Here's my top 10 to see this summer:
1. INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (dir. Steven Speilberg)
I loved the first three films in this series and I expect nothing but a phenomenal adventure from The Beard and Co. The teaser trailer is rocking, the cast is stellar, and the promise of real/practical effects over a reliance of CGI is re-assuring. Hearing John Williams' score will probably be enough to send me into nostalgia-related tears of joy. I am very, very excited for this film.
2. BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT (dir. Christopher Nolan)
I loved what Nolan did with BATMAN BEGINS and I love the casting of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The trailer is sick, Heath Ledger looks possessed as the Joker, and a rumored run time of close to three hours has me foaming at the mouth to check this out. Taking the Batman character and placing him and his adversaries in a realistic setting was key to the revival of this franchise, and THE DARK KNIGHT looks like it will pick up right where BATMAN BEGINS so eloquently left off. The film is getting a release on IMAX screens as well so that should be a sight to see. This and INDY are basically tied for the #1 slot for the summer.
3. HANCOCK (dir. Peter Berg)
Peter Berg is the most underrated director working in the Hollywood studio system at the moment. He's progressed as a storyteller and as a stylist with each film he's made (VERY BAD THINGS, THE RUNDOWN, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and THE KINGDOM) and this cerebral superhero movie starring Will Smith sounds like a very different take on the superhero genre. The quick teaser that has been released promises a film filled with crazy special effects and offbeat humor. At various points in this film's history both Michael Mann (who is now a producer on the film) and Tony Scott were attached to direct it. The script has long been considered a gem by anyone who's read it. The antithesis of superhero movies like SPIDERMAN and SUPERMAN, HANCOCK sounds like an edgy, subversive action flick. Very curious to see how it turns out.
4. IRON MAN (dir. Jon Favreau)
This looks like a lot of fun. Casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark was a stroke of genius on the part of director Jon Favreau. The script has been written by two of the writers of CHILDREN OF MEN, so that's an automatic plus. And the action sequences glimpsed in the trailers are crackling with excellent and seamless looking CGI. I was always a fan of my Iron Man action figures when I was growing up so it will be cool to finally see this character on the big screen. Favreau is class-act all the way and he's really stepping up as a director after the smaller comedies MADE and ELF, as well as his unfairly ignored kid's action-adventure movie ZATHURA. This will be the first instant smash of the summer movie season.
5. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (dir. David Gordon Green)
A stoner action-comedy written and produced by the team from KNOCKED UP and SUPERBAD and directed by indie favorite David Gordon Green, THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS looks both hilarious and smart. Green, who's earlier film from 2008 SNOW ANGELS is the best film I've seen so far this year, is stepping out of his wheelhouse a bit with this film; it will be very interesting to see him working with a bigger budget and on a decidedly commercial project. The hilarious trailer, which I have posted on this blog recently, promises a wacky movie about the wacky-tabacky. Seth Rogen and James Franco co-star. I have never been a fan of Franco but he looks perfect in this movie/role.
6. THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (dir. Chris Carter)
I was, and still am, a giant X-FILES fan. The show may be off the air but any chance to spend time with Mulder & Scully is fine by me. Series creator/overlord Chris Carter wrote and directed the new film (Rob Bowman helmed the first film back in 1998) and while plot details have been limited, what is known for sure is that it does not directly involve aliens or the alien mythology explored in the show and in the first feature film. This film will apparently be a stand-alone monster movie. While I wish it was centered around little green men, as that was the primary focus of the series, I am still excited to see Mulder and Scully back up on the big screen. Will they finally kiss?
7. TROPIC THUNDER (dir. Ben Stiller)
Ben Stiller's track record as a director is spot on. REALITY BITES, THE CABLE GUY, and ZOOLANDER are all comedy classics as far as I'm concerned. In TROPIC THUNDER, Still stars along with Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise (in apparently one of the funniest cameos ever...), Matthew McConaughey, Bill Hader, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, and Justin Theroux, as a group of over-paid, obnoxious movie stars making a big-budget Vietnam movie in the middle of the jungle. When their insane director decides to drop them off in the middle of a real war to give them the proper training for his picture, well, hilarity ensues. The sight of Downey Jr. playing a pompous Australian method-actor who dyes his skin black so he can play a black solider is already priceless. With a hard-R rating, this could be the summer's funniest movie.
8. THE HAPPENING (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
M. Night needs to rebound after the critical and commercial failure of his last film, THE LADY IN THE WATER, which was indeed a complete piece of shit. Here, he gets really dark with a thriller about an environmental crisis wherein mother nature turns on human beings by unleashing a poisonous toxin that makes people kill themselves and each other. Sounds very Twilight Zone-y and very creepy. Mark Whalbergh and Zooey Deschanel star. I hope this is a return to form for M. Night. For the record, I think UNBREAKABLE is his best film, followed by THE SIXTH SENSE and then SIGNS. THE VILLAGE was silly but enjoyable but LADY IN THE WATER was a turd. With a Friday the 13th release date (in June), I have a feeling this one's gonna be a winner.
9. THE INTERNATIONAL (dir. Tom Tywker)
From the director of RUN LOLA RUN and PERFUME and starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, this thriller has been very quiet over the last few months. I don't know much about it other than the fact that it's a European-set political thriller. The directing, acting, and genre elements of this film immediately make it a must-see for me, even if I haven't seen a trailer, poster, or read a full plot description. With a mid-August release date, I'm hoping that this is the surprise of the summer.
10. SEX & THE CITY (dir. Michael Patrick King)
You know what...I liked this show. I watched every single episode when it aired on HBO and I generally had a good time with the characters and plot lines. I'm not expecting miracles but it'd be nice if there was a solid rom-com with an adult sensibility this summer, and I have a feeling this film will do the trick. Written and directed by series creator Michael Patrick King and starring everyone from the original series, the film is guaranteed to become a blockbuster at the box office and has the potential to be one of the better pieces of frothy, chick-flick entertainment to come out of Hollywood in a while. And it's the one movie that my fiancee is super-excited to see this summer so that in and of itself will be enough to get me out to the theaters to see it.
Runner-up's that I will also be sure to catch are GET SMART (Steve Carrell is hysterical), WANTED (a 1/2 naked Angelina Jolie with guns will get my money any day of the week...), STEP BROTHERS (Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly making each other, and me, laugh...), SPEED RACER (maybe...), RED BELT (I love me some David fucking Mamet), CHOKE (the latest Chuck "FIGHT CLUB" Phalaniuk adaptation), THE MUMMY 3 (maybe...), HELLBOY 2 (I enjoyed the first one so...), and THE INCREDIBLE HULK (not a big fan of the trailer but I love Ed Norton and I like the director's previous work).