The cinematic calendar has three distinct seasons - Awards Season (September-December), where all the artsy and indie films worth seeing are released all at once; The Dumping Ground (January-April), where all the movies not worth seeing are released to little fanfare; and Summer Blockbuster Season (May-August), the time for you to grab some popcorn, immerse yourself in special effects, and forget about the woes of the other eight months.
The wide-release of Iron Man 2 today officially marks the start of Summer Blockbuster Season. You might ask: what other movies can we look forward to over the next four months? Don't worry! ChargeShot!!! has got you covered.
May 14th - Robin Hood
Starring Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian.
The latest epic by the director who brought you Gladiator, starring the actor who starred in Gladiator. In recent years, Ridley Scott has been hit or miss, but I'm hoping he has one great movie left in him. With Crowe and Blanchett, this film's going to be worth seeing just for the actors involved. Whether it can escape from the shadow of Iron Man 2, which comes out just seven days before, is anyone's guess.
May 21st - MacGruber
Starring Will Forte as MacGruber and Kristen Wiig as That Goofy Woman.
Quick, name a funny movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch! There hasn't been one since Wayne's World in 1992. Can MacGruber, previously only a series of 30-second shorts on SNL, maintain an audience's interest for two hours? I'm not optimistic.
May 21st - Shrek Forever After
Starring Michael Myers as The Only Role He Can Get After The Love Guru and Eddie Murphy as The Only Role He Can Get After Meet Dave.
Shrek's back, with a suitably punny title for his fourth film! For those of you who still care, Shrek is somehow transported to an alternate universe where he has to fall in love with Fiona all over again. I liked the original Shrek, but each subsequent iteration has been hellbent on sucking the originality and humor out of the films to create a soulless (albeit profitable) franchise. Tell your kids you're saving money to go see the next PIXAR film - they'll understand.
May 28th - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Starring Jake Gyllenhall as The Palest Persian and Ben Kingsley as The Antagonist.
I haven't played a Prince of Persia game other than the original 1989 release, so I can't comment on how well the newer games will translate into films. At a budget of $150 million dollars, this movie is a big gamble by Jerry Bruckheimer. Will Jake Gyllenhall be a suitable action hero? Can this film finally make video game movies worthwhile? Stay tuned.
June 4th - Marmaduke
Starring Owen Wilson as Marmaduke, and Keifer Sutherland as I Must Have Been Drunk When I Agreed To Do This.
Because the recent Garfield movies were so good, it's natural that America has been craving a feature-length film about our favorite rascally canine. What antics will Marmaduke get into? Will he think he's a human? Will his size cause his owners to frown and roll their eyes? As creator Brad Anderson once stated, "With Marmaduke, anything can be an adventure." Whatever the capers, you can bet that it will be doggone funny!
June 11th - The A-Team
Starring Liam Neeson in I Was Nominated for an Oscar Once, Quentin Jackson as Mr. T, and Jessica Biel as Herself.
According to Wikipedia, this version of the A-Team will shun the comic violence of the original in pursuit of a grittier film, in the same vein as Die Hard and The Bourne Identity.
Yeah, good luck with that.
June 18th - Toy Story 3
Starring Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, and notably missing Jim Varney as Slinky Dog. Excuse me, I think I have a speck of dust in my eye.
In the latest installment in the other major CGI children's franchise, Andy goes off to college and his old toys are donated to a daycare center. The toys must band together to try and find their owner. Don't expect any major surprises, but I have little doubt that this will be another solid PIXAR film, and eventual winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
June 25th - Knight and Day
Starring Tom Cruise as An Actor Going Through Career Rehab and Cameron Diaz as No, This Isn't Vanilla Sky 2.
The New York Times chronicled the long, unlikely story of this film's release. A comic caper involving a blind date that morphs into an important spy mission, Knight and Day is notable for being the first movie on this list not based on an existing franchise (yes, I'm counting Robin Hood as a franchise). It will be worth keeping an eye on this movie to see if old-fashioned star power alone can still draw an audience, or if Americans have forsaken stand-alone action films for established universes and characters.
July 2nd - The Last Airbender
Starring a bunch of kids you've never heard of, and That Dude from Slumdog Millionaire.
Originally entitled Avatar: The Last Airbender, the first word was dropped after the success of James Cameron's film. Apparently this anime-esque TV show is popular among kids these days, but I'm unfortunately ignorant as to anything else about it. Still, the pre-established audience, plus director M. Night Shamaylan, is bound to draw some sales. That, or put the final nail in the coffin of Shamaylan's career.
July 7th - Eclipse
Starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as We Hope We're Not Typecast For The Rest Of Our Lives
The newest installment in the Twilight saga. Go Team Jacob! WOOOO! Team Jacob! Go Team Jacob!
July 9th - Predators
Starring Adrien Brody as Arnold Schwarzenegger
Robert Rodriguez directs this Predator sequel, based on a script he wrote back in 1994. The interesting casting choices (Topher Grace?) intrigue me, and I'm crossing my fingers that this is the Fun Mid-Summer Popcorn Flick I'm hoping it will be.
July 16th - Inception
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as The Protagonist, and Michael Caine as Alfred.
Directed by Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight fame, Inception is a science-fiction movie, a corporate espionage movie and a heist movie all rolled into one. Nolan has described the film as dealing "with levels of reality, and perceptions of reality" and "very much an ensemble film structured somewhat as a heist movie. It's an action adventure that spans the globe". Consider me intrigued.
July 16th - The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Starring Nicholas Cage in His Finest Role Yet, and Alfred Molina as the Evil Wizard.
A campy movie directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) and starring Nicholas Cage (National Treasure)? Yes. Yes. Emphatically yes.
July 23rd - Salt
Starring Angelina Jolie as Tom Cruise.
A movie about a CIA Agent forced to go on the run after being accused of working for the KGB. The script was originally written with Tom Cruise in mind, but adjusted for Jolie once Cruise was unavailable. If this is successful, expect more movies in the Salt franchise in the near future. Which is not a bad thing - there's a shortage of movies about lady spies.
August 6th - Step Up 3-D
Starring the finalists from So You Think You Can Dance (Really!).
Isn't it convenient when the third movie in your franchise also corresponds with the first movie in the franchise to be projected in 3-D? Such titular serendipity hasn't been seen since Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
August 13th - Eat Pray Love
Starring Julia Roberts as An Inspiration To Women Everywhere and Javier Bardem as Bored Housewife's Fantasy
Julia Roberts isn't getting what she wants out of life! So she gets a divorce and travels the world! This is the movie you send your mom to go see while you and your dad go to Predators again.
August 13th - Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Starring Michael Cera as Michael Cera
Based on a comic book I'm not cool enough to have heard of, the movie's website describes the plot as follows: "Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), bass guitarist for the garage band Sex Bob-omb, has just met the girl of his dreams. However, he must defeat Ramona Flowers' (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seven evil exes, who are coming to kill him."
Looks like it could be fun, but isn't everyone a little tired of Michael Cera by now?
August 24th - Piranha 3-D
Starring Richard Dreyfuss as Maybe This Will Make The Audience Think It's Another Jaws.
That's it. Summer's over. Everyone go home.