2010 Summer Movie Preview

As weather heats up, so does anticipation for summer blockbuster season.

For many (myself included), this season can be great fun, but it’s also kind of like a minefield—one week you get Star Trek, the next you get Angels and Demons.

So consider this your guide to navigate the minefield—my preview and expectations for the big (and a few small) movies of the summer.

Things start with a bang on May 7 with the opening of Iron Man 2. Now, if you are one of the maybe ten people who hasn’t seen the first one, shut your computer down this instant and go rent it. It’s about as much fun as movies get. Early word is the sequel doesn’t quite live up to the impossibly high standards set by the original, but seeing Robert Downey, Jr. don his iron suit once again (and going up against Mickey Rourke) will likely be one of the highlights to the long summer movie season.

May 14 brings the umpteenth big screen version of Robin Hood, although the trailer tells us this one tells the “story behind the legend.” I don’t know what that means, but pardon me while I yawn. I have very little interest in a film that sounds as if it was only made because the character is already known, and it might take a little too much effort to do something original. Many of you will certainly be in line that Friday. I will likely stay home.

I will also likely be staying home the following weekend, at least for one of the major releases. Back in 2001, Dreamworks Animation introduced us to a charming green ogre named Shrek. Over the course of two sequels and nearly ten years, the character has more than worn out his welcome, but we are still stuck with Shrek Forever After. I don’t know what the filmmakers plan to do with the characters that hasn’t already been done to death, so for that reason, I’ll pass.

I still might make it out to the theaters that weekend for a film that might end up being a surprise hit. MacGruber—of Saturday Night Live fame—is coming to the big screen and has gotten surprising strong mentions since it premiered. If the good reviews continue to pour in, it might be worth a look.

The next few weeks don’t engender much enthusiasm. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time might be mindless fun, but video game adaptations have, to be kind, a checkered history. The less said about Sex and the City 2, the better (although I’m clearly not in the target demographic).

But June 11 brings one of the most promising comedies of the summer. Those of you who enjoy Forgetting Sarah Marshall will want to mark your calendars for Get Him to the Greek. It’s a spin-off of sorts which follows Russell Brand’s wild rock star character Aldous Snow as a music intern (played by Jonah Hill) tries to get him from London to Los Angeles in 72 hours. The trailer looks wild, and Brand is always good for some very edgy humor.

Also opening in June: The A-Team, starring Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel; The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s son, Jaden, in a remake of the 1984 classic; Jonah Hex, a strange but very intriguing project that infuses comic book films and westerns; Knight and Day, a generic-looking action comedy starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz; and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which I will not write any more about in the hope that you will all skip it. The Twilight movies are bad. That’s not my opinion; it’s a fact.

But the most promising film of June, and possibly the summer, is Toy Story 3 because who doesn’t want to spend some time with their old friends Woody and Buzz? Expect the reviews to be glowing and the pockets of Pixar executives to be overflowing.

July kicks off with The Last Airbender, from director M. Night Shamylan (you know, the guy who has been riding the wave of The Sixth Sense for the past ten years despite the fact that he hasn’t delivered anything nearly as good since). The trailer for this one, however, looks really interesting. I’ll definitely be there.

This month, we also get a reimagining of Predators, a Steve Carrell/Paul Rudd comedy called Dinner for Schmucks, and the Angelina Jolie action flick, Salt. But the most promising film in July is also the one we know the least about. After the great success of The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan was given pretty much free reign over his next project. For that project, he chose Inception. The plot of the film has been under close guard. It has something to do with corporate espionage and secrets of the mind, but no one knows much else. But between the mind bending trailer, and great cast and what is sure to be excellent direction and vision from Nolan, Inception will likely be one of the summer’s biggest successes, both critically and financially.

After the last weekend in July, which brings us The Adjustment Bureau, a mystery/science-fiction/romance starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, we enter the cinematic wasteland of August.

Last year was different. We actually saw two of the ten films nominated for Best Picture in August 2009 (District 9 and Inglourious Basterds). Unfortunately, this August doesn’t look as promising. The Other Guys stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It could be funny, but Ferrell’s comedies are hit-and-miss. Step Up 3-D sounds like the most unnecessary movie in history. And while the trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World looks visually interesting, I’ve lost faith in Michael Cera and vowed to skip his movies until we finally see the long-promised Arrested Development movie.

There is one movie to watch out for in August, though, and it’s The Expendables. This is the prototype of mindless summer movies, but just check out the cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham and Mickey Rourke. Sure, it won’t break any cinematic boundaries, but I can’t imagine it not being a ton of fun.

Many of you, like me, might not want to switch off your brains for an entire summer. But you shouldn’t stay away from the movies entirely. Perhaps taking a cue from last year’s Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, which opened over the summer, many of this year’s most promising independent features are opening against the likes of Iron Man 2 and Inception.

Mother and Child stars Annette Bening and Naomi Watts in the story of a woman coping thirty years later with the decision to give her child up for adoption. Get Low follows the travails of a lonely Southern man (Robert Duvall) who throws his own funeral. And The Kids Are All Right tells the story of a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) trying to deal with their kids’ quest to find their biological father. All three have received great reviews from the festivals at which they premiered over the past year. And they will all likely show up somewhere on 2011’s Oscar ballots.

So there you have it. What am I most looking forward to/blindly recommending, you ask? Well, here’s a handy list (going from “Holy shit, I can’t wait for this mindfuck of a movie to come out” to “This might be terrible, but at least it’ll be fun”):

10.) The Expendables
9.) Get Him to the Greek
8.) The Last Airbender
7.) The Kids Are All Right
6.) Get Low
5.) The Adjustment Bureau
4.) Mother and Child
3.) Iron Man 2
2.) Toy Story 3
1.) Inception

And the least anticipated (going from “Eh, I don’t plan on seeing it, but maybe if reviews are decent” to “I’d rather be bitten by a vampire than see it”):

5.) Shrek Forever After and Robin Hood (tie)
4.) The Karate Kid
3.) Sex and the City 2
2.) Step Up 3-D
1.) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

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