Blockbuster Summer

Our guide to the season’s most buzzed-about movies.

Sure, it’s easy to use the promise of cool air conditioning as an excuse to duck into the local multiplex. But you can’t escape the heat coming from what’s on screen. This year, there’s the usual roundup of superheroes, sequels, and sci-fi—but also find lots of world-conquering adventures, gut-busting comedies, and even a few indies looking to break out in the summer the way The Hurt Locker did last year. Consult our to-watch list to help you navigate through the onslaught of releases.

May

Iron Man 2 (May 7)
Iron Man stands out as one superhero with no secret identity—Tony Stark lives his evil-busting life out in the open. And, when you’ve got Robert Downey, Jr., playing Stark, why would you hide him away? Watch out for super-size thrills when this movie takes over our local IMAX screens to unofficially begin the summer blockbuster season.

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Photo Courtesy of Focus Features

 

Babies (May 7)
Shot in the style of a nature documentary—it’s already been compared to March of the Penguins—this film focuses on the strangest and most beguiling creatures of all: human babies. The doc follows four bundles of joy, from birth to their first birthdays, each growing up in one of four different world cities: Opuwo, Namibia; Tokyo, Japan; Bayanchandmani, Mongolia; and San Francisco, California. We’d say the value here is in learning about different cultures and other approaches to child rearing, but, let’s face it, the big draw here is that babies are just adorable.

Robin Hood (May 14)
From Errol Flynn to Men in Tights, Robin Hood movies are usually pretty great, if not swashbucklingly fantastic. This making-of-the-legend incarnation features the re-teaming of Gladiator director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe, so expect the action to be full of a bit more blunt force and blood (as well as, they promise, historical accuracy) than Hood movies of yore.

Photo by Kerry Brown © 2010 Universal Studios

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Also Consider: Shrek Forever After—yes, yet another Shrek movie—shows what happens to the green ogre when happily ever after starts to get a little boring (May 21).

Handy do-it-yourselfers who look up to MacGuyver may not love MacGruber, Saturday Night Live’s spoof of the handy hero, but they’ll sure find him funny (May 21).

Disney attempts to mount another epic adventure story with its video game adaptation, The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the muscle-bound prince (May 28).

And move from that ancient, Arabian desert to a much more cosmopolitan one when a chic desert hotspot becomes a travel destination for four ladies you know: the women of Sex and the City 2 (May 27).

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June

Get Him to the Greek (June 4)
If you loved 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall—well, you’re almost out of luck, because this isn’t a sequel or anything. But it does feature some of the same characters, namely rock god Aldous Snow, played by the delightfully off-kilter Russell Brand. In the film, an in-over-his-head record company intern, played by comedian Jonah Hill, is tasked with escorting Aldous Snow to a concert in Los Angeles (and we all know how easy it is to keep a partying rock star on schedule).

Winter’s Bone Photo by Sebastian Mlynarski

Winter’s Bone (June 11)
Okay, the summer isn’t all big explosions and comic-book villains. This little film won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. There’s nary a superhero in sight, and, since the film is an indie rather than a blockbuster, the plot—a teenage high-school dropout in the Ozarks tries to unravel the circumstances around her meth-addicted father’s disappearance—gets dark and disturbing.

Toy Story 3 (June 18)

Photo Courtesy of ©Disney/Pixar

Toy Story 3 is this year’s Pixar movie—the celebrated animation studio that brought you Up, Wall-E, and ­Ratatouille—do you really need another reason to go see it? This time, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and the rest of the toys have to learn how to survive living in a day-care center when their previous owner heads off to college. Toy Story 3 is next in line for the 3D treatment: Infinity and beyond, indeed.


Also Consider: We pity the fools who won’t go see the (sadly Mr. T-less) big-screen adaptation of The A-Team (June 11).

Then—oh, look! Another comic-book adaptation: Josh Brolin is Jonah Hex, a Western, Civil War-era bounty hunter (June 18).

If the good guys-vs.-bad guys movies are starting to feel too heavy, there’s always Knight and Day, in which Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz split the difference between action flick and romantic comedy when they play a couple on a blind date—one of whom is a secret agent (June 25).

If you’re the type of person to want to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the release date probably has been circled in sparkle pen on your calendar for months—but keep it open, because your ’tween likely will need a ride to the multiplex that day (June 30).

 

 

July

The Kids Are All Right (July 7)
Another Sundance success, this film adds to this year’s unlikely artificial-insemination subgenre (along with Jennifer Lopez’s The Back-Up Plan and Jennifer Aniston’s The Switch)—though this one, from Laurel Canyon director Lisa Cholodenko, will probably be much more artsy than the rest. In the film, sibling teenagers raised by two moms—played by Annette Benning and Julianne Moore—go off in search of their biological father.

Inception (July 16)
From director Christopher Nolan, this film seems to combine the adrenaline rushes of his The Dark Knight and the brain-bending loopiness of his Memento. Though plot details have been kept under wraps, we know it involves cities that can curl in on themselves, people who can defy gravity, and the “architecture of the human mind”—c’mon, it’s going to be awesome.

Photo Courtesy of © 2009 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Salt (July 23)
This CIA thriller—about an agent on the run after being accused of double-agenting—stars Angelina Jolie in a role that originally was supposed to go to Tom Cruise. (The character’s name changed from “Edwin” to “Evelyn.”) And, when she’s running around, keep on the lookout for some familiar locations: parts of Salt were filmed in Westchester.


The Adjustment Bureau (July 30)
It just wouldn’t be summer without a sci-fi love story. And, in most cases, it doesn’t hurt to borrow from the master: writer Philip K. Dick. Loosely based on his story “The Adjustment Team,” the film stars Matt Damon as a politician whose life starts to get a little wonky when he meets an attractive ballerina (Emily Blunt), leading him to investigate the forces at work.

Also Consider: If you haven’t had your fill of 3D animated pictures, Despicable Me turns Steve Carell into a super-villain looking to steal the moon (July 9).

Forget fighting the Predator—real tough guys go after Predators, plural (July 9).

Yes, there’s a movie called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but don’t expect it to be full of unruly broomsticks—crazy Nicholas Cage plays the sorcerer, and perennial dork Jay Baruchel is his young ward (July 16).

 

August

The Other Guys (August 6)
You already know The A-Team—think of these guys as the “B” team. Will Ferrell and Mark Whalberg play two bumbling city cops who want to be heroes. They’re directed by Adam McKay, who did Anchorman and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, so get ready to hear some classic Ferrell quotes repeated for the rest of the summer.

Eat, Pray, Love (August 13)
Love it or hate it, we’ve all read Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir. Now Julia Roberts brings Gilbert’s spiritual journey to the big screen. Even if the post-divorce, find-yourself journey doesn’t speak to you, there’s bound to be some gorgeous footage of the across-the-globe locales featured in the book.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (August 13)
Based on the popular manga-style comic, this movie is about a twentysomething guy who must defeat his true love’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in a series of anime-looking battles before he can win her heart. And if Michael Cera isn’t the exact right nerd to play Scott Pilgrim, we don’t know who is.

Also Consider: The Expendables, obviously about a group of mercenaries, throws together almost every action star you can think of—including Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, and Jet Li—then gives them silly names like “Hale Caesar” (August 13).

Forget Jaws; this summer, the Richard Dreyfuss film about undersea monsters is all about carnivorous fish—in three dimensions—for Pirhana 3D (August 27).

Note: Studios are notoriously twitchy about film release dates, and some of these may have “adjusted” after press time. Check your listings.

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