Top 10 Movies for Summer 2011

Movie lovers have a lot to look forward to this summer. The major studios and the Indies have a full menu of offerings beginning with the Memorial Day start of the blockbuster summer season. From long-awaited sequels to new releases, here are the top 10 movies for summer viewing pleasure.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: With the disappointing showing of the last two Pirates of the Caribbean films, the May 20 release of On Stranger Tides looks set to restore fans’ faith in Captain Jack Sparrow and the denizens of his world of pirates, zombies, cutthroats, and beautiful women. Penelope Cruz makes an appearance as Blackbeard’s daughter, and she has Sparrow in a dilemma; is she the love of his past, or just using him to find the Fountain of Youth. The race between Sparrow and Blackbeard to find the fountain promises a taste of what we loved about Pirates from the beginning.

Thor: Marvel got a head start on the summer with the May 6 release of Thor. The handsome, but headstrong and arrogant god of Thunder, played by Chris Hensworth, is exiled to earth by his father, Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins, to live among mortals. Thor meets a beautiful young scientist, Jane Foster, played to perfection by Natalie Portman, and learns what it means to be a super hero when the evil god Loki sends the dark forces of Asgard to take over earth.

Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom: The original Kung Fu Panda, released in 2008, was one of Dreamworks’ most successful films, second only to the Shrek movies. In The Kaboom of Doom, Po and The Furious Five take on a villain who has a weapon that can stop kung fu. Along with the same voices from the original, this sequel has Gary Oldman as a peacock and Jean-Claude Van Damme as a crocodile. Other new voices include Michelle Yeoh and James Woods, and there will be the same kung fu action and pratfalls as the original, so what’s not to like? Released May 27, so don’t waste time, get in line for your tickets.

X-Men: First Class: Unlike a lot of critics, I haven’t seen an X-Man film that I didn’t find something to like about. First Class has a different cast than the last couple, and is a prequel, focusing on Xavier and Magneto as they work together with other mutants to stop the Hellfire Club, a group of wealthy elites who seek to control world events to their own ends. If you are, like me, also a fan of the X-Man comics, this June 3 release is sure to please you.

The Hangover 2: I didn’t care all that much for The Hangover when it came out in 2009, despite its success at the box office. So, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I really enjoyed the May 26 release of The Hangover 2, set in Thailand. Another R-rated comedy, only this time with a baby, that promises to again net a big paycheck for its producers.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Set for a July 15 release worldwide, this film, also known as Harry Potter 7, has Harry and his two friends engaged in an all-out war of good against evil as they go up against Lord Voldemort. This, unfortunately, is likely to be the last Harry Potter film, so don’t miss it.

Cars 2: If you liked Cars, you’ll love the sequel, as star race car Lightening McQueen and Mater the tow truck go abroad to participate in the first Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I find myself eagerly anticipating the June 26 release of this Disney film.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Shia Lebouf is back in this July 1 release as the kid who is friends with the Transformers, an extra-terrestrial race that can mimic machines. In Dark of the Moon, a strange event from the past causes a present day war that the Transformers alone find it difficult to cope. This is a movie that kids and kids at heart alike will love.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: This movie, set for release August 5, is the story of Ceasar, the chimpanzee who rebelled and created a world where humans are ruled by apes. The original Planet of the Apes movies were ground breaking for their time, and with the new technology available to Hollywood, this offering should be even better.

The Tree of Life: Starring Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life is the story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s. It follows the life of the eldest son as he tries to reconcile with his father and come to terms with the modern world. A May 27 release, the trailer looks like this will be the tear jerking hit of the summer.