Aaron’s Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2011

So the time has come to prepare for the onslaught of summer blockbuster entertainment.  I previously put together a list of films I anticipated for the spring, and with that now out of the way, it’s time for the next stage of this year – massively large budgeted entertainment.  The number of films coming out this summer is so large that I had to add an extra five films to the list, because a top ten just wouldn’t cut it.  Once again, I use the term “summer” loosely.  I am not going by the actual start and end of the summer; I am going by the summer film season, which begins at the start of May and ends at the start of September.  As far as these choices go, the dates are subject to change, but at this point, they should mostly be sticking to these release dates.  So with all of that out of the way, let’s get to the flicks:

15.  Priest – May 13th

This movie seems to have been a long time in coming, given its postponements for 3D conversion, but it will finally hit, and although it has not stirred a whole lot of excitement, I do see potential and a cool-looking Karl Urban.  (Note:  this film edged out Pirates)

14.  Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – August 26th

A straight up, R-rated horror film, co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro.  While a remake, I trust that del Toro’s fingerprints will help this film measure up to something effectively scary.

13.  Kung Fu Panda 2 – May 27th

In a rare situation, I actually don’t have a Pixar film (sorry Cars 2) listed as a most anticipated film.  However, I am excited for another Kung Fu Panda, simply because of the surprising quality of the first film.  I just hope DreamWorks doesn’t Shrek it up.

12.  Hangover Part II – May 26th

The Wolf Pack is back in this sequel to the comedy surprise of 2009.  The trailer seems to promise a lot of the same in a different location, but as long as they bring the funny, I think plenty will be satisfied with another go around with these guys.

11.  Bridesmaids – May 13th

Another comedy from the Judd Apatow-produced comedy farm.  This time, however, a cast of funny women are at the forefront, with a script co-written by SNL (very) funny lady Kristen Wiig.  I’ve heard pretty great things about this movie so far, despite its low-brow marketing.

10.  Bad Teacher – June 24th

Several R-rated comedies in a row here; Bad Teacher looks to be pretty hilarious as well.  Basically a riff on something like Bad Santa, this film has Cameron Diaz (not seeming annoying for a change) starring as a foul-mouthed, money-hungry teacher and looks to be a lot of fun.  Also featuring Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake and a lot of other familiar faces, this cast should be able to bring the funny.  Add to that a script by two writers from The Office and direction by Jake Kasdon (Walk Hard and even better – Zero Effect), and there is a lot of potential for another great comedy of the summer.

9.  Green Lantern – June 17th

And now for the superhero flicks…Green Lantern is the kind of film that lots of comic fans probably want to be anticipating more than they do.  On one hand it is a live action Green Lantern movie with a lot of good talent involved, including director Martin Campbell (Casino Royal, GoldenEye); however, on the other hand we have so far seen footage that has been somewhat underwhelming.  Ryan Reynolds may make a decent Hal Jordon if he doesn’t rely too much on his comedic shtick, but the CG still looks pretty weak, given the scope of the film.  Still, things may change and this could end up being a very entertaining flick.  I like to be optimistic about these things.

8.  Tie – Thor – May 6th

Judging by the initial trailer and footage that I have seen, this movie could be a huge mess; however, all of the talent involved still has me very interested in the results.  Marvel’s Norse God superhero movie has potential to be a pretty great mix of action and over-the-top campiness.  Kenneth Branagh, known for his work as a Shakespearian actor/director, has for some reason decided to direct this film and adding to that you have Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, Ray Stevenson, and Rene Russo, among many others billed in the cast.  Sure the heavy lifting is on the shoulders of basically an unknown (Chris Hemsworth), but if all the gods speak in very godly accents, I will be satisfied.  International praise is so far very promising as well.

8.  Tie – Captain America:  The First Avenger – July 22nd

While not as radically different as a movie about Thor, finally seeing a big blockbuster period film about Captain America will be interesting as well.  Sure he is just a super strong boy scout, but he is a super strong boy scout with an awesome shield!  Chris Evans may not have been who I would have imagined to take on this role, but I am curious to see how he pulls this one off. With a lot more footage finally hitting the scene, I have taken a liking to the style director Joe “The Rocketeer” Johnston is going for.  Plus Red Skull looks awesome.  Hopefully, Marvel will be able to make both of these superhero flicks work well in order to create the good faith needed for one of the comic events of 2012 – The Avengers.

