By Brandon Nowalk
Just as Texas hits triple digits and your shirt gets drenched because you rolled down the window at the drive-thru, it’s time to spend a couple hours in the heavenly air conditioning of the movies. That’s what summer movies are about, cooling off, having fun, and beholding the spectacle of blockbusters. Lucky for us, this summer promises a new high-octane popcorn flick every week.
July 1: Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I’d be lying if I said I was interested in a Transformers movie, but they have their charms. You know exactly what you’re getting with a Michael Bay explosion extravaganza, and this one takes the usual formula and fits it into a fun space race plot based on a silly Apollo-era conspiracy about a secret moon-based Transformer. Those going to ogle Megan Fox will be disappointed to find the opinionated starlet has been recast, but newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley looks like she studied at the Fox School of Acting for Maxim, so prepare to meet your next cover girl.
July 8: Zookeeper and Horrible Bosses. No action this week—smart not to compete with Transformers—but instead we get two comedies, both questionable. Zookeeper is a Dr. Doolittle story with Kevin James that looks exactly as good as his other films (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Grown Ups), only it stars the terrific Rosario Dawson, so who knows? Horrible Bosses has the opposite problem. This story of three guys trying to kill their bosses has all the right credentials (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Colin Farrell with a hairpiece), but looks like much less than the sum of its parts.
July 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The teen wizard adventure finally comes to an end, bringing its armies of characters together with a bang at the Battle of Hogwarts. Fans of the book know what to expect—colorful spells, character deaths, and the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort—and the trailer looks to deliver the epic spectacle we’ve all been waiting for.
July 22: Captain America: The First Avenger. Chris Evans gives us our final superhero film of summer as the scrawny ‘40s kid injected with some serum to become the inflatable Captain America making the world safe from Nazis. The period design looks fun, the plot looks suitably pulpy, and Evans has the physique and sense of humor to pull it off. That said, the last good Marvel superhero film was Iron Man in 2008, the last origin story anyone cared about was Batman Begins in 2005, and the last good film by Joe Johnston (The Wolf-Man, Jurassic park III, Jumanji) was never.
July 29: Cowboys & Aliens. Daniel Craig plays an amnesiac in a western town with Sheriff Harrison Ford and saloon girl Olivia Wilde, and then aliens attack. Written by the team who rebooted Star Trek and directed by the guy who brought us Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens has so much potential it can’t help but disappoint. But expect a fun little action film with creative genre touches, and it may well be the film of summer.
Aug 5: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. All the real summer flicks debut in June and July, so August kicks off with James Franco’s Apes-saga prequel. On the bright side, it looks hilarious, and the ape effects by Weta (Lord of the Rings) might be worth the ticket alone.
Aug 12: Final Destination 5. Surprise! 2009’s The Final Destination was not, in fact, the final destination for this deadly Rube Goldberg franchise. The saving grace is that the series knows how ridiculous it is, making these flicks fun, inventive little time-wasters perfect for horror fans.
Aug 17: Conan the Barbarian. I’d be skeptical of this ‘80s He-Man-story, 300-style reboot, but the trailer looks exactly as preposterous as it should, winking without batting an eye. Jason Momoa gives such a rich, muscular performance in HBO’s Game of Thrones that the only person I’d rather see in the title role is Conan O’Brien.
Aug 26: Colombiana. At last, a female action star, Zoe Saldana as an assassin tracking down the people who killed her parents. Saldana is so much better than the franchise constraints she’s been stuck with (especially the Avatar CGI that covered up an expressive performance), and unlike The Mechanic, Colombiana has that gritty pulp vibe without all the brooding angst.
Sept. 9: Warrior. I know it’s not a summer film, but a week later comes a genuine MMA movie starring Tom Hardy (Inception, the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises) as a boxer training for an MMA tournament where he ends up facing his brother. It’s not a sports movie without some weepy inspiration, but at least Warrior will feature creative martial arts sequences by athletic performers up on the big screen.