Like any good movie franchise, CityBeat has put together huge, blockbuster summer movie previews in recent years, which have become bloated with too many movies, pictures and interviews. As we know, film franchises and alt-weekly packages eventually jump the shark, and subsequent sequels—known as cheapquels—are sent straight to DVD. Or in our case, slotted in two weeks after the enormous movies have already started invading the multiplexes. But hey, it's cool. American Pie spawned five sequels, three of which never saw the inside of a theater. Bring It On? Three sequels you never knew existed. Hell, there was even a War of the Worlds 2 that starred C. Thomas Howell. So consider this our Band Camp or our Lost Boys 2.
We've profiled almost 20 summer films—some good, some bad and some indie—that we're stoked to see, and we've rounded up local options whose sticker price is often less than the first-run theaters. Release dates could change, so don't go all Christian Bale on us if they do. And remember, it's the new millennium. Straight to DVD is nothing to be ashamed of, right? Right?
Terminator Salvation: Another franchise gets a roboot. McG directs this big-budget look at what happens after SkyNet falls. (Release date: May 21)
Pro: Christian Bale is John Conner? Bring on the apocalypse!
Con: PG-13? Might as well just put the Terminators in charge. Oh, wait.
The Girlfriend Experience: Porn star Sasha Grey stars in Steven Soderbergh's improv-based exploration of the life of a high-end call girl. (May 22)
Pro: Could be risky, sexy and fascinating.
Con: Porn stars aren't known for their acting.
Adoration: Exceedingly complex film about a Canadian high-schooler who claims to be the son of a well-known terrorist. (May 29)
Pro: Atom Egoyan is a fascinating director, and this is one of the best post-9/11 films yet. He even gets a terrific performance out of Scott Speedman.
Con: Not exactly summer escapism. No giant robots.
Up: Pixar's latest is the studio's first 3D venture, starring Ed Asner as Carl, an old man who flies his house to South America via thousands of helium balloons. (May 29)
Pro: Pixar has yet to do us wrong. The new movie is sweet, funny and emotional, leaving you with all those feelings that are tough to express in real life.
Con: Tough to top Wall*E.
The Hangover: Funnymen Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis throw their homie an awesome bachelor party. But when they wake up the next day, he's missing. (June 5)
Pro: Old School director Todd Phillips has had success with man-child movies, and all three of these dudes are hilarious.
Con: Could be a reboot of Three Men and a Baby.
Moon: Sam Rockwell is a Moon miner working alone on a three-year contract. He's getting lonely. And maybe going crazy. (June 19)
Pro: Festival buzz regarding the feature debut of Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie, insert your own “Space Oddity” joke here) is stellar.
Con: Kevin Spacey is Rockwell's only friend. And he's a computer.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Michael Bay compensates with another giant-robot-action-figure movie. (June 24)
Pro: Occasionally, we like to be seduced by special effects. And Megan Fox.
Con: Still waiting on (hopefully) imminent Shia LaBeouf backlash.
Brüno: Sacha Baron Cohen can't pass as Ali G or Borat anymore, so he travels the country as gay fashion reporter Bruno. (July 10)
Pro: Meta-humor encourages people to express their own prejudices in cringe-worthy fashion.
Con: It's dispiriting how many people are happy enough to express their own prejudices in cringe-worthy fashion.
I Love You, Beth Cooper: Geeky high-school valedictorian uses his graduation speech to profess his love for Hayden Panetierre, the most popular girl in school. That night, she shows up at his door. (July 10)
Pro: Love the idea. Sounds like post-post John Hughes.
Con: But it's made by Chris Columbus—who gives us hives.
The Hurt Locker: A new sergeant takes over a squad dedicated to finding and dismantling IEDs in 2004 Baghdad. (July 24)
Pro: It's made by Point Break's Kathryn Bigelow, a woefully underrated director, and might be the star turn for Jeremy Renner, who's been on the verge of busting out for a while. Also, finally, an Iraq war movie about the Iraq war.
Con: Too soon?
(500) Days of Summer: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel). He falls for her. She doesn't fall for him. (July 24)
Pro: Two actors we really like.
Con: Might make us cry.
Funny People: Jud Apatow's new film stars comics like Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill as, um, stand-up comics. (July 31)
Pro: When Apatow writes and directs, he's king of the bromance.
Con: We're getting sick of Sandler and Rogen.
Public Enemies: Johnny Depp and Christian Bale go mano-a-mano as original AG John Dillinger and the G-man hunting him, Melvin Purvis. (Aug. 1)
Pro: Michael Mann makes good-looking movies, and we're psyched to see these two face off.
Con: You know what they said about Dillinger, right? Guy wore really big shoes—know what we mean? Unless Depp's got the goods, he'll have to borrow the Boogie Nights prosthetic.
Paper Heart: Pseudo documentary about Charlene Yi and her exploration into the nature of love. (Aug. 7)
Pro: Yi is Michael Cera's girlfriend, so we're guessing the movie ends with him.
Con: Could cause diabetes.