7.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes – August 5th

Despite knowing about this film, I had very little invested into it initially.  Given that the last entry into this franchise was the messy remake starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by a studio-confined Tim Burton, I wasn’t sure what else the franchise could offer.  I will gladly eat my words on that, however, given that I really enjoyed the recent trailer debut, along with the wealth of new information released about this film.  Starring James Franco (ok, so that’s a strange way to continue), this film serves as an origin story as to how the world became overrun by intelligent apes.  To me, this implies a pretty dark story, as the world is essentially going to end and a new order is going to take the place of human control.  The work by Weta Digital will most likely also continue to impress as well.  Until this movie comes out, however, I do have plans to finish Donkey Kong Country on the Wii, as a precautionary measure of course.

6.  X-Men:  First Class – June 3rd

Another X-Men film, but this time it has the added bonus of Kick Ass director Matthew Vaughn and the frequently awesome Michael Fassbender as Magneto, amongst the cast of many other talented folk.  Set in the Cold War era, this film is another origin story, setting in motion the events of future by delving into the past relationship between Prof. Charles “Chucky” Xavier and E-Rock “Magnet Hands” Lensherr, as the two form the Xavier School for the Gifted and deal with the early emergence of mutant kind in the world.  A large portion of comic geeks have not been as thrilled with the X-Men on film since X2: X-Men United, so hopefully this newest entry (which also has Bryan Singer back as a producer) will really change all of that.  While not much has been seen beyond the teaser trailer thus far, the talent involved and the story being told are intriguing enough to have me really looking forward to this superpowered flick.

5.  Transformers:  The Dark of the Moon – July 1st

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no.”  What can I say?  It’s hard not to get excited for the time leading up to Michael Bay’s “Giant Freaking Robot” movies.  While Revenge of the Fallen dropped the ball on the good faith many had after the first film, I can only hope that things will be back on track, given that there is no writer’s strike in the way of crafting a halfway decent script this time around. “Bumblebee!”  Returning to the franchise are Shia LeBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese, and John Tutorro along with all the other humans we don’t really care about.  What matters, of course, is that we get to see plenty of robot smashing action (shot in 3D *mild applause*) and enjoy the crazy pyrotechnics involved, while possibly learning some more secrets that hopefully involve the hidden connection between Transformers and Pink Floyd.  And maybe, just maybe – we’ll get to hear a new Linkin Park song mixed into the score of the film.  In all seriousness though, the trailer just has me gasping at how Bay was able to sneak in a crazy alien invasion movie that looks to be all kinds of epic, come this Independence Day.  “Optimus!”

4.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows:  Part 2 – July 15th

While I have not been a devoted reader of the books, I have been following this film series, and from what was presented in Part 1, I am excited to see how this whole saga ends.  While not the best (hell yeah Azkaban), the last film certainly places well as probably the best made film of the series, so I am excited to see that aspect mixed with the all out war that is going to happen between good and evil.  Given the solid effects work, cinematography, and the fact that half of England stars in this film, I am no doubt sure that a lot of greatness will be delivered.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll get to see some sweet quidditch action (probably not) and Haggrid’s beard in 3D (probably yes!).  Even if I don’t though, this has literally been ten years in the making and if anything has been promised, it is that there will be one hell of an epic conclusion.  Basically what I’m trying to say is – no one spoil what the hell is going to happen!

3.  The Tree of Life – May 27th

Switching gears completely, The Tree of Life is the latest film from the decidedly non-prolific director Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Badlands, The New World).  While Malick has recently gone from making a film every few decades to only just shy of a decade, he has still gone on to make some of the most well regarded films of his time.  His latest feature appears to be a drama starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain, but also seems to be incorporating surreal and sci-fi elements into it as well.  Regardless of this plot, which has been shrouded in secrecy, the talent involved and the beautiful trailer, fitting of Malick’s style as a filmmaker, has me heavily anticipating this feature film.  Amidst all of the heavy hitting blockbusters, this is certainly one of the most intriguing, which is why it is placed very high on my list.

2.  Cowboys and Aliens – July 29th

And getting right back into special effects heavy affair, we now have Cowboys and Aliens, which is a premise (based off of a comic) that just seems so natural and fitting, I am not sure why it took so long to be produced.  A heavy hitting set of producers also seems to have the same feelings as I do, given that Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Steven Spielberg are all involved in the project.  Adding to this, you have Iron Man director Jon Favreau stepping up to helm the project, which features a fantastic cast that includes Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell.  What’s the story?  Craig and Ford are cowboys in the old west and they have to battle aliens.  Done.  Still, this has entertainment written all over it, with a wild genre mix that looks like it could lead to being one of the more entertaining films of the summer.

