.

LA RAFLE Hanky alert No. 2: Mélanie Laurent, Jean Reno, Sylvie Testud, and Gad Elmaleh star in Roselyne Bosch’s drama about the mass arrest of Jews by French police who were Nazi accomplices.

THE TREE OF LIFE Depending on who’s talking, the new opus from mysterioso maverick Terrence Malick (“Days of Heaven,’’ “The New World’’) has been three years in the works or 30. It takes place in the 1950s with a side-detour to the age of dinosaurs. Colin Farrell, Mel Gibson, and Heath Ledger were variously attached before casting settled on Brad Pitt and (as Pitt’s grown son) Sean Penn. What’s it about? Look at the title and look at the trailer, and since it’s Malick we’re talking about, expect beauty and pretensions in equally staggering amounts.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS A documentary about a rift in the friendship between a powerful telepath and a Holocaust survivor who can generate and wield magnetism. Just kidding! (About the documentary part.) It’s an expensive-looking prequel, with Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass’’).

JUNE 10 BEGINNERS Oliver’s elderly dad, Hal, has two shockers for his son: He has terminal cancer and he’s gay. What sounds like a queasy farce plays more as astute human comedy thanks to writer-director Mike Mills (“Thumbsucker’’) and stars Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.

THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING In Paolo Virzi’s crowd-pleasing Italian drama, a stoner schoolteacher (Valerio Mastandrea) returns home to help his sickly former-beauty-queen mother, who’s played as a young woman Micaela Ramazzotti and as an older one by Stefania Sandrelli.

JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER Jordana Beatty plays the titular third-grader and feisty heroine of Megan McDonald’s best-selling kids’ books. Heather Graham plays Aunt Opal.

SUBMARINE A 15-year-old (Craig Roberts) splits his time between trying to lose his virginity and breaking up the on-again relationship between his mother (Sally Hawkins) and her ex (Paddy Considine). Written and directed by Richard Ayoade.

SUPER 8 J.J. Abrams wrote and directed this small-town science-fiction drama in which a crashed train sparks a series of strange events that one film-obsessed kid witnesses with his movie camera. We know what you’re thinking. And so did Steven Spielberg, which presumably is why he’s agreed to produce.

JUNE 17 THE ART OF GETTING BY A dramatic-comedy about a dour teen (Freddie Highmore, the male Dakota Fanning) who’s never applied himself in school. Written and directed by Gavin Wiesen.

BEAUTIFUL BOY On the verge of separating, Maria Bello and Michael Sheen are a husband and wife who have to confront their college-age son’s involvement in a shocking act of violence.

BRIDE FLIGHT A drama by Ben Sombogaart about the women on the KLM flight that won the 1953 Air Race from London to Christchurch, New Zealand. Somewhere an aviation history buff just spat out his coffee and said, “It’s about time!’’

GREEN LANTERN After decades of teasing and years of fake trailers, the DC Comics tale of a mortal man given an enchanted lantern and magic ring is now a movie whose art direction and special effects suggest a shamrock factory on the brink of explosion. Ryan Reynolds has been hired to fill the tights with his fatlessness and the dialogue with his sarcasm. We could be talking “franchise.” We could also talking “Ghost Rider.” Directed by Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).

THE LAST MOUNTAIN Bill Haney’s documentary about mountaintop mining in Appalachia is really about the folks who live below the mountains, getting brain tumors when their water turns toxic and watching leaky dams being built directly above their schools. A barn-burning consciousness-raiser at Sundance.

MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS It’s summer, and Jim Carrey needs something to do. So why not set him on Richard and Florence Atwater’s much-loved 1938 children’s book? Carrey plays a Scrooge who thaws when he inherits six small, tuxedo-clad friends who smell like fish. Carla Gugino and Angela Lansbury costar.

STAKE LAND Zombies, vampires, religious fundamentalists, oh my. Written and directed by Jim Mickle.

THE TRIP The semi-improvised six-part BBC series with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as themselves touring the restaurants of northern England has been edited into a film by the prolific Michael Winterbottom (“24 Hour Party People,’’ “A Mighty Heart’’).

