We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Now that The Avengers have blown summer wide open like Loki's space portal, it's time to consider what massive flying lizard-ships of movies will be waging the biggest attacks on our excitement bones. The next four months features probably the same amount of players as any summer movie season, but it's arguable that the hitters are much heavier than usual. In fact, this summer might have accidentally turned into an Avengers-like all-star assembly without us even realizing it.
Along with the franchise mega-monsters like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Men in Black 3, or even Step Up: Revolution, summer will also be providing us with more work from the "hottest" directors (if you'll allow me that temperature caveat). Showing how the summer movie season is quickly becoming more than just a time for "Big Lumbering Idiot" films to run into each other on a wide grassy field, we'll be seeing fare from directors like Ridley Scott, Steven Soderbergh, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Oliver Stone, Richard Linklater and yes, Christopher Nolan. The anticipation of summer just got even nerdier.
Sifting through the season's movie calendar, I've compiled a list of what's going to make the summer onslaught most exciting. Here are the TOP 7 Most Anticipated Summer Movies that are going to make sitting through Men in Black 3 worth it.
7. To Rome With Love (June 22)
Recap: After wooing nostalgics across the board with the Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris, prolific filmmaker Woody Allen returns to the silver screen with an ensemble cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Greta Gerwig, Roberto Benigni, Ellen Page, Alison Pill and more. Allen is also going to be making an appearance in the film, his first since Scoop. Reason: Sure, the ol' Woodster might dish 'em out every year, but this movie is already more special than the depressingly abysmal You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger will ever be. To Rome with Love not only features the Wood-sman standing in front of a camera again, but also a group of talented young actors who have earned many accolades previously for zesty delivery of dialogue, and for creating colorful characters. Watching Eisenberg and Page do their fast-talky thing in a Woody Allen joint is an indie dream come true - for them, and certainly for us. On top of all of this, Gerwig herself told me that this one is most like Deconstructing Harry. Which means this one has a scene where Woody Allen goes to a topless rave in hell, or it's really good and personal.
6. Moonrise Kingdom (June 1)
Recap: Finally, another movie from the director of The Royal Tenenbaums and those hoity-toity American Express commercials. Co-written with Roman Coppola, this one features Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, a bunch of kids with character names like "Lazy Eye" and "Nickleby," and of course Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. It's going to open the Cannes Film Festival this year, so expect Jeff Bayer to be bragging about seeing this one soon. While I don't know what the movie is about, I'll just assume correctly it has sophisticated people with dysfunctional families, infected by a disease that causes dry communication. Reason: Like Quentin Tarantino, movie dork turned film geek deity Wes Anderson has seen his distinct authorship become a style itself (even Tarantino, like a smug a**hole, uses the word "Tarantino-esque.") Tragically for the case of originality, Anderson's general mise-en-scène has morphed into a cannibalistic beast that his brain is helpless to overcome whether he's working with live-action or not (as proven by The Fantastic Mr. Fox). Even worse, it's become so massive that movies like The Brothers Bloom are Submarine are trying to bootleg his aesthetics. So how will Anderson roar back into the game that he created himself? Considering his high track record of redundancy, I'm pretty sure that this is going to be less like a "sequel" to his WASP-y sagas, but more like Anderson doing a Marvel-esque reboot of his own legacy. With large names like Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, and Edward Norton, this one is probably going to be bigger, better, and definitely Anderson-esque-y-er. Prove me wrong, Wes.
5. Prometheus (June 08)
Recap: It's a sequel? A prequel? A spin-off? An IMAX Ridley Scott movie, in 3D? Either way, this new addition to the Alien franchise has ignited many a fire inside the hearts of fanboys and girls, especially considering its arsenal: Aeon Flux star Charlize Theron, X-Men: First Class star Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, and a script co-written by "Lost" guy Damon Lindelof. (We will forget that co-writer Jon Spahits recently helped make The Darkest Hour a real thing.) Reason: By no means do I consider myself a particular fan of the whole Alien franchise, but you can bet my pathetic, spoiler-fearing eyes that I cover them like a sissy whenever this trailer comes on. This one doesn't need hype to garner interest - the involved parties alone make this one smell much more like "Not Your Average Silly Sci-Fi Movie," and that's before hearing the drooling whimpers of those who have actually seen the preview.
