Summer is upon us! And you know what that means. All the studios will be pulling out the big guns and aiming at your wallets. What’s worth spending on? We’ll give you the lowdown…
1. Source Code
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
Plot: An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.
The Low-Down: Duncan Jones’ last movie, Moon, was a superbly smart sci-fi, a dying genre. In Source Code, he makes a return to the genre, and its a solidly entertaining one. In YourFace’s words: “It was a more digital version of deja vu. Parallel reality and shit.” Jake Gyllenhaal is a great lead, and Michelle Monaghan is OMFG MICHELLE MONAGHAN.
You should definitely watch this.
Directed by Martin Campbell.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong
Plot: A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.
The Low-Down: Possibly the least anticipated of the upcoming superhero flicks. The casting just doesn’t seem right, especially Ryan Reynolds. And, Blake Lively was a bit over the top in The Town. On the plus side, the director is Martin Campbell, who directed Casino Royale, so the dude knows his action-thrillers. You might want to skip this, as there are better superhero flicks coming up.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Plot: The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.
The Low-Down: Now here’s a superhero flick with near perfect casting. Chris Hemsworth( who had a tiny role at the beginning of Star Trek, where he played Kirk’s father) plays Thor, and is backed up by Anthony “We’ll watch him in anything” Hopkins as Odin. Tom Hiddleston plays the villain Loki, and Natalie Portman plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster. The director is great, early reviews are great. Definitely watch this movie. It’s got Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, for Odin’s sake!
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane
Plot: Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too.
The Low-Down: Let’s face it; no one watched POTC for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. We just wanted to see Captain goddamn Jack. Johnny Depp, back to doing what he does best, Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane make for one entertaining cast. On the downside, the director is Rob Marshall, who helmed the overrated Chicago and the disappointing Memoirs Of A Geisha. Marshall is however famous for making his shots very pretty, so POTC4 should look gorgeous. Add to that some swashbuckling action, and this is the definition of a summer blockbuster.
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz
Plot: A veterinary student abandons his studies after his parents are killed and joins a traveling circus as their vet.
The Low-Down: Yes, yes, it stars the Twilight guy. But it also stars the Inglorious Basterds guy! And word has it that Christoph Waltz is great in this movie, an intimidating villain. There’s not much chemistry between the leads, but the sets look great. The director is Francis Lawrence, who created the desolate and abandoned NYC in I Am Legend. Watch it for Waltz, or if you have absolutely nothing better to do.
Directed by Michael ” exploding facepalm” Bay.
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, no one cares about the rest.
Plot: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets, which could turn the tide in the Transformers’ final battle.
The Low-Down: TF3 got a lot of publicity last year when Megan Fox compared Bay to Hitler, resulting in her being fired on the spot. She was then replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, a relatively unknown Victoria’s Secret Angel. This was a remarkably stupid decision, seeing as Megan Fox was half the reason this franchise was popular in the first place. It then acquired even more attention by calling itself “Dark Of The Moon”, one of the dumbest movie titles in history. This film is going to suck ass. But you know what? I’m going to be first in line to see it, because it’s one of my biggest guilty pleasures. So watch it for the mindless robotic violence, CGI explosions and lingerie models.
Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong
Plot: Phil, Stu, and Alan travel to Bangkok for Stu’s wedding only to find themselves in another post-blackout misadventure.
The Low- Down: Is it just me, or does this seem like an exact duplicate of the first film, except it’s set in Bangkok and has a monkey in place of a tiger? But that was a winning formula, and you can’t deny the leads have great comedic chemistry. There’s even the return of our favorite psychotic Chinese guy, Ken Jeong! On the downside, Todd Phillips’ last film was the less-than-impressive Due Date. Watch it once, and then decide whether you want to see it again.
8. Fast Five
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson
The Low-Down: I’ll be honest; I’ve never liked this franchise. It’s always seemed so deliberately dumb. But there’s been some effort poured into this installment: great driving, stylized action and a show-stealing performance from The Rock. I’m not going to watch this, but fans of the franchise will have a great time.
Directed by Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell
Plot: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.
The Low-Down: The superhero flick to beat this summer, CA has a cast to rival even Thor. Chris Evans and Tommy Lee Jones are perfect in their roles as the Cap’n and the general in charge of the super soldier project. Hugo Weaving ( who, BTW has been a central character in the Matrix trilogy, LOTR, V For Vendetta and the voice of Megatron. Can you say “pop culture god”?) plays CA’s nemesis Red Skull. Watch it, and then again, and then again.
10. Kung Fu Panda 2
Directed by Jennifer Yuh
Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Gary Oldman, Jean-Claude Van Damme
Plot: Po joins forces with a group of new kung-fu masters to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon.
The Low-Down: The first one was tons of fun for everyone. The second one should be exactly that as well. One of the most charming animated characters in recent memory has returned! Let his name be sung, for he is Po.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Kevin Bacon
Plot: In 1963, Charles Xavier starts up a school and later a team, for humans with superhuman abilities. Among them is Erik Lensherr, his best friend… and future archenemy.
The Down-Low: Another superhero flick with an outstanding cast. What keeps me from being too enthusiastic about this is the disastrous experiences of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Hopefully this one will be better. Matthew Vaughn ( of Kick-Ass fame ) has a lot to prove. And it will be fascinating to see the origins of Professor X and Magneto at any rate. (Fun Fact: The relationship between Professor X and Magneto was inspired by the relationship between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.)