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Friday, May 4, 2012


Written by Kirk Baird

Summer officially kicks off June 20. But unofficially it begins today with The Avengers. The highly anticipated Marvel superheroes extravaganza launches the summer film season, a four-month lineup of original blockbusters and must-see sequels. Here are 10 highlights.

The Avengers. Comic-book geek Josh Whedon made the mother of all superhero films, featuring an all-star cast of do-gooders — Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow — who unite to stop an evil god and an invading army of aliens. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hiddleston.

May 11:
Dark Shadows. Tim Burton’s comic take on the 1960s cult TV soap opera features Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins, who is freed from two centuries of entombment to face the witch who imprisoned him as well as the even more frightening early 1970s. Also starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chloë Grace Moretz.

June 1:
Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize Theron camps it up in a deliciously evil performance as the witchy queen obsessed with being the fairest of them all, with Kristen Stewart’s beautiful Snow White as the one who stands in her way. Also starring Chris Hemsworth.

June 13:
Prometheus. Ridley Scott revisits the Alien franchise, as a group of outer-space explorers discovers a clue to the origins of humanity ... and then must battle to save it. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, and Idris Elba.

June 22:
Brave. Pixar looks to regain its magic touch after last summer’s disappointing Cars 2, with the story of Merida, the impetuous daughter of a Scottish king and queen, who defies tradition and must undo a terrible curse. Featuring the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and, of course, John Ratzenberger.

July 3:
The Amazing Spider-Man. Only a decade since the first Spider-Man movie, the Web crawler is back in another story of how Peter Parker acquired his amazing powers and what he decides to do with them. Andrew Garfield is the new Spider-Man and Rhys Ifans is his new nemesis, the Lizard. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field.

July 6:
Savages. Based on the New York Times best-selling crime novel by Don Winslow, Savages is the story of a trio of friends and marijuana growers who wage war against the Mexican drug cartel. Oliver Stone’s violent drug drama looks like Natural Born Killers-meets-Scarface. Starring Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Emile Hirsch.

July 13:
Ted. Directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, the R-rated Ted is the amusing tale of a grown man who must deal with a rude and crude teddy bear come to life as a result of a childhood wish. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, with the voice of MacFarlane.

July 20:
The Dark Knight Rises. Christopher Nolan completes his Batman trilogy with the masked vigilante (Christian Bale) facing off against the only comic-book villain who ever "broke the bat," Bane (Tom Hardy). Figuring into the plot is Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Also starring Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman.

Aug. 3:
The Bourne Legacy. Jeremy Renner takes over for Matt Damon as another super agent, Aaron Cross, who goes rogue. The Bourne Legacy was co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy (Duplicity), who wrote the screenplays for the original trilogy based on the Robert Ludlum novels. Also starring Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, and Stacy Keach.

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