Summer movie preview

WEEKEND previews this summer's big movies



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“The Avengers” — May 4

Marvel has been assembling this superhero fan’s wet dream since the middle of last decade. After the credits rolled on the 2008 surprise hit “Iron Man,” an eye-patched Samuel L. Jackson informed both Iron Man and the audience of something called “the Avengers initiative.” Four years and four more movies later, fan-favorite director Joss Whedon is bringing together four of Marvel Comics’ most popular heroes for an unprecedented team-up adventure on the big screen. “Iron Man,” “the Incredible Hulk,” “Thor” and “Captain America” have each had their own time in the spotlight (to varying success, though each movie has its charms) but now it’s time to see how well they fit together on one stage. Also on board for the ride are lesser-known heroes Black Widow, Hawkeye and Jackson’s Nick Fury — characters who have been sprinkled in mainly as Easter eggs in the previous films. It’s been six years of anticipation. Let’s bring it home.
Hype: 10
Expected Quality: 10
—Jake New

“Dark Shadows” — May 11

There’s been considerably less hype for Tim Burton’s newest rip-off-of-something-old scheme as his revival of the ’60s gothic soap opera has all the characters of a classic Burton cliché. The cultish following for the dark comedy icon has significantly subsided since the travesty of “Alice in Wonderland,” and this most recent project looks like yet another disappointment not only for him, but for the career of his where-did-the-talent-go godson, Johnny Depp. The aching fans are bound to be disappointed by this latest vampire romance, so will Mr. Burton please just write something original again?
Hype: 7
Expected Quality: 3
—Francisco Tirado

“The Dictator” — May 16

Written by Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Dictator” tells the story of Admiral General Aladeen (Baron Cohen), ruthless in his fight against democracy. Aladeen visits New York to address the U.N., only to encounter a secret agent (John C. Reilly) who shaves his iconic beard off. No one recognizes the dictator anymore, and he must prove he is the rightful despot of his beloved Wadiya. Inspired by Muammar Ghadaffi’s actions in the Libyan war, the movie also links itself to other oppressors of today, including those in North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe.
Hype: 9
Expected Quality: 7
—Bridget Ameche

“Snow White and the Huntsman” — June 1

Lately, Snow White has become like Meryl Streep — she’s in everything. In opposition to “Mirror Mirror,” which was a comedic adaptation, “Snow White and the Huntsman” seems fearlessly darker and smarter. The effects behind the magic-suffused realm of the Queen look up to standard in these days after “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Now a proven adventure hero, Chris Hemsworth should make a great Huntsman. It will be interesting to see if Kristin Stewart can transition from sit-and-do-nothing Bella to militant Snow White. In today’s current fairy tale craze, this film should do well.
Hype: 2
Expected Quality: 6
—Vanessa Torline

“Prometheus” — June 8

In a summer dominated by superhero spectacles, this sci-fi thriller prequel to one of the best horror films of all time might be just what we need to escape the capes. “Alien” director Ridley Scott is returning to the franchise that made him famous with a star-studded cast and huge budget. The trailer shows off IMAX 3-D-sized special effects and plenty of action, but I trust Scott to bring smarts to his blockbuster.
Hype: 8
Expected Quality: 10
—Patrick Beane

“Rock of Ages” — June 15

Do people actually like ’80s hair metal? The jukebox musical soundtrack for the very successful Broadway production of the same name looks more like a Buzz Ballads track listing than something hip and cool. This is director Adam Shankman’s first musical since “Hairspray,” and it’s a director choice that makes more sense than Tom Cruise singing.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 4
—Brian Welk

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” — June 22

Based on the 2010 novel, this action-horror period drama (which is not a comedy?) will be released in 3-D to give us the 16th president like we’ve never seen him before. Benjamin Walker who (thank God) beat out Nicolas Cage for the role, looks like he’ll kick ass — with an axe. I am wary as to whether an exceptional film can come from a pretty mediocre book, but it’s all in the title, guys. I mean, how can “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” let us down?
Hype: 5
Expected Quality: 6
—Francisco Tirado

“Brave” — June 22

Pixar’s first movie with a female lead begs the question: Is it just another Disney princess movie? It sure has the looks of it. Princess Merida, the flaming redhead with a sharp tongue, takes on society after being told her destiny instead of choosing it. She’s strong, she’s witty, but what’s her true motive? In so many other Disney princess movies, the female lead wants the man of her dreams to be her destiny. Thus far, “Brave” shows no male lead in sight. Maybe it will bring hope for the female gender instead of telling the same washed-up tale.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 8
—Bailey Loosemore


“To Rome with Love” — June 22

Woody Allen is one of the few directors today who can get anyone he wants in his movies. His latest film rounds out the European holiday that has taken him to Barcelona, Paris and now Rome. He’s brought Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page and Greta Gerwig. This also marks the first time Allen has acted since 2006’s “Scoop,” which alone should generate some buzz. But some mixed reviews regarding Allen’s superficial treatment of Italians indicate we might be back in the hole of his shrug-worthy films.
Hype: 7
Expected Quality: 7
—Brian Welk

“The Amazing Spider-Man” — July 3

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A nerdy high school student is bitten by a genetically-altered spider and is granted amazing spider-like abilities. He uses them selfishly, loses his beloved uncle as a result and learns that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Just a decade after we saw Spider-Man’s origin on the big screen at the start of Sam Raimi’s trilogy, we’ll be seeing it again this summer with Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” It seems too soon for a reboot, but the movie could be a nice surprise, boasting a great cast, which includes the talented Andrew Garfield as Spidey, and the added mystery of how Peter Parker’s dead parents factor into his origin.
Hype: 7
Expected Quality: 8
—Jake New

“The Dark Knight Rises” — July 20

The finale of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” will undoubtedly succeed, even if it does seem to be an “Inception” cast reunion. Bane, joining the psychologically frightening rogues gallery, should be a final test fit for the Caped Crusader.  Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is perfect for Nolan’s realistic superhero story. There can never be enough of Jim Gordon and Alfred. The villains and supporting characters will likely overpower Christian Bale’s last performance in the cowl. Will Ra’s al Ghul return? Will Bane break Bruce Wayne’s back? Will the 99 percent occupy Gotham? This summer, we’ll get answers.
Hype: 10
Expected Quality: 9
—Vanessa Torline

“The Bourne Legacy” — Aug. 3

Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne was possibly the coolest action hero of the last decade. To replace him would’ve been a mistake. So new director Tony Gilroy, the man behind all the previous Bourne screenplays, has crafted a new story (not based on a novel) and a new hero, Agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). He’ll be interacting with all the existing Bourne characters in events before and after those of the trilogy. This and “The Avengers” will turn Renner into a bona fide star, and I’d pay good money to see Edward Norton in a villain role.
Hype: 8
Expected Quality: 8
—Brian Welk

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