The Avengers came out of the gate and immediately set the standard of "Total Kick-Ass!" for this summer. Even if the rest of the summer blows, we already have a movie better than any of last year's summer-blockbuster offerings.
(OK, my favorite film of last year, The Tree of Life, came out in May ... but that wasn't your traditional summer film, now, was it?)
This is a sampling of what's coming your way in the next few months. A lot of these films will be released in 3-D, so start securing your bank loans now. Interest rates are currently low, so you should jump on it.
The films here are presented in their currently scheduled release order. Some of the release dates are "limited," so they may take a little longer to reach Tucson.
THE REMAINS OF THE MAY
Men in Black III: This one had a slew of production problems, but the previews look promising. Will Smith must travel back in time to save Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). The great twist here is that somebody must play a younger Tommy Lee Jones, and who better to do that than Josh Brolin? Nobody, dammit!
Moonrise Kingdom: Writer-director Wes Anderson returns to the land of live actors after his magnificent Fantastic Mr. Fox with an all-star cast, including Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, along with newcomers Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Frances McDormand. The film focuses on a couple of adolescents, which brings to mind Anderson's amazing Rushmore. It could be one of the summer's highlights for those who like a movie with a bit of brains.
I know this is off the subject, but have you read Kevin Smith's new book, during which he talks about working with Willis on Cop Out? The man is apparently a super-alpha-mega-dick on a movie set.
Chernobyl Diaries: Yeah, there will be cheap horror this summer. This one has Americans going to Chernobyl and finding ... something. And that something will be found amid poor production values.
JUNE IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL MOVIE-LIKE!
Snow White and the Huntsman: On the heels of the disappointing Mirror Mirror comes another Snow White movie, this one with Charlize Theron replacing Julia Roberts as the evil queen, and Kristen "Bella" Stewart replacing what's-her-face as Snow White. I'll just come out and say it: There's no way Stewart will ever be "fairer" than Theron. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) also stars.
Piranha 3DD: Gary Busey and friends come along to, I fear, ruin a bloody good thing. Ving Rhames is back, although I swear he got eaten in the first one.
Prometheus: And here we go! For many (OK, for me!), the most-exciting development of this summer's movie season lies in Ridley Scott's return to science fiction and the Alien franchise. In fact, the fate of Western civilization seems to rely upon whether this movie is good or not.
No, the movie doesn't have Alien in its title. And it might not even have the acid-spraying aliens we've come to know over the last 30-plus years. But it does have the Space Jockey, and it does have that strange-looking ship from the Scott original. That's enough for me to think it's an Alien film. Judging by the footage in the previews, it stands a chance of being something extraordinary.
If it should stink, and let me down like Avatar did, I will cry. I will cry like a baby who has had his Legos, bottle, pacifier and sports car taken away. I will cry with an energy and sound so fierce that my downstairs neighbor will start banging on my ceiling, starting a whole chain of events that includes me reporting him or her to my apartment office, awkward non-stares in the hallways, and general home discomfort. I will cry ... oh yes ... I will cry.
Oh ... it's official: The film is rated R.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted: The animals go to Europe and do stupid stuff. In 3-D this time. Ooooh! Prometheus will be on 3-D screens at the same time, so the competition for theaters should be a bloodbath.
Rock of Ages: I hated—HATED—most hair rock from the '80s. When Bon Jovi, Poison, Cinderella and Motley Crüe ruled MTV, I felt like an alien visiting Earth, mortified by its sights and sounds. Although Def Leppard wasn't so bad. Nonetheless, this big-screen adaptation of the Broadway hit, starring Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough and Tom Cruise, looks like fun.
Cruise is already receiving Oscar buzz for his role as a bare-chested rocker, a role for which he learned to play the guitar and sing. The man scales skyscrapers and learns guitar roles. A dedicated mofo!
That's My Boy: Adam Sandler, after the atrocity that was Jack and Jill, returns with a comedy about a kid who sleeps with his teacher, impregnates her and grows up to be Adam Sandler. Sandler plays the now-loser dad who attempts to bond with his grown son (Andy Samberg). Raise your hand if you've lost faith in Adam Sandler. I am typing this sentence with one hand.
Brave: This is Pixar's follow-up to its worst film, the surprisingly weak cash-in Cars 2. While it was indeed possible for the animation giants to make a bad film, as they have now done, the chances of them stinking up cinemas with two films in a row are slim, especially considering how cool the previews look.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Has there ever been a weirder-looking movie? Just the title alone says that this film will rule all things with blood and bones in them. It looks like truly warped fun.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: Steve Carell is in mope mode (not a condemnation; he mopes well) in a comedy about the end of the world. Hopefully, audiences will dig this apocalyptic scenario over the Evan Almighty flood over which Carell presided. Keira Knightley co-stars, and I'm kind of loving her these days.
To Rome With Love: Woody Allen goes to Italy this time, with Penélope Cruz, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg in tow. Oh please, please don't let Eisenberg be the latest young actor, after Jason Biggs in Anything Else, to do a piss-poor Woody Allen-in-his-past-days impression. Allen, for the first time in six years, acts in one of his films.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation: The Rock and Bruce Willis join the franchise, and let us all hope that this results in something better than the first G.I. Joe movie. Willis is a busy bastard this summer. I know this is off the subject, but did you know that Bruce Willis made $100 million from The Sixth Sense? This further empowered him to be a super-alpha-mega-dick on movie sets.
