The Summer Movie Preview

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, we are officially in summer, movie-wise at least. We've already had some big rumblers like The Avengers and Battleship, but really the season is just getting started. Richard Lawson takes a look at what's to come.

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Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, we are officially in summer! Well, OK, technically summer doesn't start until June 21st or whatever, but the theoretical season has begun. Meaning it's time for summer movies! We've already had some big rumblers like The Avengers and Battleship, but really the season is just getting started. Let's take a look at what's to come.


Snow White and the Huntsman (6/1)

What It Is: Charlize Theron tries to succeed where Julia Roberts failed this spring by taking on the role of the Wicked Queen in this for-grownups fairy tale actioner. Kristen Stewart and mega movie stardom's heir apparent Chris Hemsworth play the title characters, who flee to a magical forest and meet Bob Hoskins and other dwarfs, played by, among others, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, and Nick Frost. There is lots of CGI battling and Charlize takes a bath in milk and Kristen Stewart does a British accent.

Should You See It: Yes! We like what we've seen of Theron in the trailers, even if her accent sounds just a liiiittle wonky. With Theron, Stewart, Hemsworth, and Sam Claflin in the cast, the movie will be at the very least some good summertime eye candy. But we suspect, or we hope at least, that it's something more — dark, dramatic, and a little weird. Not weird like Mirror Mirror was weird, that's bad weird, but weird like they're putting an interesting new spin on a well-worn old story. Don't let us down, Charlize!

Prometheus (6/8)

What It Is: Figuring you probably haven't had enough of her, Charlize Theron returns to movie theaters a week later for this big, mysterious sci-fi movie from Ridley Scott that is supposedly a prequel to Alien. A distant prequel, though. It exists in the same world as Alien, let's say. Theron takes a supporting here while Noomi Rapace is center stage as some sort of anthropologist or something traveling to a distant planet searching for the origins of life. Then they encounter something bad and everything goes to hell while Michael Fassbender, all pale and blue-eyed, stares creepily. He's an android, see. But not the good Lance Henrikson kind, the bad Ian Holm kind. We think, anyway. Who knows! We know very little about this movie.

Should You See It: If you're a fan of grim science fiction horror, then you probably already have a seat reserved and are readying your fan blog review: "Prometheus Brings the Fire!" If you are not that person, well, you should probably see it anyway. Ridley Scott, with only a few exceptions, makes smart, serious popcorn fare (Robin Hood should be revisited, seriously) that can oftentimes hint at bigger meaning. Plus this just looks cool and scary and omg we're going to find out what that crazy elephant thing is that they find fossilized in that chair at the beginning of Alien. Anticipation levels for this are high.

Brave (6/22)

What It Is: Pixar's latest tells a medieval tale of a free-spirited young Scottish princess (voiced by Boardwalk Empire's Kelly Macdonald) who accidentally curses her kingdom and so is forced to save it. This is the closest that Pixar has come to a real old-school Disney story, what with the princess and all, but we trust that, given that it's Pixar and they've yet to really drop the ball, there will be some depth and nuance that goes beyond a classic princess tale.

Should You See It: Well, that depends. How do you feel about animated films? We're pretty reticent to pay adult bucks to see kids movies, but with Pixar, exceptions can be made. This doesn't look as promising as, say, Up, but it's also bound to be better than Madagascar 3 or whatever other animated muck is coming out this summer. So if you have kids, particularly if you have some sort of fiery red-haired daughter, then yeah, sure, go. If not, maybe wait until it comes out on DVD. If for no other reason than that Pixar movies often provoke tears and being an adult weeping at a kids movie in public is maybe not the most dignified way to spend one's summer.

Magic Mike (6/29)

What It Is: Seriously? You don't know? OMG, this is Steven Soderbergh's male stripper movie with Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, and that dude from True Blood who's the werewolf. This movie is like the prepared meats section at your supermarket, all gleaming sausage casing that's delicious but probably bad for you. The movie seems thin on plot — Pettyfer is a newcomer learning the ropes, stripping ensues — but that's not really the point. The point is to see Matthew McConaughey wearing a jaunty chapeau and looking like a Studio 54 coke-angel Uncle Sam.

Should You See It: Are you a straight lady? Are you a gay guy? If you answered yes to either (or both!) of those questions, then yeah, you should probably see it. Chances are it will probably turn out to be a little chilly and boring, like a frustrating number of Soderbergh's movies are, but there will still be the dancing. O, the glorious dancing! If you are not interested in rippling abs and flexy pecs, then maybe not. Wait until you're in the privacy of your own home and no one else can see you squirming.

Everything Else...

