Drive Angry 3D – Feb. 25
Nicolas Cage is usually most entertaining as over-the-top, ridiculous characters, and “Drive Angry” should be no exception. In this balls-to-the-wall action flick, Cage plays a vengeful father who busts out of hell on a mission to stop the same cult that murdered his daughter from sacrificing her baby, while also being chased by Satan’s right hand man (William Fichtner). From the director of “My Bloody Valentine,” this is a sure bet for not only great 3D, but one hell of an awesome ride too, because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as Nic Cage in a good ol’ fashioned killing rage.
Battle: Los Angeles – March 11
The mysterious marketing campaign for this alien invasion movie suggests it’ll be a mixture between “District 9” and “Cloverfield,” but likely with less plot and character development and more city-destroying mayhem. The film follows a platoon of Marines in Los Angeles (led by Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez) as they fight for their lives against aliens trying to wipe out the human race. Expect plenty of large-scale, special effects-fueled action set pieces, but don’t count on anything deeper than that. This is strictly a big, loud and explosion-laden blockbuster, perfect for lots of frenetic popcorn entertainment.
Paul – March 18
Comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost proved they’re one of the funniest pairs around with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” so expect a continuation of that legacy in their latest adventure, “Paul.” Pegg and Frost play two comic book geeks on a U.S. road trip who encounter and befriend a slacker alien by the name of Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), and suddenly find themselves on the run from the federal agents trying to capture the extra-terrestrial fugitive. “Superbad” director Greg Mottola is a perfect fit to handle these three hilarious actors, so hopefully this becomes a box-office hit instead of just a geeky cult favorite.
Sucker Punch – March 25
Zack Snyder earned his credit as a visionary of style and visceral storytelling with “300” and “Watchmen,” two of the most astounding movies of the last five years. Now he presents his first original story, this one about a group of young institutionalized girls who plan to escape from a mental hospital. The girls imagine it as a fantastic, other-worldly realm which they must fight their way out of by defeating an army of soldiers, samurais, dragons and killer robots. This will probably be the epitome of special effects and visual achievement this year, as well as a full-on action extravaganza unlike anything else. Prepare to be dazzled.
Water for Elephants – April 22
When not in “Twilight” films, Robert Pattinson is actually quite a good actor, and as the lead in the adaptation of this beloved best-selling book, he may finally earn some respect from moviegoers other than tween girls. Pattinson plays a veterinary school drop out in the Great Depression who joins a traveling circus and finds his place there, but risks it by falling in love with the star performer and wife (Reese Witherspoon) of the circus’s nefarious animal trainer (Christoph Waltz). Watch for Waltz to give another memorable villain performance here, rounding this period piece into a highly engaging drama.
Thor – May 6th
Marvel opens up every summer season with a new superhero film, and in preparation for the Avengers movie, the next origin story is Thor’s. The movie covers how Thor has been cast out of Asgard and sent to Earth, where he learns about human life and then must protect humans from an evil sent by a villainous Asgardian. It’s a little worrisome that Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh is helming such a large-scale superhero blockbuster with no previous action experience, but considering Marvel’s track record, “Thor” should be a big hit.