X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class
The X-Men franchise started out strong with Bryan Singer's X-Men and X2, only to falter with Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand and that dopey Wolverine Origins movie. Now Fox relaunches the series with an origin story set in the 1960s, when Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) were BFFs trying to help mutantkind live peacefully with humans. Geek expectations couldn't be higher.
Midnight In Paris
This flick has been getting the strongest reviews for a Woody Allen movie since Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Allen's decision to cast Wedding Crashers stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams as an American couple wandering the City of Light could attract a younger crowd than usual. Not that they'll get any of his jokes.
Le Quattro Volte
A minimalist drama about the transmigration of a human soul through three other forms of existence, Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte is sure to be one of the oddest movies to play art houses this summer. And that's saying something.
It'd be foolish to bet against a bunch of resentful mutants - so we're picking X-Men: First Class to take first place.
All we know about J.J. Abrams's mysterious new project is that it draws heavily on the suburban-innocence vibe of Steven Spielberg productions like Poltergeist, E.T. and The Goonies and follows a group of young filmmakers who witness a trail derailment and then discover something really strange in their footage. The trailer promises a sense of wonder - and thrills - that movies haven't delivered in a while. That's enough to pique our interest.
The Tree Of Life
Word out of Cannes is that Terrence Malick's Palme d'Or winner is about nothing less than the entirety of existence, with a stop in the 20th century so Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain can give birth to a child who will grow up to be Sean Penn. Malick's fans - and cinephiles in general - are already booking their tickets.
This eccentric tale of an English teen (Craig Roberts) trying to lose his virginity and keep his family together - not necessarily in that order - is the buzzy directorial debut of British comic and actor Richard Ayoade, best known here as the nervous Moss on The IT Crowd. It's been a film-festival hit ever since it launched at TIFF last September.
No disrespect to the combined marquee value of Pitt and Penn, but Tree Of Life's cerebral themes might have people thinking twice about buying a ticket, whereas the marketing push behind Super 8 has positioned it as the must-see movie of early summer.
One of the year's few superhero movies that hasn't sprung from a Marvel Comic, Green Lantern stars Ryan Reynolds as a fearless test pilot who's launched into an intergalactic adventure when a dying alien chooses him to carry on his mission as defender of this space sector. It looks busy as hell, with the entire Green Lantern Corps crammed into the frame. But from the buzz at Comic-Con, that's exactly what the fanboys want.
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Who wouldn't want to watch Jim Carrey try to wrangle half a dozen flightless seabirds? The popular 1930s children's book gets a big-screen update in this adaptation by Mean Girls director Mark Waters.
Christopher Plummer dazzled TIFF last year as an elderly family man whose decision to come out of the closet after the death of his wife leads his adult son (Ewan McGregor) to re-evaluate their relationship. Everyone who missed it at the festival has been waiting 10 months to catch up with it.
If Green Lantern hews so closely to the comic-book origins that it scares away a mass audience, Mr. Popper's Penguins could take the weekend on the strength of kids' sales.
Cars may not top anyone's list of the best Pixar movies, but it's the one closest to director John Lasseter's heart - and it sells a lot of toys. So Disney was only too happy to green-light a sequel that expands the movie's world by sending speed racer Lightning McQueen and sidekick Mater - voiced once again by Owen Wilson and Larry The Cable Guy - on a world tour.
After sleepwalking through her good-girl role in The Green Hornet, Cameron Diaz turns to the dark side as a destructive junior high teacher who arrives at a new school and proceeds to wreak havoc on the lives of co-workers Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake (see Stars of summer sidebar, page 73). Director Jake Kasdan did fine work on the ensemble comedies Zero Effect, Orange County and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, so we're encouraged.
The Future Is Now!
Gary Burns and Jim Brown's docu-fiction hybrid puzzled as many audience members as it enthralled at Hot Docs earlier this month, but that should work in its favour as far as building word of mouth.
No Pixar movie has ever stumbled at the box office. Look for Cars 2 to leave everything else in the dust.