Home Entertainment Top 30 must-see summer movies in 2012

Top 30 must-see summer movies in 2012


Summer movies are coming, and iconic superheroes will dominate as Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, and The Amazing Spider-Man duke it out for box office supremacy, while the sci-fi derby includes fresh takes on the Alien saga (Prometheus) and Philip K. Dick (Total Recall), plus a return visit to MIB headquarters.

Of course, it’s not all grenades and gunshots. Just see a shirtless Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages and everythingless Channing Tatum in Magic Mike representing for the ladies this summer.

We count down the biggest and best blockbusters for beating the summer heat.

30. Battleship

Release Date: May 18

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Rihanna

The Scoop: “John Carter” sank, but this feature version of the perennial Hasbro board game may be just the ticket to keep Taylor Kitsch’s career afloat. The decision to go sci-fi with invading aliens as the heavies is clearly the filmmakers’ attempt to capitalize on the success of “Transformers,” but with costars Liam Neeson and singer Rihanna in tow, this could be one unsinkable “Battleship.”

29. Bel Ami

Release Date: June 8

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci

The Scoop: R.Pattz is a beautiful friend indeed to the many lovely ladies in this 19th-century romp. The “Twilight” superstar plays Georges Duroy, a French libertine using his cunning and sexuality to broker his way from one powerful woman’s bed to another. Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant, this one’s sure to get the more literary-minded audience’s home fires burning.

28. Sparkle

Release Date: Aug 17

Starring: Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Cee Lo Green

The Scoop: Whitney Houston’s swan song is a remake of the 1970s cult classic, which she adored as a child. The late singer was set for a big-time comeback, including a soundtrack produced by R. Kelly, before her tragic death in February. Houston and “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks are “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” and audiences will be floored.

27. The Expendables 2

Release Date: Aug 17

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Scoop: A second helping of brawny, gun-totin’ geezers was inevitable after the mighty $275 million haul their pyrotechnics brought in two years ago. Stallone has ceded the director’s chair to Simon West (“Tomb Raider,” “Con Air”) but returns as writer and star, playing mercenary Barney Ross, who leads his team into a trap in which one of them gets whacked. They recruit new members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) to get some of that sweet, tasty revenge we like so much.

26. What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Release Date: May 18

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker

The Scoop: The go-to chick flick of the summer is based on the classic baby manual and follows five couples as they navigate the ups, downs and hormones of pregnancy. Oh, and don’t worry, guys, because Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon, Rob Huebel and Matthew Morrison will be on hand for some much-needed bro time.

25. G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Release Date: June 29

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki

The Scoop: Because one just wasn’t enough. The Joes are back, but this time those Cobra scumbags have hatched a scheme to get their kung fu grip on the White House and eliminate America’s last line of defense. Tatum returns as Duke, but it’s Johnson as Roadblock and Willis as the original “Joe” who are running the show this time around. Did we mention ninjas swordfighting off a cliff face? POW!

24. People Like Us

Release Date: June 29

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Jon Favreau

The Scoop: You might know the name Alex Kurtzman as one of the kings of franchise screenwriting with “Transformers,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” under his belt. Instead of making a splashy debut as a director, he wrote this grounded drama (along with partner Roberto Orci) about a man named Sam (Pine) who has to deliver $150,000 to a 30-year-old alcoholic sister he’s never met. He encounters her troubled 12-year-old son and probably learns something about himself, too.

23. Katy Perry: Part of Me

Release Date: July 15

Starring: Katy Perry

The Scoop: This concert documentary chronicles the life of the world’s biggest female pop star, from her humble beginnings as a gospel singer to when she kissed a girl and liked it. If you really want to have fun, try hopping back and forth between the theater showing this film and another one showing ex-hubby Russell Brand’s “Rock of Ages.”

22. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Release Date: June 22

Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Derek Luke, Connie Britton

The Scoop: Here’s a perfect 2012 comedy for the Mayan-minded. With an impending asteroid about to smush the Earth into a pancake, a man teams up with a neighbor to road-trip across an apocalyptic U.S. and reunite with his childhood sweetheart. We’d never have thought to cast Carell opposite Knightley, but that unlikely chemistry might just prove magical, especially given the unconventional nature of the script.

21. ParaNorman

Release Date: Aug 17

Starring: (voices) Casey Affleck, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

The Scoop: From the 3-D stop-motion geniuses at Laika — the very patient animators who brought us “Coraline” — comes this slab of spooky fun revolving around an outcast kid named Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who communicates with the dead to protect his sleepy New England town from a horde of ghosts, witches and zombies. The trailers are awesome, with some incredible puppet animation and a hilarious “Monster House” vibe to the story.

20. Men in Black 3

Release Date: May 21

Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve

The Scoop: Call it cautious optimism, but despite some clunky-looking effects and tales of production woes (delays, unfinished scripts), we’re still amped to see Will and Tommy back in black. With Josh Brolin doing a so-dead-on-it’s-scary Tommy Lee Jones impersonation as a ’60s-era Agent K, this will indeed be like walking into a time machine.

