Finally, readers, the summer movie season is upon us. So far this year has been solid, but sorely lacking in mega-blockbusters. John Carter did not deliver for the fifteen people who saw it and The Hunger Games, as successful and good as it was, wasn’t an epic actioner or packed with real spectacle.

Yet there’s much promise in the action department for the summer of 2012, and it’s starting off just right, with something we’ve all been anticipating.

Hopefully the rest of the summer will follow that film’s mighty lead…

Headhunters

Now in limited release.

This foreign pic was stupidly left off last month’s list. Cole Abaius was a fan during its festival run; having now seen it, it’s hard not to agree with everyone’s kind words. Headhunters is a small, dark, and creative crime thriller specializing in brutal violence, and no one will come away disappointed in that regard.

Marvel’s The Avengers

Opens May 4th.

This is how you do a summer blockbuster — not just right, but in a way other tentpole films should take notes from. This is Marvel’s best outing to date, with a third act that does not lose steam or fall apart, it contains both personal and global stakes, and it has a villain who provides menace without acting like a cartoon. Joss Whedon has made The Avengers exactly as it should be.

Sleepless Night

Opens May 11th and now on VOD and iTunes.

Nothing but praise has been lavished upon Sleepless Night since its premiere at TIFF; with the film actually available to everyday folks, that buzz has continued. Having not seen it, I can’t say if the film, which Warner Bros. picked up the remake rights to, is as ass-kicking as the reviews say. If the trailer and synopsis are any indication, we need not worry.

Dark Shadows

Opens May 11th.

Alice in Wonderland was a big surprise, in the sense that it was Tim Burton‘s greatest horror movie yet. A garish, ugly, soulless, and shoddy Disney product, ranking even as low as the Planet of the Apes debacle. Dark Shadows looks like Burton and Johnny Depp having the type of fun they partook in pre-Alice. People who have seen it tell me it’s Burton’s best film in years, being both completely weird and completely funny.

God Bless America 

Opens May 11th and now on VOD.

Although Bobcat Goldthwait‘s semi-satire is not as smart or subtle as his previous film, World’s Greatest Dad, it’s a welcome addition to the “average Joe is fed up” genre. God Bless America is sort of a B-version of Falling Down, being less human and more cartoonish. As a cartoon, it’s a blast.

The Dictator

Opens May 16th.

When did the Sacha Baron Cohen online backlash begin? Did it all begin with the kind-of-but-not-really funny trailers for The Dictator, or is this whole “backlash” not as big as it seems?

Either way, after Borat and Bruno, it’s difficult to imagine a Cohen comedy not delivering. According to word from the CinemaCon screening, it works.

Moonrise Kingdom

Opens May 25th.

It’s another Wes Anderson movie. Do I need to explain why you have to see this?

Men in Black III

Opens May 25th.

Men in Black II was a gigantic leap in the wrong direction, a sequel that did pretty much everything a sequel could do wrong; it lacked everything that makes the first film fantastic. Whether the third entry will make up for the mistakes of the second film is up in the air, but setting things in the ’60s and throwing Josh Brolin in the mix are already good signs.

Honorable Mention: Battleship, a potentially overstuffed blockbuster with a pop star, a model, John Carter, Liam Neeson, and aliens… or a disaster.

What are you looking forward to the most this May?


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