The most enjoyable movie season of the year began this month and won’t let up until school starts in late August. This is the time when moviegoers get more bang for their buck with action, laughs and special effects extravaganzas. There are lots of sequels on the horizon—a second Transformers, a Da Vinci Code follow-up, a third Ice Age, another Night at the Museum and a sixth Harry Potter. Here are 10 movies (only two of them part of a series) that look especially promising.
The Gist: The eleventh Trek adventure, featuring a young cast, portrays the maiden voyage of the Starship Enterprise, with Leonard Nimoy returning as a time-traveling Spock.
Why It Could Rock: The early word is phenomenal; the studio has already greenlit a sequel and the anticipation is huge. Looks like the same kind of smart, fun, character-driven, action-packed dazzler that Iron Man was last year.
Unless: It can’t live up to the hype and revive the franchise and winds up like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Best-Case Scenario: Trek TV series DVDs start to sell out nationwide, President Obama includes “boldly go” in his next speech and William Shatner runs for Governor.
The Gist: The fourth film in the Terminator franchise, starring Christian Bale as an adult John Conner.
Why It Could Rock: Lots of anticipation. The trailer is awesome, Bale is an acting powerhouse and the Governator is rumored to make a cameo appearance.
Unless: Charlie’s Angels director McG was really the wrong guy to make this. Plus, can T2 ever be topped?
Best-Case Scenario: It’s better than T3: Rise of the Machines, in which case Bale will be back.
The Gist: The latest from the wizards at Pixar, a fantasy about an old man and a flying house.
Why It Could Rock: Pixar has a virtually unblemished track record, having made one quality classic after another. Word is that the most dazzling scenes are not in the trailer.
Unless: The studio that saved Disney’s animation arm finally stumbles, or the competition from Ben Stiller or those dumb G-Force guinea pigs proves too great.
Best-Case Scenario: Audiences love it as much as Toy Story, and Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles, and Wall-E, and…
Drag Me To Hell
The Gist: Topical horror film, starring Alison Lohman as a bank executive who has a very, very bad day.
Why It Could Rock: Director Sam Raimi is taking a break from Spidey epics to make a return to his Evil Dead days. This is the only decent looking horror movie opening this summer.
Unless: It’s cornier than Spider-Man 3.
Best-Case Scenario: Audiences love it so much, Raimi decides to do Evil Dead 4.
The Taking of Pelham 123
The Gist: Remake of the 1974 white-knuckler, a subway hostage thriller. Stars Denzel Washington and John Travolta, directed by Tony Scott.
Why It Could Rock: Travolta plays a great villain and Washington has a similar role to his Inside Man character. Scott is an action whiz and previously teamed with Washington on Crimson Tide and Man on Fire. A movie for teens and their parents.
Unless: It’s as forgettable as The Manchurian Candidate remake, which also starred Washington.
Best-Case Scenario: The Washington/Travolta/Scott triple threat gets audiences on the edge of their seats, and we get Taking of Pelham 123.2.
The Gist: A historical thriller about the cat and mouse game between career criminal John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale, again)
Why It Could Rock: The unbeatable combo of two of our best actors, under the wing of maverick action director Michael Mann. Could be this decade’s The Untouchables.
Unless: It’s as densely plotted and off-putting as Mann’s last movie, Miami Vice. The lack of scenes the two stars have together could disappoint those expecting a 30s-era Face/Off.
Best-Case Scenario: The History Channel starts running Dillinger specials on demand.
I Love You, Beth Cooper
The Gist: A high school nerd utters the title at his graduation speech, then watches his whole world change in one night.
Why It Could Rock: It’s based on one of the funniest novels I’ve ever read, written by Larry Doyle, who also penned the screenplay. And Heroes star Hayden Panettiere sure is easy on the eyes.
Unless: The book gets watered down and it ends up just another forgettable teen comedy.
Best-Case Scenario: It’s as funny as Superbad.
The Gist: A comedy about comedians, played by Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, written and directed by the reliably hilarious Judd Apatow.
Why It Could Rock: Said to be more heartfelt than The 40-Year Old Virgin but as raunchy and fall-down funny. The trailer is promising.
Unless: Audiences are fed up with Sandler, following a run of lousy summer movies that many saw but few actually liked.
Best-Case Scenario: The serious scenes connect with audiences, who have been put off by Sandler’s previous attempt to mix laughs with drama.
The Time Traveler’s Wife (August 14)
The Gist: An artist (Rachel McAdams) falls in love with a man (Eric Bana) who has a condition where he travels through time whenever he finds himself stressed.
Why It Could Rock: After months of putting up with dude comedies and explosion-heavy blockbusters, the ladies will want a genuine date movie, and this one looks smart, gripping and ambitious. If it’s better than The Notebook, the guys won’t mind being dragged along to see this repeatedly.
Unless: The fact that it was shot years ago and has been sitting on the shelf is a bad sign.
Best-Case Scenario: It becomes a chick flick that guys admit to liking. MTW