For most of the country, summer starts in June, but for Hollywood, the kick off of summer films is around Memorial Day. This year, with “Thor” and “Fast Five” released in early May, it seems like Hollywood is getting a jump on the long list of expectant summer features.
For this week’s list, we’ve compiled a list of 10 films that are guaranteed to bring in the big bucks. Some of them are the high-action, massive-explosion movies that are sodden with special effects and produced on budgets so extraordinarily large that they outmatch the GNP of most third-world nations.
Others are those big-name, laugh-out-loud comedies whose side effects include literal side-splitting (hence the term, “leave you in stitches”).
But first, a disclaimer: these are not necessarily the best movies coming out this summer, just some of the most anticipated. These are the “big event” movies; sorry, Hollywood, but I can’t justify spending 30 bucks to go to the theater unless I’m sure it’s going to melt my face off.
That said, here are 10 highly-anticipated summer 2011 releases:
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Release date: Friday, May 20. Rated PG-13.
Jack Sparrow (sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow) is at it again for a fourth installment of the series, but this time, with Penelope Cruz at his side. Geoffrey Rush and Kevin McNally are still around, along with several other familiar faces. The missing man from this sequel is director Gore Verbinski, who opted out after the trilogy. Rob Marshall (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) takes the director’s chair this time, with the eponymous pirates lusting after the Fountain of Youth.
It’s too bad this movie is kid-friendly, or else I could make a joke that it’s rated aarrgh. Oh, wait, I just did.
- The Hangover: Part II – Release date: Thursday, May 26. Rated R.
I continue to hear people complaining about this sequel, and it’s not even out yet. “It’s just like the first one,” they say, “except they’re in Bangkok.”
Uh, duh. That’s the point. The first Hangover made for one of the best comedies in years, and the four main actors played off of each other so believably well that you might think this was just another weekend for the Wolf Pack. Besides, Todd Philips needs to make up for the lackluster attempt that was “Due Date.”
- Kung Fu Panda 2 – Release date: Thursday, May 26. Rated PG.
What’s the only thing better than Jack Black as a fat kung fu-fighting panda bear? A sequel.
The first “Kung Fu Panda” was rife with celebrity voices, including Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman. Added to the roster for the second movie are Gary Oldman (as the white peacock Lord Shen) and Jean Claude Van Damme as Master Croc (who is, well, a croc). Everybody was kung fu fighting!
- X-Men: First Class – Release date: Friday, June 3. Rated PG-13.
This was a hard choice; put the new “X-Men” movie on the list, or the upcoming “Green Lantern” with Ryan Reynolds? I loved the Lantern as a kid, and the movie looks awesome (hey, I seem to have just plugged it anyway).
“X-Men: First Class” takes us back a few decades to the days when a young Professor Xavier and Magneto were still friends. Comic book geeks… er, aficionados… can look forward to young versions of Beast, Mystique, Havok and Emma Frost. And let’s not forget Kevin Bacon as the villainous Sebastian Shaw; we’re all wondering if he’ll rock the jet-black sideburns.
- Super 8 – Release date: Friday. June 10. Not yet rated.
Much like J.J. Abrams’ previous venture, “Cloverfield,” details of this film have been kept very hushed (not an easy thing to do in Hollywood). We do know that it has to do with a boy and his friends in 1979. And a train crash, which lets out a military secret that wreaks havoc on the town. Maybe a monster? Maybe an alien? Maybe Chuck Norris?
What we do know is that Steven Spielberg is producing, and if Abrams uses the same techniques that made “Star Trek” so beautiful, we’re in for a real treat.
- Bad Teacher – Release date: Friday, June 24. Rated R.
Cameron Diaz stars as a foul-mouthed careless teacher who has to compete with a well-liked teacher for the affection of Justin Timberlake. Also providing comedic back-up is a personal perennial favorite, Jason Segel.
I don’t care what anyone says, Justin Timberlake is a good actor and almost always worth watching. Let’s just forget that whole boy-band thing he went through; it was probably just a phase.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Release date: Friday, July 1. Rated PG-13.
Ten reasons to go see the third film in the “Transformers” franchise:
Giant robots fighting for dominion over the Earth. Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Cutting-edge special effects. Awesome explosions. Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Moon-landing conspiracy. Bumblebee. Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Michael Bay. Rosie Huntington-Whitely.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II – Release date: Friday, July 15. Not yet rated.
Probably my personally most-anticipated movie of the year, the very last installment of the eight-movie, 10-years-in-the-making franchise is coming our way.
Let’s forgive the fact that we know how it’s going to end. Let’s forgive the way the producers ended the first half of “Deathly Hallows.” Let’s just enjoy watching the end of an era. I mean, any die-hard Potter fan has probably watched these kids grow up just as much as their own parents have.
- Captain America: The First Avenger – Release date: Friday, July 22. Not yet rated.
So, Marvel (who is now owned by Disney) got this idea. They said, “Let’s make a ‘Hulk’ movie, then an ‘Iron-Man’ movie, then a 'Thor’ movie, and then a ‘Captain America’ movie. Then let’s put ‘em all together.”
That’s the basis, as I see it, for every Avenger having their own film and/or franchise; Marvel is gearing towards the 2012 release of “The Avengers,” which will combine all of these heroes into one big face-melting superhero smorgasbord.
Of course, that won’t stop me from going to see “Captain America.” Chris Evans is awesome. Hugo Weaving is Red Skull. And I just have to see him throw the shield.
- Cowboys and Aliens – Release date: Friday, July 29. Not yet rated.
I told my girlfriend that I wanted to see this movie. Her succinct (and valid) reply was, “Why?!”
Well, folks, it’s because it’s a movie about aliens invading the Wild West. I mean, do we even need to look past the title for a reason to see this movie?
If you said “yes” to that question, check out the poster for the film (British export Daniel Craig in full western gear, shotgun in hand and an alien weapon strapped to his wrist).
Just for kicks, let’s toss in a couple of other names: Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”).
Now you’ll go see it right?