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2012 Summer Movie Preview

It's nearly time for summer film blockbusters. Coming out this summer: The Avengers, Dark Night Rises, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Amazing Spiderman and more.

Every year about this time, it's the calm before the theatrical storm. Things are winding up in Hollywood, as the studios prepare for their marketing onslaught.

Should we, the movie viewing public, be getting excited? What can we expect this summer? What spectacles are headed our way? You can take stock of all the blockbusters they have pinned their hopes and bank accounts on below. So many movies and A-list actors… you might spend half your summertime in the dark!

What are you looking forward to? 

Marvel's The Avengers: Releasing May 4th
• Director - Joss Whedon
• Starring - Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, and Don Cheatle 

Written and directed by cult sensation Joss Whedon, The Avengers is already being hailed as an awesome slice of superhero sandwich bread. It has a little of what most movie lovers want; action, suspense, good actors, a hot starlet, all directed by the god of the Whedonverse, which will bring his fans in droves, whether they like Marvel or not, to the theatre. The joyful geekbuzz about this movie is reaching a deafening level. Whether that populist love means the critical powers-that-be will kick it with their big metal boots remains to be seen.  

Dark Shadows: Releasing May 10th
• Director - Tim Burton
• Starring - Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Cloe Moretz, Eva Green, Jonny Lee Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer

Based on the hallowed 1966-1971 gothic soap opera, Burton opted for a broad comedic interpretation that leans more towards splatstick than the slow European vibe of the original. The screenplay is written by Seth Graham Smith (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) and has Burton muse Johnny Depp in the starring role of Barnabas Collins. Will he be received well and with open arms, as he was as Jack Sparrow, or rejected as he was as Willy Wonka? Will his portrayal be seen as an abomination of Johathan Frid's work? At the very least we can all expect something original.

Men In Black III: Releasing May 25th
• Director - Barry Sonnenfeld
• Starring - Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin

J (Will Smith) travels back in time to the 1960s, to stop an alien from killing K (Tommy Lee Jones) and changing history. Josh Brolin does a great Tommy Lee as the younger K, and seeing him do that deadpan is almost enough to drive us into the theatre. Lack of promotion is a bit surprising, since the release is around the corner, but maybe the studio thinks it will sell itself. Ohhhh, K!

Snow White and the Huntsman: Releasing June 1st
• Director - Rupert Sanders
• Starring - Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Ian McShane, Eddie Izzard, Bob Hoskins, Sam Claflin

Snow White, aided by the huntsman who has been sent to kill her, starts a rebellion and takes on the evil queen. This darker version of the two released this year is likely to ride the considerable coattails of TV's Grimm and Once Upon A Time, both of which lean to the darker side of the fairy tale continuum.  

Prometheus: Releasing June 8th
• Director - Ridley Scott
• Starring - Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace

The plot has been a closely guarded secret akin to Burger King's secret sauce. It is also so hotly anticipated, bloggers routinely mention their 30-year wait. In the same universe as Alien, or as Scott says, sharing "strands of Alien's DNA, so to speak", it predates the Aliens movies, and has no direct connection to their storylines, but will involve a scientific expedition (like Alien) that runs into trouble when they discover an advanced extraterrestrial race which threatens humanity's existence… and Michael Fassbender.  

Rock of Ages: Releasing June 15th 
• Director - Adam Shankman
• Starring - Tom Cruise, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, Mary J Blige

Based on the successful stage play, Rock of Ages revolves around stars, from rising to faded and jaded, dealing with fame in the hairband infested 1980s. Hits from that era are sprinkled or, rather, shouted throughout. The budget for hairspray and extensions alone had to be significant. Calling all Gleeks and Smash fans...

