Explosions, pratfalls, and robots; heroes, aliens, and blondes — it must be summertime at the movies.
Beyond the flash, though, it's striking to note just how many movies will require us to actually think this summer— aren't we supposed to save thinking for the fall? Maybe it's the election, but there are some pretty serious and intense flicks coming our way — docs and foreign films and dramas that don't guarantee a happy ending. The distributors must be nuts, but in a sweetly brave and naïve way. And so, as an act of solidarity, we're taking the pledge: For every movie we see that's playing on more than one screen at the multiplex, we hereby vow to see one film that might be good for us. Because after all, as with pop idols and presidents, we get the movies that we deserve.
THRILLS AND CHILLS: The summer in action and horror
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Man. Hat. Whip.
In a remote cabin, Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman match wits with three home invaders wearing creepy masks ... very creepy masks.
A retirement home caregiver (Mena Suvari) hits a newly homeless executive (Stephen Rea) and his body gets stuck in her windshield. She goes to bury him, but — uh oh — he's still alive. Based on a true story. From Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon.
The Incredible Hulk
Edward Norton goes green.
The Mother of Tears
Dario Argento directs his daughter, Asia Argento, as an art student who inadvertently frees a demonic witch from an ancient urn. Concludes a trilogy that began with 1977's eternally creepy Suspiria.
Angelina Jolie, once again channeling her inner assassin, teaches James McAvoy the tricks of the trade in this adaptation of Mark Miller's graphic novel. With Morgan Freeman.
Will Smith as a modern-day superhero who is becoming more famous for being drunk than for his ability to lift a whale with one hand.
Hellboy: The Golden Army
Ron Perlman returns as the lobster-hued demon with the mean right punch, and this time he's guided by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.
Hong Kong action masters Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai team up for this tale of an insane detective (literally) and his search for two missing cops. Watch for the split personality/split screen scene.
When teen hoodlums shoot Brian Cox' dog Red, the pissed off owner seeks revenge — but the little killer's dad (Tom Sizemore) has evil ideas of his own.
The X-Files: I Want To Believe
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return as Mulder and Scully, a sorta-kinda couple whose kid must be in high school by now.
The Dark Knight
Batman (Christian Bale) versus the Joker (Heath Ledger). And an excuse for the tabs to rehash Ledger's death for newsstand sales. Christopher Nolan directs.
Midnight Meat Train
Bradley Cooper stars as a Manhattan photographer who becomes obsessed with finding a subway serial killer. The first in a series of films to be based on Clive Barker's hardcore horror collection, "Books of Blood."
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Brendan Fraser, lifelong Mummy catcher, goes to China.
An American couple (Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer) find themselves enmeshed in a murderous drug plot aboard the fabled express train between China and Russia. With Ben Kingsley.
In this remake of a South Korean film, Kiefer Sutherland battles a vengeful ghost in a haunted department store. In other words, stay out of the dressing room.
Nicholas Cage is a hitman on assignment in this action thriller from China's talented Pang Brothers (The Eye), here remaking their 1999 debut film.
A CIA terrorist thriller starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce and based on a story idea from...wait for it...Steve Martin.
Vin Diesel in a near future world all gone to hell, trying to protect a woman whose baby will be the next Messiah. Don't worry: Vin will save us.
BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS: The summer in drama
When Did You Last See Your Father?
Colin Firth as an English writer attempting to reconcile with his ailing, larger-than-life father, played by Jim Broadbent. Based on Blake Morrison's acclaimed memoir of his 1950s childhood.
Quid Pro Quo
A mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) leads a young radio reporter (Nick Stahl) into the strange world of those who desire — and not necessarily in a sexual way — to be disabled or maimed.
Scandalous events in the lives of the Baekeland family — heirs to the inventor of plastic — are recounted by director Tom Kalin (Swoon) and actors Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, and Eddie Redmayne.
A young Muslim woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee), born in Bangladesh, rebels against convention in modern day London.
Love — or is it abuse? — blossoms between a shy meter maid (Samantha Morton) and her aggressive co-worker (Jason Patric). This film marks a welcome return to the screen by the recently ill, and always delightful Teri Garr, in a dual role.
Josh Hartnett is a Manhattan entrepreneur riding the rise and rapid fall of the dot.com boom-and-bust. (Not a horror movie.)
After spending most of his life in prison for a notorious crime, a young man (Andrew Garfield) adjusts to life on the outside.
In a film reported to be heavier on character development than psycho-terror, two couples in a remote cabin are being watched by a potential killer. Oddly, this is a mumblecore movie (by the brothers Duplass).
A wildly popular '80s PBS miniseries, Evelyn Waugh's classic novel of English manners comes to the screen with Matthew Goode as Waugh's narrator and Emma Thompson as the lady of the manor.
Henry Poole Is Here