Sitting in the cool, dark theater with a large tub of buttery popcorn in your lap – it’s a nice way to get out of the summer heat, no matter what’s up on the screen. But still, you don’t want to waste your cash – and your time – watching something cringe-worthy or just plan annoying. Below, we run you through this summer’s offerings, and give some advice on which flick you should pick.
“Men in Black 3” or “Moonrise Kingdom” The hilarious secret agent team of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is back. This edition has the added element of time travel with Josh Brolin playing the younger – but still stoic – version of K. We also get the addition of the ever-brilliant Emma Thompson (“Sense and Sensibility”). “Moonrise Kingdom” is a kid-centric tale from quirky director Wes Anderson (“The Royal Tennenbaums”). The highly stylized director turns back to the 1960s with this tale of two kids who fall in love and run away together. The Anderson regulars are back, including Bill Murray and Jason Schwartz-man, but with the surprising addition of Bruce Willis. Our pick: With both films, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. “Men in Black 3” tries to top itself with more one-liners from Smith and bigger explosions; “Moonrise Kingdom” is sweetly tender and looks like it sprang from a children’s picture book. In the end, more people have the chance to see “MiB3”, as “Moonrise” won’t open wide for a couple of weeks.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” or “Piranha 3DD” Kristen Stewart (“Twilight’s” Bella) joins Charlize Theron in the “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a dark and action-packed retelling of the classic fairy tale, with Snow White leading an army against the wicked Queen. The horror-comedy “Piranha 3DD” is a sequel to the 2010 “Piranha 3D.” Think “Jaws” meets “Baywatch,” complete with lots of bikini shots and even David Hasselhoff. Our pick: Do you even have to ask? “Snow White and the Huntsman” looks seriously bad-ass, while “Piranha 3DD” just looks seriously tacky. “Snow White and the Huntsman” by a mile.
Opening June 8
“Prometheus” or “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” “Prometheus” is the eagerly anticipated prequel to the “Alien” saga. It is helmed by Ridley Scott, who directed the original “Alien” and other much-loved films, such as “Thelma and Louise” and “Gladiator.” The well-planned marketing campaign has slowly teased out the glimpses we’ve gotten of Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron, and the trailer looks, well, out of this world. “Madagascar 3” looks like more of the same. The gang joins a traveling circus as they continue their trek back to their New York City zoo. Our pick: Depends on how insistent your children are. If you can get away with leaving the kids at home with a DVD of a previous “Madagascar” film, then you should definitely watch “Prometheus.” Another great choice this weekend for comedy lovers in limited cities is “Safety Not Guaranteed,” starring indie king Mark Duplass, “New Girl” star Jake Johnson and stone-faced “Parks and Recreation” grump Aubrey Plaza. It’s about a kooky guy who says he can travel through time and the girl who falls for him.
Opening June 22
“Brave” or “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” Two action films, two very different choices. “Lincoln’s” director Timur Bekmambetov is a Russian-Kazakh film director known for stylishly over-the-top action films. You probably know him best from “Wanted,” starring Angelina Jolie. Expect acrobatics with your gunplay, and way-out-of-left-field plot lines, as our 16th president kills vampires. “Brave” is the first Pixar film with a female lead. The independent and impulsive medieval Scottish Princess Merida is forced to undo a decision that threatens her kingdom. It’s from Pixar, so there’s an impressive track record, but again, it comes down to the director, and Mark Andrews is something of an unknown quantity. He co-wrote and co-directed the Pixar short “One Man Band.” He’s also the production’s second director – the first left in a huff – and the story has changed quite a bit over the years. Our pick: Chuck it all and go see the dramedy “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” starring Keira Knightly and Steve Carell. This film is about a man who takes a road trip to find his first love as an asteroid heads toward Earth. It was written and directed by “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” scribe Lorene Scafaria.
Opening June 29 and July 3
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (June 29) or “The Amazing Spider-Man” (July 3) OK, these two don’t come out on the same day, but both are released in time for the Fourth of July holiday (which falls on a Wednesday this year). The “G.I. Joe” sequel has the addition of Bruce Willis and The Rock. It also has the addition of some seriously cheesy dialogue. But, you also have to overlook some things if you pick Spidey. For instance, all the other Spider-Man films you’ve seen in the last eight years or so. This one is a reboot – it features all new actors and follows a new storyline. Our pick: “Spider-Man” stars up-and-comers Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) and Emma Stone (“The Help”), who have enough real-life chemistry to be dating off-screen, and enough real love of the characters that Garfield gets tears in his eyes when he talks about the comics affect on his childhood. Go with the heart and pick “Spider-Man.”
Opening July 13
“Ted” and “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” Hasn’t global warming killed off these “Ice Age” jokers yet? Not a chance – this franchise brings in a lot of cash. If you are one of the many who have shelled out to see “Ice Age” films in the past, be forewarned that this incarnation has a different director. The story finds the group of animal heroes separated by melting ice, shifting tectonic plates and pirates. “Ted” stars Mark Wahlberg as the grown man who still lives with his walking, talking teddy bear. This is NOT a kids movie. This is a movie with a teddy bear that swears and humps people. “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane directs and also voices Ted. Our pick: Must we? OK, we’ll go with “Ice Age,” even though that squirrel should get a darn acorn already.
Opening July 20
“The Dark Knight Rises” Fan polls show this is the most anticipated film of the summer, so you probably don’t need us to tell you about it, but here it goes. Director Christopher Nolan returns us to a bleak Gotham, eight years after Batman (Christian Bale) takes the fall for Two-Face’s crimes. When Bane (new addition Tom Hardy) begins to terrorize the city, Batman is forced to return. The movie also features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as police officer John Blake and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. This is Nolan’s third Batman film, and it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really matter what else is in theaters this weekend – get your tickets early.