Your guide to summer blockbuster season 2010

Summer blockbuster season effectively kicks off in just a couple of weeks - here's our guide to what's coming your way...

Just a quick bit of admin: we’ve listed the films in order of US release date, given that most of them arrive in America first. We’ve noted UK dates where they’re available, too. Right, down to the list…

April 2nd

CLASH OF THE TITANS

The film that’s effectively kicking off blockbuster season this year is already running a couple of weeks late, courtesy of the decision from Warner Bros to tack on 3D at the last minute.

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Louis Leterrier – last seen helming The Incredible Hulk – is at the helm for this one, with Sam Worthington taking centre stage. We’ve got past the originally crappy Titans Will Clash tagline, but the jury is still out as to whether we’re just getting an all-out effects-fest, or whether the Titans tale will get the outing it deserves. The trailers have highlighted effects over everything else thus far, although the Kraken appears to be shaping up quite well.

Epic action or just another tired effects-fest? Given that it’s the film that kicks the season off, we’ve not got long to wait…

UK release: April 2nd.

April 9th

DATE NIGHT

The first big-name comedy of the year seems to be a bit of a dream team on paper. Television stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey join forces here (with only Carell successfully transferring over to movies thus far off the back of Get Smart and The 40-Year-Old Virgin) about a couple who go out on a date night to remember.

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The enthusiasm is slightly tempered by the sight of Shawn Levy behind the camera (he’s behind the functional Night At The Museum films), as surely something like this is crying out for Role Models’ David Wain. But the two stars have a lot to offer, so don’t write this one off yet.

Mark Wahlberg pops up, too, but we’d be lying if we said that was casting news that excites us. It’s one of two comedy roles he’s taking on this summer, too…

UK release: April 16th

April 16th

DEATH AT A FUNERAL

There’s no shortage of comedy talent here. Tracy Morgan, on the right day, is a fine comedy actor. Martin Lawrence? Let’s just say that his material has defined him of late. But Chris Rock can lift the slightest of material into something more substantive.

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Also on the plus side here is the presence of director Neil LaBute, who until the dreadful Wicker Man remake had barely put a directorial foot wrong. His work has a darker edge to it most of the time, and while the film itself is a remake (of, er, a three-year old British movie directed by Frank Oz), there may yet be promise here.

Still seems odd to remake an English language film that had American actors in it quite so soon, though.

UK release: June 4th

KICK ASS

For once, the UK gets a big film first. Our review is here, and it says pretty much everything we need to say. It’s already the film to beat.

UK release: March 26th

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April 23rd

THE BACK-UP PLAN

Crappy looking romantic comedy with Jennifer Lopez. Director Alan Poul cut his teeth on the likes of TV shows Rome and Swingtown, and promisingly, he was an executive producer on Six Feet Under. But we can’t raise enthusiasm for a J-Lo rom-com. Has there ever been a good one?

UK release: Don’t care

THE LOSERS

This is much more like it. Based on the comic book of the same name, The Losers unites Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, all under the stewardship of director Sylvain White.

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We’ve high hopes for this one, with The Losers telling the story of a black-ops team who are left for dead, and decide to find out just why they’ve been cut loose. It looks like the UK gets this one first, too, although that’s not 100% confirmed yet.

We don’t expect The Losers to make lots of money. But we do expect it to be really, really good…

UK release: April 9th

April 30th

FURRY VENGEANCE

Didn’t Brendan Fraser used to be one of the best leading men in blockbuster movies? Brendan, one question: what the fuck happened? How are you now leading a movie about animals objecting to a real estate development? Have you been to Eddie Murphy casting school or something?

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Roger Kumble directs, over a decade since his biggest hit, Cruel Intentions. Yet in a summer where the obsession with talking animals shows no signs of abating, this is arguably the scariest of the lot.

Seriously, Brendan?

UK release: May 7th A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

Is this the one where Platinum Dunes finally delivers a remake worth bothering about?

Granted, its take on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has its fans, but this far the Michael Bay-tainted company seemingly takes the most pride in resurrecting old horror properties and bastardising them.

Early signs on A Nightmare On Elm Street? Not too bad right now. There’s been a decent trailer, and the casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger may just be a masterstroke. Here’s hoping this follows the template of The Crazies and ends up as a horror remake that really delivers.

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UK release: May 7th

May 7th

IRON MAN 2

Even though Kick-Ass has been intruding on its territory of late, Iron Man 2 remains, surely, the blockbuster to target this summer.

Robert Downey Jr is back in the title role, with Gwyneth Paltrow returning too. The casting of Mickey Rourke as Whiplash could well be genius based on the trailer, while Scarlett Johansson is on board as Black Widow. Jon Favreau’s back behind the camera crucially, and everything we’ve seen of the film thus far is coloured in a welcome shade of awesome.