19. To Rome With Love

Release Date: June 22

Starring: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page

The Scoop: Woody Allen made box office magic with last summer’s “Midnight in Paris,” so let’s see if he can strike gold twice in a row. The Woodman continues his globetrotting (London, Barcelona, France) with this trip to the boot of Europe as famous Italians (Benigni) mix with American tourists (Baldwin, Eisenberg, Page) in four interconnected comedic vignettes. Throw in an Academy Award-winning Spaniard (Cruz) and Allen himself, and you’ve got yourself a heaping plate of laughs al dente.

18. Magic Mike

Release Date: June 29

Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer

The Scoop: Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”) remarked on an episode of “WTF with Marc Maron” that when she released her stripping memoir, it resulted in criticism and controversy, and she wondered if this film — based on Channing Tatum’s teen experiences takin’ it all off in Tampa, Florida — would bring the “21 Jump Street” star equal scorn. Only one way to find out, as Steven Soderbergh directs a beefcake wonderland eager to please. Tatum is, to put this tastefully, the Jedi stripping master, while Pettyfer is his Padawan disciple, and the ladies should look forward to some red-hot “lightsabers.”

Dark Knight Rises is no. 1 movie to see this summer

Dark Knight Rises is no. 1 movie to see this summer

17. Moonrise Kingdom

Release Date: May 25

Starring: Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman

The Scoop: With Ed Norton as a cigarette-smoking Boy Scout troop leader, Bruce Willis as a sheriff with translucent glasses and Bill Murray as a disenchanted father, this couldn’t be anything but a standard-issue Wes Anderson affair. The director of “The Royal Tenenbaums” always has something delightfully eccentric up his corduroy sleeves, and his tale of two young kids in a runaway romance will not disappoint.

16. Rock of Ages

Release Date: June 15

Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise

The Scoop: Tom Cruise likes his old-time rock ‘n’ roll Bon Jovi-style as he belts out “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” Word on the street is Cruise brings down the house, but for backup you’ve got pros Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige waiting in the wings to make sure this Broadway musical takes it to the next level. Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) directs.

15. The Dictator

Release Date: May 16

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly

The Scoop: Cohen has always been a provocateur of the highest order, but could this lampooning of Middle Eastern despots, inspired by the novel “Zabibah and the King” by Saddam Hussein (!), be that final crossover into “too far” territory? Not by a long shot. Not since Charlie Chaplin spoofed Hitler in “The Great Dictator” has a world-class comedian had the cojones that Cohen does, and this will be a take-no-prisoners laughfest from “Borat” and “Brüno” director Larry Charles. Look out for Megan Fox parodying herself in a sexy cameo.

14. Safety Not Guaranteed

Release Date: June 8

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Mark Duplass

The Scoop: The plot is pretty simple: Kenneth (Duplass) places an ad in the paper reading, “Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.” Journalist Darius (Plaza) comes into his life to investigate the claim, and that’s when things get complicated. Based on an Internet meme, the film was praised at this year’s Sundance Festival and has “indie sleeper” written all over it.

13. Savages

Release Date: July 6

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Emile Hirsch

The Scoop: Oliver Stone is going back to the crazy-ass, hallucinogenic vibe of “Natural Born Killers” with this tawdry tale of a couple of easygoing marijuana-dealing bros (Johnson and Kitsch) and their polyamorous girlfriend (Lively) who gets kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel. Let the bodies hit the floor. Stone also wrangled Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta along for the ride.

12. The Campaign

Release Date: Aug 10

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis

The Scoop: If you’re at all familiar with a little series called “Between Two Ferns,” then you know that Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are a hilariously combustible combo. This satire from director Jay Roach (“Austin Powers,” “Meet the Parents”) follows two rival Southern politicians, played by Ferrell and Galifianakis (sans beard, mustache only), who are not gentlemanly about winning a coveted North Carolina congressional seat. With HBO movies “Recount” and “Game Change” under his belt, Roach has done pretty well using politics as a backdrop for drama, so we’ll cast our vote that he can mine the comedy as well.

11. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Release Date: June 22

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

The Scoop: Honest Abe is back, and he’s pissed off! The virtuous 16th president helped free the slaves in the Civil War, but any bloodsucking monster he encounters is going to need facial reconstruction. Adapting Seth Grahame-Smith’s popular tongue-in-cheek novel that re-mythologizes Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) as a badass, Ruskie Timur Bekmambetov of “Wanted” fame directs this All-American story of bloodshed and patriotism.

10. Brave

Release Date: June 22

Starring: (voices) Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, John Ratzenberger

The Scoop: The lucky 13th feature film in the jewel-encrusted Pixar dynasty is a dynamic change of pace. The lovely Macdonald (“Boardwalk Empire”) brings her Scottish brogue to voicing Princess Merida, a defiant young woman with a “my way or the highway” attitude. To overcome a terrible curse, the skilled archer must find a way to undo it, which may involve firing arrows at a giant frickin’ bear.

