May 02, 2012 | 12:34 PMThe sun is out and the thermometer is constantly in the upper 80's. The tourists are showing up in droves, pumping up the economy and, in the words of Bu'la'ia, not forgetting to go home. The biggest, most fun and second busiest movie season (next to Christmas) is about to start and there's not one Transformer, Smurf or Ryan Reynolds flick in sight.
The 10 titles below stand out for the talent involved, how much anticipation they've accumulated over the course of the year and by how much fun they look. Of course, keep in mind that eight of the 10 are sequels, prequels, reboots or remakes of old board games, proving once again that Hollywood only rarely risks producing "original" stories:
THE AVENGERS (May 4)
Comic Book Saga, stars Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man and Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk.
Why It Could Rock: Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans are in the cast, but this is Downey Jr.'s show. Even if it's a mess, who doesn't wanna see Ruffalo Hulk out, or watch Scarlett Johansson kick butt or see Samuel L. Jackson talk smack?
Unless: It's the most long awaited, hugely anticipated comic book movie since The Dark Knight, so it's bound to disappoint.
DARK SHADOWS (May 11)
Tim Burton's adaptation of the vampire soap opera stars Johnny Depp as bloodsucker Barnabas Collins
Why It Could Rock: If anyone can take a campy, dusty afternoon horror series and make it startlingly different and appealingly weird, it's Burton and his game-for-anything wingman Depp.
Unless: It's as tired and predictably kooky as their successful but empty Alice in Wonderland.
BATTLESHIP (May 18)
The board game is now a lavish sci-fi adventure starring Liam Neeson.
Why It Could Rock: Actor-turned director Peter Berg made The Rundown, Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom, so he knows how to make a solid popcorn movie, even if the idea itself is awesomely dumb.
Unless: The trailer had audiences groaning and laughing in disbelief.
MEN IN BLACK III (May 25)
Here come the MiB's, again. Stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K.
Why It Could Rock: Josh Brolin's casting as a younger Jones is exactly what the movie needs and the sort of fresh touch that eluded the first sequel. Most of the original talent is back and expect the Fresh Prince to turbo-charge the soundtrack.
Unless: Audiences remember Smith's performance in Seven Pounds, or that the last MiB movie was 10 years ago and no one asked for a third.
ROCK OF AGES (June 1)
Musical starring Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Malin Ackerman
Why It Could Rock: Reportedly, Cruise doing Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" DOES rock. This is the kind of all-American musical where the audience already knows and loves every song on the soundtrack.
Unless: Glee fatigue and the feeling that this is like an all-star karaoke session sink it faster than you can sing "Bye-bye-bye!"
PROMETHEUS (June 8)
Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic stars Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson
Why It Could Rock: Who doesn't want to see Scott return to the world of Alien? The cast, which includes Idris Elba and Guy Pearce, is top notch and so is the production and f/x. What The Avengers is for comic book fans, this prequel is to sci-fi fanboys.
Unless: Like The Avengers, it can't possibly meet expectations.
BRAVE (June 22)
The new animated fantasy from the geniuses at Pixar.
Why It Could Rock: It's an original story (their first since Up). The trailer is intriguing and promising and the studio is gearing for a big comeback.
Unless: Last summer's Cars 2 proved that not every Pixar film is a classic so that audiences decide to just stay home and watch Wall-E again.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (July 3)
A reboot, with Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) playing Peter Parker in high school.
Why It Could Rock: Garfield is a fine actor and the rest of the cast (including Emma Stone and Martin Sheen) exudes confidence.
Unless: The younger spin on the story plays like Twilight with web shooters.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (July 20)
Christian Bale is back for the 3rd Christopher Nolan-directed Batman thriller.
Why It Could Rock: A cast of acting heavyweights playing iconic characters (Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon) in the closing chapter of Nolan's trilogy. Even without Heath Ledger, this has can't-miss written all over it.
Unless: After months of seeing Tony Stark, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man, audiences are just sick of these movies.
TOTAL RECALL (Aug. 3)
Colin Farrell, Jessica Biehl, Ethan Hawke and Kate Beckinsale star in this sci-fi remake.
Why It Could Rock: Reportedly more a faithful adaptation of the original source (Philip K. Dick's short story, "We Can Remember it For You Wholesale") than a retelling of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic. The director, Lew Wiseman, helmed by the better-than-expected Live Free or Die Hard and the early footage looks exciting.
Unless: Like last summer's Fright Night, Farrell once again stars in an inferior remake.
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