It's May. That means only one thing: summer tent pole season! Let's pick the best bets and biggest gambles.
Bet: Iron Man 2
A small independent film starring a relatively unknown cast, Iron Man 2 tells the story of a little girl's loss of innocence during WWII ... ahem. No. This is Iron Man. You know it, you've seen the original, and no doubt you can't wait to see this one -- which, by the way, lives up to the hype. As good or better than the first, Iron Man 2 will blow audiences away even if it is dividing critics, many of whom were hoping the whole Dark Knight brooding hero thing would catch on. Count on this being many of your friend's favorite film of the summer.
Gamble: Robin Hood
Ridley Scott directing Russell Crowe in an adaptation of the Robin Hood story? How do you screw that up? I don't know, but word is they did. It might have something to do with this starting out as a project called Nottingham telling the Robin Hood story from the sympathetic viewpoint of the Sheriff of Nottingham -- an idea too hard for studio execs to wrap their heads around, causing the film to be repurposed into ... Robin Hood. Early buzz has this being a frustrating mess of a film -- and I'm hoping that buzz is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Bet: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Even though video game adaptations are notoriously awful, I have a feeling this could be the one to break the curse. Walt Disney did the same thing with pirates and a theme park ride a few years back, and a lot of time has gone into trying to make Prince of Persia into something like the Pirates movies.
Gamble: Shrek Forever After
We've had more than enough Shrek. That's not saying this installment won't be good. But really, they're going to have to work very hard to convince anyone that this was worth a fourth go-round.
Jorma Taccone's directorial debut based upon the SNL skit turned out to be the surprise hit of the SXSW film fest this year. The worst I heard from anyone was "I didn't hate it," which, coming from a critic means "People will probably like it." By the way, this is the director. No, I'm not kidding.
What are you, some kind of indie movie-loving, foreign film-watching hipster communist? Oh, you are? Well step right up for your summer blockbuster. All joking aside, I love this movie. It's not perfect, but it is Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Amelie, and this very much has that feel. Only weirder. The perfect cure for the summer tent pole blues.
Bet: Survival of the Dead
George Romero's sixth Dead film, this is just another stroll through a zombie-filled universe, this time following a group of side characters seen briefly in his last film. Oh yeah, and it's really good. It's classic zombie fun; if you've enjoyed his other zombie films, you'll enjoy this one as well.
Bet: Casino Jack and the United States of Money
Need something with a little substance? Want something that will make you angry about the fact that all your fellow Americans are angry at the wrong people for the wrong things? Check out this documentary on big-time political sleazebag Jack Abramoff, who filtered a lot of money to Congress in order to make a lot of people money while skimming plenty for himself in the meantime. Who was he screwing the whole time? Why, that would be you. See the movie and find out how.
Now you decide ...