Everyone knows that May through August is the season of barbeques, suntans and great movies. Who hasn’t felt the summer breeze at a drive-in while they were transported to other worlds on the big screen? Who hasn’t enjoyed time off from school and catching a matinee to escape the blistering heat?
Summer movies are part of our being, and this year’s line up promises to be one that we won’t soon forget. There are literally over 40 great movies coming out this season – adventures, thrillers, horror flicks and comedies that aim to please every sub-category of human out there. Here are ten that promise to be some of the bigger hits of the season, and possibly worthy of recollection some day down the line:
Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides (In Theatres Now)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz & Ian McShane
I just have one question: Who doesn’t love Johnny Depp’s iconic character Jack Sparrow? How could you not want to watch him in 1,000 more movies? I’d watch Captain Jack sell jewelry on QVC if I could, and chances are likely I wouldn’t be alone. So it’s with no surprise that the must-see movie of Summer 2011 will be “Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides.”
In this installment of the wildly-successful “Pirates” franchise, we see scene-stealing star Johnny Depp reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth. With his old foil Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) on his tail, Sparrow is accompanied by none other than Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his beautiful but dangerous daughter Angelica (played by the one and only Penelope Cruz).
As a long-time fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t written for Oscar contention, so you have to take it for what it is: a fun romp through world of pirates where anything is possible and anything is probable. The special effects in “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” do not disappoint, but are a little more subdued compared to the previous sequels. While at times a little scary (the mermaids aren’t as friendly as Ariel or Darryl Hannah), this is a fun movie for older kids and adults alike.
Bridesmaids (In Theatres Now)
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey & Ellie Kemper
“Bridesmaids” has been the talk of Hollywood since its release in mid-May. Not just funny, the movie has been seen as a bit revolutionary. This is the first time a raunchy comedy has starred an almost-all-female cast.
Kristen Wiig plays Annie, maid of honor to her best friend Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph. Bound and determined to make her best friend’s wedding perfect, cash-strapped and lovelorn Annie makes the absurd rounds of pre-wedding ceremonies all in an attempt to keep fellow bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne) from stealing “best friend” status. Annie wants to show just how far she’s willing to go for the best friend she loves, and hilarity obviously ensues.
Right from the get-go, understand that this is NOT a family-friendly movie. Like most of producer Judd Apatow’s films (“40 Year Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” & “Get Him to The Greek”), this movie uses crude humor and jokes that you wouldn’t tell your grandmother or 10-year old nephew. But there is surprising depth in this movie, making it worth your time to see.
X-Men: First Class (June 3rd)
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon & January Jones
I can’t lie: as a science fiction/comic book geek, I am a little nervous about seeing a new spin on a movie series I have come to love and am determined to see conclude (that’s right Brett Ratner: I’m calling you out to finish those storylines you left us hanging with!). However, “X-Men: First Class” shows a unique leap back in time for Professor Xavier, Magneto and the very beginnings of the X-Men. With any hope, it will be a hit.
In “X-Men: First Class,” Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) are two young men discovering their superpowers. Facing threat from Soviet Russia during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Xavier & Lensherr assemble a team of young mutants to help stop the Red Menace and try to bring understanding to the world of their newfound gifts.
Overall, the concept of putting the X-Men directly into the lens of history seems like an inventive way to tell a story. Weaving fact and fiction will make for an interesting storyline, but I am a little wary of the casting in this movie. James, McAvoy, while a great actor, doesn’t seem very “Xavier-like.” Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw is akin to casting George Clooney as the Emperor of China: it just simply doesn’t make sense. The only on-the-nose casting that I am looking forward to would be the ever-exquisite January Jones playing Emma Frost.
No doubt an action-adventure that will sure to please, I am personally looking forward to “X-Men: First Class” with a semi-skeptical eye.
Cars 2 (June 24th)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Michael Caine & Bonnie Hunt
It is always a great thing to see a Disney movie that appeals to both kids and adults alike. When they hit their mark, they make some truly entertaining family films. “Cars 2” promises to be one of those instant classic family flicks that the name Pixar can be proud of.
Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and his tow truck pal Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) hit the road in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the fastest car in the world. But while helping his pal McQueen, Mater gets caught up in an international espionage adventure.
For fans of the first Cars adventure, this will surely not disappoint. An action-packed spy romp with Larry the Cable Guy has a strange sense of appeal, doesn’t it???
Larry Crowne (July 1st)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts & Bryan Cranston
Okay this one is easy: Tom Hanks + Julia Roberts = Probable multi-million dollar success and acclaim. Add to it the fact that it’s been co-written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos (the genius behind “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) you are all but guaranteed a great time.
Hanks plays Larry Crowne, a fun-loving, good-natured man who is happy at his NOT-Wal-Mart-like job until he gets laid off. With no clear direction on where to go in his life, Larry enrolls at the local college. It’s there he meets and befriends a group of classmates and inevitably falls for one of his teachers, played by Julia Roberts.
This looks like a romantic comedy a lot of people can really enjoy. Having real people doing real jobs (I don’t know too many struggling architects or neurosurgeons that live in 3,000 square foot lofts) is fresh and somewhat original, especially by having two of Hollywood’s biggest stars playing these roles. Movies are always a fantastic trip outside of our normal lives, but every now and then it feels good to see Tom Hanks with a lanyard around his neck folding clothes. A healthy dose of reality in our movies can be a good thing.
