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Summer Movies 2011

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sequels, superheroes and silliness

The summer blockbuster season is always packed with dozens of movies to choose from. However, this particular summer seems rife with a few very specific types of films.

The multiplexes will be full of sequels this season, revisiting and recreating some of our favorite characters. Of course, there will be plenty of silliness as well - laughter is a joy for all seasons. Meanwhile, superhero movies abound.

Sure, there are a lot of movies that don't fall into any of these particular categories. We'll look at a few of them, too.

But for the most part, it is indeed a summer of superheroes, sequels and silliness.

Sequels

Hollywood has definitely become enamored of sequels in recent years. Why waste all the time and effort of creating original ideas when there are all sorts of already established concepts just waiting to be slightly repackaged and resold?

That line of thinking leaves us with a summer movie landscape simply riddled with sequels, starting with "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" on May 20. This fourth installment of the kajillion-grossing series looks to be more of the same - only this time in 3D. Still, Johnny Depp's mincing and a boatload of CGI excitement can only lead to yet another box office success.

On the other end of the sequel spectrum, we have "The Hangover: Part II" coming out the very next week. While one hopes that the returning cast can recapture the magic of the original, it seems likely that this one may disappoint, despite the novelty of the Thailand setting.

And what discussion of summer blockbuster sequels could be complete without the presence of Michael Bay? "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" hits theaters on the first day of July, letting audiences look forward to another plotless mlange of explosions, CGI robots and jump cuts. Incoherent mess or not, a whole lot of people will see this movie.

Next up is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated movie of the summer. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" hits the screen on July 15. While the series seems to have lost a little cachet with recent installments, this film - the final one of the series - will likely prove immensely popular with audiences and critics alike.

In the "Really? Another one?" category, we have "Final Destination 5" (Aug. 12). That's right: yet another addition to the most inappropriately-named franchise in horror movie history. It's never the final destination, guys - we've figured that out. Expect more blandly attractive people being viciously killed in macabrely Goldbergian ways.

Kiddie Sequels

KungFuPandaLest we think that the grown-ups are the only ones looking at a summer loaded with sequels, let's have a look at a few of the offerings aimed at the wee ones.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" (May26) is easily the animated film I'm most eagerly anticipating this summer. I was a big fan of the original - in my opinion, it's some of Jack Black's best work - and I see no reason why bringing those characters back wouldn't succeed. It'll be fun and funny with plenty of winks to the grown-ups in the crowd.

There are a lot of Pixar movies that would be greatly served by sequels, making it stunning that we will be subjected to "Cars 2" on June 24. With all the wonderful work Pixar has done over the years, we're really going to revisit what is (again, in my opinion) the only black mark in an otherwise scintillating resume. Don't know why it doesn't work, don't care.

Then, on Aug. 19, Robert Rodriguez gives us "Spy Kids 4: All The Time in the World." Only now the original Spy Kids are too old to be kids anymore, so there are apparently fresh new young kids to do whatever it is they do in these movies. I'm sure the youth demographic just eats it all up.

Silliness

Summer is a time for fun. The movie studios understand that as well as anyone else, and so there are always plenty of comedies out there. Whether all of these comedies are actually funny - well, we'll have to wait and see.

We've got a Jim Carrey sighting this summer in "Mr. Popper's Penguins," set to come out on June 17. It stars Carrey as a businessman who is far too caught up in the stresses and concerns of his rat-racing life - until he becomes the caretaker for six adorable penguins who serve to help him relax and (paradoxically) warm his heart. Meh.

The next week features a film I have faint hopes for. "Bad Teacher" (June 24) features Cameron Diaz as the titular teacher, a woman who is painfully (and hopefully hilariously) disillusioned with her job. There's a love triangle with Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel in there, too. This one could be pretty funny - or epically terrible.

And then there's "Zookeeper" starring Kevin James. This film, coming out July 8, features James as an unlucky-in-love zookeeper who one day can magically communicate with the animals in his charge. The general consensus with regards to this movie seems to be "Night at the Museum" meets "Hitch." Frankly, that's probably everything that you need to know.

