By Joe Lanane
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Another highly anticipated summer movie season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by breaking down some of the year’s most-anticipated films? Because summer movies are so formulaic, we’ve categorized films into six genres that accurately sum up this season’s lineup. Enjoy.
The May 6 release of superhero epic “Thor” marked the official beginning of the summer movie season, but there are many more super hero films — rightly or wrongly — that will rake at the box office.
• X-Men: First Class (June 3): The fifth movie in the “X-Men” saga is actually a prequel to the original three films of the series, tracing the roots of protagonist Professor X and his one-time friend Magneto. It’s a shame to see this franchise hobble onward. After all, it was among the first superhero films to effectively incorporate gritty realism and social elements into its plot. 2 of 5 stars
• Green Lantern (June 17): Where “Thor” succeeded, Ryan Reynolds’ superhero tights debut fails to draw the same anticipation. Any realism, which is now such a necessary component of modern superhero films, seems to be lacking. It appears eerily reminiscent of the late-1990s Joel Schumacher “Batman” films — and that’s not a compliment. 1 of 5 stars
• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (July 15): Super powers help the wizard kid wonder qualify as a superhero this summer. Even those who do not follow this series should know when to make way for the “Potter” cult following. Anyone who has lasted this long is certainly drooling in anticipation for this series finale. 4 of 5 stars
• Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22): This could be the superhero movie that takes the cake this summer. It has all the components of a superhero blockbuster: Patriotism, historical fiction and a David-turned-Goliath storyline. The cinematography also looks stunning, making this a must-see movie in the theater. 5 of 5 stars
• Conan the Barbarian (August 19): This movie was inevitable, but it could not have been more poorly timed. Everyone should be exhausted with superhero reboots by the time this film premieres. Sorry, Conan. 2 of 5 stars
This isn’t Oscar season — it’s the summer movie season, so it’s okay to not take these films too seriously and enjoy some adolescent humor.
• The Hangover Part II (May 26): If the first “Hangover” was the alcoholic’s version of “Dude, Where’s My Car?” — does this movie finalize the trilogy? Sure, it’s a tired plot, but that doesn’t make it any less funny. This film isn’t likely to disappoint those who plan on seeing it. 4 of 5 stars
• Bad Teacher (June 24): What guy — or girl, for that matter — wouldn’t want Cameron Diaz as their seventh-grade teacher? Unfortunately, that’s where this one-joke wonder might end. Diaz is sure to be the “bad” teacher turned good in this formulaic film. 1.5 of 5 stars
• Horrible Bosses (July 8): There is no shortage of stars in this upcoming ensemble comedy that includes Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey, but the grim premise doesn’t give the film much hope. Disgruntled employees attempt to kill their unbearable bosses — because who hasn’t wanted to do that? — only to hit a few snags along the way. Eh. 2 of 5 stars
• Friends with Benefits (July 22): Another cookie-cutter comedy, except this one could actually work where other lust-turned-to-love plots failed. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake seem to have some chemistry, and — for once — both genders should be able to take something away from this romantic comedy. 3 of 5 stars
• Crazy, Stupid, Love (July 29): Steve Carrell frequently disappoints on the big screen, but an oddball pairing with Ryan Gosling might help make this film bearable. Nonetheless, there isn’t much motivation to pay for a film about a disgraced divorcee reentering the single life. Not a good start to Carrell’s post-“Office” career. 2 of 5 stars
• 30 Minutes or Less (Aug. 12): All you need to know about this comedy can be summed up in two sentences. The lovably awkward Jessie Eisenberg teams up with his “Zombieland” director to play a delivery boy who is hijacked and forced into robbing a bank. And who better to play one of the crooks than Danny McBride of “Eastbound and Down” fame? 3.5 of 5 stars
Computer-generated films are a dime a dozen these days, but there are a few that actually stick out this summer.
• Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 26): Remember when Jack Black used to be, well, kind of funny? The irritating comedian returns to what seems to work for him these days, animated comedy. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much new to this sequel. 1 of 5 stars
• Cars 2 (June 24): This film’s best one-liner, “Is the Pope mobile Catholic?” is already in the “Cars 2” preview, so there isn’t much motivation otherwise to see this movie. The first “Cars” was surprisingly enjoyable for all ages, but this one seems to be a bit of a stretch. These mischievous automobiles become international spies … yeah, really. 2 of 5 stars
• The Smurfs (August 3): Once a live-action Neil Patrick Harris gets bombarded by “Smurfs,” the (insert the word Smurfs here) jokes can begin. Seriously, it should be a mother-Smurfing good time. Get the point? 4 of 5 stars
The summer season would not be complete without our era’s top performers making an appearance.
• Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20): Two of the three top stars in the “Pirate” series are gone, but fear not — Johnny Depp is still on board! That may be the only positive to take away from the fourth film of the franchise. Well, that, and the zombies that Captain Jack Sparrow must thwart. 2 of 5 stars
• The Tree of Life (May 27): This drama starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn doesn’t carry the same hype as other films to make this list, but a summer-movie rundown would be incomplete if those two A-listers weren’t included. However, this isn’t exactly a summer blockbuster you pay inordinate amounts of money to go see in the theater. Go ahead and wait to rent this one. 1.5 of 5 stars
• Larry Crowne (July 1): Tom Hanks returns to his comedic roots in this awkward comedy co-starring Julia Roberts as a community college instructor and Hanks’ love interest. We haven’t seen our era’s best actor bumble around this much since “The Money Pit.” It should be comic gold. 4.5 of 5 stars
The Steven Spielberg “Bump”
It is scientifically proven — make Steven Spielberg executive producer of your film, and you will break $100 million at the box office.
• Super 8 (June 10): This mysterious film feels like “E.T.” meets “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” In fact, the movie is even set near the era in which those films occurred. Whether or not that translates well in today’s summer blockbuster season is yet to be seen, but rest assured many will tune in to find out. 3.5 of 5 stars
• Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon (July 1): What’s worse — a “Transformers” sequel with or without Megan Fox? In this case, Michael Bay elected to go without, opting instead for a Victoria’s Secret supermodel — and, of course, Spielberg’s name attached to this film. While “Dark of the Moon” should be better than the second “Transformers” movie, it by no means will compare to the entertaining original. 2.5 of 5 stars
• Cowboys and Aliens (July 29): The ever-increasing trend of cross-genre movies hits the mainstream this summer when spaghetti Western meets science fiction. Everything about this movie suggests it will be a fun watch, but it should be interesting to see if Harrison Ford can carry a film like this. Daniel Craig sure won’t. 3 of 5 stars
That’s right — movies in which the actors talk to computerized animals. It makes one wonder how many of the actors in movies these days are actually real …
• Mr. Popper’s Penguins (June 17): Where Danny DeVito failed, Jim Carrey should actually make living with penguins entertaining. Carrey’s antics no longer inspire imitation like in years’ past, but there is a new generation out there who might still appreciate his humor. And, still others never lost faith in the “Ace Ventura” star. 3 of 5 stars
• Zookeeper (July 8): Kevin James should be ashamed of himself. He apparently has no problem playing these sorry-ass roles. But, if you get a kick out of stars lending their voices to create talking animals, have at it. 1 of 5 stars
• Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Aug. 5): Ever wonder how apes take over the earth? Well, just blame James Franco — naturally. Computer-generated apes make this apocalyptic reboot unique. 3 of 5 stars