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Top 10 summer movies we hope don’t suck

Captain America Avenger

If you based the seasons on the Hollywood movie schedule, summer would be a fickle mistress. Sometimes summer would decide to descend when the so-called “scientists” declare the season to have begun, sometimes it would decide to pre-funk the season with movies beginning as early as April. There need to be standards, by God! If we allow Hollywood to dictate when summer begins, we will have people walking around in shorts and t-shirts in early April. The fashion industry would be ruined, the travel seasons would be a mess, and people in northern states would be very cold. In short, it would be pandemonium.

So despite a few films attempting to false start the season (looking at you, Thor and Fast Five), we all know that the summer season actually begins on Memorial Day weekend. Sure, “science” may tell us that it truly begins on June 21 during the summer equinox, but tell that to an army of kids still in school. See what they think of the idea that summer won’t start for them until late June. It won’t go over well.

But traditionally the summer movie season has begun on Memorial Day. So the question then becomes what is coming out this summer that we will be able to check our brains at the door and enjoy? It is hard to worry about the unemployment rate and gas prices when giant robots are smashing through a skyscraper or guys wearing an American flag are punching Nazis in the jaw.

There are a few films coming up that will draw the people in almost regardless of whether or not they are any good. They are spectacles and they will at least make money. That doesn’t mean they will be any good though. So here is our list of the 10 movies coming out this summer that we hope don’t suck (because we will probably go see them all regardless).

Captain America PosterCaptain America: The First Avenger
(July 22, Rating TBA)

Will the recent death of Osama bin Laden make people more interested in watching a guy run around with an American-themed costume while pummeling ratzi scum? Maybe not, but it probably won’t hurt to have a movie about a patriotic superhero released shortly after people were dancing in the streets shouting “USA! USA!” Putting all that aside, the real question is how do you take a guy wearing a flag and punching said ratzis, and give him depth. It feels like Hollywood is finally getting on board with the idea that superhero movies don’t have to be stupid, but Captain America is a tough character to bring forward into our more cynical world.

Back in the 40’s, especially during WWII, wearing a costume with an American flag theme made you look like a boss. You could probably skip the lines at night clubs, and sashay yourself right up to a pretty doll and have her think you were the bee’s knees. But times change, and blind patriotism in movies has yielded to gritty realism when it comes to war movies, and that is what Captain America is—a war movie.

Directed by Joe Johnston, the film stars the Human Torch from Fantastic Four, but that movie is best forgotten, so actor Chris Evans returns to Marvel in a much more high-profile costume. Joining him are Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips, the man responsible for the project that turns a weakling named Steve Rogers into Captain America, Sebastian Stan as Cap’s sidekick Bucky Barnes, and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. Leading the Nazi organization known as Hydra is Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, Cap’s archenemy, and the man that finds the magical Tesseract, otherwise known to comic book fans as the cosmic cube.

If it all works, Captain America: The First Avenger could be an awesome film that combines the heroic legacy of WWII movies with the current superhero flicks. Or, it could totally suck. We’ll know on July 22 when America visually punches the world in the face.

Cars 2 PosterCars 2
(June 24, Rating TBA)

Everybody loves Pixar movies. If you don’t you may be a monster. You should probably look into that. A Hollywood summer wouldn’t be the same without an animated Pixar flick, and this year is no different. That being said, of all the Pixar properties, of all the films they could bring back via sequel, why Cars?

The original film was a hit back in 2006, but since 2001 when the Academy Awards began awarding a “Best Animated Feature” Oscar, it is only the second Pixar movie to lose the award (it lost to Happy Feet, while the 2001 Monsters, Inc. lost to Shrek). On top of that, it is the only Pixar film in the last decade to have under a 90-percent approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com (it is at 74-percent). For most studios, having a successful franchise that made money and was mostly praised by critics and audiences would be a good thing, but for Pixar it is the black sheep in a family of diamond sheep that leave golden droppings.

Then there is the fact that the film has faced something of a Mummy’s tomb curse, as three of the actors from the original have since passed away: George Carlin, Joe Ranfit and Paul Newman. Both Carlin and Ranfit’s character will return with new actors voicing them, while Newman’s character will not return.

Cars 2 will be the second franchise the studio has brought back, with the first being Toy Story. It won’t be the last however, as Monster, Inc. will return next year in the prequel, Monsters University, so this appears to be a new direction for the studio. If it succeeds, expect Pixar to possibly further mine its past — but a success for Pixar is measured in more than just box office. If the awards start drying up, the once seemingly invincible animation studio may show vulnerability, which would be great for other studios, but bad for fans.

