The operative word this month is “sequel.” Sometimes the word “sequel” can conjure up images of dumb movies that can’t let go of old jokes and rest as nothing more than vain attempts by money-grubbing producers to draw out the franchises until they reach joke status and die a slow, disappointing death at the box office. Let’s hope this isn’t the case with May’s two big-name flicks — both sequels — which are slated to hit the big screen at the end of the month. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Just Can’t Let This Go” — sorry, “On Stranger Tides” — will debut at the end of the month before “The Hangover Part II” does (good idea, producers), and features actors we’ve already seen stuck in some kind of déjà-vu world where nothing original has happened since the first film.
On the flipside, “The Hangover Part II,” which releases the following weekend, is a film that has audiences all over America unable to shut up about how excited they are to see it. It should be freaking hilarious if the writers make sure to include a new set of jokes and more all-too-quotable lines like they did in the original “Hangover.” Regardless, “Part II” will be funny because the whole gang is in Thailand — Stu’s getting married — with Zach Galifianakis still acting dumb and the ever-sexy Bradley Cooper being his usual smoldering self.
Film to watch out for: “The Hangover Part II”
June is typically filled with franchise pictures, even if not so heavily as its bordering months. This year, the month will start on June 3 with the fifth installment of the X-Men franchise, “X-Men: First Class.” Fox doesn’t seem happy to just keep giving these mutants sequels to play around in, and have opted to instead go backward, sideways and every direction except forward. And it actually gives them exciting opportunities. Check this prequel out for some pre-superhero mutant action.
On June 10, J.J. Abrams will unveil his third directorial release, “Super 8” — the first he’s been able to write and direct on his own. It’s essentially about some kids who film a freak train wreck with a Super 8 camera. In case you don’t know J.J. Abrams … weird shit ensues.
The following week will be led by “Green Lantern,” the DC Comics adaptation with Ryan Reynolds playing the ringbearer himself … in 3-D! Other releases include R-rated comedy “Bad Teacher,” which features Jason Segel as a gym teacher and Cameron Diaz as a schoolteacher raising money to get breast implants to win over Justin Timberlake. Even if it sucks, the situation sounds like a win-win-win. The month finishes off on June 24 with “Cars 2” — Disney’s attempt to convert its huge off-screen franchise success back into on-screen entertainment. Pixar still rocks, so check it out.
Film to watch out for: “Super 8”
July brings further evidence that the Hollywood well is running dry. The month will see the eponymous silver screen adaptation of ’80s television series “The Smurfs,” with the CGI-ed little blue gang romping around the Big Apple with Neil Patrick Harris. Also getting the big-screen treatment is the 100-Acre Wood crew in Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh.”
And, it wouldn’t be summer without Michael Bay, whose “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” faces stiff competition for cream of the blockbuster crop against the Daniel Craig-, Harrison Ford- and Olivia Wilde-billed sci-fi western “Cowboys and Aliens.”
A handful of rom-coms will poke into the high-octane fray: Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake star in “Friends with Benefits,” a flick about friends with, uh, benefits, and heavy hitters Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks strike a schoolboy romance (literally — Hanks returns to college and Roberts is his teacher) in “Larry Crowne.” But it’s the odd couple of Ryan Gosling as Steve Carell’s marriage counselor in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” that seems most enticing.
There’s also a dose of cerebral cinema: In sci-fi love story “Another Earth,” a duplicate planet is found in the solar system. And lest we forget, the saga of the world’s favorite teenage wizard comes to an end in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” Magic nerds rejoice!
Film to watch out for: “Cowboys and Aliens”
This August promises the typical combination of critically acclaimed summer films and those that wouldn’t have a chance in hell of making back their budgets in any other season. “Conan the Barbarian,” a remake of the famed Schwarzenegger movie, will hit theaters on the 19th. It’s directed by a guy whose biggest credits are remakes of “Friday the 13th” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” There’s also another remake of “Planet of the Apes,” since Tim Burton messed up the last one, and a new “Spy Kids” movie.
Of the remakes and sequels, “Apes” seems tolerable because of its cast, which includes recently Oscar-nominated James Franco (“127 Hours”) and veterans Brian Cox (“The Bourne Identity”) and John Lithgow (“Terms of Endearment”). Then again, the Burton remake also featured now-Oscar-nominee Mark Wahlberg (“The Departed”) and veterans Tim Roth (“Reservoir Dogs”) and Paul Giamatti (“Win Win”). Odds are that Charlton Heston’s version will still be the version we’re renting 20 years from now.
August’s one promising movie, “30 Minutes or Less,” reunites another recent Oscar nominee, Jesse Eisenberg, with Ruben Fleischer, his director in the acclaimed comedy “Zombieland.” Eisenberg stars as a hapless pizza delivery guy coerced by criminals into robbing a bank, and though we haven’t seen any preview material, having Fleischer behind the camera is a good sign for any feature.
Film to watch out for: “30 Minutes or Less”