By Mary Claire Jones & Jeff Wade | Graphic by Sam McDonald
Which films you should be spending your summer watching and which ones to avoid.
Avengers (May 4)
Objectivity be damned: I refuse to let this movie be anything less than the best thing committed to celluloid. Assembling all of Marvel’s greatest heroes — Captain America, The Hulk and Iron Man — into one picture would be more than enough to get the fanboys going. But that also means that Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey, Jr. will be there to push it with the star power of a solar system. The trailers promise a mixture of what the Marvel superhero movies have made their trademark, with a mix of larger-than-life action and adventure with grounded and developed character beats that pull from their decades of existence. And while Marvel could have had anyone direct its years-in-the-making epic, by enlisting “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” head Joss Whedon to direct, the films might have dialogue that sparks just as much as the-sure-to-be numerous explosions. Avengers assemble!
The Dictator (May 11)
Continuing to coast on the little good will left over from “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen returns with a new character, and the diminshing returns look to be out in force.As opposed to the mockumentary style of “Borat” and “Bruno,” “The Dictator” is a mostly scripted affair that follows Admiral General Aladeen, the dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya, as he fights to ensure democracy never comes to his country.
Cohen proved he can disapear into a role last year in “Hugo.” It’s disappointing to see him fall back into old habits in “The Dictator.” And the fact that Megan Fox as herself is presented as one of the highlights of the film in the trailer makes you wonder how Ben Kingly was somehow roped into this silliness.
Battlefield (May 18)
My biggest question with this upcoming film is not why it exists (though that’s a good one), it’s what the odds of a ”You sunk my battleship!” joke are. Sort-of-kind-of-based on the board game, with all of the alien invasions and Rihanna you remember, “Battleship” fulfills the summer quota of Liam Neeson action movies. The film looks to take as much as it can from the “Transformers” school of filmmaking as possible, so loud and incomprehensible looks to be the name of the game. With company Hasbro expanding further into films based on toys (see this summer’s G.I. Joe sequel), it makes you wonder why all these movies are never fun.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (May 18)
In all seriousness, this movie could be the one to break out of the poor-man’s-“Love Actually” mold. Featuring an all-star cast (Chris Rock, Elizabeth Banks and Cameron Diaz, to name a few) as a series of couples in various stages of parenthood, the trailer looks promising. But with predecessors such as the deplorable “Valentine’s Day” and the respectable “He’s Just Not That Into You,” this movie could very easily be a bundle of joy or two hours of hard labor.
Snow White and The Huntsman (June 1)
Unlike its immature little sister, “Mirror Mirror,” “Snow White & the Huntsman” actually looks like a decent attempt at filmmaking. Starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth as the title characters, “Huntsman” tells the familar story of an evil queen (Charlize Theron) who puts a hit out on Snow White because of the threat she poses to the queen’s position of “the fairest of them all.” With novice director Rupert Sanders at the helm, this updated classic looks gritty and intense — not your typical fairytale.
Prometheus (June 8)
Not very much is known about this film’s plot outside of the fact that it follows a familiar corporation as they embark on a sure-to-be-doomed exploration. Director Ridley Scott looks to nail the creeping dread of the first “Alien” film and the action of the second. Writer Damon Lindelof has a handle on how to develop a mystery without giving it away, thanks to his running “Lost,” so if anyone can do subtle world-building, it’s him. Michael Fassbender has proved his action movie credentials with last year’s “X-Men: First Class,” and “Girl With Dragon Tattoo” star Noomi Rapace can do harrowed intensity like no one else. Everything about the film has been rejecting expectations, and hopefully the finished product is as bold as it seems.
Brave (June 22)
Pixar’s “Brave”checks off almost every box a viewer could want from the acclaimed animation studio. Scottish archer Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is Pixar’s first female hero, and it reflects a shift for the group. At once their most novel film with a more mature and grounded tone, while at the same time embracing fantasy and fairy tale conventions. But it’s still as lush and stylized as everything that has come out of Pixar’s toy box. After a string of sequels with more to come, especially the anemic “Cars 2,” “Brave” looks to remind why Pixar is the most consistent group around.
Spider-Man (July 3)
It’s too soon for a reboot. We all know it. But dubious timing aside, this “Spider-Man” incarnation is tweaking a few things. Gone are Mary Jane and Harry, as well as Spidey’s innate web-slinging abilities. Instead, this movie features Emma Stone as Peter Parker’s first love, Gwen Stacy, and opts for mechanized web-slingers over Tobey Maguire’s built-in version. Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Curt “The Lizard” Connors, a former partner of Peter’s deceased father, who ultimately becomes Peter’s nemesis.
Batman (July 20)
Arguably the most anticipated sequel of the summer, “The Dark Knight Rises” is the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy. Its predecessor, “The Dark Knight,” won two Academy Awards, so this new story has a lot to live up to. After taking the fall for Two-Face’s crimes, Batman has to resurface in order to rid Gotham City of Bane, the newest Big Bad in town. The film isn’t hurting for talent (Tom Hardy, Joseph-Gordon Levitt and the always-lovely Marion Cotillard), and Nolan is sure to send everyone’s favorite masked vigilante out with a bang.