Best Movies of All Time + [summer]

2012 Summer Movie Preview

With the start of May comes the start of the summer movie season, a time when big-budget films take center stage in their constant battle for monetary supremacy. It's the time that's sandwiched by the doldrums after the Academy Awards and the upcoming Oscar fare of the fall and winter, and more often that not, it's these summertime movies that find a way to be the most entertaining. It's a time when all the kids are home from school, so we should be seeing some more record numbers in terms of box office gross. And to show my excitement for this 2012 summer, I've created this little post here.

Now, you can easily go to any number of websites (i.e., the Internet Movie Database, WikiPedia, etc.) and find a full list of all the films being released over the summer. Anybody can make a list of all the movies coming out, right? So here's what I've done instead: I've listed the fifteen films I'm most excited to see in the coming months, and I've given reasons as to why I'm excited to see them. Perhaps this will give you a little more of a personal look at the movies you might want to check out over the summer. All of the films on this list are being released between May 4 and August 31, which is the last Friday before Labor Day. I think that creates a large enough summertime field. So, without any further delay, here's the fifteen flicks I'm most interested in seeing over the summer.

*****
Ruby Sparks
July 27
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Alia Shawkat, Annette Bening, Elliot Gould, Steve Coogan
***

I've only recently started to hear things about Ruby Sparks, but the more I hear about it, the more interesting it sounds. It follows the story of a struggling writer who finds a muse and starts to craft a beautiful female character named Ruby. After a little while, however, he finds that Ruby has actually come to life and believes herself to be in a relationship with him. Have I done enough to grab your attention? Throw in the fact that we're getting another look at the underrated Paul Dano in a cast that includes great actors like Banderas and Bening, and I think we might have the makings of a surprise sleeper.

Men in Black III
May 25
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson
***

It's been ten years since the last Men in Black film, and it's been fifteen years since the first one burst into theaters in 1997. Back then, Men in Black was the talk of the town, reeling in the dough and giving credence to Will Smith as an actor. Will this third installment be able to rekindle what the first film found but the second film somewhat lacked? We're getting an interesting tale of time travel that will feature Josh Brolin playing a young Agent K - and I personally think they couldn't have found anyone more perfect for the part. I have faith that Sonnenfeld will be able to deliver, but the Men in Black franchise might just be a little too distant for today's audiences. We shall see, I suppose.

The Expendables 2
August 17
Directed by: Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Hemsworth, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture
***

Sure, The Expendables 2 is probably going to be god-awful, but I was so thoroughly entertained by the first installment that I at least have to give this one a chance. Stallone managed to bring back most of the principal cast, and he added a few more huge names with Norris, Van Damme and the younger Hemsworth. What I'm most excited to see, however, are the extended roles for Willis and Schwarzenegger, both of whom made cameos in the first film. This will be Schwarzenegger's first major foray back into the acting realm since leaving his gubernatorial office in California, so we'll see if he's up to the challenge. I'm ready for a big-budget popcorn flick here.

Snow White and the Huntsman
June 1
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Toby Jones, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost
***

When it was announced that two Snow White-centric films were going to be released in 2012, I was a little miffed by the idea. The first of the films - Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and a few other recognizable names - hit theaters in March and was greeted by mixed critical and audience response. Snow White and the Huntsman looks to be a darker re-telling of the story, and for whatever reason, I keep finding myself drawn to the idea. I've never been a huge fan of Kristen Stewart, but I did like her performances in 2007's Into the Wild and 2010's The Runaways, so I know she has at least a little bit of acting merit. The inclusion of the elder Hemsworth and Oscar winner Charlize Theron also gives this film a bump, and we could be in for quite a treat.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
June 22
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dominic Cooper, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie
***

I've been excited about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter since I first heard about the central concept of the film. I mean, who wouldn't want to catch a glimpse of the iconic president taking on the undead bloodsuckers, right? In all honesty, my excitement has dropped a tad since I've started seeing some of the trailers, but at the end of the day, I just can't seem to get the film out of my head. I'm no longer expecting something terribly grand and fantastic, but I think this film will be great as a popcorn flick over the summer, and for that, it should be at least entertaining. And we're getting a decent cast, so that should add a bit of merit as well.

Hick
May 11
Directed by: Derick Martini
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Blake Lively, Eddie Redmayne, Alec Baldwin, Juliette Lewis, Rory Culkin
***

I have to be honest and tell you that I only recently heard about this film after I saw the trailer featured on some website. My initial draw is Chloë Grace Moretz, who is easily one of the best up-and-comers on the Hollywood scene today. I thought she was fantastic in Kick-Ass and Let Me In, and she even turned in a fine performance in last year's Hugo. Therefore, I'm definitely keen to see where her career is going to take her. And the inclusion of names like Blake Lively, Eddie Redmayne and Alec Baldwin only enhances my desire to give this film a chance. In all honesty, Hick could easily prove to be a terrible film, but Moretz's involvement makes it a near must-see for me, personally.

The Bourne Legacy
August 3
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Oscar Isaac, Donna Murphy
***

I know I've mentioned this before, but for those of you who may not know, I'm not the biggest fan of the Bourne film franchise. For whatever reason, I could never get into the previous three films, and although I recognize their merit as movies, I just never truly found them all that exciting or entertaining. All that changed when I saw the trailer for this latest installment. With Matt Damon out the door, Jeremy Renner has moved in to take his place, and I couldn't be more excited. He's been all over the place since his Oscar-nominated turn in The Hurt Locker, and is the trailer for The Bourne Legacy is any indication, this one could be very, very good. He'll have a lot of help from A-list actors Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Albert Finney, and this one looks like it should be quite the action flick.