...The grotesque sequel you've been waiting for, Piranha 3DD (get it? like boobs?), finally nibbles its way into theaters (6/1) ... There's a Swedish murder mystery that has nothing to do with dragons, hornets, or fire called Wallander: The Revenge (6/1) ... A kid endeavors to get everyone in his high school high in High School (reading that sentence stoned would be intense) (6/1) ... The aforementioned Madgascar 3 finds our animal heroes in gay Europe (6/8) ... Speaking of gay Europe, Bel Ami is not about Slovakian pornography but is in fact some kind of period piece starring Edward the Vampire and Beatrix Kiddo (6/8) ... Greta Gerwig does an indie spin on a standard romantic comedy in Lola Versus (6/8) ... Jane Fonda hippies it up with Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, and Dame Chace Crawford in Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding (6/8) ... Aubrey Plaza hits it off with a maybe-crazy guy (he wants to time travel) played by Mark Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed (6/8) ... Adam Sandler plays Andy Samberg's dad in That's My Boy, which also, rather amazingly, features Vanilla Ice and Ian Ziering (6/15) ... Tom Cruise sings loud enough for his home planet to hear him in the movie version of the hair metal jukebox musical Rock of Ages (6/15) ... Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas do Parisian sex to one another in the erotic thriller The Woman In the Fifth (6/15) ... Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Emily Blunt form an awkward triangle in the lovely new Lynn Shelton film Your Sister's Sister (6/15) ... Meryl Streep's son-in-law brings honor to the family in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (6/22) ... Steve Carell and Keira Knightley bond with one another while facing the apocalypse in Seeking a Friend For the End of the World (6/22) ... Woody Allen tries Rome on for size in the romantic comedy To Rome With Love, which marks Allen's first on-screen appearance in six years (6/22) ... The Sundance sensation Beasts of the Southern Wild, a kind of modern fable, debuts in limited release (6/27) ... Eugene Levy and Tyler Perry team up for Madea's Witness Protection, a harrowing drama about greed and vanity (6/29) ... Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks goop it up in the sappy-looking People Like Us, a family drama written and directed by the guy who writes the Transformers movies, so yeah (6/29) ... Jonathan Demme once again picks up the camera and follows Neil Young around for some reason in Neil Young Journeys (6/29) ... Sarah Polley's second feature as a director, Take This Waltz, tells the oddly affecting story of a woman (Michelle Williams) caught between two men (6/29)... The Inbetweeners Movie, an extension of the delightfully raunchy British high school sitcom, is supposedly getting a US release some time in June (TBA)


Savages (7/6)

What It Is: Oliver Stone directs Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta in this drug-fueled kidnap thriller based on the Don Winslow novel. Kitsch and Johnson are drug dealers who are both dating Lively, and so set off on a violent rampage of revenge and rescue when she's kidnapped by some nogoodnik drug world rivals led by Hayek. This is Kitsch's third movie this year and, after the horrific flops of John Carter and Battleship, he really needs this to be a hit. Too bad Stone doesn't have much of a track record of late.

Should You See It: Well, if you're interested in supporting the career of Taylor Kitsch, then yes you should and must see this movie. Rally up, Riggins' Riders! Otherwise? Well, again, Stone hasn't made a particularly good movie in many years, so there's not really any reason to think that this will be any different. But the trailer is kinda good, and there are sexy people in it (none more so than John Travolta, obviously), so if you're sick of superheroes and fairy tales and just want some good old fashioned gritty American action, then this could be your ticket.

Ted (7/13)

What It Is: No, this isn't a movie about a pretentious and self-satisfied ideas conference that isn't sure how it feels about income inequality. It's a comedy from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, marking his first feature film. Mark Wahlberg plays an otherwise cool and together guy who, after a childhood wish brings him to life, can't seem to let him go of his cherished teddy bear. Then he meets The Girl (Mila Kunis) who wants him to get rid of Ted, because he's crass and lazy and whatever else, and so he has to make a tough choice. Basically Ted could be played by Seth Rogen as a human person and we'd still have the same story of fun arrested development vs. Pretty, Boring Girl.

Should You See It: It's a moderately clever way to tell an old story, and despite our Simpsons-loyal aversion to Family Guy, MacFarlane can be pretty funny, so it might be worth seeing. Though here's hoping that Kunis' character isn't as bland as it seems to be in the trailer (NSFW), because that would be a good person going to waste. Essentially the success of this movie hinges on whether it's trash done smartly or just plain trash. We're hoping it's the former, but there's a strong possibility it's the annoying latter.

