Written By: Dan Geer

While last summer may have been a bit disappointing in terms of highly-anticipated geek movies, this summer looks to be the exact opposite. We’ve got cowboys, aliens, vampires, superheroes, apes, robots, wizards and a mystery monster all heading our way this time around, so there will be plenty of reason to go cool off in your local movie theater when summer finally hits. Find out which films made the Top 10 this year after the jump!

10. Priest - U.S. Release Date: May 13, 2011

priest

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

“Priest,” a western-fused post-apocalyptic thriller, is set in an alternate world — one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece (Lily Collins) is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece’s boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.

I have only recently started anticipating this movie, as it is one of those “under the radar” types of films that I just never bothered to pay attention to at first. A movie about “warrior priests” fighting vampires in an alternate, post-apocalyptic world is just too good to pass up, not to mention Christopher Plummer bringing what will probably be some much-needed class to the flick. Judging from trailers, it looks like it will have some serious balls-to-the-walls action with a “B-movie” type of vibe that I just find irresistible! Cannot wait for this!

9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - U.S. Release Date: August 5, 2011

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

…a completely new take on one of 20th Century Fox’s most beloved and successful franchises. Oscar®-winning visual effects house Weta Digital – employing certain of the groundbreaking technologies developed for “Avatar” – will render, for the first time ever in the film series, photo-realistic apes rather than costumed actors.

…an origin story in the truest sense of the term. Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

I like the idea of rebooting this franchise as sort of a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes films from the 60s and 70s. The franchise is legendary, and we all know that Tim Burton’s remake from 2001 was pretty much a disappointment to most (although the visuals were impressive), so I think it is necessary.

Even though it has been said that this new take on the series won’t have talking monkeys, everyone loved what actor Andy Serkis did with Gollum in The Lord of the Rings as well as the title Ape in King Kong so his performance in those films alone should make moviegoers excitedly curious to see what he does for the character of Caesar in this film!

8. X-Men: First Class - U.S. Release Date: June 3, 2011

X-Men First Class

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

“X-Men: First Class” charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, and reveals a secret history of famous global events. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to prevent nuclear Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

When the X-Men film franchise started out, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they pulled it off in the first two films. But after X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the franchise just became tired and I became increasingly less interested – which is why, out of all the comic book adaptations being released this summer, this is the one I am looking forward to the least.

However, the trailer does look entertaining enough, and, since it is a prequel, it does have a good chance of redeeming the franchise and bringing it back up to par with the first two films. I love the X-Men world, but director Matthew Vaughn really has a lot riding on his shoulders to make this a success. Let’s just hope that the mutant community finally has something to write home about again.

7. Thor - U.S. Release Date: May 6, 2011

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present the epic adventure, “Thor,” which spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and is forced to live among humans. A beautiful, young scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), has a profound effect on Thor, as she ultimately becomes his first love. It’s while here on Earth that Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

Thor will be the first major blockbuster of the summer season, and what an opening act to start off with! Sure, this will be one of four big comic book movie adaptations, but surely a welcome one. The trailers and TV spots look absolutely epic, and who wouldn’t want to see the most powerful viking in Norse mythology (albeit the comic book version) kicking the crap out of some monsters? With an all-star cast – including Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and the great Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s father, Odin – you can bet good money on this being a highly enjoyable thrill ride that you won’t want to miss out on!

6. Green Lantern - U.S. Release Date: June 17, 2011

Green Lantern

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax…he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

Green Lantern is sure to surprise audiences this year. It has been pretty much under the radar for a while now (aside from last year’s trailer) – that is until the WonderCon footage debuted and fans went nuts over it (you can watch four minutes of that footage below).

The reason this movie is on the list is not only for its kick-butt visuals and mammoth intergalactic landscape, but also because of the potential the film has due to the stellar reputation of Ryan Reynolds and his ability to bring a proper balance of levity and seriousness to the roles he chooses. He looks like a superhero, but also has a great sense of comedic delivery that is sure to help Green Lantern become a winner.

5. Captain America: The First Avenger - U.S. Release Date: July 22, 2011

Captain America_First Avenger

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

“Captain America: The First Avenger” will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America.

It looks like the best will be saved for last this summer, as far as comic book movies go. The footage of the transformation of Chris Evans from a scrawny little man into a muscular superhero looks insanely realistic, and the casting of Hugo Weaving as Red Skull is simply genius. In addition, from what many have said who have seen footage from the film (other than the trailers), it looks like it will have a tone similar to that of the Indiana Jones films, in terms of the time period it takes place in and its sense of adventure, which has me quite intrigued. Furthermore, I never would have dreamed that they could pull off a costume that modern audiences would find acceptable for Captain America, but it looks like they did here. All the pieces seem to be falling perfectly into place for this movie.

For the people who are worried about Chris Evans having already played Human Torch in Marvel’s Fantastic Four movies, that franchise is over with now and mostly forgotten by the fans, so I don’t think his role as Captain America will be intrusive at all. But even if you have not forgotten those films and love them with a passion, I think Evans‘ character in this film will be different enough from Human Torch that no one will really care that he has played two Marvel superheroes.