I am genuinely looking forward to seeing this movie. In these times when not all of us are certain about our economic futures, “Larry Crowne” is going to speak for a lot of people trying to make their way to happiness in a totally different world than we were promised.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (July 15th)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson & Ralph Fiennes
It is truly going to be strange not having a Harry Potter movie to look forward to, but luckily that strange feeling won’t come until AFTER this summer when the world is enraptured with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two.” In this final chapter of the world of Hogwarts, the final battle between good and evil will be fought. And nerds like me around the world will unite July 15th to see the thrilling conclusion.
Daniel Radcliffe plays young wizard Harry Potter one last time as he finally confronts the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), murderer of Harry’s parents and all-around baddie determined to rule the world with evil sorcery. Hogwarts and the magical realm surrounding it have been torn into chaos. The Ministry of Magic has been infiltrated by supporters of Voldemort. Kind Professor Dumbledore has been murdered and his killer has assumed the role of headmaster at Hogwart’s. And now, as the Deatheaters hunt down Harry and his allies, the final battle reaches its climax.
Be prepared for long lines, lots of cheers, and a generally rowdy time in the theatres, as people have fallen in love with this movie series. Great for almost all ages (it does get a little scary for little ones from time to time), “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two” is probably going to be the biggest blockbuster smash of the 2011 summer.
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22nd)
Starring: Chris Evans, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving & Hayley Atwell
As you can tell, I’m a bit opinionated. And frankly, I was a little perturbed that Chris Evans was cast in this summer’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” After all, the handsome rising star is already a superhero: Johnny Flame from the “Fantastic Four” movies. No one should play more than one superhero! But after seeing previews for this next addition to the Marvel roster, I can say without hesitation that I’m excited!
After being rejected from every branch of the military during the height of World War II, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is selected to join a top secret super-soldier experiment that turns him into Captain America. With his newfound powers, Captain America is sent out on a quest to stop the evil Nazi Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) from obtaining a mysterious object known as the Tesseract.
There won’t be many surprises in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The hero will save the day, he’ll probably get the girl, and Samuel L. Jackson will likely have a cameo at some point, tying in Marvel’s Iron Man and Thor stories in preparation for the untitled Avengers “super-movie.” It WILL be a fun addition to the Summer 2011 movie season. It should definitely be on your list of movies to watch.
Cowboys and Aliens (July 29th)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford & Olivia Wilde
When you think of cowboys, you immediately think of ray guns, flying saucers and abductions, right? Well, that’s what director Jon Favreau is banking on in his newest blockbuster about — you guessed it, cowboys and aliens. And guess what? It’s called “Cowboys and Aliens.”
Daniel Craig plays a stranger with no memory of his past, waking up wearing an odd shackle around his wrist in a small desert town in rural Arizona. While initially unwelcome to the small town, The Stranger is suddenly their only hope as mysterious intruders terrorize the town from the sky. As townsfolk are being abducted at an alarming rate, The Stranger joins up with Ella (Olivia Wilde), Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), outlaws and Apaches to protect Earth from hostile takeover.
If you like special effects and explosions but don’t like Michael Bay, this movie might be right up your alley. If you’re looking for a reason to see a scantily clad Olivia Wilde, this movie might be right up your alley. If you always wondered what James Bond and Indiana Jones might look like as cowboys, again, this movie might be right for you. I am holding back judgment, but how can you NOT see this movie at some point this summer?
The Help (August 12th)
Starring: Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer
Disney has pretty much taken over the world, if you haven’t noticed already. With all the movies, TV shows, comic book acquisitions and ever-growing stable of amusement park rides, you’d be pretty oblivious if you didn’t realize the planet Earth has been renamed Planet Disney. Not that there’s anything wrong with that —
In Disney’s “The Help,” Emma Stone plays a southern belle from the 1960’s named Skeeter, fresh from college and ready to write about the world around her. She decides to interview “the help,” black women who have spent their whole lives working for some of her Mississippi town’s wealthiest families. When Viola Davis’ character Aibileen opens up about the world she lives in, the town goes up in arms and Skeeter soon finds herself in the middle of the changing times.
For a break from the fireballs and other assorted special effects that usually dominate summer movie season, “The Help” might be just what you’re looking for. Not flashy or preachy, this movie is going to be a sleeper hit. Don’t be surprised if Emma Stone or especially Viola Davis don’t get more recognition for their amazing performances: these two and the story they tell are definitely destined to gain accolades.
The Debt (August 31st)
Starring: Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkenson & Sam Worthington
There are few films Helen Mirren has been in that haven’t been riveting. “The Debt” promises to continue Dame Mirren’s awesome streak.
“The Debt” begins in 1997 as retired Mossad agents Rachel (Mirren) and Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) learn shocking news about their former partner David (Ciaran Hinds). 31 years earlier, the trio (played by Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas and Sam Worthington) captured a Nazi war criminal in communist East Berlin. The harrowing mission ended in success, or so Rachel & Stefan believed.
“The Debt” is a long-shot for huge success this summer, but is definitely a nail-biting suspense thriller that will be a welcome end-cap to a brilliant summer.