JUNE 24 BAD TEACHER Cameron Diaz plays a bad-to-the-bone middle-school teacher who latches onto nerdy substitute teacher Justin Timberlake for his money. Is this the romantic comedy that plays in Sue Sylvester’s head? Costarring Jason Segel and scene-stealing Lucy Punch, it’s one of Diaz’s few all-out comedies since “There’s Something About Mary.’’

BUCK Cindy Meehl’s documentary profiles the horse trainer Buck Brannaman.

CARS 2 Unless you’re an 8-year-old boy, why on earth would you want to see this sequel to what’s arguably Pixar’s weakest movie? Because Pixar’s weakest is better than other studios’ very best, and because company honcho John Lasseter makes a rare directorial appearance. It helps to be a fan of Larry the Cable Guy, too.

CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP A film about a certain talk-show host’s year-old 32-city comedy tour.

PIANOMANIA A documentary about the much in-demand Stefan Knüpfer, who tunes pianos for Steinway & Sons.

TROLL HUNTER In this horror-comedy by André Ovredal, a group of young Norwegian filmmakers follows a woodsman who tracks and slays giant beasts.

JULY 1 LARRY CROWNE It has been 15 years since Tom Hanks directed the wonderful, under-appreciated “That Thing You Do!’’ What took him so long to get back behind the camera? The star, working from a script he co-wrote with Nia “My Big Fat Greek Wedding’’ Vardalos, plays a middle-aged schlump who gets laid off and goes back to junior college, where he meets and woos professor Julia Roberts. In other words: two ’90s icons playing to their strengths.

MONTE CARLO Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, and Katie Cassidy play three friends pretending to be socialites in Monaco. Didn’t this sort of thing cost a White House social secretary her job? Co-written and directed by Tom Bezucha (“The Family Stone’’).

PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES Andrew Rossi’s documentary hunkers down with the media desk of the paper’s business section.

TOPP TWINS: UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS Finally, New Zealand’s number-one lesbian country-and-western act gets its own documentary.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON Michael Bay returns with more clanking nonsense destined to rule the box office. In 3-D, just like your splitting headache. Shia LeBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky, but Megan Fox has been replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Hey, who cares about women when you’ve got some rockin’ new Autobots?

JULY 8 HORRIBLE BOSSES Ever wanted to kill your boss — I mean, actually kill him? Oppressed friends Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day decide to better their lives by offing their respective employers: Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston. Don’t kill them too quickly — those three sound like the best part of the movie.

PROJECT NIM James Marsh’s first documentary since “Man on Wire’’ is a horrific look at the famous case of the chimp who moved in with a well-heeled New York family in the 1970s.

VIVA RIVA! Djo Tunda Wa Munga’s crime thriller about Congolese gangstas swept the African Academy Awards.

ZOOKEEPER Another summer perennial: the dum-dum Kevin James comedy that’s reviled by critics and adored by family audiences. James plays a zookeeper (at the Franklin Park Zoo!) whose animals talk in the voices of Cher, Adam Sandler, Nick Nolte, and Sylvester Stallone. Rosario Dawson co-stars as a plucky veterinarian.

JULY 15 BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST Actor-turned-director (and longtime Quest fanatic) Michael Rapaport follows the groundbreaking Queens rap crew of the early ’90s as it tries to get it back together in 2008.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS — PART 2 Hanky alert No. 3: We hear this franchise isn’t all that bites the dust. What? There are hallows, and apparently they’re deathly.

SNOWFLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN Lisa See’s 2005 bestseller about two friends surviving the turmoil of 19th-century China — footbindings, Taiping Revolution, and all — comes to the screen with Wayne Wang directing, Li Bingbing and Korea’s Gianna Jun as the girls, and Hugh Jackman as the Sop to American Audiences.

TABLOID Errol Morris’s docu-comedy recounts the story of Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who became notorious in the 1970s for going to England to kidnap her Mormon lover. It’s a movie that pretty much sells itself.

