Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 movies I want to see this summer

In 2012, it’s nearly impossible to assemble a list of must-see summer movies without including at least a few sequels, remakes, and sequels to remakes. Such is the state of our movie universe. I’ve tried not to be too much of a purist, but I’ve also omitted high-profile projects that make me cringe, like Men in Black 3 and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Here are 10 movies I can’t wait to watch, with release dates and trailers:

The Avengers

Hooray, it's finally here! Never again will I have to sit through 10 minutes of closing credits just so I can watch another awkward scene in which Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces himself to a superhero. Nah, I kid the Fury. Other than Iron Man 1, I'm not much of a fan of the Marvel movies that preceded this one (unless you count Ang Lee's Hulk, which I gather most comic-book fans don't). So why am I excited to see them all supergroup'd together here? The screenwriter and director is Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and the insanely brilliant Cabin in the Woods). In Whedon we trust. (May 4)

Dark Shadows

Tim Burton's collaborations with Johnny Depp have been a bit spotty since the glory days of Ed Wood. And for such a supposedly original, visionary filmmaker, Burton sure makes a lot of remakes. This is one of those. The trailer's jokey tone had fans of the TV series up in arms, but I've never seen the show. To me, the characters and era look like an ideal fit for Burton. Let's hope it's more like Sweeney Todd and less like Alice in Wonderland. (May 11)

Moonrise Kingdom

Am I hip enough to write about this movie? Oh well, here goes: After a delightful animated feature (Fantastic Mr. Fox), director/co-writer Wes Anderson returns to live-action filmmaking with an all-star cast. I'm in love with the trailer: the music, the quirky visual details, the offbeat line readings. I don't always *get* Anderson (especially The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited), but every film he makes is oddly perfect in its own way. (May 25)

Piranha 3DD

Usually I'm not too fond of sequels to remakes, but this one has been directed by the affable John Gulager (Feast). We're in for a real treat if it's half as good as Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D, which is one of the funniest, raunchiest, most disgusting bloodbaths in recent memory. It doesn't hurt that it's got the best title of the summer. (June 1)


I'll say this for Prometheus, director Ridley Scott's second Alien movie after his 1979 sci-fi/horror classic: it has been superbly marketed. The trailers, viral videos and publicity stills all have me licking my lips in anticipation. There had better be a good movie in there somewhere, because this series arguably went off the rails after James Cameron's masterful Aliens and it needs to get back on track. (June 8)


So it's a new Pixar movie and it doesn't have Larry the Cable Guy in it? I'm in. (June 22)

The Amazing Spider-Man

Did Sony Pictures Entertainment really need to reboot this franchise a mere five years after Spider-Man 3? I have my doubts, but at least this not-a-sequel has been cast with fresh-faced, likable performers like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Prove me wrong, Spidey. (July 3)

The Dark Knight Rises

As excited as I am to see this, I can’t help wondering what might have been had Heath Ledger not died so young. David S. Goyer, the co-writer of The Dark Knight, once said that the reason why he and director Christopher Nolan kept The Joker alive was so the iconic villain could go on trial in the next installment. I get a little wistful when I imagine Ledger in those scenes. His interpretation pushed the filmmaker into uncharted territory, making the movie something wilder, more entertaining and dangerous than Nolan had done before. I don’t get that kind of vibe from Tom Hardy’s Bane, and everything about Catwoman, from the casting to the costume design, feels off to me. But this final entry in Nolan’s epic Batman series may turn out to be a Dark Knight-level masterpiece anyway; Gary Oldman, Commissioner Gordon himself, has said it’s the best script he’s ever read, and he was in True Romance, for chrissakes. (July 20)

Ruby Sparks

Paul Dano reunites with his Little Miss Sunshine directors. He played my favorite character in that movie, the voluntarily mute teen devotee of Friedrich Nietzsche. This new effort sounds like Stranger Than Fiction but told from the perspective of the creator instead of one of his creations. Bring on the Charlie Kaufman-lite whimsy. (July 25)


This is rocker Nick Cave’s first produced screenplay since The Proposition. He also wrote Gladiator 2 for Ridley Scott, which is one of the more intriguing unrealized movie projects of recent years. If memory serves, it was to have ended with Maximus kicking ass in a bathroom at the Pentagon(!). Lawless brings together Proposition director John Hillcoat and star Guy Pearce, as well as newcomers Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf. The brutal, idiosyncratic style of The Proposition was unforgettable, and I’m betting Cave and company will bring a similar approach to the gangsters-and-G-men genre. (Aug. 31)

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