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When I was growing up, there was only one thing to do: go to the beach. The warm sun, the rush of water under your board, and the gorgeous women wearing new tans all walking around waiting to reject me and my friends. We would never have dreamed of going into a darkened movie theater. In fact, I didn’t see a movie in theaters until just four years ago. True fact. Of course, since then I’ve seen at least 87 movies a day to make up for lost times.

However, this summer is shaping up to be strong enough to bring in more than a few crowds from the sun-soaked beaches, saving a few lives from hideous sun burns, and entertaining millions with sci-fi action, awkward social comedy, and antique con men. It’ll see the return of a boy wizard, a legend who saves us from the machines, and a crew of alien robots. It’ll also introduce audiences to a military bomb squad in Iraq, a cranky animated old man with a floating house, and a group of Nazi-scalping bad asses. For the rest, you’ll have to check out the full list.

So why are we still wasting time talking? Here are the film that have us driving off the beach and heading to the theater:

Star Trek (May 8)

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Chances are that you’ve already heard quite a bit about Star Trek from us. And no, we’re not going to continue to brag about the fact that the film made an impromptu world premiere right down the street from Reject HQ in Austin. And no, that has nothing to do with the fact that we were absolutely blown away by J.J. Abrams’ vision for the rebirth of the Trek universe. And no, we aren’t going to wave around the countless positive reviews from various outlets around the web who’ve spread love butter all over this thing in the past few weeks. And no, we can’t give you all free tickets because we believe so strongly that you’ll love it. We do, however, require that you go out and see it. Otherwise you might miss one of the best movies of the summer. - Neil Miller

The Brothers Bloom (May 15)

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I feel like this movie was supposed to come out a long time ago. Rian Johnson’s long-awaited follow-up to Brick played at last year’s Chicago International Film Festival and got a release date in 2009. Early word was that it’s kind of a mixed bag, tonally, but I’d go to any length to see Rachel Weisz up to some adorable shenanigans (even if she is doing her less-adorable American accent) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) as the nitro-glycerin artiste, Bang Bang. Having Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as the brothers in question only adds to the potential charm. So, will The Brothers Bloom do the work Johnson did in Brick justice or will it be another lackluster sophomoric effort from a director who may have gotten lucky with his first film? Either way, The Brothers Bloom is a snappy con movie, and it wouldn’t be summer without one. - Josh Radde

Terminator Salvation (May 21)

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What can we say about this one? The Terminator franchise roars back into theaters with McG’s vision of an adult John Connor (Christian Bale) leading the human resistance against Skynet in 2018. Say what you will about McG, but everything we’ve seen so far points to Terminator Salvation bringing the big guns on May 21st to a franchise that is still trying to get the sour taste of 2003’s Terminator 3 out of its mouth. This is the Terminator we’ve all been waiting for since T2, with damn near perfect casting, a phenomenal script (according to Bale), and McG showing that he can compete with the top dogs of the action genre. Terminator Salvation is the darling of the 2009 summer line-up, and the robot movie to see. - Paul Sileo

Up (May 29)

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We all know that Pixar brings the heat when it comes to animated adventuring. And based on the gross buzz from the countless preview screenings they’ve done for their next feature Up — even dating back to Fantastic Fest last fall where they showed 45 minutes of the film — we should be in for another treat as we meet Carl Fredrickson, a jolly old guy who just wants to get away. And in order to get away, he ties a bunch of balloons to his house and floats away. The only problem is that he’s got a stowaway — a cute little wilderness scout named Russell. Now if that story right there doesn’t sound interesting to you, don’t worry. Neither did the sound of a talking rat who wanted to cook or a robot who was left alone for hundreds of years to clean up the Earth’s trash. See where I’m going with this? Yeah, you should go see Up. – Neil Miller

The Hangover (June 5)

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Do yourself a favor and just watch the trailer. If that doesn’t have you looking forward to this flick then you’re either dead (gross, get off the keyboard) or you simply lack a sense of humor, good taste, and probably good looks. There has been a formula circulating around Hollywood that no one dared try for fear of breaking the awesome barrier. That formula was Zach Galafinakis wearing a baby rig, with a live baby in it, and tossing him into a crazy Las Vegas type situation. I don’t care if he’s not the star, damn it, he’s why I want to see it! – Robert Fure

Moon (June 12)

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This flick features some of the most beautiful shots done all year, Sam Rockwell at his best, and it’s all done atop a solid science fiction conceptual base. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s not often that a film combines the starkness and atmosphere of being alone on the far side of the moon with the energy and tension of a thriller. It’s also not often that all of this comes together for a first time director. Somehow, Sam Rockwell talking to a Spacey-voiced computer and himself (and other himselves) for the run time manages to ask an important question: if you met yourself, would you like yourself? Also, the fad of growing moon beards doesn’t catch on, I’ll be shocked. – Cole Abaius

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24)

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Without a doubt this mega mash up of mechanical monsters makes every movie list focused on the summer. The first film had plenty of guilty fun in long, sexually harassing shots of Megan Fox and awesome explosions. Say what you will about Michael Bay, there is no denying that he’s got an amazing eye for visuals and has the Transformers formula down pat. – Robert Fure

The Hurt Locker (June 26)