VINCENT WANTS TO SEA This shock winner at the German Oscars — the Lolas — is a romantic comedy about a man (Florian David Fitz) with Tourette’s syndrome. Fitz wrote the screenplay and won the Lola for best actor.

WINNIE THE POOH Disney’s animated franchise has been doing well on video for years but hasn’t been seen on a big screen since 1977’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.’’ Shhh: You might want to let your kids know it was a book first.

JULY 22 ANOTHER EARTH In Mike Cahill’s romantic sci-fi drama, an aspiring astronomer (Brit Marling) attempts to atone for ruining the life of a stranger (William Mapother). Meanwhile, the planet appears to have a twin.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Star Chris Evans played the Human Torch in 2005’s “Fantastic Four.’’ Now he’s Captain America. Is this allowed? Does Stan Lee know? The last of the classic Marvel superhero sagas to get the big-screen treatment before the payoff of 2012’s “The Avengers.’’

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS Because you’ve probably already forgotten when this movie starred Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher and was called “No Strings Attached.’’ With Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.

THE TREE When an Australian family man dies unexpectedly, his grieving widow (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and young daughter (Morgana Davies) wonder if his spirit has entered the giant fig tree that overlooks their house. An oddball drama from Julie Bertucelli (“Since Otar Left’’) that ended last year’s Cannes to cheers.

JULY 29 COWBOYS & ALIENS When aliens invade 1873 Arizona, cowboys come out to stop them. Starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig and directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man’’).

CRAZY STUPID LOVE In John Requa and Glenn Ficarra’s comedy, a ladies’ man (Ryan Gosling) helps a nerdy divorcé (Steve Carell) date again. With Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Marisa Tomei, three names that should remind you to ask why all the good women this summer are stranded in movies about men.

THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE Britain’s talented Dominic Cooper (he was Peter Sarsgaard’s slick pal in “An Education’’) tackles the real-life roles of Uday Hussein, psychotic son of Iraq’s Mr. Big, and the army lieutenant who was forced to be Uday’s body double.

THE FUTURE Miranda July’s first comedy since “Me and You and Everyone We Know’’ is about . . . well, it’s hard to say. But she and Hamish Linklater play a Los Angeles couple whose relationship takes a turn for the surreal.

LOVE, ETC. What is this thing called love? Jill Andresevic follows five couples — soon to wed, just divorced, new parents, longtime marrieds, and puppy-lovers — in a documentary effort to pin it all down.

THE SMURFS Pace Kermit, it’s not that easy being blue. The little guys, now in new, improved 3-D, travel to New York and into the apartment of Neil Patrick Harris (is there anything this man won’t dare?) and Jayma Mays (“Glee’’). Directed by Raja Gosnell, who knows from CGI/live-action family jive after “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.’’

AUG. 5 THE CHANGE-UP The body-swap farce meets the Apatovian bad-lad comedy when swinging single Ryan Reynolds switches places with married Jason Bateman to see who’s got it better. Since Bateman’s character is married to Leslie Mann (“Knocked Up’’), it isn’t much of a contest, really.

LIFE, ABOVE ALL A drama about a young South African woman undone by a nasty rumor. Written and directed by Oliver Schmitz.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Yes, for real — and with James Franco! What would Charlton Heston think? Possibly an instant sequel to “Project Nim’’ (see above).

AUG. 12 30 MINUTES OR LESS Director Ruben Fleischer found a way to liven up the zombie genre with 2009’s gutbuster “Zombieland,’’ so why not turn a bank heist movie inside out? Jesse Eisenberg plays a rube in an absurdly overcomplicated heist.

GLEE LIVE! 3D! The Fox sing-a-palooza plans to clog the megaplex. The director, Kevin Tancharoen, has also directed “Fame,’’ TV’s “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,’’ and that Pussycat Dolls reality show. It’s a combination that pretty much sums up the experience of watching the show.

THE GUARD Brendan Gleeson stars as an Irish policeman investigating an international drug-smuggling ring alongside Don Cheadle, as a rigid FBI agent. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, brother of the playwright and film director Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges’’).