One can only hope that everyone will love this film well enough, along with Thor, to want to see both characters again (along with Iron Man, Hulk and others) in Joss Whedon‘s upcoming film adaptation of The Avengers, due out next year.

4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - U.S. Release Date: July 1, 2011

Transformers_Dark of Moon

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” features Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) taking his first tenuous steps into adulthood while remaining a reluctant human ally of Optimus Prime. The film centers around the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, suggesting there was a hidden Transformers role in it all that remains one of the planet’s most dangerous secrets. The villain of the third film will be Shockwave.

This time, there was no writer’s strike influencing director Michael Bay to insert dorky comedy (Skids and Mudflap, anyone?)  and other useless drivel to fill in the story gaps for this film. Bay has admitted that the last film suffered because of it, and promises that Transformers: Dark of the Moon will deliver the goods in terms of story and characters this time around.

Of course, how much of that can really exist in a Michael Bay film, right? Transforming alien robots will always be cool and Bay knows it, so this film will be first and foremost about the action no matter what. These films have always delivered in this area, so there’s no reason to expect any less here as Bay is king when it comes to directing action.

Even if the story still ends up being paper-thin, odds are that Dark of the Moon can only be better than Revenge of the Fallen. I loved the first movie (I also enjoyed the second, but it really did have its share of problems), so it is only fair to give Bay one more shot to see if his claims are really true. This movie really could be the best of the bunch!

3. Cowboys & Aliens - U.S. Release Date: July 29, 2011

Cowboys_Aliens_02

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents—townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors—all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

I shouldn’t have to go beyond the title of this film to tell you why Cowboys & Aliens is a must-see. But, if you need more, James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) are in it – FIGHTING ALIENS. Do you really need any more excuses to go see this film, directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and written by Star Trek scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman? To put it plainly – it’s pure gold, and you’d be crazy if you want to skip out on this one!

2. Super 8 - U.S. Release Date: June 10, 2011

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

The only thing that could be better than a film written by the scribes of Star Trek, is a movie by the person who directed it.

Super 8 is J.J. Abrams‘ love letter to the sci-fi and childhood adventure flicks of the 70s and 80s, especially those from Steven Spielberg. Close Encounter of the Third Kind, Stand by Me, E.T. and The Goonies are some of the most beloved films of that era, so the fact that a director of Abrams‘ stature has partnered up with Spielberg to revive that era for a whole new generation is something to seriously take notice of. No one makes movies like those anymore, and it would be great if that all changes because of this film. If enough kids go and see this, and adults can get in touch with their inner child for a couple of hours while watching it, than this film has the potential to become an instant classic.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 - U.S. Release Date: July 15, 2011

Harry Potter_Deathly Hallows_Part 2

Synopsis (via ComingSoon.net):

In Part 2 of the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the Wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry Potter who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. It all ends here.

Retaining all of the same cast from the last seven movies (except, of course, for the late Richard Harris, who was replaced by Michael Gambon), the Harry Potter franchise is truly a rarity among film series. And now, after a decade of growing up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, embarking on a series of memorable, well-told adventures with the three of them, their story finally comes to an end with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Even though fans of the books have complained here and there about various deviations from the books, one cannot deny that it is hard not to envision the faces of all of the characters as the actors that portrayed them, especially Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. They absolutely own these roles and have brought them to life in a way that few actors are able to do in book-to-film adaptations. They’ve become icons of pop culture, and have helped adequately realize these stories for an entire generation.

While it is quite sad that the end is near, I am totally enthralled by the series and cannot wait for its conclusion since I have never read the books and am anxious to find out how it all ends! Three more horcruxes to go, right?

Notable Mentions:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (this would probably tie for 10th place, but since I could only choose one, Priest won the battle since it’s an entirely new property that seems more interesting and original)

Hobo with a Shotgun

The Hangover Part II

Kung Fu Panda 2

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Cars 2

Winnie the Pooh

Sinbad the Fifth Voyage

The Smurfs

Conan the Barbarian

Fright Night

Just too many movies to choose from this summer!!!!

Check out previous Top 10 Summer Movie lists:

2010 Edition

2009 Edition

  • Kevin Masters

    Can’t argue with the top 3, but considering how disappointed I’ve been in the super hero offerings, I don’t have high hopes for Captain America or Green Lantern. Transformers 3 will make a lot of money, but I’m guessing it will be just as bad as the second. Anyway, I’ll reserve judgement until I see what makes the top list at http://www.filmcrave.com/list_top_movie.php?yr=2011

  • http://www.popcornmonster.com Dan Geer

    I just like a good, over-the-top post-apocalyptic thriller once in a while. :)

    But yeah, it’s great that Bettany is in this, and Plummer too! Karl Urban also looks like he’ll be a lot of fun in this movie.

  • Tim

    Wow, I didn’t realize Paul Bettany was in ‘Priest.’ I can’t think of an UN-classy movie he’s made, with a roster that includes ‘Master and Commander’ and ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ I suddenly went from dreading the movie to kinda interested.

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