Ed's summer movie preview 

click to enlarge Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in the rude comedy, 'Bad Teacher.' In theaters on June 24. Submitted photo.
  • Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in the rude comedy, 'Bad Teacher.' In theaters on June 24. Submitted photo.

Superheroes, sequels and a few surprises. Here's a look at the summer movie season.

X-Men: First Class
The first two X-Men movies were terrific. Then came the third movie and the Wolverine spin-off. Not terrific. Can X-Men: First Class restore the luster of the franchise? The superhero flick is a prequel, featuring Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbinder) as young men, surrounded by new mutant faces. Kick-Ass filmmaker Matthew Vaughn directs, which is encouraging. He co-wrote the script with three other writers, all with solid genre credits. The cast also includes January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, and always-creepy Twin Peaks veteran Ray Wise. Cross your fingers. June 3

The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) is an exacting filmmaker. Not much is known about the plot: Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain play a husband and wife in the '50s. The life of their son Jack is reportedly the center of the production. Sean Penn plays Jack as an adult, so presumably we'll get some scenes with Pitt (in old-age makeup) and Penn, which should prove interesting. And since this is a Malick film, we can expect it to be visually sumptuous and leisurely paced. Anticipation is high for this one. June 10

Super 8
Monster in the Midwest! Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III) directs the story of a group of teens in 1979 small town Ohio that have a very close and nasty encounter while making a Super 8 zombie move. The kids are witnesses when a train derails - a train carrying something from Area 51. A coming-of-age movie with a (presumably) alien critter in an extremely bad mood - count me in! An added enticement: The great Kyle Chandler from the TV series FridayNight Lights plays a deputy in the steel town. June 10

Green Lantern
I've always had a fond spot for Green Lantern. He's got a sleek, sexy costume and a cool power ring, plus an official oath ("Through brightest day, through blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight," etc.). Even his civilian identity is impressive - when Hal Jordan isn't saving the world, he's a test pilot. How bad-ass is that? Ryan Reynolds seems the perfect choice for the role, as long as he doesn't act too cocky. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, GoldenEye) directs, and he promises to mix the spectacular visuals with credible action scenes, just like he did with James Bond. June 17

Bad Teacher
Rude comedy starring Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth Halsey, a horrible teacher. You know how bad the Santa in Bad Santa was? She's that horrible. Halsey sets her sights on a charming substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), but he's interested in a different teacher, Halsey's colleague and rival Amy (Lucy Punch). Rounding out the cast is Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins, Molly Shannon, Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family and Phyllis Smith from The Office. The R-rated trailer for the movie is funny and the studio is releasing the film during a highly competitive part of the summer, so we may have a winner here. June 24

Cars 2
Pixar doesn't do sequels very often, but studio honcho John Lasseter got some new ideas while traveling around the world promoting the original in 2006. Accordingly, Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) will visit Tokyo, London and Italy to support his race-car bud Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) as he competes in the Grand Prix. There's a spy story sub-plot too, with Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer providing voices for the British secret agent cars. The voice cast of the computer-animated feature also includes Joe Mantegna, Jeff Gordon and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger. June 24

Writer-director Mike Mills watched his father come out of the closet late in life and crafted this fictional tale focusing on his alter-ego Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and Oliver's father Hal (Christopher Plummer), who comes out at age 75. We follow Hal as he begins a new part of his life and Oliver as he supports his father and later finds himself attracted to a French actress (Melanie Laurent) he met at a party. The comedy/drama was a hit on the film festival circuit earlier this year and could provide a nice change of pace from more traditional summer fare. June 24

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I thought the second film in the Transformers series was an overdone, overlong, hyperkinetic endurance test. Now that I've got that out of my system, let's talk about the latest one. Shia LaBeouf returns for the third installment of the giant robot action series, with a new girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, replacing Megan Fox), who ends up trapped in Chicago, where the evil Decepticons are aiming their assault. Other returnees include Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro. And Shia's robot friends and foes, of course. Expect relentless action, sound and quips. July 1

Larry Crowne
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts star in comedy/drama directed by Hanks and co-written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos, the My Big Fat Greek Wedding lady. The story follows middle-aged Larry Crowe, who gets laid-off due to his lack of a college degree and decides to go back to school. In junior college, he makes friends with some of his fellow students and builds a relationship with grumpy Professor Mercedes Tainot (Roberts). Other notable names in the cast include Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Cedric the Entertainer, George Takei and Pam Grier. July 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe told Entertainment Weekly, "The new film is just a relentless action movie. It. Just. Does. Not. Stop." Remember when emphasizing points by using a series of one-word sentences was considered clever? Those. Days. Are. Over. I'm goofing around here because summarizing the plot would be foolish. If you're a Potter devotee, you already know what to expect and are just wondering how close the final Potter movie will stick to the book. If you're not a fan, this won't be the point where you decide to hop in. July 15

Friends with Benefits
Forget that other movie this year about a couple trying to have sex but keep their relationship casual - Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, is the real deal. The premise may sound tired, but the cast - which includes Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Emma Watson, Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones - is impressive. If the trailer is any indication, the relationships between the various characters are relaxed and fun to watch. Regardless of the premise, if the characters work, you've probably got a crowd-pleaser on your hands. Written and directed by Will Gluck (Easy A). July 22