4. Magic Mike (August 17)
Recap: Steven "Yup, I'm Still Retiring Soon" Soderbergh returns again this year to the multiplex with an experience that is bound to titillate both art-house fans and those who enjoy the visuals of Channing Tatum stripping. This movie based off of Tatum's pre-Step Up days as a male dancer also features Matthew McConaughey and I Am Number Four's Alex Pettyfer. Reason: Granted, these are two drastically opposed reasons to see Magic Mike, but are they really that different? Is seeing a Soderbergh movie not as stimulating as watching Tatum do what he used to do best? Didn't think so. My guess is that this will be like a less confusing version of The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh's earlier art-house foray that used a porn star to tell a very experimental story. A third reason to see this movie, aside from its inevitable artfulness or nudity, is to simply try to crack the question, "Why did Soderbergh choose this story to be one of his last before he retires?" Here's hoping for some awesome editing - and Contagion-sized box office reaction to boot.
3. The Expendables 2 (August 10)
Recap: Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Terry Crews, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren team up again to fulfill more wet dreams of action movie lovers, this time under the direction of Simon "Con-Air" West. Chuck Norris and Liam Hemsworth (from The Last Song) are also in this round. Reason: The real villain of The Expendables 2 is the potential resurgence of the extremely awful Chuck Norris joke, which is so pathetically overwrought that it's celebrated on Bieber Twitter accounts and heavily discounted joke books at Borders (RIP). Here's hoping that Arnie, Sly, Bruce, JCVD, and others can top the giddy greatness from The Expendables, while also giving all action movie novices a reminder that there are much bigger bada**es than Chuck "Top Dog" Norris. Any real lover of action knows that this movie is going to be awesome because Schwarzengger is going to be shooting a very big gun again - in the same shot as his Planet Hollywood pal, Sylvester Stallone.
2. The Campaign (August 10)
Recap: This timely comedy (just in time for the 2012 election bonanza) stars Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell as two opposing candidates in North Carolina. Adam McKay, director of Anchorman, The Other Guys and Step Brothers, is producing - Todd Phillips, the creepy frat dad who criminally exploited Galifianakis for Hangover and Hangover: Part II, is not. Reason: It's certainly not silly to say that Ferrell and Galifianakis are two of the top comedians available in Hollywood today. Ferrell proved with 2010's The Other Guys and his following projects that he's still got a great and accessible taste for the absurd, and Galifianakis hasn't been able to erase his roots as a brilliant underground comic no matter how many times Todd Phillips abuses him. Thus, it's a dream come true to see these two finally working together, and not just for a hysterical version of "Between Two Ferns." This is the type of can't beat-pairing that should have been assembled a long time ago.
1. The Dark Knight Rises (July 18)
Recap: Christopher "Money" Nolan returns to the multiplex with a vengeance, this time with the final chapter in a saga about a disturbed man who wears a bat costume and punches people who are even more disturbed in the face. This film will feature performances from Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, and Christian Bale. Reason: It's not a joke when I say that I'm going to pull an Andy Kaufman vanishing trick when this movie comes out. I am only in this film critic thing so that I can see The Dark Knight Rises as soon as possible, and for free. Hopefully in IMAX. Afterward, I slowly will float into some clouds (to Jeff Bayer's dismay, as my incomplete review will need more than just a lot of editing). Really, what is there to not be excited about with this inevitably jaw-dropping event? It's a Batman movie, it's a new film from Christopher Nolan, Tom Hardy's in it, and it's going to mark the conclusion of a comic book movie series that will actually stop until the reboot (looking at you, inevitable sequels to The Avengers). If this movie isn't at the top of your anticipated list, then you either hate justice, or you just don't get what summer love is really about.