We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Like director Michael Bay filming one of his many explosive action scenes, Hollywood loves to unleash its biggest guns (and sometimes subsequent duds) during the summer season. This upcoming summer promises to unleash a lot of comic book characters, sequels, remakes, reboots, onto the world. We've got Captain America: The First Avenger, The Green Lantern, Thor, and X-Men: First Class - those are just the comic book movies. On top of that we've got Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night, Bad Teacher, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and much, much more. Can we handle it? You bet your Slurpee superhero cup we can. And we're going to be excited about it too - for better or for worse.
Here are the films, big and small, coming out in the next season that I am most excited about. Bring it on, Hollywood.
7. Midnight in Paris (May 20th)
Recap: This year's annual Woody Allen movie takes the Woodster out of London, and to his other favorite European spot for romance, Paris. Keeping up with his knack for being able to get any actor he seems to want into his films, this cast is full of some big names, like Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, and Adrien Brody. For those keeping score, that is indeed 2/3 of a Darjeeling Limited grab-bag. Reason: Though last year's You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger mortified me with its emptiness, there's no way around it - it's the Wood, and I will see anything and everything that spectacled machine of neurosis puts out into the world, even if it is Cassandra's Dream 2. This one should be interesting as he seems to have chosen someone better to fit in his shoes, at least better than last year's casting of Josh Brolin (the worst pseudo-Woody ever?). Owen Wilson, especially with his Wes Anderson roots, was made to be in a Woody Allen movie.
6. X-Men: First Class (June 3rd)
Recap: Another series of Marvel characters are rebooted with this prequel (?) from Matthew Vaughn, the director of Kick-Ass. Telling the origin stories of key rival characters like Magneto and Professor X, the movie is populated with a heavy cast that includes James McAvoy, Inglourious Basterds' Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, and Jennifer Lawrence of Winter's Bone. Reason: I enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolvervine. I even enjoyed X-Men: The Last Stand, which is unjustly ostracized by fans as if it were to be as lame as Spider-Man 3. It's then fair to say that I will not be missing this new film from the X-Men franchise, even if I don't agree with its existence. I've only seen the trailer a couple of times, but it has enough special effects and flying submarines to have me signed up.
5. The Tree of Life (May 27th)
Recap: Terrence Malick returns from another hiatus of filmmaking with this epic film starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. As I have completely abstained from any trailers and even the movie's IMDb page, I have no idea what this movie is about. I do know that it is making its premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival. And someone told me today that it might have dinosaurs in it. Reason: Why am I excited about a movie I know nothing about? It's the hype. It's the complete mystery of the project. For me, I feel like I'm curious as to what this movie is about, even more so than I'm curious as to how good it will be. Plus, Malick is far from being the fastest filmmaker, and has been apparently working on this one for years and years. What could all of this hard work lead up to?
4. 30 Minutes or Less (August 12th)
Recap: Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer returns with another action-comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg. This time, Eisenberg plays a delivery boy who is coerced by two crooks to rob a bank in less than thirty minutes. The crooks are played by Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari. That's all I should have to say. Reason: It's always interesting to see what work an actor puts out after surviving intense award season. After The Social Network, Eisenberg had the animated film Rio, which kept many of his verbal mannerisms the same, even if he was voicing a bird. Perhaps Eisenberg will offer something different here, or it will be like his performance in the hit Zombieland. On top of this anticipation to see Eisenberg in another comedic leading role, there's the pure excitement of finally seeing Aziz Ansari play a lead in a big Hollywood comedy. The guy hosted the MTV Movie Awards - his time of being a huge comedy star is overdue.
3. The Interrupters (Late July, Early August, Official Date TBA)
Recap: From Steve James, producer/director of Hoop Dreams, this documentary is about Chicago's "interrupters" - brave citizens of the city with their own violent history who dedicate their lives to protecting their community by confronting gang members. Reason: It doesn't seem to be too radical to say that Hoop Dreams is one of the best documentaries ever made, or at least of the last twenty or thirty years. That film tells an incredible story, based on a fascinating concept, one that has the audience more riveted throughout than most narrative films. The Interrupters with its frankness in trying to capture an extremely difficult subject, feels bound to offer the same level of quality.
2. Super 8 (June 10th)
Recap: Consider this the Tree of Life of this summer's blockbusters. Though it's directed by J.J Abrams and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, not too much is known about this movie (when is Abrams ever open about this stuff?) Apparently, this movie is meant to be a tribute to Spielberg's earlier, mega blockbuster science fiction movies. Reason: When it comes to doing Spielberg, Abrams isn't a bad choice at all. But most of my excitement for Super 8 comes from my like/don't like relationship with J.J Abrams and his crazy projects. I liked Cloverfield, which he produced, but I still wasn't blown away by his version of Star Trek. Hopefully Super 8 will be as full of wonderful movie magic as it is mysterious.
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1st)
Recap: With this third movie in the toy robot franchise, director Michael Bay and actor Shia LaBeouf team up once again with a bunch of CGI characters to blow up some sh*t. Megan Fox, starlet from the previous two films, is out of the picture, and has been replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Reason: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was massively wrong. Its stereotypical robots, extremely sloppy plot, and general assault of visual effects made it seem like a very expensive joke for Hollywood to make. Yet, because of its expensive magnitude of poor taste, it was a fascinating film. Thus, I am extremely curious to see how the follow-up to that catastrophic blockbuster fares, especially with a few new elements in play - a new female love interest, an even sillier title than the first one, and a new screenwriter (Ehren Kruger). On top of all of this, I am also really excited to watch Chicago get destroyed by the film's Autobots and Decepticons alike. Last summer, in my old apartment, I could see the helicopters flying around the skyline, close to the ground, and I could hear the many takes of gun battles that were happening just a couple blocks away from me. Now a year later, with a total appetite to chow down on elite popcorn fare, I want to see what all the noise is about.