Summer 2012 is shaping up to be a blockbuster season for movies -- and it will be here sooner than we think. As many preview trailers and release dates for big budget films have been set loose on anxious movie goers, critics and fans alike are already premarturely raving about some of the most anticipated movies of the year.
Action movies will round out the summer blockbuster roster, as the fourth installment of The Bourne franchise highlights the genre -- with one glaring omission: Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner takes the reins for The Bourne Legacy, as the movie leaves the Jason Bourne storyline behind and follows Renner as CIA Operative Aaron Cross.
Hoping to cash some franchise dollars, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will suit up one more time for Men in Black III. This time, Josh Brolin is along for the ride as he plays a younger version of Lee Jones's character, Agent K.
Finally, what's a summer movie roster without a big screen adaptation of a Broadway musical? Director Adam Shankman, who directed Hairspray in 2007, has taken on the hit musical Rock of Ages. The movie version -- starring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Tom Cruise -- will be undoubtedly met by skeptical critics, as the Broadway production was met with mixed reviews.
Check out all the big name films set to hit theatres this summer in the rest of this Summer 2012 Movie Release Preview.
The Dark Knight Rises (7/20/12)
As Christopher Nolan gears up for the final installment of his Batman contributions, he puts the finishing touches on his legacy with the The Dark Knight Rises. The movie, which takes place eight years after Batman took the fall for Two Face's crimes, crowns a new terrorist leader. The debut of Bane (Tom Hardy) overpowers Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the rest of Gotham's finest, while the Dark Knight (Christian Bale) resurfaces to protect the city and clear his name.
The Avengers (5/4/12)
In what seems to be a culmination of every superhero movie in the last four years, director Joss Whedon brings us The Avengers. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the international agency S.H.I.E.L.D. come together to save the earth from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his various membered army. Suiting up for the super human movie is Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Chris Evans (Captain America) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow).
The Amazing Spider-Man (7/3/12)
Director Marc Webb has taken on the task of hitting the reset button for the Spider-Man franchise. This time starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the movie takes on a fairly new premise as Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. The movie also stars Martin Sheen as Ben Parker, Denis Leary as George Stacy, and Garfield's real-life girlfriend Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.
The Bourne Legacy (8/3/12)
Jeremy Renner takes Matt Damon's slot, but not his name in The Bourne Legacy. Renner, who plays Aaron Cross, a CIA Operative, signed on to play the lead role in the film lead by Bourne franchise director, Tony Gilroy. The film's premise, which is based on Robert Ludlum's novels, is centered on a new CIA operative in the universe of government mishaps.
Men in Black III (5/25/12)
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back in black. This time Josh Brolin joins the MIB as Agent J (Smith) travels back in time to the 1960s, in an effort to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K (Lee Jones) and changing history. While Brolin, who plays a younger version Lee Jones's character, is new to the cast, Barry Sonnenfeld is not. The MIB franchise director is back for more in this third installment of the Sci-Fi/Action series.
Rock of Ages (6/15/12)
Hairspray director Adam Shankman has brought the Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, to the big screen. Set in 1987 Los Angeles, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta play Drew and Shierrie, two young people chasing their dreams in the big city. As it goes from there, the two fall in love and face harsh challenges on their way to rock stardom. Feel free to sing along while enjoying this stage-to-screen adaptation.
Snow White and the Hunstman (6/1/12)
Director Rupert Saunders puts his spin on the Snow White fairytale with Snow White and the Huntsman. The action/drama revolves around Snow White (Kristen Stewart) and the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), who is ordered to execute the teen dream. The part we are familiar with comes next as the Huntsman winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen, played by Charlize Theron.
The Expendables 2 (8/17/12)
Stallone and Schwarzenegger and Willis are back for The Expendables 2. This time Mr. Church reunites the Expendables for what should be an easy pay day. But when one of their own is taken out, the battle becomes personal and their quest for revenge takes them into unchartered territory. Director Simon West has taken the lead on this installment of the series, relieving Stallone of his former duties.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (6/22/12)
Director Timur Bekmambetov has turned the 16th President of the United States into a Vampire Hunter. In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, when Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) discovers that vampires are planning to take over the country, he makes it his mission to eliminate them. Although the film has not been well received in early reviews, it does fill the vampire movie slot in our Summer 2012 Movie Release Preview (the last Twilight film doesn't come out until November).
The Dictator (5/11/12)
Rounding out the top 10 is Sasha Baron Cohen's latest catastrophe, The Dictator. The story, written by Cohen, revolves around a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppresses. The dictator himself is of course played by Cohen, who shocked the film community when he showed up at this year's Academy Awards dressed as the character. He was removed from the ceremony before it had even begun.