Piranha 3DD
June 1
Directed by: John Gulager
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, David Koechner, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey
***

Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D was one of the surprise critical and commercial successes of 2010, and it was announced almost immediately that a sequel was in the works. It's taken them a bit of time - as well as a couple different attempts at a release date - but the film is finally slated for a June 1st release, and I couldn't be more ecstatic. I am a huge fan of the first film, and although there are quite a few changes happening with this sequel - most prominently, the change in director to John Gulager - I think that they've brought in enough positive changes to make this one just as good as its predecessor. Piranha 3DD going to be ridiculous and gory and over-the-top, and that's exactly what it's supposed to be.

The Amazing Spider-man
July 6
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
***

As with the Bourne franchise, I was never truly a fan of Sam Raimi's Spider-man trilogy. I would watch them and enjoy them, but I wasn't necessarily breaking down the door when each new film was released. Still, the thought of a Spider-man reboot only ten years after Raimi's first film in the franchise hit theaters seemed a little ridiculous when it was announced, but I have since become quite excited about the prospects of this film. I think the filmmakers have managed to upgrade their cast at each of the principal characters, especially with our lead in Andrew Garfield. His presence alone would drive me to see this film, but when you add the likes of Stone, Ifans, Leary and Sheen, you'll be certain I'll have to see this one right away. The only question mark will be director Marc Webb, whose only directorial duties to date are music videos and the fantastic 2009 film (500) Days of Summer, so we shall have to wait and see how well he does here. But could they have found a better-named director for a "Spider"-Man flick? I think not.

ParaNorman
August 17
Directed by: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, John Goodman, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
***

I've always been a fan of stop-motion animation, and when it looks to be a Burton-esque film, I'm going to be ready and waiting to see it. ParaNorman has the look and feel of a Tim Burton film, but he actually has nothing to do with this film - he's finishing up work on his own 2012 stop-motion release, Frankenweenie, due in theaters in October. But it's that feel that I love so much that's drawing me towards ParaNorman, which only looks better each and every time I see the trailer. With an all-star vocal cast and an interesting, albeit not entirely original, storyline, this could be the makings of one of the better animated flicks of the year.

Moonrise Kingdom
May 25
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman
***

With Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson is making his first directorial effort since 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox, and his first live-action effort since 2007's The Darjeeling Limited. Suffice it to say, I think Anderson fans have been waiting quite a while for another one of his flicks. And this one looks like it might rank near the top of Anderson's own filmography. With his signature quirky sense of humor, he has managed to bring in a fantastic cast of some of his usual go-to's - i.e., Murray and Schwartzman - as well as some other big-time actors like Willis, Norton and McDormand. With an all-star cast like that, there's no limit to this film's potential. If it weren't an Anderson film, I'd say this might be the surprise comedy hit of the summer, but you just have to come to expect something brilliant whenever Wes Anderson stands behind the camera.

The Avengers
May 4
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård, Cobie Smulders
***

I know that I've already managed to see and review The Avengers, but I simply had to place it on this list. You can see all my insight into the film itself by reading my review (linked above), but for those of you reading this post, just know that The Avengers is the epitome of what a summertime movie should be. It's big, it's loud, it's exciting, it's fun, and most of all, it's thoroughly entertaining. It's going to keep you on the edge of your seat, and it'll keep you laughing along with the characters on-screen. It's definitely worth a watch if you're even the smallest fan of any of the Marvel comics or films, so do yourself a favor and get thee to a theater as soon as possible!

Brave
June 22
Directed by: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Billy Connolly, Chris Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane
***

The more I see of Brave, the more impressed I am with what has the potential to be one of the best Pixar movies to date. Pixar is trying to rebound from last year's Cars 2, which didn't necessarily resonate with critics or with audiences, but I think they've found something in Brave that's sure to strike gold. Just from a visual standpoint, it looks to be one of the most beautiful animated films ever to hit the silver screen, and Pixar's storytelling ability is nearly unmatched. When you blend all of these things together, I think it's going to pan out to be one of the best movies of 2012, regardless of medium. I simply cannot wait for June 22.

Prometheus
June 8
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce
***

I'm still trying to gauge whether I'm the only one this excited for Prometheus, or if there's a strong following for the upcoming Ridley Scott film. Being a huge fan of Alien, I was initially drawn to the conversation that this film would serves as a prequel to that 1979 venture; however, it now sounds as though the film won't be a direct prequel, but it will take place in the same cinematic universe that Alien created. Regardless of storyline, I think that the cast and crew has managed to craft some fantastic publicity for the film, releasing a number of "viral" videos meant to entice prospective audiences. If I wasn't excited before, then these little pieces have definitely upped the ante. And what can I say about the cast? I've been impressed with Noomi Rapace since I saw her in the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I'm glad that Scott decided to stick with a strong female character as our lead. Add fantastic actors like Fassbender, Theron and Pearce, and we could be in for quite a treat.

The Dark Knight Rises
July 20
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple, Liam Neeson
***

Last night, when I went to see The Avengers at a midnight screening, the audience sat in silence and watched as the latest trailer for The Dark Knight Rises played before our film. When the preview ended, the roar of applause that echoed across the theater rivaled the roar of applause that The Avengers received at the end of its run-time. If a movie's trailer can earn that much admiration, I think it's safe to say that there's a collective understanding amongst movie-goers - or at least fans of the superhero subgenre - that are ready for the third and final installment in Nolan's Batman trilogy. You'd probably be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't include The Dark Knight Rises on their short-list of films to see this summer, and I'm not going to say I'm not ecstatic about the possibilities. With each new trailer, my anticipation grows tenfold, and the fact that I still have over two months to wait is devastating. July 20 cannot come soon enough.