Captain America: The First Avenger
Marvel's superhero Captain America was the subject of two lame TV movies/failed TV series pilots in the '70s starring Reb Brown. The new version stars Chris Evans, the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies, as WWII-era Steve Rogers, a scrawny dude who gets beefed up as the result of super-soldier experiments by the military and becomes a costumed hero, battling the fearsome Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). The big question is if the filmmakers can come up with a costume for the live-action movie that resembles the gaudy comic book outfit without looking ridiculous. July 22

Cowboys and Aliens
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde star in this adaptation of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's 2006 graphic novel. Jon Favreau (Iron Man) directs. Excited yet? Reportedly, the screenplay for the sci-fi western doesn't get cute - sounds like a good plan. With a high-concept project like this, the best approach is probably to play it straight. In addition to the star power of Craig and Ford, the cast includes some excellent lesser-known actors (Sam Rockwell, Noah Ringer, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown and The Shield's Walton Goggins) who should fit right in to dusty 1873 Absolution, Arizona. July 29

Crazy, Stupid, Love
Ensemble romantic comedy. Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, a fortysomething suburban husband who learns that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) has cheated on him. Lost in the singles world, Cal seeks help from handsome thirtysomething Jacob (Ryan Gosling) in learning how to restart his life. Meanwhile, Jacob has eyes for a law student (Emma Stone) and Cal's 13-year-old son (Jonah Bobo) has the hots for his 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Taylor). Wait a minute - what's a 13-year-old doing with a babysitter, let alone one who's only four years older than he is? July 29

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
In the future, apes will rule mankind. This sad, but unavoidable fact was first documented onscreen in the 1968 film, Planet of the Apes, which spawned four sequels, a short-lived TV series and a 2001 Tim Burton remake starring Mark Wahlberg in the role made famous by Charlton Heston. In this prequel, James Franco stars as a scientist whose work in genetic engineering results in super-ape Caesar (Andy Serkis), the chimp that sparks a revolution. To paraphrase TV newsman Kent Brockman, let me say that I, for one, welcome our new ape overlords. August 5

The Change-Up
Body-switch comedy from the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover. Do you have fond memories of Freaky Friday and Vice Versa? Better prepare for something a little more rude, as freewheeling ladies man Ryan Reynolds swaps bodies with Jason Bateman, his more responsible married buddy. The trailer for the movie is juvenile and raunchy ("How long you been shaved down there?" "I get an extra inch and only married guys rock the dick-fros anymore."), but amusing, and Bateman and Reynolds are appealing actors, so this one could be a late-summer winner. August 5

The Help
Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer star in a drama about African-American maids in the '60s and the Caucasian families that employ them, based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel. The movie features fully-developed characters in three intertwining storylines set in Jackson, Mississippi during the early days of the Civil Rights movement. Wait a minute ... civil rights ... drama ... character development ... what's this movie doing in the middle of the summer smorgasbord of superheroes and sequels? It's counter-programming! Somebody figured that by August, we may be a bit tired of explosions and wacky antics. August 12

30 Minutes or Less
What do you do when your dad (Fred Ward) is rapidly spending his newfound lottery winnings? You (you're Danny McBride, by the way) hire a hitman (Michael Pena) to knock him off. Then you and your nitwit buddy (Nick Swardson, Terry from Reno 911) kidnap a pizza-delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg) and make him rob a bank at bomb-point to raise the hitman's fee. Oh, and the pizza guy's best pal is Chet, played by Aziz Ansari, who is a riot as Tom in Parks and Recreation. Here's the weirdest part - the comedy is loosely based on fact. August 12

Fright Night
Remember the original 1985 Fright Night, where teens enlisted the help of a washed-up horror movie host in fighting off a real-life vampire? It was appealing and funny, but really scary too. Don't know why the film needs to be remade, but let's focus on the positives: Director Craig Gillespie also did Lars and the Real Girl, the script is by Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet Marti Noxon and the film stars Anton Yelchin as the kid, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as his buddy, Toni Collette as his mother, David Tennant as the horror host and Colin Farrell as the vampire. Impressive. August 19

Our Idiot Brother
Relationship comedy. Paul Rudd stars as the brother who screws up his life and lands on the doorstep of his siblings. Odds are that most of you either have cared for a sibling like that or been the sibling yourself. The sisters whose lives get interrupted are played by Elizabeth Banks (a driven journalist), Zooey Deschanel (having relationship problems with girlfriend Rashida Jones) and Emily Mortimer (so focused on being a perfect mother that she doesn't notice her marriage is in trouble). Fun Fact: Rashida Jones is joined in the film by Parks and Recreation cast-mate Adam Scott. August 26


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What others are saying (36)

