[Editor's note: Your devoted Flavorwire team is taking Memorial Day off, but we've left you with some of our favorite summer-related features that you may have missed the first time around. This post originally ran April 20, 2012. Enjoy!]
Y’know, there was once a time when the phrase “summer movies” was confined to describing movies that came out in, I dunno, the summer. But over the past few years, as studios have continued to make the pursuit of tentpole blockbusters their primary financial goal, the season’s starting pistol keeps going off earlier and earlier, and with the Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview showing up last week (yep, pre-Tax Day), alongside the impending release of The Avengers next Friday, we can either shake our calendar-clenching fists at these upstart kids, or just go along with it and present our summer movie preview now. Thus, after the jump, we present the ten big summer movies we’re most looking forward to, in order of release; agree, disagree, or add your own in the comments.
RELEASE DATE: May 4
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth
We’re figuring you might’ve heard a thing or two about this one, seeing’s how it’s been teased in every Marvel movie of the past four years, and its ad materials have been, to say the least, ubiquitous. But early clips have proven exciting, early reviews are ecstatic, and the full-throttle fun of The Cabin in the Woods has got us all in a tizzy about seeing more big-screen Whedon. Only one question: what the hell will they do for a credit cookie? How about a nice, quiet scene of Agent Coulson and Nick Fury taking a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond?
RELEASE DATE: May 25
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
CAST: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzmann
If The Avengers is the convergence of movie superheroes we’ve been waiting for, Wes Anderson’s latest is its indie equivalent: a dream team of Anderson regulars and low-budget superstars, along with a couple of marquee players who’ve been known to do a little movie for street cred every now and again. It hardly seems possible that it’s been five years since Anderson’s last live action film, though his 2009 stop-motion family effort Fantastic Mr. Fox was a surprisingly snug fit into his oeuvre. We’re interested in seeing where he’s going next.
RELEASE DATE: June 8
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
CAST: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Patrick Wilson, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce
We’ll admit to some skepticism here, brought on by both the coy double-talk about exactly what the hell the relationship is between Ridley Scott’s latest and his breakthrough film Alien (is it a sequel? Is it a prequel? Is it a remake? Is it a reboot? Is all of this mysteriousness a transparent attempt to gin up even more pre-release hype?) and the release strategy of its initial trailer, which marked — as far as we’d noticed, anyway — the beginning of this irritating new trend of doing “teasers” for trailers, aka a commercial for a commercial. But there’s no denying that when that trailer arrived, it delivered the goods, and Scott’s put together an aces ensemble for what looks like a welcome return to form.
RELEASE DATE: June 22
DIRECTORS: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
CAST: Voices of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd
We weren’t so sure, at first, about Pixar getting into the Disney princess business, and the initial trailers for their big summer release were a bit underwhelming. It wasn’t until we got a look at the full clip (presented in the guise of a later trailer) that we started to get a feel for what they’re up to with this one, which — based on this more complete impression — looks to pack the kind of intelligence, emotion, and excitement we’ve come to expect from Pixar (and had all but given up on after Cars 2).
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
RELEASE DATE: June 22
DIRECTOR: Lorene Safaria
CAST: Keira Knightley, Steve Carell, Adam Brody, Gillian Jacobs, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton
June 22nd is looking like a tough weekend to go to the movies; aside from Brave and To Rome with Love (which would have made this list, were it not for what we’ll call “the Begnini factor”), we’ll also get our first chance to check out this bittersweet apocalyptic comedy/drama from Lorene Scafaria (writer of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). It’s one of our favorite trailers of the spring — no, not just because it’s got Gillian “Britta” Jacobs planting a kiss on Keira Knightley — and the ensemble cast that Scafaria’s assembled for her directorial debut is worth getting worked up over.
RELEASE DATE: June 29
DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
CAST: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, Adam Rodriguez, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Olivia Munn
Sure, we all snickered when we heard that one of Soderbergh’s last films was going to be a male-stripper movie, loosely based on the formative years of star Channing Tatum (who Soderbergh directed in Haywire, which shame on you for not seeing), and the trailer is certainly geared more towards the star’s audience than the director’s. But the more we hear about this one, the more we like. First and foremost, they’re wisely playing this as a comedy — and anyone who’s seen 21 Jump Street knows Tatum’s got some serious comedy chops. And you know who else does? Bridesmaids’ unsung comic gold mine, Wendi McLendon-Covery, who we can only assume is finally getting to see some of the strippers she was longing for in that film. And c’mon, you know that a male stripper named “Dallas” is the role Matthew McConaughey was born to play. (Also, here’s hoping they stick with the current release date, as that means Magic Mike will serve as counterprogramming to… Channing Tatum in the vile-looking GI Joe 2.)
The Dark Knight Rises
RELEASE DATE: July 20
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
CAST: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Liam Neeson
Might be good. Haven’t heard much about it.
The Bourne Legacy
RELEASE DATE: August 3
DIRECTOR: Tony Gilroy
CAST: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, David Strathairn
We may have indicated, a time or two, our love for the Bourne films, but we were less than enthusiastic about the idea of Universal trying to keep the franchise going in some kind of bastard, Damon-less form. However, Damon’s absence is almost forgivable in light of the participation of another, perhaps equally important player: Tony Gilroy, who wrote (or co-wrote) all three of the original Bourne films, taking over this time as director (and he’s no amateur — he helmed Michael Clayton). Rounding up much of the distinguished character actor’s gallery from the previous films was a smart move; so was bringing on Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and in the role of your sorta-Bourne, the always interesting Jeremy Renner. The Bourne Legacy may not be a great idea, but based on those factors and that whip-smart trailer, it could turn out to be a pretty awesome film.
RELEASE DATE: August 10
DIRECTOR: Jay Roach
CAST: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd
We don’t have a trailer for this one yet, so we’re having to assess purely based on the concept, but it’s a good one: Ferrell and Galifianakis as rival North Carolina politicians, both with an eye on the White House. Sure, it could be broad, slapstick swill (both comics have made their fair share of turkeys), and at first glance, you’d think Roach — who directed Dinner for Schmucks, the Austin Powers films, and the first two Meet the Parents pictures — would deliver just that. But look closer: Roach also helmed Recount and Game Change for HBO, two of the smartest (and funniest) political films in recent memory. If that’s the Roach that shows up for The Campaign, this could be something special.
RELEASE DATE: August 31
DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat
CAST: Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Shia LaBouf, Noah Taylor
Confession: we weren’t even aware of Lawless until we started combing through previews and release schedules for the summer — and when we read about this one, we did both a spit take and a double take. The director is John Hillcoat, who directed the phenomenal The Proposition back in 2005; his latest reunites him not only with stars Guy Pearce and Noah Taylor, but screenwriter Nick Cave, whom you may have also heard of. Hillcoat has also enlisted some of our favorite actors (and Shia LaBouf) to bring to life Cave’s Depression-era crime drama. That’s right: Bonnie and Clyde by way of The Proposition. Excuse me — I have to go camp out for tickets.
Are you excited about these summer flicks? What else are you looking forward to?