9. Total Recall

Release Date: Aug 3

Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston

The Scoop: Nobody thought Paul Verhoeven’s triple-breasted 1990 sci-fi classic needed a remake, but so far, the footage screened of Len Wiseman’s futuristic vision has been received positively by fans. Colin Farrell, believe it or not, is the Schwarzenegger substitute, bringing a more cerebral take on the mixed-up memory bank of character Douglas Quaid, who tries to get a vacation implanted in his head when things go violently haywire.

8. The Bourne Legacy

Release Date: Aug 3

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Oscar Isaac

The Scoop: Jeremy Renner proved in last year’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” that he can do the spy thing with gusto, but can he bring the same Energizer Bunny intensity to this franchise that Matt Damon did? Despite the title, this is a Jason Bourne-less entry in the Robert Ludlum franchise, with Renner’s Aaron Cross an alumni of the same kick-butt school that Bourne dropped out of. The events will parallel much of the action in the previous three movies, kind of like “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” but with more car chases and choke holds. Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, and David Strathairn all reprise their roles from the previous films.

7. Ted

Release Date: July 13

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale

The Scoop: “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane is trying his hand at a feature, but it won’t be family friendly. The cute stuffed teddy bear of the title magically comes to life and grows up to become a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, pot smoking slacker along with his “thunder buddy for life” John (Mark Wahlberg). When John’s girl Lori (Mila Kunis) wants Ted out of his life, the horndog Snuggle Bear from hell has to strike out on his own. If MacFarlane can sustain the hilarity of the trailers, he just might have a subversive sleeper hit on his hands. If not, it’ll be a noble collection of dick jokes.

6. Dark Shadows

Release Date: May 11

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote

The Scoop: We are now officially living in the age of the vampire, but with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton hitting the blood bank we expect this adaptation of the cult classic ’60s soap opera to have a bit more bite than “Twilight.” His Deppness plays Barnabas Collins, a 200+ year-old who wakes in 1972 Collinsport, Maine, and has to adjust to his modern family and the vengeful witch Angelique (Green) who cursed him. Expect this vamp to be high camp.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man

Release Date: July 3

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan

The Scoop: With Sam Raimi’s last Spidey spin only five years back, you may feel like this reboot is déjà vu; but as Steely Dan said, “wheels turning’ ’round and ’round / You go back, Jack, do it again.” Peter Parker (Garfield) is once more a nerdy high schooler, but with a bit more emo than Tobey Maguire brought to the role. This time ’round he’s bit by the spider, invents his own web shooters, tangles with The Lizard (Ifans), and gets some blonde ambition in love interest Gwen Stacy (Stone). Besides his usual swinger charm, expect Garfield to emphasize Spidey’s trademark wisecracks, as well as a suit that looks like it was designed by Nike.

4. Prometheus

Release Date: June 8

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron

The Scoop: Back in the sci-fi saddle for the first time in over three decades, director Ridley Scott is dipping back into the “Alien” well for a sorta-prequel that will also stand alone as its own unique sci-fi horror epic. Detailing nothing less than the origin of mankind’s existence, this will be one seriously intense voyage to the dark side of the universe for the title ship and its all-star crew. Be sure to face-hug someone close to you.

3. Snow White and the Huntsman

Release Date: June 1

Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane

The Scoop: How many Snow Whites does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Two, apparently. With the already released “Mirror Mirror” not as “fairest” as it set out to be, its competitor for your fairy-tale dollar features Bella herself, K.Stew, as an armored warrior version of the sunlight-deprived maiden. Theron is the evil queen who wants to swallow your soul, and Hemsworth puts down Thor’s hammer for the Huntsman’s axe.

2. The Avengers

Release Date: May 4

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson

The Scoop: Loki has an army, but Tony Stark has a Hulk. That’s how this works. Nerd deity Joss Whedon (“Serenity”) has assembled Marvel’s mightiest heroes for the knock-down, drag-out slugfest we’ve been waiting five movies for. Downey gets back in his shiny tin can as Iron Man, Evans is the defrosted Captain America, Hemsworth is a strange Thor in a strange land, and Ruffalo finds it’s not easy being green as Bruce Banner’s incredible alter ego.

1. The Dark Knight Rises

Release Date: July 20

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman

The Scoop: Um, duh, this one was always No. 1 with a bullet. Christopher Nolan seemed hesitant to try and top the Joker-tastic previous film – the biggest superhero movie of all time – when he told Hero Complex in 2008, “I have to ask the question: How many good third movies in a franchise can people name?” Well, Chris, you must have found a way, since the Caped Crusader (Bale) has risen with supervillain Bane (Hardy) and ambivavillain Catwoman (Hathaway) hot on his tail for the final part of our generation’s ultimate cinematic Batman saga.


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