Summer 2011 Movie Preview

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The summer is upon us, and with it comes the sun, the sand and, of course, the flicks. Each summer, moviegoers are presented with a smorgasbord of blockbuster films that bring in billions at the box office.

The weak spot in this year's summer lineup is undoubtedly its lack of variety, as most of the films can be generally broken down into two categories: sequels or prequels and comic book adaptations. Despite the lack of variety, the amount of action that is to be packed into summer movies this season more than fills the void; fans will certainly find their fill of summer fun at the theatre!

MAY

Thor
Director: Kenneth Branaugh
Thor starts off the summer comic book movies with a bang, emanating from his powerful hammer.

The film follows the fallen god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), exiled to Earth by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and his experiences and struggles on this planet. To accompany him on his journey are a beautiful love interest (Natalie Portman) and a villainous sibling (Tom Hiddleston).

Thor is the third flick in a Marvel series leading up to an eventual Avengers film, following the wildly successful Iron Man (2008) and The Incredible Hulk (2008).

Something Borrowed
Director: Luke Greenfield
Here's one for all the rom-com lovers out there; Something Borrowed is pure, unadulterated chick flick.

Something Borrowed is based in the 2005 New York Times bestseller by Emily Giffin. It tells the story of two best friends, and what happens when Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) falls in love with Darcy's (Kate Hudson) fianc. The women are faced with answering life's biggest questions: What is love and how far will you go for it? How do you balance the loyalties of friendship with your own happiness?

The women are joined in their complicated friendship by two leading men: Dex, the fianc (Colin Egglesfield), and his best friend Ethan (John Krasinski).

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Director: Rob Marshall
The rumors are true! Captain Jack Sparrow is back this summer in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. While the title might be a mouthful to say, the flick will surely capture audiences' interests with Jack and his ever crazier adventures in the world of pirating. After defeating Davy Jones and his Kraken, breaking the curse of the Black Pearl and surviving a seemingly endless slew of deadly escapades, Captains Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) embark upon the search for the Fountain of Youth. Their path crosses with a woman from Jack's past, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), but her intentions are unclear. They find they are not alone in their quest, however, as the evil pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) is on the same hunt. Aiding the two captains on their journey is the enigmatic, if not slightly difficult to understand, Captain Teague (Keith Richards).

The Hangover Part II
Director: Todd Phillips
The wolf pack returns with another bachelor party weekend in The Hangover Part II.

This time around, it's uptight dentist Stu (Ed Helms) who's getting hitched, and the boys decide to throw him a bachelor party he will never forget in Thailand. If anyone thought the shenanigans couldn't possibly get crazier than they were in The Hangover, they are sure to be proven wrong as Part II features a drug-dealing monkey, a face tattoo and the return of Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).

Kung Fu Panda 2
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
The Dragon Warrior is back to fight more evil with his awesome kung fu skills in this sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2.

After defeating the villain Tai Lung, Po (Jack Black) and the Furious Five — Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) — must now fight Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) to protect the art of kung fu itself. In this follow-up to the original, the big question of Po's past (just how does a panda wind up with a noodle making goose for a father?) will be answered in a touching way, giving Po the strength he needs to fight for his beloved kung fu.

June

X-Men: First Class
Friday, June 3
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Not a sequel but a prequel, X-Men: First Class is about what the first generation of mutants were like when they were young.

First Class follows a young Charles Xavier(James McAvoy) who begins a school for socalled "mutants" who have superhuman abilities. This prequel traces the well-known characters' humble beginnings, featuring Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and adds in a handful of new mutant faces. A rift that develops between Xavier and Magneto soon begins a war between two best friends, turning them into archenemies.

Green Lantern
Friday, June 17
Director: Martin Campbell
The next comic book flick of the summer comes from the DC universe in the form of Green Lantern.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a test pilot for the United States Air Force when he has the power ring of the Green Lantern Corps bestowed upon him. Hal is the first human chosen to join the Corps, made up of aliens, and is chosen on the basis of his humanity. The power ring gives Hal nearly unlimited powers that he must use to save Earth from the evil Parallax. Aided by his love interest Carol (Blake Lively) and Green Lantern mentor Thaal Sinestro (Mark Strong), Hal must learn to utilize his powers and fight for the side of good.

Cars 2
Friday, June 24
Director: John Lasseter
Lightning McQueen is back on the racing circuit in this summer's Cars 2.

Lightning (Owen Wilson) enters himself into the World Grand Prix, featuring racing locales in Tokyo, London and Italy, to race for the title of "World's Fastest Car."

Lightning's best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) tags along to cheer him on, but Mater somehow ends up involved in the world of international espionage. Joined by new cars Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), Mater and Lightning face the highs and lows of both racing and spying on the international scene.

July

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Friday, July 1
Director: Michael Bay
Can the Transformers franchise hold onto its appeal without leading lady Megan Fox? That is the question the Michael Bay faces with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is distinctly Fox-less.

Once again, the evil Decepticons are plotting destruction, this time aimed at Chicago. The Autobots look to Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) for help, though his worries are more focused on his new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and the danger she is placed in due to Sam's involvement with the Autobots.

Soldiers William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Robert Epps (Tyrese Gibson) fight alongside Sam and the Autobots, managing to find the long lost body of Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), Optimus Prime's predecessor, to aid in their battle against the Decepticons.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Friday, July 15
Director: David Yates
The end is here. What can possibly be said to wrap up a film and book series that has spanned more than a decade? A generation of children grew up with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson) and all the rest of the characters in and around Hogwarts, and now the final film will bring the series to an end.

This last installment will see the battle for Hogwarts, the showdown between Harry and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), the deaths of a few beloved characters and, of course, that kiss between Ron and Hermione.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Friday, July 22
Director: Joe Johnston
Another in the Marvel series of Avenger flicks comes Captain America: The First Avenger, which is sure to be packed with action and at least one type of crazy radioactive "ray" to endow the hero with superpowers.

This origin story traces the evolution from Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) from a scrawny guy unfit for military service during the Second World War to the ultimate super-soldier. Steve is transformed after volunteering for a top-secret government experiment and the result is Captain America, who fights for freedom and the American way of life.

August

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Friday, August 5
Director: Rupert Wyatt
The second of the summer's big prequels takes us back to long before Charlton Heston or Marky Mark ever encountered a world run by apes. When scientists in America begin genetic experimentation on apes, they quickly lose control of the animals, who wage a war for control of the Earth.