As the weather warms up, so do our movie screens. Summer’s the season when hulky superheroes rise and tentpole franchises rule, all aiming to break the bank big-time. Get ready for close encounters with a posse of cinematic bad boys — dark knights, men in black, aliens and bloodsuckers, grifters and drug lords. Grrl power comes in two colors: Snow White or Black Widow and Catwoman. Looking for giggles? The comedy slate’s full of movies that send up hilariously dysfunctional families and their running-wild offspring, as well as slaphappy grown-ups stuck in their second childhood. For laughs, the kids can pack a picnic lunch for animated tours of the Ice Age or sizzlin’ Madagascar. And, as always, keep your Ray-Bans peeled for cinematic wild cards, any one of which might turn out to be a summer sleeper.
So check out our menu of summer movies for a taste of what’s cookin’ in your air-conditioned multiplex May through July.
‘THE WORLD AIN’T SAVIN’ ITSELF’
That wisecrack’s growled by the inimitable Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, this summer’s sequel to 2009’s Rise of the Cobra. Could be the battle cry of all of his comrades in Spandex and high-tech gear, superheroes of every stripe and style, permanently poised to defend the world against … whatever. By law, their fanboy-pleasin’, CGI’d crusades must feature ear-splitting explosions, humongous machines, Godzilla-scale destruction and the nonstop display of bulging muscles.
Joss Whedon’s The Avengers calls up a super-endowed posse from Marvel’s comic-book universe: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The mission? To save the world (from now on, just STW), this time from Norse god Thor’s ill-tempered brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston, so deceptively sweet in Spielberg’s War Horse). Can’t beat that cast; gotta wonder if, to paraphrase snarky Tony Stark, they will “play well together.”
From Marvel Comics to Hasbro games and toys: G.I. Joe is back for a second tour of duty, buffed up with another unstoppable cast — The Rock, Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum (briefly), Walton Goggins, et al. — after most of the original unit gets killed off. Then make way for Battleship, an 81-year-old boardgame blown up into big-screen action flick, as badass aliens begin their assault on Earth with an epic naval battle. Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard and Liam Neeson strike courageous poses — and STW.