Also on July 8, there's "Horrible Bosses," a dark comedy featuring an all-star cast. The story is simple: There are three horrible bosses (Jennifer Aniston, Colin Ferrell, Kevin Spacey). Three employees (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis) want to kill said horrible bosses. Hijinks ensue. It looks like there's a lot of potential here.

In the rom-com corner, you've got "Friends with Benefits" (July 22), another offering in the "sex changes things" line. Surprise surprise! Having sex with your friends makes life complicated. I just saw this movie; it was called "No Strings Attached." It's just grown-up child pop star Justin Timberlake and "That 70s Show" alum Mila Kunis instead of grown-up child actress Natalie Portman and "That '70s Show" alum Ashton Kutcher.

More for the kids (and '80s nostalgics) is in store when July 29 brings "The Smurfs." This live-action/CGI blend promises to be one of the most insipid insults to audience intelligence of the entire summer. Sure, the addition of some 21st century crudity will be worth a couple of laughs, but I don't see this movie being anything other than a tightly-coiled pile of smurf.

Or maybe you're feeling a different kind of nostalgia - nostalgia for the Golden Age of body-switching comedies ("Freaky Friday;" "Vice Versa;" "18 Again"). If so, enjoy "The Change-Up" (Aug. 5). Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman star as two buddies; one an uptight family man and the other a free-spirited bachelor (Guess which is which?). These guys are likeable; if the script is OK, this one should be all right.

If you're looking for comedy with a bit more of an edge, Jesse Eisenberg stars in "30 Minutes or Less" (Aug. 12). Eisenberg is a pizza delivery man forced against his will to participate in a bank robbery. With a cast that includes Danny McBride, this film should be a nice, dark alternative to the brightly-colored explosions of the typical summer landscape.

Superheroes

We're not going to go terribly in depth here; you've heard enough about these already (including the Edge's own "Super-Cinema" cover story back in January). Still, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least acknowledge all of the superhero movies set to come out this summer. They have become an eagerly anticipated part of the blockbuster season.

So, you've got the just-released "Thor," followed by the June 3 release of "X-Men: First Class," a prequel to the extant "X-Men" trilogy dealing with the origins of the group. After that, there's the long-anticipated "Green Lantern" (June 17), bringing a major player in DC comics canon to the big screen for the first time. Then we've got Marvel's latest installment with "Captain America: The First Avenger" (July 22) bringing one of Marvel's most iconic characters to life.

It's definitely looking like a super summer.

And the rest

There are also a few movies that don't quite fall neatly into these categories, but that still warrant mentioning. These are movies that I am rather excited about seeing.

Terrence Malick's long-awaited "The Tree of Life" comes out May 27. I don't know a ton about the movie, other than the fact that it features both Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. And oh yeah - apparently there are dinosaurs. Frankly, I'm banking on Mr. Malick more than anything, but I really think that this movie could well be something special.

Ewan McGregor stars in "Beginners" (June 3), a film in which he plays the grown son of a man who announces that he is gay. With Christopher Plummer as the father, the potential for some very poignant and genuine moments here is high. These guys are both very talented and this story seems like it would lend itself to comedy and drama alike.

A J.J. Abrams movie? Produced by Steven Spielberg? Set in the '70s? Where do I sign up? "Super 8" comes out on June 10, and it looks to have it all. Geeky kids making a movie and getting sucked into a real-life governmental conspiracy that has something to do with an alien (possibly maybe probably) - heck, I've seen the trailers and I don't know what this movie is going to be. Except awesome.

Ooh! A Tom Hanks sighting! Hanks wrote, directed and starred in "Larry Crowne" (July 1), a comedy centered on a middle-aged man whose life gets thrown into chaos, so he goes back to college. Guess what? He falls in love with one of his professors (played by Julia Roberts). It sounds sappy and contrived, which means that I'll probably absolutely love it despite myself.

Finally, I give you "Cowboys & Aliens," coming out on July 29. It's got Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford protecting an Old West town from aliens, and it's directed by Jon Favreau. But honestly? All I needed to hear was the title.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 15:35

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