The only fly in the ointment could be the aforementioned Kick-Ass, which has set a ludicrously high standard where comic book movies are concerned this year. Iron Man 2 is the best chance to topple it. And given the strength of the first Iron Man movie, and the number of comic book movie first sequels that deliver, this is arguably the most-anticipated blockbuster of the summer.

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UK release: May 7th

May 14th

ROBIN HOOD

Programmed against a Queen Latifah rom-com (Just Wright) and an Amanda Seyfried romance (Letters To Juliet) in the States, Robin Hood nonetheless has an element of gamble about it.

That’s primarily because it’s another telling of an already-well-told story, this time with Ridley Scott behind the camera and Russell Crowe in front of it. And if you’re already thinking Gladiator 2, then at least one of the trailers thus far will have done little to dissuade you from those thoughts.

It looks light on humour, high on gritty action, and Universal is wise to position it a few weeks ahead of the other big period action movie of the summer, Prince Of Persia. We’re coming to that shortly.

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UK release: May 14th

May 21stSHREK FOREVER AFTER

Given how little promotional material we’ve seen for Shrek 4 thus far, compared to its main rival of the summer, it’s surprising to discover that Shrek Forever After is out of the traps first. There’s been little in the material seen thus far to particularly excite, or get away from the feeling that we’re going to get another workmanlike DreamWorks Animation sequel.

That said, a Shrek sequel is still likely to be fun, and, hopefully, it’s found something fresh in the formula to lift it over the bones of the horribly underwhelming Shrek The Third. It’s got a few weeks to make its mark before Toy Story 3 turns up, so it’d better measure up…

UK release: July 9th

MACGRUBER

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Pundits are already scouring the schedules for what this year’s possibly comedy breakout movie could be. Last year it was The Hangover. Will this year’s be the R-rated MacGruber movie, spun out of Saturday Night Live. Starring Will Forte in the title role, the film version has also dragged in Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe and Kristen Wiig. MacGruber will be an action comedy, and one that’s happily shooting for an R-rating. This is a good thing, and the solid red band trailer that’s doing the rounds does at least show promise.

UK release: Unconfirmed

May 28th

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME

Could this be the film to break the curse of the videogame movie? The early signs aren’t too bad, with Jerry Bruckheimer throwing his weight and his chequebook behind the project (well, Disney’s chequebook to be exact).

Jake Gyllenhaal stars, Gemma Arterton and Sir Ben Kingsley are on hand too, and Mike Newell is calling the shots. Pleasingly, there seems to be an old-fashioned approach to some of the film too, with some major sets being built rather than heavily relying on computers to fill in the gaps. Firmly looking to plug the hole left by no Mummy or Indiana Jones sequel this year, if it hits, expect the sequel in double-quick time.

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UK release: May 28th

SEX AND THE CITY 2

It’s hard to comprehend there being a film on the planet that we are less interested in.

UK release: May 28th

June 4th

GET HIM TO THE GREEK

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This is the spin-off movie from the solid comedy hit of a few years’ back, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. That was a decent-if-hardly-outstanding comedy, but it still had enough chuckles to make a further film a decent idea.

This one isn’t a direct sequel, as it instead follows Russell Brand’s rock star, with Jonah Hill having the job of getting him to a certain place at a certain time. It sounds like a comedy round trip movie from where we’re sitting.

The success or otherwise of the film’s going to depend on how well the leads gel, and how audiences take to Brand in his first Hollywood leading role (Hollywood is banking on him given that he’s lined up to headline the Arthur remake too). It could, from where we’re sitting, go either way…

UK release: June 25th

SPLICE

It’s rare for a Sundance hit to get a major wide release, but Splice is an exception to the rule. It’s a low-budget sci-fi thriller that wouldn’t ordinarily make a list like this, save for the fact that there’s some hope this one may bring home quite a lot of bacon. Hence, somebody is rolling the dice and given this a really big release.

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The film’s being re-edited prior to its release, and a new ending is being added in. But given it got enthusiastic reviews first time round, we’re hoping they don’t over-tinker…

UK release: unconfirmed

MARMADUKE

Oh, bloody hell. It’s another comedy about a big animal that wreaks havoc, in this case a dog. Can people stop watching these so that filmmakers will stop making them?

UK release: Unconfirmed

June 11th

THE A-TEAM

This is more like it.

We’ve been warming to The A-Team movieever since the announcement that Joe Carnahan (of Narc fame) was down to direct. But the first trailer that emerged was really strong too, and it looks like the cast – especially Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley – has been smartly chosen.

