It's already been established that 1984 was the greatest movie summer ever. But what about 2012? Here's the movies we're interested in seeing:
1. Prometheus (June 8) - Let everyone else clamor for the new Batman movie. We're among the contrarians waiting for the new Alien movie. Yeah yeah, it's not a sequel or a prequel. Whatever, Ridley Scott. If you've seen any of the half dozen trailers that 20th Century Fox has been doling out like free crack samples these last few months, then you know this looks like one extremely badass movie, sequel/prequel or not. How eagerly you want to see it depends on whether the term "space jockey" means anything to you.
2. The Bourne Legacy (August 3) - Some complain that it'll be the same plot only with a different lead character (Jeremy Renner replaces Matt Damon). To us, that's the only reason to go. The first three Bourne movies, with their kinetic, loosely-framed, fists-flying, car-racing, psuedo-documetary realism, completely changed for the better how Hollywood envisions action movies (see also: Casino Royale and Taken). We hope this one is as half as good as those.
3. Dark Shadows (May 11) - This has long been a dream project for Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. When we'd hear updates about this from time to time, we'd sort of scratch our heads. Why adapt into film some weirdo 1970s TV soap opera enjoyed by a tiny group of fans? It'd be like turning Fox's "MANTIS" into a movie in 2022. Odd. But this is Johnny Depp and Tim Burton we're talking about here. They do odd. And then we saw the trailers with its screwball 1970s fashion and wry fish-out-of-water vibe for Depp's vampire character. We think we get it now.
4. Rock of Ages (June 15) - We know this isn't an accurate representation of 1980s Sunset Strip's gritty dive clubs (it's not Whiskey-a-Go-Go, it's the Bourbon Room, get it?). But who needs reality when you get this kind of sleek, bubble-gum gloss? The Cheese Fry came of age during the height of hair bands, which means we really, really want to like this. Tom Cruise is singing Bon Jovi, people. If that doesn't attract the rubberneckers, what will?
5. Battleship (May 18) - We hate the Transformers movies. And we recognize that this seems like Transformers on the water. But there's also something Independence Day cool about a war between aliens and the U.S. military, don't you think? So it could go either way. But we'd follow director Peter Berg anywhere. He gave the world the exemplary (aside from the 2nd season, if you what we mean) television show "Friday Night Lights" and for that deserves respect from all of us. (We're also curious to know if anyone in the movie utters the immortal phrase "You sank my battleship!")
6. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20) - There are those who believe writer-director Christopher Nolan can do no wrong. We are not among those. We found both Inception (what a middle-finger of an ending) and The Dark Knight (way, way too much plot for one movie) stylish and cinematic but way overrated. But there is no denying that Nolan is a master at infusing dumb pop culture archetypes like Batman with complex themes and somber mood. We want to see this, but we'll do so with our arms crossed.
7. Men in Black 3 (May 25) - One of those sequels that no one really much wanted outside of the Sony accounting office. Men in Black 2 came out ten years ago, during the second year of George W. Bush's first term. In entertainment, ten years is an eternity. Then you hear stories about production problems, how they started shooting without a script, then had to put everything on hold while they worked out the storyline. These are not good signs. These point to a train wreck of a movie. But then we saw Josh Brolin doing a Tommy Lee Jones impression. They got us.
8. The Avengers (May 4) - This is our homework movie. We feel an obligation to see it, even if we really don't care. We're probably more DC than Marvel. We loved Iron Man, hated Iron Man 2. We liked Hulk better than most, but never saw The Incredible Hulk. And with a toddler, Captain America and Thor last summer didn't make the cut like Super 8 and X Men First Class. While we appreciate that fanboy director Joss Whedon will do a good job and there's no denying the powerhouse cast, there's something unseemly with the way Marvel has so carefully laid the groundwork for this movie starting way back in 2008. This isn't so much a sequel as an inevitability, it seems. The Avengers wasn't contingent on how we reacted to Iron Man and its Sam Jackson cameo in the tag. This movie was going to happen. In fact, we resent how the first round of stand-alone Avenger movies kind of feel like placeholders, obligatory teasers that existed solely to get us to this superhero-team movie. We're also dubious of the logistics in cramming in so many big characters. Too many villains is what killed the pre-reboot Batman and Spiderman franchises. Could too many heroes kill this one?
9. Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8) - This is our kind of movie: a quirky little independent film with a hip cast of up-and-comers. You know, the kind that hits big at Sundance and gets a lot of critical acclaim. The kind that makes you feel oh-so-discerning and sophisticated when you pay money to see it in a half-empty theater. It has a clever premise - what if the crazy person who claims he's from the future isn't really crazy? - and could be a sleeper hit. But more than likely it'll come and go in theaters in just a couple of weekends, then get released on DVD in September. And then one day you'll stumble onto it and really like it and ask your significant other, "Was this in theaters?" Yes. Yes, it was.
10. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3) - 2007's Spiderman 3 sucked. On that, we can all surely agree. But the Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi team did more good than harm overall. Spiderman 2 ranks among the best movies ever, not just best among comic book movies. That crew deserved another shot, a chance to wash the bad taste of Spiderman 3 out of our mouths. But the budget for their proposed Spiderman 4 got too high, so Sony fired everyone and decided to reboot a franchise that was booted for the first time just ten years ago in 2002. (What is it with Sony and its obsession with 2002 comic book movies?) So now we have to sit through another origin story about Spiderman and again learn about "with great power comes great responsibility" and oh, but it's Gwen in this one, not Mary Jane. Whatever, Peter Parker. Whatever. It'll probably be good, but it just seems so tedious going in.
11. Ted (July 13) - We may not watch the show as religiously as some, but we have enormous respect for underrated "Family Guy" which even today hasn't gotten its due thanks to the large shadow cast by the comparatively upscale satire on "The Simpsons." Seth McFarlane's first feature film Ted is therefore worth a look, especially given the premise of a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear (voiced by McFarlane himself) causing trouble for his owner who's now a grown-up Mark Wahlberg. Genius.
12. The Chernobyl Diaries (May 25) - The "found footage" phenomenon - in which a fictional horror film pretends that it's all a documentary to better goose the audience into suspending disbelief - fascinates us. When done well, as in Paranormal Activity, the effect is terrifying in its simplicity because the real scares comes not from what you see but fron what you don't see or what you think you see or what you imagine the characters are seeing just out of the frame. So we're always curious to see these kinds of movies (in this one, our hapless heroes find scares near the Chernobyl nuclear accident site) to find out how well they succeed. Please note, however, that we never said we'd see it in theaters. That'd be too scary. We'll wait for home video.
UPDATE: Okay, it looks this isn't a "found footage" movie, though it does seem to have a few sequences filmed from the POV of a video camera. The Cheese Fry regrets the error. But the movie still looks scary as hell.
13. GI Joe: Retaliation (June 29) - Look, we have to be honest here. We have a crush on Adrianne Palicki. She's in this. We want to see it. The end. Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson are just icing on the cake. The first GI Joe was good, not great.
14. Savages (July 6) - Oliver Stone hasn't had a slam-dunk mainstream success since probably 1999's Any Given Sunday. As we all know, his movies tend to be political in story and inflammatory by design. Admirable and noble, perhaps, but not always able to attract wide audiences. But Savages would seem to be just what Stone needs, a sweaty, down-and-dirty thriller about Mexican cartels, marijuana growers, and kidnapping plots. America also gets it's third Taylor Kitsch movie in three months, whether you want them or not.
For the record, we won't be seeing these two movies: another apparent comedic misfire from Adam Sandler called That's My Boy and the completely unnecessary (bordering on sacrilegious) sequel to Total Recall.