The summer movie season is almost upon us: a time of both trepidation and excitement for avid moviegoers. This is when Hollywood offers up some of its biggest flops, as well as some its most memorable films. Although creative risk is almost always minimized in the season of the blockbuster, financial risk is at an all-time high. Millions of dollars are pumped into what will either become massive successes or giant pieces of crap.
This summer season kicks off with the release of Thor. Based on Marvel's answer to the Nordic myth, Thor and the July release of Captain America are the last films in the lead-up to the 2012 release of superhero epic The Avengers. Both movies have a lot riding on them for Marvel, and if the trailers are any indication of quality, they look ready to deliver exactly what we expect. In no way do they appear to be breaking the superhero mold, but why should they? A buff hero, a sinister villain, some flashy special effects, and maybe a love interest are all you really need for a satisfying superhero flick.
Another comic book film also trying to save the day this summer is Green Lantern. A mash-up of sci-fi and superhero goodness, the film is about a US Air Force pilot who comes into contact with an alien ring that bestows upon him the power to create anything he pictures with his mind. One potentially worrying aspect about Green Lantern is that it features Ryan Reynolds in the lead role — he really managed to fuck up his character Deadpool in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Luckily, the film is in the capable directorial hands of Martin Campbell, the man who successfully reinvigorated the Bond franchise with Casino Royale.
After the flashy special effects of the summer superhero flicks wear off, the season just wouldn't be complete without a few sequels. This summer is no exception, with the arrival of The Hangover Part II and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows: Part 2.
The new Harry Potter flick is already destined to be a smash hit. Essentially, as denoted by "Part 1" and "Part 2," the movie is more a continuation of the series' final installment than a sequel, and the first half has already garnered fanfare, critical acclaim, and financial success. No big surprises expected here.
But The Hangover Part II could go either way. The first movie was the sleeper hit of 2009, and it killed audience and box office expectations alike. The anticipation for its sequel is incredibly high, and it has yet to be proven if the series has enough mojo to transfer into a full-fledged franchise. Hopefully, the Wolf Pack has enough teeth to do it again. If not, maybe just slam some roofalin and you'll forget the whole thing ever happened.
Another theme that seems to be emerging this summer is plopping a once-famous star into a completely bizarre movie. The Beaver, starring everyone's favourite anti-Semitic troublemaker Mel Gibson, has the actor playing a hopelessly depressed family man who utilizes a puppet beaver with an English accent as a communication tool. Seriously, who knew Gibson was capable of going even further off the deep end? If this continues, he'll be well on his way to Charlie Sheen-inspired Tiger Blood status.
In kind, Jim Carrey will appear in Mr. Popper's Penguins, a film about a man and his very special roommates: a bunch of penguins. Granted, Jim Carrey's image isn't as tarnished as Gibson's, but his star seems to have faded in recent years. In response, like Gibson, Carrey has elected to star in a movie to which the only appropriate response is: "Are you kidding me?" But who knows — maybe this will be the movie that gets Carrey that little gold statue he's pined for throughout his career.
Any way you slice it, the summer movie season has something for everyone. Whether you like beavers, puppets, or superheroes, you should be able to find something that catches your eye. If not, all the past year's Oscar contenders will be on DVD just in time for you to avoid the theatres all summer long.