Guttingly, we have to wait many weeks post the US release to get the film in the UK, but The A-Team could yet be a really pleasant surprise. The cast is no doubt locked in for many, many sequels…

UK release: July 30th THE KARATE KID

Two remakes of 80s properties arriving on the same day in the US, then. One has overcome initial reservations to emerge as one of the most promising movies of the summer.

The other is The Karate Kid.

Starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, can we just cut to the chase and suggest that to anyone who holds the original in high regard, this looks horrible? It might not be too bad if you’ve never seen the original, or are under 14. But that doesn’t include us. It also looks more like The Kung-Fu Kid than The Karate Kid, but that doesn’t seem to matter, it seems. What do we know?

UK release: July 16th

June 18th

JONAH HEX

Bumped up from its original planned August release date, there’s presumably confidence underpinning Jonah Hex that’s persuaded Warner Bros to move it into the middle of summer.

There are reshoot stories, of course, which aren’t hugely out of the ordinary, but the combination of Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and a wild-west comic book thriller could yet prove to be a surprise hit. It certainly helps that this is one of the few major comic book adaptations that’s not aiming for a family-friendly audience, or at the very least a PG-13 rating. That’s why we hope this one hits big: there’s surely a place in the market for R-rating comic book movies, and Jonah Hex could well prove that.

UK release: Unconfirmed

TOY STORY 3

It’s been all systems go where the promotions for Pixar’s Toy Story 3 are concerned. We’ve had trailers, posters and character reveals, and we’ve seen nothing to lead us to suspect that this isn’t the animated sequel to watch out for this summer. The key voice cast return and are joined by the likes of Michael Keaton and Timothy Dalton in the family film to beat of the season. And while we’d prefer Pixar to not go down the sequel route too often, we’re not going to turn down another Toy Story film in a hurry…

UK release: July 23rd

June 25th

GROWN UPS

Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler. He’s a comedy actor we’ve got a heck of a soft spot for, sometimes against our better judgement, but Grown Ups looks really quite shit so far.

The trailer that we’ve seen is genuinely appalling (probably the worst one for any of the films on this list), managing to piss away comedy talents such as Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Kevin James. Oh, and Rob Schneider is in there, too. Here’s hoping the final cut turns things around. It really needs to, else we’re staring straight down the barrels of another You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.

Scarily, though, they tend to put the funniest moments in the trailers…

UK release: unconfirmed

KNIGHT And DAY

Fox has moved its action comedy forward a week, seemingly to move it out of the glare of the Twilight franchise. That might just be smart thinking.

The key asset to Knight And Day appears to be star power, with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz’s names firmly above the title. But look behind the camera for promise too. Director James Mangold doesn’t get the credit he deserves for switching between genres in a manner that’d make Danny Boyle proud.

This is his first entrance into the summer blockbuster limelight, though, and while the trailer for Knight And Day that was released over Christmas wasn’t much to get excited about, this could still be really quite good fun. Mangold is a strong director of actors, after all.

UK release: July 2nd

June 30th

TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE

Oh, you know. Robert Pattinson. Kristen Stewart. Vampires and stuff. It’s also the last Twilight film for at least 18 months, so Twi-hards are advised to make the most of it. Which they no doubt will…

UK release: July 9th

THE LAST AIRBENDER

One of the biggest gambles of the summer. M Night Shyamalan takes the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, removes the word “Avatar” from it and casts Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel as one of the leads. Shyamalan is long overdue a really good film and the source material he gets to work from is golden. Touch wood the final cut gives us the result we’re dearly hoping for, with the trailer offering glimpses of a very stylised and really quite promising movie.

UK release: August 13th

July 7th

PREDATORS

Just over a year ago, there were no plans to release a new Predator movie, let alone one in the summer of 2010. But this is a project, based on an old Robert Rodriguez script, that’s fired into life in double-quick time, and we’re fascinated to see how it turns out. If all goes to plan, a new Predator franchise will be born.

Director Nimrod Antal is calling the shots this time, having delivered the tepid Armored earlier this year. And we’ve posted a preview from the film right here.

UK release: Unconfirmed, but probably around the same time

July 9th

DESPICABLE ME

An animated movie from Universal, and from the trailer we saw the other week, a not especially promising one right now. The tone of it looks suitably dark, and it looks suitably far removed from Shrek 4 and Toy Story 3 to give it space to compete. Plus, Universal will spend a fortune promoting it.

A better trailer would surely be a good place to start, though. There’s room in the market for animated films that aren’t all designed to flog you a few toys (heck, we’d encourage it), but it does make the end product that bit harder to sell.

UK release: October 15th

July 16th

INCEPTION

If we had to pick one film from the schedules up to the end of July that we’re most excited about, then Iron Man 2 would be taking second place to Christopher Nolan’s mysterious Inception.