The Dark Knight Rises (7/20)

What It Is: Christian Bale once again growls as Batman, Tom Hardy croaks as Bane, and Anne Hathaway purrs as Catwoman in this final film in Christopher Nolan's somber, serious Batman trilogy. While certainly lacking the gotta-see-it electricity that Heath Ledger brought to The Dark Knight, this is bound to be a big, bombastic, boffo success.

Should You See It: Would you like to participate in the national cultural conversation in the month of July? Then you should see this movie. Because everyone else is going to see it and they will be talking about it so if you don't see it you will have to go stand in a corner and talk to Creepy Carol from accounting because Creepy Carol is the only other person who didn't see this movie, because of some vague religious objection or something equally creepy. So yes, see this movie. Don't be like Creepy Carol. (Also it looks good and it will be interesting to see Anne Hathaway tackle a slinky, seductive part and don't you want to know how it all ends??)

Killer Joe (7/27)

What It Is: Based on Pulitzer winner Tracy Letts' 1993 play, this Texas-set thriller earned an NC-17 rating for its graphic violence and sexual content. It features Matthew McConaughey, deep in a fascinating career reboot, as a policeman who moonlights as a contract killer, and who is hired by brothers Emile Hirsch and Thomas Haden Church to kill the boys' mother. McConaughey then sets his sights on the brothers' young sister, played by Juno Temple, and things start to go haywire. The film is directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) and written by Tracy Letts, whose first feature, 2006's Bug, was also directed by Friedkin.

Should You See It: Well if all that sex and brutality doesn't scare you off, it could be an interesting antidote to lighter summer stuff. Our main interest in seeing the film has to do with this Matthew McConaughey revival, which has the actor straying away from romantic comedy and other slickster stuff (goodbye, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past!) and into the realm of Serious Actor. We like him much better when he's actually, y'know, acting, so we welcome this and any of his other dramatic roles with open arms. Of course it's a shame he doesn't wear his Uncle Sam hat even once in this movie, but nothing's perfect.

Everything Else...

Andrew Garfield putting on a spandex suit is about the only reason to go see the dreadful looking The Amazing Spider-Man (7/3) ... While Katy Perry shooting things out of her bra (in 3D!) is probably the only reason to see the concert film Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D (7/5) ... Mark Duplass pops up again, this time as the director (along with his brother Jay) of The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, about two brothers who have their own Olympics (7/6) ... Morgan Freeman does the whole crippled-man-learning-to-live-again thing in The Magic of Belle Isle, directed by Rob Reiner (7/6) ... Lukas Haas and Madeleine Zima drink a lot (of Zima?) in Crazy Eyes (7/6) ... John Leguizamo and friends are still beating that dead woolly mammoth in Ice Age: Continental Drift (7/13) ... Diane Kruger plays Marie Antoinette in Farewell, My Queen (7/13) ... Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, and Robert De Niro try to detect ghosts in the Sundance thriller Red Lights — maybe they should try to contact Bob De Niro's old career (7/13) ... The Queen of Versailles is not another Marie Antoinette movie, instead it's a documentary about a Southern couple who started to build the largest home in America and then things went boom in the financial sector. It looks fascinating! (7/20) ... Long-lost Mira Sorvino does a tiny indie called Union Square (7/20) ... Paul Dano is a writer who turns his dream girl creation into a real person, and that person is Zoe Kazan (cool dream, Paul) in Ruby Sparks (7/25) ... Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade play neighborhood guys fighting aliens in the swear-filled comedy The Watch, which used to be called Neighborhood Watch but then the whole Trayvon Martin thing kinda put a damper on that (7/27) ... The Step Up franchise tackles the fascinating world of flash mobs in the ludicrous-looking Step Up Revolution (7/27) ... A documentary about Chinese protest artist Ai Weiwei, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, ought to be a good one for the kids on a rainy Saturday (7/27)


The Bourne Legacy (8/3)

What It Is: Matt Damon has walked away from the Bourne franchise, but the story continues. Jeremy Renner plays another trained assassin from the same program, while Joan Allen shows up again as Pam Landy, and Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton play roles of some kind. Tony Gilroy (Duplicity) writes and directs the movie, which promises to be more elegant, classy rock 'em sock 'em stuff in the grand Bourne tradition. Mostly, we're intrigued by the presence of Donna Murphy, a Broadway hoofer who doesn't exactly seem like the spy movie type.

Should You See It: Plenty of Bourne purists will likely scoff at this reboot/left turn kind of a thing, but the trailer is plenty effective and when has anyone not liked Jeremy Renner? He presents the same quiet toughness of Matt Damon but he's also a little harder edged, less pretty boy and more angry boy. There are a lot of big, high-concept movies this summer, so this could be the thinking person's action alternative. It's just fists and guns, no Batmobiles or medieval swords or anything else in sight.