Brave: Releasing June 22nd
• Director - Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews
• Starring - Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane

Brave is Pixar's much anticipated 3D computer animated fantasy adventure. It features a plucky redheaded archer named Merida who goes against tradition and custom and inadvertently gets cursed, leading her to the challenge of undoing it before it's too late. If this redhead does as well as Disney's last one, she's going to raise the film to the top of the box office and keep it there. Sounds like something for children and adults alike to celebrate.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter: Releasing June 22nd
• Director - Timur Bekmambetov
• Starring - Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Alan Tudyk

The title says it all… As someone who read this novel when it was first released, I have defended and explained its concept repeatedly. While the previews are absurd, I am hopeful the inventiveness of this alt-reality will come across and the film will be successful. With Wanted's Bekmambetov at the helm it can go either way. It does feature some up and coming talent but has Prometheus, Brave, and the lesser known but promising Seeking A Friend For the End of The World to fight with at the box office on opening weekend.  

The Amazing Spiderman: Releasing July 3rd
• Director - Marc Webb
• Starring - Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen, Campbell Scott

Andrew Garfield, who heads the new class of Hollywood A-listers, will play the teenaged Spidey to Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy, his first girlfriend. Many more up to date special effects and a strong cast may cease the eye rolls inherent to yet another Spiderman release.  

Savages: Releasing July 6th
• Director - Oliver Stone
• Starring - Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Blake Lively, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Demian Bichir

Two pretty twenty-somethings, with their even prettier shared slacker girlfriend, contend with the Baha Cartel wanting to take over retailing their thriving gateway drug empire. Kidnapping and ultra-violence ensue. Oliver Stone is bringing the bestseller and literary cult favorite by Don Winslow to the screen, which suggests bad things will go to worse, as per his usual fare. Could be a sleeper hit, which would be great for Taylor Kitsch, who will still be smarting from John Carter and Battleship.  

Dark Knight Rises: Releasing July 20th
• Director - Christopher Nolan
• Starring - Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson

This movie's tagline reads "The legend ends." Nolan, known on the Batman set as "the governor," said he wants to finish his interpretation of this classic comic book character's story "in the biggest way possible," and he wants it to be a "spectacle." It will be one of the biggest movies of the year at the box office, and early buzz suggests it will be worthy. Lots of explosions and darkness. 

The Bourne Legacy: Releasing August 3rd
• Director - Tony Gilroy
• Starring - Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Stacey Keach

The screenwriter who adapted the first three films directs the fourth in the Bourne film series, with Renner as a different character dealing with the ramifications of the Treadstone conspiracy. Oscar nominated Renner was in the last and well reviewed Mission Impossible, and plays Hawkeye in The Avengers. Unless this is awful, it will cement his A-list status.

Total Recall: Releasing August 3rd
• Director - Len Wiseman
• Starring - Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy

Wiseman, of the Underworld movies, and Live Free or Die Hard, remakes the 1990 Schwarzenegger sci-fi action flick, which was based on the short story by Philip K Dick, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. So far it has gotten good buzz, but with anything less than stellar reviews, it could fall through the blockbuster cracks.

Paranorman: Releasing August 17th
• Director - Chris Butler and Sam Fell
• Starring - Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann

In this stop-motion animated feature, Norman, a freaky yet delightful little kid who communicates with the dead, takes on a host of evil creatures including zombies, ghosts, and grown-ups, to save his town from a curse. Norman goes about it with a little help from his friends, both dead and alive, one of whom tells him, "There's nothing wrong with being scared, as long as you don't let it change who you are." Words to end a curse by...


Sure, there are always "little" movies, but they are usually smart enough to steer clear of summer for release, and fall and winter is when the Academy sees most of what they'll consider for Oscar nomination. The summer belongs to the big studios, with the film equivalent of a beach read. Step into the dark cold of the theatre, enjoy the spectacle, have a barbecue, repeat.