1.  Super 8 – June 10th

Finally, the number one spot belongs to Super 8.  The incredibly super secret film from producer Steven Spielberg (third time he’s been mentioned on this list) and director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost, busiest producer in showbiz) has easily established itself in my top spot due to just how great a job has been done at playing show and tell with it.  While the full length trailer has the feel of a retro blast, you know almost nothing about the story.  Rather than go for big stars, this is a film that has a few familiar faces, but really stars kids and is more of a love letter to the Amblin age of Spielberg.  Think E.T., Close Encounters, and even The Goonies.  The sense of wonder involved in just the burst of images and video that has been seen so far has been enough to have this film jump to the top of my list.  Best of all, it comes out fairly early in the summer and I can’t wait.



Other Notable Releases On My Radar:

Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides – May 20th

Cars 2 – June 24th

Horrible Bosses – July 8th

Crazy Stupid Love – July 29th

30 Minutes or Less – August 12th

Fright Night – August 19th

Conan – August 19th

Apollo 18 – August 26th


Mr. Popper’s Penguins – June 17th (Yeah, I put this here too.  I read the book when I was young, gimme a break)

So these are the flicks that I’m looking out for this summer.  The order almost means nothing (beyond the top 3), because really, this is a crowded summer full of a lot of potential fun.  Anyone else should feel free to comment as well and put up your own list of what you are most looking forward to.  And for a little more fun, add some guesses as to what movie will be the biggest summer movie this year at the box office.


Just for fun, here’s a breakdown on my thoughts, in retrospect, on my anticipated films for the spring:

10.  Drive Angry – Too slow and not enough anger.

9.  Water for Elephants – Decent adaptation.

8Source Code – Fine concept, solid direction, but only decent in my eyes.

7.  Rango – Currently my favorite film of the year.

6.  Paul – A fun comedy that didn’t quite make the jump from good to great.

5.  Sucker Punch – To the balls.

4.  Fast Five – A great action precursor to the actual summer.

3.  Your Highness – I had a lot of fun, most audiences were unsurprisingly split.

2.  Battle: Los Angeles – Decent expectations rewarded with mediocrity.

1.  Red State – A really solid thriller that won’t be seen by many due to unpredicted plans from Kevin Smith

Surprises: Insidious and Hanna


Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

23 Responses to “Aaron’s Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2011”

  1. Keith G. Thomas

    Good list of movies. But I believe that the Pirates movie should be in the top fifteen. That movie will probably end up being one of the top money makers, plus it looks really good.

  2. Sean Ferguson

    I’m excited about half of your list. While you and Gerard are pondering The Tree of Life, I will be enjoying some fun blockbusters! Green Lantern, Captain America, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men First Class, Cowboys and Aliens (it’s already got Harrison Ford which is all you need), Transformers 3 (which has to be better than the last one), Harry Potter, and anything connected to Steven Spielberg. I guess we do agree on a lot of them, but I could care less about your art house picks.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    I purposefully made the list to be built exclusively out of blockbusters. There’s only one that could be considered “Art House,” and that’s an event in itself given how rarely Malick makes a new film; however it doesn’t look cheap by any means, with the special effects and presence of Pitt and Penn in the cast.

    Keith, Pirates will make money for sure and I like me a good Pirates film, but it stilllanded just outside the list for me. Not as much exited as I am just pleased to see a new one, so I don’t have much anticipation for it.

  4. Brian White

    There’s no doubt this is going to be a summer to remember. I would love to see Hangover 2 higher on your list. Be careful with Priest. There is a reason there are no press screenings of this film. I’m not an xmen fan so I’m not feeling the love here. The trailer felt too forced. I hope Green Lantern soars, but I remain skeptical. Thanks for taking the time to put this kick arse list together! Good stuff!

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    I honestly just had more to say about Priest than Pirates, which why its on there. It’s not so much that I expect it to rock, but I am interested in seeing what kind of mess it becomes. Hangover just looks too much like more of the same (that’s a trailer that felt forced), which is why its not higher, although I’m sure it will be funny. Given your love of Kick Ass, I think you should be putting more faith in X-Men.

  6. Brian White

    I don’t know what it is, but xmen just bores me to tears. I will welcomingly take another serving of Hangover. The trailer had me in stitches.

