The summer solstice takes place on June 21, but the summer movie season kicks into full gear in May. There is a long list of movies scheduled to be released during the next four months, Hollywood’s peak money-making time. I can’t list them all, but here are the ones that captured my attention.
The Adjustment Bureau – Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in a sci-fi romance based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. PKD is one of my favorites, so I’m definitely curious to see how this one turns out.
Agora – Rachel Weisz is the lead in this historic drama created by Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar who gave us the spooky film The Others. This one deals with the fall of the ancient Library of Alexandria.
The A-Team – Joe Carnahan, whose last movie was Smokin’ Aces, directs this remake of the beloved 1980s action television series. Will the new cast of Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Quinton Rampage Jackson be able to equal the originals George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Shultz, and Mr. T?
Babies – Here’s a movie I left off my summer documentaries blog entry, so I’ll include it here. It follows the early months of four toddlers from Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The trailer has been an Internet sensation. Let’s see if people flock to see the actual movie.
Beastly – The classic fairytale of “Beauty and the Beast” is retold for modern times as a teenager becomes a monster in his quest for love. Mary-Kate Olsen stars.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore 3D – Sequels and summer movies go together like peanut butter and jelly. Here’s one that also takes advantage of the 3-D trend. The first film dealt with the war between felines and canines, and now the two animal species join forces to battle a rogue cat out for world domination. Alec Baldwin, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Joe Pantoliano, Roger Moore, Bette Midler, and Paul Rodriguez lend their voices.
Centurion – Neil Marshall, the guy who brought us the cult favorites Dog Soldiers, The Descent, and Doomsday, explores a battle of survival for a splinter group of Roman soldiers. The sword-and-sandals film stars Dominic West.
Chain Letter – A serial killer murders teens who refuse to forward chain letter text messages. This sounds like a standard horror movie, but does any film whose central premise focuses on present-day technology run the risk of becoming quickly dated?
Despicable Me – This CGI-animated movie has a terrible title but a cool premise. Three little orphan girls try to stop a super-villain named Gru from stealing the moon! The voice-cast includes Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig, Jason Segel, Will Arnett, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, and Danny McBride.
Eat Pray Love – Based on the best-selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Roberts plays a woman traveling the world as she tries to find meaning in her life. The supporting cast includes James Franco, Billy Crudup, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins, and Viola Davis.
The Expendables – Could this be the ultimate action-adventure movie? Fans are eagerly awaiting this one, starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Trejo, and one of the final acting performances of the late Brittany Murphy.
Get Him to the Greek – An intern has to accompany a rock star to a concert. Sounds simple enough, but we can expect some outlandish mayhem from director Nicholas Stoller whose last film was the underrated Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The movie stars Jonah Hill and Russell Brand with cameo by Tom Felton, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lars Ulrich, and Dee Snider all playing themselves.
Grease Singalong – Everybody loves the movie Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, right? So will they also love this karaoke-style re-release in which audience-goers are encouraged to join in the singing?
Inception – The buzz for this Christopher Nolan flick is through the roof, even though the plot is still mostly under wraps. It looks like a trippy science fiction thriller in which people have the technology to enter the dreams of others. The stellar cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine, Lucas Haas, and others.
Iron Man 2 – The first movie was a blockbuster smash and this sequel looks just as good. Hopefully director Jon Favreau can once again create a film that elevates the superhero genre. Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson all reprise their roles from the original. Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Mickey Rourke join in the fun. Don Cheadle jumps in as Rhodes, taking over the part that Terrance Howard played in the original.
Jonah Hex – Based on the comic book, Josh Brolin stars as the disfigured cowboy bounty hunter. Jumping on another current trend, the anti-hero will allegedly battle zombies. Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Will Arnett, and Aidan Quinn also star.
The Karate Kid – I really liked the original movie series starring Ralph Macchio (long may he live) and Pat Morita (may he rest in peace) – I even liked the version with Hilary Swank. Now we have a “reimagining” featuring Jaden Smith and the always amazing Jackie Chan.
Killers – I’m not exactly sure what this movie is aiming to be – a thriller, a comedy, an action movie – but the director Robert Luketic previously made some decent little films, like Legally Blonde, Monster-in-Law, 21, and The Ugly Truth, so this might have some promise. It stars Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck, and Catherine O’Hara.
Knight and Day – Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz play a fugitive couple, but the real reason this film grabs my attention is the director James Mangold who previously gave us the excellent Heavy, Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Kate and Leopold, Identity, Walk the Line, and 3:10 to Yuma.
The Last Airbender – Auteur M. Night Shyamalan tries to revive his career after a number of critical and box-office duds with this live action adaptation of the anime favorite Avatar: The Last Airbender. He has already generated some controversy because of his cast choices.