Johta April 27, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Excellent list. I go to the movies about 20 times a year and am already planning to see most of these! Hadn't heard about Brave (Pixar is amazing), or Savages (might add to my list, Oliver Stone is kinda hit-or-miss for me). Where is G.I. Joe Retaliation (June 29)? With The Rock and Bruce Willis added to the cast, I'm definitely looking forward to it.
Leslie Combemale April 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Johta: I KNOW! Lots of great movies coming out I DIDN'T list, and the ones that aren't hotly anticipated I just picked the ones with by far the most buzz. The Siren Sister (since I am "Cinema Siren" she became Siren Sis) is obsessed with Bruce Willis, so she is excited about that as well. I picked Total Recall as my "could be great or flop" choice, although I'd include ALVH as one o three by what I'd "ME"s...munitions experts. Battleship has already been postponed so many times, we all know what that means...although I always hope for the best. I believe every movie starts out believing in its greatness.
Leslie Combemale April 27, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Also I agree about Oliver Stone. Some of my most and least favorite big movies have been "executed" by him. But Savages looks great and it re-teams John Travolta and Uma Thurman!!
Mike April 27, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Snow White and the Huntsman fallacy...Kristen Stewart is somehow fairer than Charlize Theron. Put the two next to each other, and you'll need to put a dog collar on Kristen Stewart. Plus, my wife hates Kristen Stewart, so I won't see this one...ever :) Some of the others... The Avengers-of course! Prometheus-of course! Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter-of course! The Amazing Spiderman-No, I saw this in 2001 already. Dark Knight Rises-of course! The Bourne Legacy-Definitely in the Netflix queue! Total Recall-I saw this in 1990, and loved it in 1990. Dark Shadows-Looks fun, wife is Depp fan so I will see it. Not mentioned, but look fun: GI Joe Battleship Chernobyl Diaries
Leslie Combemale April 27, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Mike: having met both Charlize and Kristen, I have to agree. But then isn't that the whole virgin vs. crone fallacy anyway? She makes me want to carry a stake in my purse. I have hopes (but fading ones) for Battleship--and I'll definitely see it. GI Joe-been called out for not including it but it only makes the grade by having Bruce W. So excited for Prometheus words fail me:)!!!
Mike April 27, 2012 at 07:01 PM
"Crone" applied to Charlize Theron in the slightest reference? Blasphemy! I will give Stewart some credit for the indie flick The Runaways where she played Joan Jett. But that is obscured by being a huge Joan Jett fan and the great performance of Dakota Fanning. Some credit...not much...but most of that despisal comes from my wife. For some of the odd ones, like Battleship, rottentomatoes.com reviews will ultimately dictate where the $ is spent. Another "theatre default" is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but that's slated for December.
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) April 27, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Seriously looking forward to The Avengers (huge Robert Downey Jr fan), Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Dark Shadows. I may see The Amazing Spiderman, but I like Emma Stone and have high hopes it's better than the awful versions made last time. I'm hoping to score midnight tickets to Dark Knight Rises. I like the Chris Nolan Batman films immensely and loved Inception. Plus my fiance would be stoked to go—even at midnight. Admission... I do want to see Snow White and the Huntsman. I think Charlize looks amazing in it. And I'd love to see whether or not Kristen can pull off any emotion whatsoever that's stronger than bored, timid or mildly entertained. If she does I'll be pleasantly surprised and if she doesn't I can make fun of her. I see it as a win-win.
Leslie Combemale April 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Leslie: haha! Welcome to the Kristen haters club. But I know you're an inaugural member...
Leslie Combemale April 28, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Mike: crone has only been bastardized by modern society. I LOVE that Charlize is representing that archetype in SW&TH! She will grow older beautifully and inspire the next gen to leave themselves and their skin alone. Although of course we don't all start out with her genes!
Kelly Jones May 01, 2012 at 05:24 AM
I may see The Awesome Batman, but I like Emma Rock and have high desires it's better than the terrible editions made last time. I'm expecting to ranking night time passes to Darkish Dark night Goes up. <a href="http://c3cyberclub.com/">kids summer camp Ashburn VA</a>

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