Cars 2 stars the voice talents of Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs and many more.

Cowboys Aliens PosterCowboys & Aliens
(July 29, Rating TBA)

The Hollywood equivalent of combining chocolate and peanut butter into one delicious treat, comes this summer in the form of Director Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens, which combines…well, cowboys and aliens. The idea comes from a graphic by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and makes the Wild West a bit more bad ass by throwing aliens that apparently hate us into the mix. The aliens are climbin’ in your window, they’re snatchin’ your people up, etc., etc. Aliens = bad.

If peaceful aliens ever come to Earth and are intrigued by our concept of cinema, there are going to be some awkward moments in the future of that relationship.

Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are joined by the film’s resident unbelievably hot actress, Olivia Wilde, who almost certainly wouldn’t have looked nearly as good in 1873 due to the minor little details like malnutrition and dental hygiene that would make the English giggle. But the result is a summer film crammed with legends, A-listers and Olivia Wilde. When your second choice for the lead is Daniel Craig (Robert Downey Jr. had to back out due to filming the next Sherlock Holmes), your project is doing ok.

But will it be any good? The first trailer that debuted during the Super Bowl was meh-tacular, while the second shows a lot of promise. It is a difficult movie to sell. You have a mysterious stranger with a device on his wrist that can blow up alien ships and stop them from stealing humans. But with a $100 million budget a famous(ish) director, a ton of talent in front of the screen and two of Hollywood’s favorite subjects, what could possibly go wrong? Don’t answer that.

Green Latern PosterGreen Lantern
(June 17, Rating TBA)

It’s a good thing that Green Lantern has a well-established history. Without it, the pitch might have been a bit awkward. “So, you have this guy, and this alien gives him this ring that makes things…WITH HIS MIND! And he can like fly and stuff, and make giant boxing gloves that punch people!” The writer would then be shown the door and Hollywood would return to its obsession of remaking and rebooting every movie ever made. So far they are on target to have recycled every possible idea by 2032, at which time they will start over again.

Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds with a powerful ring, much to the chagrin of almost anyone that is familiar with the character of Hal Jordan (who Reynolds plays). But the bewilderingly A-list actor has shown that he can carry a massively complex action sci-fi movie when he starred in… umm… Well, the trailer looks cool.

Honestly, it is hard to tell what Green Lantern will turn out to be. It has been described as the Star Wars of the DC universe, meaning that it is supposed to be a space epic, and if they do it right, it could be the biggest non-Superman/Batman property for the company that is getting sand kicked in its face by rival Marvel. On the other hand, the best laid plans of mice and filmmakers could be swept away by the massive amount of CGI in use. Hopefully it will live up to the potential it has shown. And if not, they can just reboot it in five years anyway.

Directed by Martin Campbell, the film stars Reynolds, the lovely and possibly even talented Blake Lively, Mark Strong as Sinestro (who will be a major focus of any possible future Green Lantern films), Peter Sarsgaard and a lot of computers.

Hangover part 2 posterThe Hangover Part II
(May 26, Rated R)

So how do you recapture the magic of a surprise comedy hit? Well, if the trailer is any indication, you take the exact same formula and recreate it joke by joke. But in Thailand! Hopefully there is more to the movie than we have seen yet, but so far it appears like the original movie has been only slightly rewritten to incorporate the exotic climes of southeast Asia.

This time Stu (Ed Helms) is the one getting hitched, and he wants to avoid the troubles of the Vegas trip so he invites the boys to Thailand for a quiet pre-wedding weekend. Things go badly when he loses his soon to be brother-in-law. Hijinks ensue. From the details that have been released — and admittedly those details are still scarce — it sounds like a near retelling of the original.

But director Todd Phillips has proven repeatedly that he can surprise us, so maybe judging the potential of a movie based on a trailer — a trailer that was since pulled due to simulated sexual acts by a monkey (no, really) — is unfair. The original cast returns, including the three principles: Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifianakis. Also returning are Ken Jeong and Mike Tyson, which seems a bit harder to buy.

Still, in a summer dominated with big budget extravaganzas, explosions and superheroes, it is nice that a comedy can still grab the attention of so many people. The original Hangover was such a success in part because it snuck up on people. No one saw it coming, which gave it a bit of a “cool” factor. The sequel won’t have that advantage, but it is working off a proven formula. Here’s hoping they get it right.

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