Spring is here, and that means one thing: the serious Oscar movies and post-apocalyptic trudge-fests of winter are over. Get ready for explosions, sexy mad science, and cyborg-on-cyborg violence. Here's our guide to the science fiction/fantasy movies of spring.
Note: According to the calendar, the first day of summer is June 21 (in the Northern Hemisphere) this year. According to Hollywood, summer begins in a few weeks. For the purposes of this article, we'll be using the calendar definition of summer, meaning that some "summer movies" are actually coming out in the spring.
So here are a dozen movies that can tide you over until summer:
Clash Of The Titans (April 2)
The classic mytho-porn adventure is back, starring Avatar's Sam Worthington. Which means lots and lots of Ray Harryhausen-inspired kaiju action. Just hearing the line "Release the Kraken!" in the trailer gave us a few goosebumps. Here's hoping Bubo the mechanical owl is in this version.
After.Life (April 9)
In limited release, this weird horror film features Christina Ricci as a woman who "dies" in a car accident, and then wakes up in a morgue where the sadistic funeral director Liam Neeson is experimenting on her and injecting her with lots of drugs. He claims she's really dead, and he's a go-between, preparing her for the afterlife. But is she really alive, and the subject of sick experiments? First-time director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo aims to keep you guessing. But one thing's certain: Neeson and Ricci are enough to get us interested. (Watch the trailer here.)
Kick Ass (April 16)
Is America ready for a sick, violent superhero film about the powerless but determined Dave "Kick-Ass" Lizewski — not to mention the psycho Big Daddy and his 11-year-old daughter, Hit-Girl? We enjoyed the ultra-violence and superhero in-jokes when we caught this film at SXSW, but it'll be interesting to see if it does as well as Wanted, the last film based on a Mark Millar creation.
The Losers (April 23)
Another cool comic-book movie, The Losers is hardly science fictional, but it does fit into the broad category of "spy-fi." Most of all, it's based on rock-solid source material that we love: Andy Diggle and Jock's hit Vertigo comic about a group of CIA superspies who get double-crossed and left for dead on an assignment. They go seeking revenge on their handler, "Max," and uncover a larger set of conspiracies. The strong cast includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Chris Evans.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (April 30)
Another remake, this time of a classic horror film. At least they got Jackie Earle Haley (aka Rorschach) to play Freddie. There have been tons of reshoots, which is usually a bad sign, but you never know. The trailer looked fun.
Iron Man 2 (May 7)
The first "summer" movie, this is the follow-up to one of 2008's best films. The original Iron Man combined body horror, cyborg imagery and quirky humor to make Tony Stark into one of movies' most recognizeable superheroes. Plus the first movie managed to be political without alienating liberals or conservatives, and it felt both timeless and timely. So can the second film repeat the trick? The only reason to doubt it is the greater number of characters, and the fact that Mickey Rourke seems to be going kind of over the top as Whiplash. But we're optimistic, especially with Jon Favreau still at the helm.
MacGruber (May 21)
This spoof of MacGyver premiered at SXSW and... it's sort of funny. It's based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, so you know what to expect. We're really only mentioning it because MacGyver is an honorary science fiction icon.
Survival Of The Dead (May 28)
George Romero returns to the genre he's best known for: romantic comedy. (Just kidding.) Slow zombies once again shamble across the land. Unfortunately, they're not the only thing that's slow, according to early reviews. Sigh.
Splice (June 4)
A pair of feckless scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) are experimenting with genetic engineering, and Polley decides to try splicing human DNA in with various animals. The result is Dren, the fast-growing half-human creature... who looks both sexy and creepy, and seems like she develops a taste for blood. We've been dying to see this film, from Cube's Vincenzo Natali, for ages.
The A-Team (June 11)
This one sort of belongs in the same category as The Losers (and MacGyver, if there were a straight-up MacGyver movie coming out.) It's definitely an over-the-top action movie in which technology does some pretty incredible things — at one point in the trailer, a tank flies — and with Neeson and District 9's Sharlto Copley on board, it should be geeky action-adventure fun, at any rate.
Jonah Hex (June 18)
Another comic-book movie, this one tends toward the weirder side. Jonah Hex is a Wild West bounty hunter who's been shot so many times, he has one foot in this world and one foot in the afterlife. We weren't too optimistic for this supernatural Western film, starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox — until the "crow-barfing" footage we saw at Comic Con changed our minds. This film also had a ton of screenshots, apparently beefing up Megan Fox's character.
Toy Story 3 (June 18)
Going head-to-head with Jonah, the long-awaited third outing in Pixar's sentient-toys series debuts. Once again, the toys are self-aware and vaguely grappling with their role in a world where they're either beloved playthings, collectible items, or junk. This time, their original owner, Andy, has gone off to college, and they're stuck in an attic, until they run away to a day-care center. Will they become reunited with Andy one last time? Timothy "James Bond" Dalton plays Mr. Pricklepants, a hedgehog.