District 9: Peter Jackson-produced sci-fi affair about aliens forced to live in the slums of South Africa. (Aug. 14)
Pro: Director Neil Blomkamp was Jackson's first choice to make the big-screen adaptation of Halo, which eventually fell through. This is the result.
Con: No stars might make it a tough sell. Plus, it isn't Halo.
Taking Woodstock: Director Ang Lee looks at the legendary rock festival from the point of view of a young man, Demetri Martin, who accidentally gets the whole thing off the ground. (Aug. 14)
Pro: Even when we don't love what he does, we always want to see what Ang Lee is doing.
Con: Martin is great in two-minute sketches. Can he anchor an entire film?
Inglourious Basterds: Taking his cue from the 1978 Italian World War II B-movie, Quentin Tarantino puts Brad Pitt in charge of a squad of Jewish-American soldiers like Eli Roth and BJ Novak and sends all off to slaughter Nazis. (Aug. 21)
Pro: We're happy draftees to any Tarantino war movie narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. And it's good that someone's finally standing up to Hitler.
Con: Word is the running time is approaching the length of the actual war.
Sure, there's nothing like catching a bloated Hollywood blockbuster the day it opens. But let's face it: You can't always get your act together to get tickets, people seem to think it's OK to text in the dark and your date might not be interested in the Land of the Lost reboot. Not to worry. San Diego has scads of film options to keep it local.
alt.pictureshows: The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has gutted its film program (it's the economy, stupid), but the alt.pictureshows must go on. On Aug. 27, curator Neil Kendrick screens a sweet collection of short films all around the Museum's Downtown locale. www.mcasd.org.
Café Libertalia: Every Sunday, the folks at Hillcrest's Café Libertalia put on a show, focusing on independent and foreign films, along with the odd documentary. www.cafelibertalia.com.
Central Library Film Forum: Offerings will be light this summer as the screening room is renovated. That said, you can catch Devil in a Blue Dress, Happy-Go-Lucky and The Sensation of Light, all for free, along with the May 17 (2 p.m.) showing of Transsiberian, intro'd by CityBeat film editor Anders Wright. www.sandiego.gov.
Cinema Under the Stars: Zoning issues sorted, Mission Hills' outdoor theater fires up a little later than usual. Catch classic classics like Roman Holiday and The Maltese Falcon and contemporary classics such as Muriel's Wedding and The Big Chill. Bonus points for Barbarella. www.topspresents.com.
Citizen Video: The South Park fave provides films all summer long. Silent Sunday at Alchemy goes down the first Sunday of the month, and there's a monthly film night accompanied by a prix fixe meal at Sea Rocket Bistro. Don't forget the Sunday matinées at the Whistle Stop (catch Brando in The Wild One on May 24). And on Thursday, May 28, they're curating another collection of flicks from local filmmakers. www.citizen-video.com.
Comic-Con: Got your pass yet? 'Cause if you don't, you're out of luck. Still, hanging around outside the convention center might land you a pass to a movie or two that has yet to open.
FilmOut San Diego: The 11th annual GLBT fest runs May 28 through 31 at the Birch North Park Theatre. www.filmoutsandiego.com.
The Ken midnight movie series: Why do midnight movies rock? One, you're up late. Two, you and most of the audience are probably wasted. The Ken has childhood classics on at midnight every Saturday, starting June 6 with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Other entries include The Goonies and The Muppet Movie. www.landmarktheatres.com.
Lebowski-Fest: The eighth annual Fest comes to town July 26 for a two-day party. First night, watch the Coen brothers' classic at House of Blues. Night two is an abiding bowling party at Kearny Mesa Bowl. www.lebowskifest.com.
Lestat's West: It's not every Tuesday, but when Lestat's shows a movie, you know it'll be left-leaning, educational and will possibly make you upset about the state of the world. www.lestats.com.
Movies Before the Mast: The San Diego Maritime Museum's summer movies return, screened on the Star of India's sails. There are both date- and family-night screenings. We recommend Deep Blue Sea, which features the best (spoiler alert!) Samuel L. Jackson death ever. www.sdmaritime.org.
The Pearl Hotel's Dive-In Theater: There's something decadent about enjoying a poolside cocktail and a movie in Point Loma on a Wednesday night. This summer's offerings include Office Space, There's Something About Mary and Dazed and Confused. www.thepearlsd.com.
Screen on the Green: There's nothing quite like sitting on a blanket, getting buzzed on ever-warming white wine while watching a free movie in a public park. And that's exactly what the San Diego Museum of Art provides with Screen on the Green, made up of three evenings in late July and early August. Films include The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, several selections from the San Diego International Children's Film Festival and Shadow Magic. The movies start 8 p.m., but get there early to get a good spot. www.balboapark.org.
Stone Late Night Movies: The Escondido kids at Stone Bistro and Brewery have struck a deal with Rifftrax, who'll provide commentary for one movie a month. Also on tap on Wednesday nights are flicks like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, School of Rock and Evil Dead 2, kicking off on May 20. The movies are free, but you need to be of drinking age, except on Family Night. www.stonebrew.com.