Not much is actually known about it, save for it starring Leonardo DiCaprio (and a smashing ensemble of actors), but the pedigree of Nolan – one of the most interesting directors working within blockbuster movies – chalks it up as a must see.

With a $200m+ budget for a non-franchise blockbuster too, it’s arguably the gamble of the season. Warner Bros will be looking for Avatar-esque numbers, then… UK release: July THE SORCEROR’S APPRENTICE

Nicolas Cage reunites with his National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub for a daft-but-enjoyable looking Jerry Bruckheimer-produced yarn.

You know the old story it’s based on most likely from Fantasia, but here it’s stretched out to feature length. Monica Bellucci co-stars. Given that we have a soft spot for the bonkers-but-fun National Treasure movies, this could and should be a hoot.

UK release: August 13th

July 23rd

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS

This is the project that director Jay Roach chose instead of making the latest Meet The Parents sequel (with Little Fockers shunted to the end of the year). Promisingly, it stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, and this is probably our call for the break out comedy that Hollywood is looking for. Paul Rudd is the reason we have such faith, having enjoyed both Role Models and I Love You, Man last year, and Carell deserves something a lot better than recent scripts to TV show The Office have been delivering. It could, and it’s not the only comedy we’ve thought that about this season, be a comedy double act sent from above.

UK release: August 20th

July 30th

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

Matt Damon will try and get back his box office touch after the underwhelming performance of Green Zone with this sci-fi flick based on a Phillip K Dick short story. Little has been said or written about it thus far, but it might just be worth keeping on eye on.

It’s actually a film with a romantic core, as Damon and co-star Emily Blunt’s relationship struggles, thanks to odd forces keeping them apart. George Nolfi adapted the book into a screenplay and directs too for the first time (he previously scribed The Bourne Ultimatum script). Along with Inception, this could be the thinking person’s blockbuster of the summer.

UK release: Unconfirmed

CATS & DOGS: REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE

If you’re looking for a theme for this summer, it’s bloody animals talking. This one’s the sequel to the surprisingly tame summer hit of many years ago, and at least here the trailer has some promise to it.

Brad Peyton directs this time as the two species look to smack seven shades of shit out of each other. Only they, er, don’t, as they have to join forces. Admit it. It’s not sounding too hot, is it? Given that the first film squandered the Tom & Jerry-esque premise, we just hope that lessons have been learned this time around.

UK release: August 4th

MORNING GLORY

Can Harrison Ford score a box office hit outside of Indiana Jones again? This comedy may be his best shot, thanks to the presence of Notting Hill director Roger Michell calling the shots.

It’s a film about warring news anchors that also stars Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Jeff Goldblum. We’ve said it before: Ford is an underutilised comedy talent, and hopefully this is the project to prove it…

UK release: Unconfirmed

August 6th

THE OTHER GUYS

Will Ferrell hunts for a hit after being outed as 2009’s worst value for money movie star, and he does it by reuniting with director Adam McKay. This is the partnership that gave the world Step Brothers, Talladega Nights and the awesome Anchorman. In The Other Guys, he co-stars with Steve Coogan, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Samuel L Jackson and many others, and it’s a tale of mismatched cops for whom things don’t go to plan. But you probably worked that last bit out already.

While the film we most want McKay and Ferrell to make is an Anchorman sequel, we’d right now just take the leading man getting somewhere back near his best. Because, really, when was the last time a Will Ferrell vehicle made you guffaw in the way that the man should make you?

UK release: September 2nd

STEP UP 3-D

It’s a Step Up sequel. Only, y’know, in 3-D.

UK release: August 6th

August 13th

THE EXPENDABLES

This is it.

If you don’t know about this one, then you’ve not been reading this site for long. It’s our most cherished project of the year, bringing together the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lungdren and pretty much any other action star up for a fight (so no Seagal or Van Damme, then). It may be terrible when the final cut is put together (although reports from preview screenings suggest otherwise), but as a throwback to 80s action movies, we’re guaranteed a corking night out.

Can. Not. Wait.

UK release: August 13th tbc

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD

And how’s this for awesome, too? Two of the most promising films of the summer both coming out on the same day. Scott Pilgrim is Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, with Michael Cera in the leading role. It’s the story of the title character as he tracks down the ex-boyfriends of his new girlfriend, and must defeat them all.

It looks bloody terrific, and the UK even gets this one a week earlier.

UK release: August 6th

There are still a few more films floating around the schedules that have yet to land (Machete is the one we’re firmly keeping an eye), but we’ll keep you up to date with those in the weeks ahead. We’ve also cut the list at mid-August, which is why, er, Piranha 3D doesn’t get in…