Total Recall (8/3)

What It Is: Ostensibly a remake of the 1990 film of the same name, this Total Recall is a more terrestrial effort. There's no Mars, meaning there are no mutants or crazy eye-bulging deaths, but there are implanted memories and a loving wife who isn't actually so loving. Colin Farrell plays the Arnold Schwarzenegger role while Kate Beckinsale plays the bad wife and Jessica Biel is the true-love revolutionary. The movie looks very Minority Report, with a little Matrix-fighting thrown in for good measure.

Should You See It: Normally we'd say no, standing on principle in support of the wacky, wonderful 1990 version. But the film has apparently been well-received by those who've seen clips, so maybe there is something to be excited about? Despite his career's many bumps, Colin Farrell remains a likable leading man, and when has Kate Beckinsale toting a gun ever been a bad thing? As they're opening on the same day, we'd probably pick Bourne over this, but if that's sold out, this could be a decent backup.

Hope Springs (8/10)

What It Is: Meryl Streep does another glossy summertime comedy, this one about a bored old couple (Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) going to a sex therapy retreat to put the pizzazz back in their marriage. Steve Carell plays their sex therapist while Elisabeth Shue plays a bartender of some sort. If you loved Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, you might kinda like Hope Springs!

Should You See It: Though the cast seems to indicate that this is the perfect thing to see with your parents when you're visiting them for the weekend, the sex angle kinda takes that away, doesn't it? So, hm, if it's raining and you're super duper bored and you've seen everything else, then sure. I mean, it's Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones doing sex comedy. There's some inherent interest in that premise alone. Plus Elisabeth Shue! The Shuester! You have to support her, don't you?

Premium Rush (8/24)

What It Is: Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a slick bike messenger who gets involved with some gangsters in this New York City-set thriller. Michael Shannon plays the villain, some kind of crooked cop or something, while Jamie Chung and Dania Ramirez are the sexy lady window dressing. Lots of bike stuntery and whizzing cinematography ensue, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt pedals desperately to convince us not to knee-jerk hate/fear bike messengers.

Should You Se It: Ehhh, probably not. The premise is sorta silly and seems like just a more action-y version of Quicksilver, that fairly ridiculous Kevin Bacon bike messenger movie. JGL is great and all, and Jamie Chung and Dania Ramirez each have their own appeal, and of course Michael Shannon makes for a fantastic villain, but for whatever reason the good parts don't seem to add up to a very interesting whole. This is probably a renter, or better yet a wait-until-it's-on-HBO-er. Though JGL might be in a rush, you probably don't need to hurry.

Everything Else...

... This kid just doesn't stop being wimpy, as evidenced by the third film in the wimpy kid series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (8/3) ... Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg have a beautiful hipster breakup in Celeste and Jesse Forever (8/3) ... A comedy about robbing a sperm bank called The Babymakers is coming into theaters this August (8/3) ... Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell yuk it up as rival politicians in The Campaign (8/10) ... Julie Delpy and her boyfriend Chris Rock meet Delpy's parents in the sorta-sequel 2 Days In New York (8/10) ... Rebecca Hall goes to investigate a haunted school in the period ghost thriller The Awakening (does the ghost walk into the ocean at the end?) (8/10) ... Spike Lee's latest, Red Hook Summer, was polarizing at Sundance (8/10) ... The Odd Life of Timothy Green, about a desperate couple who grows a son in their garden, looks like tremendous treacle on the level of August Rush (8/15) ... Sly Stallone, The Governator, and others band together to go to the early bird dinner special at the Howard Johnson's in The Expendables 2 (8/17) ... A weird little boy fights zombies in the stop-motion ParaNorman (8/17) ... Jordin Sparks stars in the musical movie Sparkle, which features the last acting performance from Whitney Houston (8/17) ... The caper comedy Hit and Run was written and directed by Dax Shepard, which should tell you everything you need to know about the movie (8/24) ... Gael Garcia Bernal goes on a scary backpacking trip in The Loneliest Planet (8/24) ... Frank Langella befriends a robot in the mysteriously titled Robot and Frank (8/24) ... Mike Birbiglia turns his popular stage show Sleepwalk With Me into a movie (8/24) ... An airplane is haunted in the thriller 7500 — It's Devil, in the sky! (8/31) ... Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy play bootleggin' brothers in the Cannes film Lawless (8/31) ... Orlando Bloom once again attempts serious acting as an obsessed doctor in The Good Doctor

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.