The 15 Must-See Movies of Summer 2011

5. Super 8

The Pitch: J.J. Abrams looks to have made an ultimate fanboy love letter to Spielberg, but will it be much more than that? The trailers have sold the spectacle well, courtesy of some excellent music, but it almost comes off more like a Spielberg film than a J.J. Abrams film. The only stamp of Abrams that seems to make him distinguishable is his love for lens flares. But, a retread or not, Abrams makes solid films. The man does have a great sense of pacing and he seemed to have evolved with Star Trek, so perhaps Super 8 will continue that rise in talent. If that’s true, expect something great.

Release: June 10th

4. X-Men: First Class

The Pitch: With its production history, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if X-Men: First Class ends up being a half-baked mess. But the fantastic trailers have indicated nothing of the such, as one would expect. The main selling point of the film seems to be its strongest element: the relationship between Xavier and Eric. Michael Fassbender seems incapable of doing any wrong, even in a disaster like Jonah Hex, and James McAvoy is just as reliable. With Matthew Vaughn at the helm and Jane Goldman having a hand in the script, expect a film leaps and bounds better than X-3 and that failed cartoonish attempt at a Wolverine movie. This looks to get the once promising series back on track and better than ever.

Release: June 3rd

3. Captain America: The First Avenger

The Pitch: Cap, on paper, sounds like a disaster in pending. Joe Johnston is coming off The Wolfman. There were reported script issues for a while, which were apparently taken care of by Joss Whedon. And this is a film where the villain is a red faced Nazi… and yet, no film coming out this summer looks more fun than Captain America: The First Avenger. Johnston, a director better than he’s given credit for, seems to have nailed the perfect tone and feel.

It looks like a film that knows it’s got silly ideas and is a comic book movie, but isn’t handled in a cheesy or overly goofy manner. We rarely get action heroes that look to be as charming and as cool as Steve Rogers, considering most are so damn mopey now, but like the rest of the film, he looks like a blast of awesomeness.

Release: July 22nd

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

The Pitch: July 15th will be a terribly bittersweet day. This series has been going, for the most part, strong for a solid 10-years now. As someone who eagerly anticipated each new installment’s release, I’ll be quite sad about letting these characters go. Unlike, say, the Twilight franchise, you don’t want to see these kids die painful deaths. They’re all likable, and after all these years, it’s easy to understand them like actual friends. The best of the Harry Potter films feel like personal and dramatic stories told in a grand operatic way. Hopefully, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II provides the epic climax the series deserves.

Release: July 15th

1. The Tree of Life

The Pitch: Even if Terrence Malick‘s long-awaited epic turns out to be a total failure, it’ll still be the most ambitious and interesting films of the season. There’s no real argument to be had there. The fact that a Malick film is opening in the summer is beyond exciting. The Tree of Life looks like a dramatic and more grounded version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’ll take Malick’s somber, poetic and monumental style any day over robots beating each other up and cracking bad jokes.

Release: May 16th

Honorable Mentions: Cowboys & Aliens, Haywire (fingers crossed that it comes out), Our Idiot Brother, Bellflower, The Debt, and Horrible Bosses.

What do you plan on seeing?

All you really need to know about Jack is his favorite movies are: The Last Detail, Rumble Fish, Sunset Boulevard, The Truman Show, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Verdict, Closer, Shadow of a Doubt, Spider-Man 2, Jaws, Adaptation, Get Carter, The Last Days of Disco, Carnal Knowledge, Almost Famous, Ed Wood, Barton Fink, and L.A. Confidential.

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