Man of Steel
The gist: Superman gets a 21st century update, which means he's a lot more dark and brooding than the comic-book golden boy is usually portrayed. And played by a Brit. Oh, and there's plenty of religious allegory, too. Read about that on Page 50. PG-13
The cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry J. Lennix, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner and Laurence Fishburne.
The buzz: It's exceptionally well-made, but even the most grim of tales needs some comic relief here and there. "Man of Steel has a scope that's hard to resist, but what's missing is a sense of lightness, of pop joy," the Boston Globe laments.
This Is the End
The gist: Six friends who didn't qualify for the Rapture try to tough out the apocalypse in their house, zombie-style. Hint: Every zombie movie ends with the ensemble having to leave the bunker. And with this crew, there may be some drug and porn jokes. Just maybe. R
The cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart and Aziz Ansari.
The buzz: A few of the more high-minded critics hate it, which you'd expect, but most everyone else says it's fall-down funny. "This Is the End finds a balanced tone most horror comedies fail to deliver," the Chicago Sun-Times says. "Grossout humor melds easily with grossout horror, sometimes at the same moment."
Stories We Tell
The gist: Former Dawn of the Dead remake star Sarah Polley writes and directs a heartwrenching documentary about the whys and hows her family kept secret the fact that the man who raised her wasn't her biological father. PG-13
The cast: Members of Polley's family and actors pretending to be members of her family.
The buzz: Quite the poignant and moving pet project. "It's a relationship drama spanning three decades, a detective mystery, an essay on the nature of memory, and a critique of our need to process messy human life into streamlined narrative arcs even at the cost of oversimplifying," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says.
The gist: The third Richard Linklater drama about the romance of Jesse and Celine, the couple from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. It seems nine years together makes even the most passionate couple a bit familiar. R
The cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior and Charlotte Prior.
The buzz: An excellent capstone to a project long in the making. "How (Jesse and Celine) try to rekindle that flame is what drives Midnight, a film that feels so authentic it's like overhearing a conversation you're not sure you should be hearing," the Dallas Morning News says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org