Madea's Witness Protection: Tyler Perry puts on the dress again, and this is supposed to cue uncontrollable laughter. Tyler Perry in a dress actually inspires gout attacks for me ... and I don't even have the gout.
Magic Mike: The ever-busy-yet-apparently-soon-retiring Steven Soderbergh directs Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey in a male-stripper comedy. I guess he wanted to conquer that imposing male-stripper genre before hanging up his hat. He must make his The Full Monty!
Take This Waltz: Sarah Polley, who directed the amazing Away From Her, directs Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman in a romantic comedy that will surely be more cerebral than screwball.
JU-LYKE SUMMER MOVIES? (OK, THAT WAS LAME)
The Amazing Spider-Man: And with this, another superhero franchise is rebooted. Andrew Garfield replaces Tobey Maguire as Spidey. I think the eyes on the new suit look wacky, but I'll take anything after Spider-Man 3. Spider-Man could spend this movie skipping rocks and chewing tumbleweed, and it would be better than that atrocity.
Savages: Looks like Oliver Stone is getting Natural Born Killers-nasty again. This film poses the summer's most-interesting question: Will Blake Lively take her clothes off? If so, box-office receipts will be huge.
Ice Age: Continental Drift: I used to think Scrat, the little dude chasing an acorn for eternity, was funny. Now I want Scrat to be eaten by Denis Leary's saber-toothed tiger.
Ted: Mark Wahlberg does comedy again. Seth MacFarlane writes and directs this story of a man who really, really likes his teddy bear.
The Dark Knight Rises: Yes, I am excited about this. But we all know what happened when Superman, Spider-Man and pre-Christopher Nolan Batman got to their third films: Each of them took a colossal fall in quality, especially Spidey. Nolan is far too reliable to screw this one up ... right?
The Watch: This one stars Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn, and it looks FREAKING FUNNY. They play a neighborhood-watch team that goes up against an alien invasion. It has a sort of Ghostbusters vibe to it. Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, so it has to be good, right?
AUGUST MEANS IT'S ALMOST OVER
The Bourne Legacy: Jeremy Renner replaces Matt Damon in this reboot, with the likes of Joan Allen returning, and Edward Norton stepping in. How many rewrites do you think Norton requested during this production? Do you think he Hulk-ed out or broke somebody's teeth on a curb when his lines became too pedestrian?
Total Recall: Colin Farrell replaces Arnie in this remake of one of the big man's greatest films. Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel get in a big fight in this one (re-creating the classic Sharon Stone-Rachel Ticotin moment from the original). I'm there!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: The first one was OK; the second one was stupid. I'm thinking the third one will be stupider.
The Campaign: Will Ferrell + Zach Galifianakis = me very excited! I just watched the trailer for this one, during which Ferrell's slimy politician punches a baby. This looks nasty-funny.
Hope Springs: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play an older married couple seeking counseling, with Steve Carell as their doctor.
The Expendables 2: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis amp up their roles in the franchise as the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris join Sylvester Stallone for some wholesome butt-kicking. Buzz had it that Norris forced a PG-13 rating on the production, but it looks like things have switched back to R territory.
I know this is off the subject, but were you aware that Bruce Willis is some sort of super-alpha-mega-dick on movie sets? I'm just sayin'.
Sparkle: Whitney Houston's last film. It's weird writing that.
ParaNorman: This looks like a comedic, stop-motion-animation The Sixth Sense, and it could be one of the summer's sleeper hits. I love the chubby friend in the hockey mask.
Premium Rush: Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a bicycle messenger trying to run away from bad-guy Michael Shannon. Hopefully, it's better than Quicksilver, the bicycle-messenger adventure made in the '80s starring Kevin Bacon. That thing was a joke.
Hit and Run: Real-life boyfriend and girlfriend Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell star in a movie together. Isn't that sweet? No? Yeah ... you're right. It's annoying.
Lawless: John Hillcoat, the visionary director of The Road and The Proposition, directs Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain and Shia LaBeouf in a bootlegging drama written by Nick Cave. Yeah, I'm going.
SEPTEMBER MEANS IT IS OVER ... DANG!
The Cold Light of Day: Bruce Willis in ANOTHER MOVIE! It should be noted that Nicolas Cage, who is usually in every single movie ever made, has not a single picture being released this summer. Mr. Willis has five. He must be saving up for that shiny new bike he always wanted.
Resident Evil: Retribution: Milla Jovovich returns for more zombie action in one of the more useless franchises currently active in Hollywood.
Finding Nemo 3-D: I'm actually looking forward to seeing what they have done with the 3-D imaging on this one. I still think Ellen DeGeneres did one of the all-time-best cartoon voices here.
Killing Them Softly: Brad Pitt runs around with a gun. That pretty much guarantees butts in seats.
Dredd: Karl Urban, the new Bones of Star Trek, tries to do what Sly Stallone could not do: He will try to be part of a good Judge Dredd film.
House at the End of the Street: Jennifer Lawrence, aka Katniss, moves into a house near where bad things happened. It will only be cool if she starts shooting people with arrows after they talk smack to her.