The Last Exorcism – Shot as a pseudo-documentary, this film follows a priest who has been faking exorcisms, until he encounters the real deal.
Letters to Juliet – Amanda Seyfried is becoming one of my favorite young actresses. This romantic comedy tells the tale of an American girl vacationing in Italy who discovers unanswered love letters and tries to find the lovers all these years later.
MacGruber – Oh, how I hate a bad Saturday Night Live sketch stretched out into a feature length movie (too many to name). But, oh, how I love a good Saturday Night Live sketch brilliantly adapted for the big screen, like The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World. Where will this spoof of McGyver fall?
Marmaduke – They made a movie about Garfield the cat, so why not the comic strip about the Great Dane Marmaduke? Heathcliff is probably not far behind.
Metropia – Here’s a low-budget science fiction thriller set in a near-future Europe where a man discovers that his mind is being controlled.
Micmacs – I’m not sure what kind of audience this might attract. It deals with friends trying to destroy two big weapons manufactures, but it’s directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the man who gave us the wonderful Amelie, so it might be worth a watch.
Nanny McPhee Returns – Emma Thompson reprises her role as the magical McPhee. The first movie did not break any box office records or anything, but there are some fans out there, so they’ll be happy to see her in a new adventure, with Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Maggie Smith.
OSS 117: Lost in Rio – Here is another sequel to a movie that many do not even remember. It’s part of a series about a French spy. Hey, the original must have made some money internationally to warrant another film.
The Other Guys – Adam McKay who directed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers, dabbles in buddy-cop comedy territory with this new film starring Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Ferrell, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eva Mendes, and Michael Keaton, with cameos by Paris Hilton, Anne Heche, and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Piranha 3D – Alexandre Aja remakes the cult classic horror movie about killer fish, this time in three dimensions.
Predators – One of my favorite directors, Robert Rodriguez, takes a stab at the Predator series. Danny Trejo, Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, and Laurence Fishburne star.
The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – Based on the popular videogame, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the swashbuckling hero Prince Dastan out to save the world. Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, and Alfred Molina also star, and Mike Newell directs.
Ramona and Beezus – Child star Selena Gomez comes to the big screen in this family film based on Beverly Cleary’s popular books.
[REC] 2 – Do you remember the first [REC]? Well, the awkwardly-titled horror story continues as a SWAT team armed with video cameras enters a sealed off apartment to take control of a situation, only to have mayhem unfold.
Robin Hood – The “prince of thieves” character has been adapted countless times for the silver screen, so here we go again. This time, master director Ridley Scott brings us Russell Crowe as the heroic archer battling the Sheriff of Nottingham and falling in love with Maid Marion (played by Cate Blanchett). Other actors in the big-budget film include Max von Sydow and William Hurt.
Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Undead – How can you go wrong by blending William Shakespeare characters and zombies? I’m afraid to find out.
Salt – The protagonist was originally written as a male, but now the excellent Angelina Jolie is playing the role of the kick-ass C.I.A. agent.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Actor Michael Cera brings the comic-strip character to life.
Sex and the City 2 – Millions of women (and the men they drag with them) have already ordered advance tickets to see the further adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, played again by the stars of the hit television series Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon. Chris Noth also returns as Mr. Big.
Shrek Forever After – Part four of the popular fairytale spoof is upon us, as the lovable green ogre, voiced by Mike Myers, goes up against Rumpelstiltskin. Others in the voice cast include Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, Julie Andrews as the Queen, and John Cleese as the King.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Disney tries to stretch out its classic Fantasia short film into a live-action feature film laden with special effects with Nicolas Cage playing the older magician.
Splice – Adrien Brody stars in this sci-fi horror thriller that tackles the old cliché about what happens when scientists mess with Mother Nature.
Step Up 3D – Another sequel, another 3-D movie.
Survival of the Dead – George Romero returns to the land of the living dead. Hey, if zombies are all the rage, it’s good to see the guy who virtually invented the movie genre take another stab at it.
Timer – Here’s the premise for this fantasy dramedy: If a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate, would you want to know? Sounds interesting.
Toy Story 3 – Is it possible for Pixar to continue its streak of brilliant animated movies? Can it continue to equal the success of its first two Toy Story movies? They haven’t disappointed us yet.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – The third chapter of the blockbuster franchise debuts this summer. The big controversy has been the recasting of the Victoria character by Bryce Dallas Howard after Rachelle Lefevre played her in the first two films. But the last controversy (the replacement of director Catherine Hardwicke with director Chris Weitz didn’t hurt the previous film so I think fans of the series have nothing to fear. David Slade has the directing duties this time.)
Valhalla Rising – Viking action. Sounds cool. Enough said.
There are a lot more that I’ve left out, mainly because they didn’t interest me. But if there are any that you are really looking forward to that I left off the list, just let me know.