THE HELP That was fast, wasn’t it? Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 bestseller about black maids and their white-gloved employers in early ’60s Mississippi makes a quick leap to the screen. Rising star Emma Stone (a.k.a. the good Lindsay Lohan) plays pivotal character Skeeter, while Viola Taylor, Cicely Tyson, and Octavia Spencer play the women who work and suffer.

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult masterpiece about a lonely alien stranded in a heedless human world was mistreated by US exhibitors almost as badly as David Bowie is in the film. A new 35mm print and a fully-restored running time should right matters.

AUG. 19 CIRCUMSTANCE Maryam Keshavarz wrote and directed this drama about two young Iranian lesbians and the unwanted attention paid by one girl’s brother.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN In which the slightly less muscle-bound Jason Momoa begins his march to the California governor’s mansion. Directed by Marcus Nispel (“Friday the 13th,’’ the remake).

FRIGHT NIGHT Is nothing sacred? The much-loved (if totally cheesy) 1985 horror-comedy is getting the 3-D remake treatment with Colin Farrell as the murderous vampire next door. Directed by the guy who made “Lars and the Real Girl,’’ which all of a sudden makes things more interesting.

HIGHER GROUND Actress Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut casts her as a Christian woman coming to grips with what her faith gives her and what it can’t. Well-received at Sundance, it’s the rare American drama to look at spiritual matters without getting hysterical.

HOW TO LIVE FOREVER Mark Wexler traveled the world in pursuit of what it means to age and be old. He came back with this documentary.

ONE DAY David Nichols’s sleeper bestseller is now a movie about the on-again off-again relationship between two former classmates, played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturges. Directed by Lone Scherfig (“An Education’’).

SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD Robert Rodriguez goes back to his zippy family-action franchise and brings Jessica Alba along as a working-mom superagent. Nice to see that Machete (Danny Trejo) is along for the ride.

AUG. 26

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK A remake of the 1973 horror movie, now with Bailee Madison as a kid sent to live with her dad (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in their apparently haunted house. Directed by Troy Nixey and co-written by Guillermo del Toro.

APOLLO 18 That’s one small step for mankind, one big chomp out of an astronaut’s face in this lunar-landing horror flick. After trailers trumpeted an April release date, Weinstein pulled it back for reedits and a late-August berth. Not a good moon sign.

BELLFLOWER Evan Glodell wrote and directed this violent dramedy about two best friends in Los Angeles, their girlfriends, and their “Mad Max ’’ dreams.

FINAL DESTINATION 5 More dead teens.

GRIFF THE INVISIBLE A genially flaky Australian take on the “Kick-Ass’’/“Super’’ genre of real-life superheroes, this is more of a winsome romance than a beat-down. At this point in the summer, we might be ready for a breather.

OUR IDIOT BROTHER Paul Rudd goes crunchy as the happily useless hippie sibling of sisters Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer. Jesse Peretz’s comedy of bad family manners lets the hero couch-surf from one sister to another, with slyly disastrous results.

SEPT. 2 COLOMBIANA A girl in Bogota sees her parents murdered and grows up to be a steely-eyed trained assassin with vengeance on her mind. Notable for giving Zoe Saldana the lead role she has deserved ever since emerging from the blue-pixel burqa of “Avatar.’’

MAGIC TRIP Using lots of raw footage, Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s documentary recounts a storied road trip taken by the novelist Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in 1964.

SEPT. 9 BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR Adam Sandler cling-on/comedian Nick Swardson gets his turn in the spotlight with this comedy about a young man who decides to become a great porn star, just like mom and dad. With Christina Ricci and Pauly Shore as himself.

WARRIOR Is this “The Fighter’’ of mixed martial arts movies? Don’t they wish. Tom Hardy (“Bronson,’’ “Inception’’) gets a starring turn as a Pittsburgh lug who battles with his dad (Nick Nolte) and brother (Joel Edgerton) on his way to MMA ring triumph. Gavin O’Connor (“Pride and Glory’’) directs.

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