Portland Mercury X-Babies X-Men: First Class: Hey, remember the Cuban Mutant Crisis? by Erik Henriksen 06/02/2011
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, June 10 The cold of winter, survivors of war, aliens all around, hobbits doing whatever it is hobbits do and a chance to see what local filmmakers can do with 48 hours. It's all at the movies. 06/10/2011
Memphis Flyer The Whole of the World Terrence Malick’s audacious The Tree of Life. by Chris Herrington 06/23/2011
33 more reviews...
Tucson Weekly Getting Existential Terrence Malick offers a perplexing film that is exceptional in many ways by Colin Boyd 06/16/2011
Portland Mercury Kodachrome Cover Super 8: J.J. Abrams' uncanny Steven Spielberg impression. by Erik Henriksen 06/09/2011
Creative Loafing Atlanta Hollywood Product: Super 8 J.J. Abrams directs an adventure in late '70s nostalgia by Curt Holman 06/10/2011
The Coast Halifax Super 8 scratches summer movie itch JJ Abrams puts on his best Spielberg for alien mystery by Molly Segal 06/09/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Perfect prequel: X-Men: First Class "Best comic book movie evah!" by MaryAnn Johanson 06/02/2011
Portland Mercury Life, the Universe, and Everything The Tree of Life or, Terrence Malick's Jurassic Park. by Erik Henriksen 06/09/2011
East Bay Express The Tree of Life Terrence Malick pushes his luck. by Kelly Vance 06/01/2011
Charleston City Paper A nod to the best films of 2011, in all their ambiguity Welcome to 2011 at the movies — where the only thing certain about the best movies was their uncertainty. by Scott Renshaw 12/28/2011
Charleston City Paper The Tree of Life tells multiple tales of creation The Tree of Life, winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, is a viscerally astonishing portrait of childhood. by Felicia Feaster 06/22/2011
Memphis Flyer Child's Play Steven Spielberg produces an homage to himself with the nostalgic Super 8. by Chris Herrington 06/10/2011
Creative Loafing Atlanta The Tree of Life's pretensions bear food for thought Brad Pitt delivers impressive, minimal performance in Terrence Malick's latest by Curt Holman 06/03/2011
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, June 3 Not for the meek, superheroes 101, under the family umbrella and deadline for i48 entries. It's all at the movies. 06/03/2011
The Coast Halifax X-Men: First Class a relaunch for mutant franchise Chararcter development and historic context make for a super hero movie by Matt Semansky 06/02/2011
Creative Loafing Tampa X-Men: First Class doesn't live up to its title The acting almost saves this 1960s-set prequel. by Katelyn Williamson 06/01/2011
East Bay Express X-Men: First Class How they got that way, more or less. by Kelly Vance 06/08/2011
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, June 24 Talking trucks, a trashy teacher and the tree of life, plus some special screenings. It's all at the movies. 06/24/2011
Tucson Weekly Sad Impersonation J.J. Abrams' homage to Spielberg feels more like a second-rate rip-off by Bob Grimm 06/16/2011
Style Weekly Across the Universe Terrence Malick explores the nature of existence in "The Tree of Life." by Wayne Melton 06/14/2011
Tucson Weekly Young Mutants 'X-Men: First Class' feels like two separate films—one fantastic, one subpar by Bob Grimm 06/09/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Opening this week Bad Teacher, Cars 2 and other film events happening around town. 06/23/2011
Indy Week Terrence Malick's latest visual epic, The Tree of Life Malick claimed the prestigious Palme d'Or with The Tree of Life, and with this effort, he's tripping along at a rate of about one film per decade. by David Fellerath 06/15/2011
Style Weekly Extra Impenetrable "Super 8" is a close encounter of the ridiculous kind. by Wayne Melton 06/21/2011
Memphis Flyer Child’s Play Steven Spielberg produces an homage to himself with the nostalgic Super 8. by Chris Herrington 06/16/2011
The Coast Halifax The Tree of Life podcast Coast film braintrust Molly Segal, Matt Semansky and Carsten Knox discuss Terrence Malick's far-reaching drama by Carsten Knox 07/07/2011
The Coast Halifax Summer Movies 2011 Team Coast podcast preview of the next four months in the cinema by Carsten Knox 05/12/2011
The Coast Halifax The Tree of Life about nature versus grace Mezmerizing, poetic cinema from Terrence Malick by Matt Semansky 06/23/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Twisted branches: The Tree of Life For all its oddity and majesty, Tree forgoes real mystery. by Jonathan Kiefer 06/23/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Light in the darkness A celebration of the best films of 2011, in all their ambiguity. by Scott Renshaw 12/29/2011
Creative Loafing Atlanta Hollywood Product: X-Men: First Class Director Matthew Vaughn rejuvenates the franchise and presents one of the summer's best films by Curt Holman 06/03/2011
Charleston City Paper Matthew Vaughn delivers a swanky X-Men chapter in X-Men: First Class The overall sense I'm left with after First Class, for all its heaviness, is of a film that's sweet, funny, and pleasingly fast-paced. by MaryAnn Johanson 06/01/2011
Portland Mercury My 14 Favorite Movies of 2011 Why my favorites? Because I work at a newspaper and you don't! by Erik Henriksen 12/29/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Phoning home: Super 8 The deft touch that marks so many of Super 8's best moments keeps getting knocked aside by a heavy hand. by Scott Renshaw 06/09/2011

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