Brand new 3D superheroes, killer robots, pandas, penguins and some very fast cars are all heading to a cinema near you. Rob Driscoll reveals the new season blockbusters you should not miss, including some original big budget movies – and the first big screen adventure from The Smurfs
What’s it about? Just another girlie rom-com? Think again. It’s from producer Judd Apatow – the man behind Knocked Up, Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin – so it’s more like a female take on The Hangover and less like 27 Dresses. Kristen Wiig stars as a singleton maid-of-honour at a forthcoming wedding, who finds she’s got stiff competition in the best friends department from bitchy Rose Byrne. Rude and ribald – so don’t take your auntie.
Release date: June 22
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
What’s it about? It’s World War II and scrawny US Army reject Steve Rogers (Fantastic Four’s Chris Evans) is offered the chance to take a top-secret serum as part of a radioactive experiment – and emerges as the super-human Captain America, who treks to Europe to help defeat a team of Nazis. Much-anticipated version of the Marvel Comics story, with Brits Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell and Toby Jones adding some balance to the inevitable flag-waving feel.
Release date: July 29
What’s it about? An intriguing prospect, this far-from-expected sequel to that rare phenomenon – a Pixar animation that wasn’t a huge box office hit. So, they’ve been revving up the thrill-ometer (and added 3D, natch) for this ultimate road movie in which Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and his best friend Mater compete in the World Grand Prix in Tokyo – and get mysteriously recruited by British intelligence vehicle Finn Scissile (Michael Caine) in the process.
Release date: July 22
COWBOYS AND ALIENS
What’s it about? Daniel Craig’s been twiddling his thumbs while Bond’s been on hold – and here he’s an Arizona cowboy who’s lost his memory and gained a strange bracelet. He stumbles into a one-horse town ruled on a short leash by tough lawman Harrison Ford – and then the fun begins when a weird flash of light hovers on the horizon. Iron Man director Jon Favreau transforms a 2006 graphic novel into an intriguing mix of Close Encounters and High Noon.
Release date: August 19
What’s it about? After Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, this is arguably the best-known super-hero from the DC Comic canon, and here it gets its 21st century, 3D makeover with Ryan Reynolds as the cocky test pilot who, after finding a mystical green ring that gives him powers, becomes the first human to join the Green Lantern Corps – and who must protect the Earth, aka Sector 2814, from the evil Dr Hector Hammond (An Education star Peter Sarsgaard). Add Tim Robbins, Blake Lively and Bond director Martin Campbell to the mix, stir well and stand back…
Release date: June 17
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II
What’s it about? Like you needed telling. The end is nigh: toil and trouble are bubbling in the wizarding world as the eighth film of the Harry Potter series brings J K Rowling’s stories to a fantastic finale. With the help of Griphook the Goblin, our intrepid trio Harry, Ron and Hermione – still in pursuit of Lord Voldemort – break into Gringott’s bank and face a fire-breathing dragon. As if that wasn’t enough, Hermione and Ron’s bumpy romance is evolving – and there are a couple of long-standing character deaths. You’ll bite your nails, you’ll laugh, and you’ll cry. Utterly unmissable.
Release date: July 15
KUNG FU PANDA 2
What’s it about? Everybody’s favourite power-punching panda Po (voiced once again by Jack Black) is now a kung fu master and facing a new challenge in the form of evil Emperor Albino Peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), who through the use of an unstoppable weapon, intends to conquer China and wipe out Kung Fu forever. Along for the ride are Po’s esteemed colleagues, The Furious Five, who include Angelina Jolie’s Tigress, Jackie Chan’s Monkey and Seth Rogen’s Mantis.
Release date: June 10
MR POPPER’S PENGUINS
What’s it about? The much-loved children’s book – written by Richard and Florence Atwater in 1938 – has finally quacked its way into Hollywood. Jim Carrey stars as wealthy businessman Tom Popper whose life drastically changes when he and his family inherit six penguins and are forced to transform their home into a winter wonderland. After Happy Feet and Surf’s Up, we know these black-and-white waddlers can make for great entertainment – but can a sweet 70-year-old story still work for today’s more cynical kids?
Release date: August 5
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
What’s it about? James Franco climbs out of his 127 Hours ravine to star in this “origins” story as a research scientist who experiments on an intelligent ape called Caesae in the hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, while his girlfriend (Slumdog Millionaire’s Freda Pinto) fears he may be opening a Pandora’s Box. She’s right; the ape turns on his captors and leads a revolt. New Zealand outfit Weta Digital – who helped create Avatar’s famous effects – worked on “the apes”; British go-to creature-chameleon Andy Serkis is the skeleton behind Caesar’s CGI skin.
Release date: August 12
What’s it about? You want blue creatures in 3D? Who needs Avatar? The famous be-hatted critters first introduced to the world by Belgian cartoonist Peyo, and then the stars of their own TV series, finally conquer cinema screens with this animated comedy which sees evil wizard Gargamel chase them out of their village into contemporary New York. We’re already excited by a voice cast including Katy Perry as Smurfette, Britain’s Alan Cumming as brand new character Gutsy Smurf, and The Simpsons’ Hank Azaria as their arch-nemesis Gargamel.
Release date: August 12
What’s it about? This hotly-anticipated collaboration between director JJ Abrams (creator of Lost and the acclaimed Star Trek re-boot) and producer Steven Spielberg is shrouded in secrecy, although we do know that it focuses on a group of kids in 1979 small-town Ohio who witness a catastrophic train crash whilst making a zombie home movie. Unusual disappearances begin to occur and the local deputy tries to find out the truth – something more terrifying than anyone could imagine. No big stars here – it’s all about the concept and the spectacle.
Release date: August 5
TRANSFORMERS – DARK OF THE MOON 3D
What’s it about? Crash. Bang. Wallop. If you want a quiet night out in the cinema, turn around and exit now. That’s what Megan Fox (star of the first two movies) did when she told reporters she didn’t understand the plot and that Transformers was all about SFX, as opposed to acting. Big-guns director Michael Bay kicked her off set, but he’s kept Shia LaBouef as hero Sam who learns about a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon – and so on. After the nonsense that was Revenge of the Fallen, hopes are high that this will be a lot better. It will be noisier.
Release date: July 1