  7. Sean Ferguson

    I should have added more details than just art house. I do agree with most of your list but I honestly couldn’t care less about Tree of Life, Priest, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Bad Teacher, and I’m lukewarm towards the rest of them. Just because a dude takes forever to make a movie doesn’t automatically get me excited. This is the summer of the blockbusters!

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    To each his own of course, although those films, besides Tree of Life, are all ranked behind the huge list of blockbusters. And its not just a dude who takes a long time, its a dude who has consistently made great movies and has a trailer for his new movie that is way more intriguing than the others I have seen, besides Cowboys and JJ. Really I’m more curious about thoughts on Rise of the Apes.

  9. Jiminy Critic

    Cowboys and Aliens — definitely the most unique choice of the upcoming summer bunch, with the most chance of failure if done poorly… I’m looking forward to it only because it is so far out there in concept… Good list, Aaron! You are nothing if not an intriguing movie, game, and music reviewer… Keep it up!

  10. Aaron Neuwirth

    Thanks Jim. I’m trying to stick my neck out there for the little guys, like Johnny Favs and Harry Ford.

  11. Gerard Iribe

    I’m undecided on Priest, because it was done by the cat who did that film which for the life of me can’t remember the name of. Even The Quaid couldn’t save it. That and the vampires look like I Am Legend rejects.

    Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark will be badass and it’s always great to see Guy Pearce in anything.

    After seeing the extend trailer of Green Latern I’m in.

    I got my ticket for Thor for Friday at noon, so we’ll see.

    Captain America is looking better and I love the production design. Red Skull also looks badass.

    I’ll be skipping Transformers 3.

    Tree of Life should be amazing as well, and I also here that there is a release for the Blu-ray sometime in July over in France. If it’s English friendly then I’ll scoop it up.

    Cowboys and Aliens will be awesome.

    I’ll also see Super 8.

  12. Aaron Neuwirth

    Thanks G.

    Legion is the crappy film you’re trying to think of. The look of the vampires is kinda silly, I agree, but seem to be more fitting to the look of this film rather than I Am Legend, which was like – Hey deserted New York looks great, oh and we also have these terrible CG creations.

  13. Sean Ferguson

    As for Rise of the Apes, it looks good but how many times can they tell those stories over and over again? There’s been like 13 or 14 of them already. How about something new like Rise of the Squirrels? Having WETA and Serkis involved is very smart but I still can’t get excited about it. I may end up loving the movie but right now it’s near the bottom of the list for me (with the exception of the horror movies which are even lower).

  14. Aaron Neuwirth

    Planet of the Apes does pre-date Star Wars as being an insanely popular franchise.

  15. Sean Ferguson

    I never said it wasn’t popular a long time ago. I said I don’t know how long they can keep telling the same stories over and over again when they need to keep the same premise.

  16. Aaron Neuwirth

    To its credit, despite the Burton film being a mess, it was a huge box office success. People do enjoy the franchise. How many times can I watch a space war with guys in robes battling robots with their light sticks?

    How bout that Cars 2 vs. Kung Fu Panda

  17. Sean Ferguson

    Star Wars has a much larger scope than just some monkeys trying to take over. If you want to compare Planet of the Apes to the Star Wars series let’s talk about quality and mainstream appeal. I’ve seen every Ape movie and most of them weren’t very good and looked fairly low budget and cheesy. While many people may not have enjoyed the prequels as much as they original trilogy, there’s no doubting how successful the movies were. To answer your question, I’m looking forward to Cars 2 a lot more than Kung Fu Panda 2. The first panda was ok but I didn’t enjoy it as much as others did.

  18. Aaron Neuwirth

    While I am intrigued by ‘Rise’, I actually agree with everything you’ve been saying about Apes, I just like to poke the bear sometimes.  It would be like pondering about how gruff and grumpy Ford will be in Cowboys and Aliens.

    I would like to live in a world where Cars 2 can be amazing, but my lack of enthusiasm about the first (which I think is just kinda meh) doesn’t help. I like how the solution seems to have been to make it more like The Incredibles, judging by its action-y trailer. But yeah, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the first Kung Fu Pandai, so my eyes are wider for that one.

  19. Brian White

    Hangover 2!!!!

  20. Gregg

    Hangover 3!!!!

  21. Gerard Iribe

    I’m also looking forward to Fright Night, Conan (just saw the new trailer) and Apollo 18.

    It’s going to be a cool summer!

  22. Aaron Neuwirth

    Hangover Meets The Flintstones!!!

  23. Gregg Senko