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Five blockbusters to watch for this summer

By Robert Elsenpeter
Published On: May 12 2011 10:59:18 AM CDT
Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 Movie Still

Walt Disney Pictures

Every summer Hollywood takes off its gloves and throws its best (read: most expensive) movies at us.

They are the ones we'll talk about around the water cooler, and are the epic blockbusters you don't want to miss.

This year, the sad thing is that Hollywood proves it has very little, creatively speaking, in its toolbox.

Most of the offerings are sequels or retellings ("Smurfs 3D," we're looking at you) of old stories.

There was a time when summer movies gave us the likes of "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Heck, we'd even take a "Weekend at Bernie's" this year.

Of course, there is some logic to the studios' way of thinking -- that being, it's easier and a wiser money strategy to bet on the ponies that already won their respective races.

Let's take a closer look at some of this year's most expected titles.

Up First: Overindulgent Hilarity

"The Hangover 2" (May 26)

On paper, "The Hangover" wasn't anything at all special. It was your basic road trip movie that we've all seen a million times.

But what made the movie really stand out were the performances. It made Bradley Cooper a star; Zach Galifianakis was hilarious; Ken Jeong stole the show; and who knew Mike Tyson could be so funny?

So what's not to work? This is a sequel, and although there's a lot of hype and expectation, second movies tend to be let downs ("Weekend at Bernie's II"? We're looking at you).

Lightning rarely strikes twice, and this has all the hallmarks of a studio just trying to milk as much money out of a property as they possibly can. As much fun as the first movie was, we hope this one will be as good.

Up Next: It's Smurferriffic

"Smurfs 3D" (July 29)

"The Smurfs" was a cartoon 30 years ago, and we thought it was left in the past. That said, there are some big names attached to the "Smurfs 3D" movie. We've got people such as Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Jeff Foxworthy and even Wolfgang Puck willing to bring the Smurfs to a new generation.

Here's the plot: A movie studio releases a new movie and then unleashes a stunning amount of merchandise that kids will pester their parents to buy in and effort to try and make boatloads of money. OK, so that's not what happens on screen, but it's likely to play out in the real world.

The fact that they're making a movie about the Smurfs shows how deeply Hollywood has to dig for an idea. The Smurfs were a cartoon from the 1980s.

If Hollywood is digging so deep, stay tuned for a "Thundercats" movie, next.

Up Next: Dame Judi Dench And Keith Richards, Together At Last

"Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20)

When the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie came out, it went to show what acting duct-tape Johnny Depp is -- the guy can do anything. He can be deadly serious in one role, move on to something goofy next and then tackle an action flick.

The plot here is that Capt. Jack Sparrow and his mates are off to find the legendary Fountain of Youth, only to discover along the way that Blackbeard is also looking for the mythical fountain.

We were fed the line that Pirates was going to be a trilogy, but they decided to go for another. While the movies tend to be terribly long, they also tend to be terribly good.

We are hopeful that Depp and his crew can pull it off a fourth time. This time, Johnny gets help from Dame Judi Dench and Keith Richards. Only in Hollywood.

Up Next: How Do You Say Goodbye To A Wizard?

"Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2" (July 15)

Frankly, the only movie that necessitated another sequel is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." That's because the movies in the series have been based on J.K. Rowling's super popular books, and this is the second half of Harry's farewell.

In this, the final installment, we see how everything wraps up for the young wizard. There shouldn't be too many surprises -- the book came out years ago, so anyone who really cares has already read the book. But, that said, it will be a big event, especially as the "Harry Potter" movies were such powerhouses.

This is a safe bet for your cinematic dollar. The Harry Potter flicks have proven themselves to be winners, and not only is this likely to follow suit, but there will be closure for the lives of Harry and his chums.

Last Up: James Bond And Indiana Jones -- Together At Last

"Cowboys And Aliens" (July 29)

How can you not want to see a movie that has the hot chick from "House, MD" (Olivia Wilde), James Bond (Daniel Craig), AND Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)?

They could just take turns reading the phone book, sipping a medium-dry vodka martini (shaken, not stirred) and bullwhipping random stuff, and it would still be the greatest movie ever made.

While they could take the easy way out and do that, they decided on a different tactic: There is an actual plot. The movie is based on a graphic novel (read: really thick comic book) of the same name. In 1873 aliens try to invade an Arizona town, but to do so, they have to get through a posse, including Craig and Ford.

While this movie is culled from a graphic novel, it is at least something new to us on the big screen, so that's something.