The 2011 Summer Movie Preview
2010 was a season of remakes, sequels and superheroes. So what’s in store for 2011? You got it: more remakes, sequels and superheroes. We run through the summer movie lineup and tell you which films look worthy of a trip to the theater.
Release Date: June 10
You don’t expect a train wreck when J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg collaborate, but that’s how Super 8 opens: Some local kids shooting a movie next to a railroad cause an almighty crash. And then things turn strange. Dogs go missing. The military moves in. Apparently the train was on its way from Area 51, and Elle Fanning and Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights) are caught in the thick of it. Abrams knows his way around a crash (“Lost”) and an alien invasion (Cloverfield). This will be a wreck worth watching.
Release Date: June 17
In a strong field of superhero movies, Green Lantern does its best to shine. Ryan Reynolds receives a mysterious green ring and finds himself embroiled in an intergalactic struggle to preserve peace in the universe. Equipped with tight pants, a breakneck script and a zillion dollars’ worth of special effects, he jets off into a world of elaborate aliens and extremely high stakes. Warner Bros. threw everything at the wall for this one, and it appears that most of it stuck.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Release Date: July 1
Reviewers hated Transformers 2, and yet it made more than $800 million worldwide. If you listen really carefully, you can still hear director Michael Bay having the last laugh. In part three of the trilogy, he dares to tamper with his winning formula. Not only has Megan Fox been replaced by Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, but Dark of the Moon incorporates something that Transformers 2 did perfectly well without: a proper story.
Release Date: July 8
Audiences were roaring at the screenings of this one -- a hard R comedy caper, in which three friends decide to get together and murder their bosses. Cue much bungling, hilarity and (if you liked The Hangover), a great night out. It’s seemingly one of those rare times that a stellar cast lives up to its billing. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis (“SNL”), and Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) are the hapless killers. Look out for a degenerate Colin Farrell as one of the bosses.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Release Date: July 22
America could use a hero about now, and if the buzz is to be believed, The First Avenger will not disappoint. For years, Marvel junkies have debated the choice of director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman) and the casting of Chris Evans (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) in the title role. But then they saw the trailer in the Super Bowl commercial break, and all doubts were set aside. Evans plays a weakling -- too puny for the army in World War II -- who is transformed into a muscle-bound, Nazi-bashing superhero. Tommy Lee Jones plays the drill sergeant.
Cowboys and Aliens
Release Date: July 29
Fresh from Iron Man II, director Jon Favreau had a question: What if aliens landed in the Wild West? It’s the sort of question that writers mull over in coffee shops instead of working. Like: What if zombies took over Nazi Germany? Or: Who would win in a fight -- vampires or the Mafia? Except this time, Favreau actually made the movie. And with a cast that includes Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde, Cowboys and Aliens may just have “blockbuster” written all over it.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: August 5
Between earning his Ph.D., debuting his art installations and sawing his own arm off with a tiny knife, James Franco has somehow found time to play the lead scientist in the prequel that explains how Planet of the Apes came about in the first place. A drug test on chimpanzees leads to a dramatic increase in their intelligence until they escape their laboratories and vie against humans for supremacy. Forget the Charlton Heston movie of 1968 -- this time, the apes look like apes.
Conan the Barbarian
Release Date: August 19
For years, the story of Conan has been inextricably linked to another myth -- that of a young Austrian muscleman who became governor of California. It was Conan that launched Arnie more than any other movie. So Jason Momoa, the former “Baywatch” star, has his work cut out for him. But he has the muscles, he wields a good sword, and his lines are juicy: “I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.” Worth a look, if only because Momoa may be headed for bigger things.
Photos: DreamWorks Pictures & Warner Bros. Pictures/ Wikimedia Commons