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If you’ve heard Neil and I throw around the phrase “best of the year” regarding this film, I understand if you’re skeptical. But that skepticism should be punched in the face, dragged through the dirt, and left crying in the corner after you step into the theater. Jeremy Renner delivers an outstanding performance, but the real impact comes from the story itself. As much as I can recommend watching this movie, if you think that finding yourself embedded emotionally in a humvee with a tactical bomb unit in Baghdad might be too much for you to handle, you’re probably right, and you might want to take a few deep breaths before buying your ticket. – Cole Abaius

Public Enemies (July 1)

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Being a Chicagoan, I was able to see all sorts of fun stuff during the shoot of Public Enemies this past year. Just like The Dark Knight the year before, it seemed like everyone was getting in on the fun. Cab drivers would point out locations and tell you what scene had just been shot, several street corners near my old apartment were made up beautifully to capture the 1930s, and I had a buddy who worked on the film for a week, and at one point was even a stand-in for David Wenham. More than that, when we started to see the trailers for Michael Mann’s latest, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, it became clear this wasn’t a movie that would get pushed aside come summer time. Public Enemies has the potential to be raw, fun, and intense, and with Mann at the helm and capable actors in front of the camera, this should be well worth the price of admission. - Josh Radde

Brüno (July 10)

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The controversy leading up to Borat in 2006 was certainly prolific, and the film didn’t disappoint. It was controversial, crazy, and absolutely hilarious. This summer, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with another one of his zany characters in Bruno, playing a gay Austrian fashion aficionado and aspiring expert on Dildo Defense. One may be a little worried about Cohen’s ability to capture the magic he showed in Borat a second time, but if the trailer is any indication, he has scored again. There is just something about Cohen’s brand of humor, pitting an eccentric, socially-naïve character against the rest of the world and bringing out the absolute absurdity of our society. – Paul Sileo

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15)

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What can you see about this franchise other than “ka-ching?” Ignoring the box office this film will most definitely bring in, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince takes the tale into its darkest territory yet. The young cast has grown up well into the roles and all perform admirably. If you haven’t given Potter a chance, read a synopsis or two and catch this one – it’s a more mature and dark fantasy than you’re expecting. Plus Alan Rickman is in it, so hell yeah! - Robert Fure

500 Days of Summer (July 17)

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Marc Webb’s romance picture, 500 Days of Summer, had a quirky trailer and looked like it was going to be a vehicle to further showcase just how engaging and capable actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are. For JGL it’s a chance to prove that he’s not all angst and arty (which he’ll further prove with G.I. Joe as Cobra Commander) and for Deschanel it’ll be a starring vehicle for the actress whose shined mostly in supporting roles in the past. Even aside from that it looks like it could be a light-hearted summer comedy that you can take the lady (or your mom) to and score some points (just don’t try to put any moves on your mom, that’s gross). - Josh Radde

Funny People (July 31)

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We love Judd Apatow, and Funny People is shaping up to possibly be his best to date. With an all-star cast, including Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman, Apatow’s latest has us counting down the days until July 31st. Though all of his films have tried to give us just enough humanity to put the comedy in context and make it feel more meaningful, Funny People looks to be ramping it up a bit with a story about a famous comedian (Sandler) who, after befriending a young talent (Rogen), finds out he has a terminal disease and begins to assess his life. May sound a little cliché, but Funny People is practically oozing talent, and Sandler is one of those actors whom I wish would take meatier roles because I truly believe he has some serious acting chops. - Paul Sileo

GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra (August 7)

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I don’t care if this movie was directed by a sentient fart and starred a cast of squirrels trained by Cole Abaius, I would want to see it. Which is good for Paramount, considering it’s directed by Stephen Sommers who makes the cinema equivalent of farts on film and stars a Wayans brother. Definitely gone are most of the costumes we know and love, but we’re all hoping for a fun ride through our childhood. Can GI Joe beat out GI Joe: Resolute (the animated feature) in the awesome race? Probably not, but this one stars Sienna Miller so I’m there. - Robert Fure

Inglourious Basterds (August 21)

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Tarantino and I have a history together. He makes movies and I show up on set with a bullhorn chanting “You suck.” Write this down, because for once I’m going to talk positively about this hype factory. QT can direct the heck out of an action sequence and has nerded out on enough excellent films that he can place a camera with the best of them. Regardless of all that, this movie had me at “renegade unit scalping nazis.” – Robert Fure

World’s Greatest Dad (August 21)

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Let me put it to you this way: think about the darkest comedy you’ve ever seen. It probably took situations that you never thought would be funny and forced you to laughed at it. It made you feel dirty, didn’t it? Now keep that thought in your head and consider this: Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad is darker, hands down. It tells the story of a father (Robin Williams) who’s son is killed in a freak masturbation accident. After the wretched boy’s death, dear ole dad begins to write a journal as his son, a journal that shows another more intelligent dimension to his shitburger of a son. Of course, it gets out to the world and the kid becomes a hero in his high school… well, sort of. To say the least, this is one of those deeply twisted comedies that you have to see in order to believe. Notice how I said that you “have to see” it. It’s not optional. - Neil Miller

The Boat that Rocked (August 28)

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After a pretty intense summer of giant fucking robots blowing things up, bomb technicians sweating while trying to make sure things don’t blow up, and Sacha Baron Cohen attempting to blow famous politicians, it’s going to be great to settle into the Fall transition with a heartfelt comedy featuring a phenomenal soundtrack. The only thing cooler than the truly free spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll is a band of pirates, and somehow this film has combined the two. Plus, you’ve got Bill Nighy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Gemma Arterton all sticking it to the powers that be with some of the best music ever made in the background. Damn the man. Save our ship. – Cole Abaius


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