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MORE THAN SEQUELS

For me, the light at the end of my very dark IB tunnel this time of year is always the summer movie season. And it's a good thing, too - 2011 hasn't had much to offer in the theaters yet, except for a couple of goofy movies with Natalie Portman (see Thor, No Strings Attached). Granted, spring is a tough season for pleasing moviegoers, especially after the killer winter of 2010. It's hard to follow such a rare and excellent year, in which all 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees were actually worthy (Black Swan will forever have my heart) and even some that didn't make the cut were gems, too (please refer to Blue Valentine).

Still, summer 2011 offers as good a line-up as any, chock full of the staples of the season: superheroes (Green Lantern, Captain America: The First Avenger), children's classics (look for a Winnie the Pooh reboot, sequels to Cars and Kung Fu Panda, and the Jim Carrey-led adaptation of Mr. Popper's Penguins), and lots and lots of other sequels - the highly anticipated (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), the unexpected (Pirates 4, anyone?), and the garbage-worthy (please, not another Transformers flick!). Plus, not only does this year's summer bunch have sequels, it also has its fair share of prequels starring people named James - James McAvoy will play a young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, and James Franco will try to do Charlton Heston proud in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And there's no doubt this summer will feature a couple of spectacular duds: Transformers: Dark of the Moon remains my chief example. Dark of the Moon? Really? Pink Floyd should call Michael Bay out on forgetting a word in his title. I also fear for the late, unnecessary fourth installment in the Spy Kids series.

Clunkers aside, this summer movie season is a promising one, with plenty of good to outweigh the bad. Here's what I'll be looking for this summer:

May

Pirates of the Caribbean:On Stranger Tides(May 20) - Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane. Directed by Rob Marshall. The fourth installment in a series that never should have exceeded one film, I have low expectations but am extremely curious. With Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley gone, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his new hottie (Penelope Cruz) search for the Fountain of Youth while fending off mermaids, zombies and Blackbeard. Directed by Rob Marshall, famous for musicals-turned-movies Chicago and Nine. Considering Depp has dabbled in theater himself with Sweeney Todd, should we expect a surprise chorus number?

The Hangover Part II (May 26) - Starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms. Directed by Todd Phillips. Who DOESN'T want to see this? The ridiculous 2009 comedy about a bachelor party gone wrong became a huge blockbuster (highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time) and Golden Globe winner, as well as the basis for many Facebook fan pages dedicated to Alan's (Zach Galifianakis) wolf pack. In round two, the guys head to Bangkok, Thailand for Stu's wedding, and again, something goes horribly wrong. Alan wakes up with his head shaved, Stu (Ed Helms) wakes up with a tattoo and Phil (Bradley Cooper) wakes up to find a cigarette-smoking monkey instead of a tiger. I'm dying to know what drug they were slipped this time.

* * *

June

Super 8(June 10) - Starring Riley Griffiths, Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler. Directed by J.J. Abrams. I'm always apprehensive about movies with casts made up largely of children, since they can be so hit or miss. But this coming-of-age sci-fi flick looks like one of the summer's most interesting concepts: A group of kids in the 1970s, while shooting movies on their Super-8 cameras, witness an alien lifeform break free from a crate marked Area 51, and craziness ensues for their small Ohio town. From the director of Star Trek, it could be the season's breakout original.

Also in June: Cars 2, Green Lantern, Mr. Popper's Penguins, X-Men: First Class

* * *

July

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (July 15) - Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint. Directed by David Yates. One of the year's most anticipated, I'm obligated to include the final installment in the biggest movie franchise in Hollywood history, adapted from J.K. Rowling's classic novels about our favorite boy wizard. I personally hate the HP movies; a die-hard book fan, I notice every minute change and every fabricated scene and can't help but ridicule the attempts at "staying true to the story." Does that mean I won't be first in line at the midnight showing? Absolutely not.

Cowboys and Aliens(July 29) - Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde. Directed by Jon Favreau. Possibly the film I am most looking forward to this summer, if not just for its wonderfully blunt title. Indiana Jones and James Bond? Plus that hot girl from Tron? I wasn't a huge fan of Iron Man, but I have faith in director Jon Favreau to make this a true epic. Cowboys meet aliens in 1875 Arizona, when they don't know what aliens are. Best mash-up ever.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (July 29) - Starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Great cast. I'm excited to see this dramedy just because I think Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone will be adorable together.

Also in July: Winnie the Pooh, Captain America, Transformers

* * *

August

Our Idiot Brother(August 26) - Starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer. Directed by Jesse Peretz. Any movie with Paul Rudd has to make my summer list. Rudd plays Ned, a laid-back stoner who gets tricked into slipping weed to a cop. He gets arrested and everything he has falls apart, so he has to rely on his uptight sisters (Elizabeth Bans, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer) to support him, but ends up disrupting their lives in the process. Could be great or could be lame, but again, with Paul Rudd, I'll take the chance.

Mina Asayesh-Brown is a junior at St. Petersburg High.

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