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Summer Guide 2011: Summer movie preview 

The summer movie season unofficially got under way with the April 29 release of Fast Five and officially commenced with the May 6 debut of Thor. Clearly, Hollywood doesn't have the patience to wait until the Memorial Day weekend, which the rest of the country pretty much considers the opening salvo of the hot-weather season. No matter: Whatever the calendar says, folks seeking respite from the rays will have plenty of opportunities to duck indoors, considering the range of mainstream and art-house product heading our way in the months to come.

Below is a list of the 43 films scheduled to open in Charlotte between now and the end of August. In addition to these titles, expect some as-yet-unbooked indie and foreign flicks to pepper the local scene.

MAY 20: Bloodworth stars Kris Kristofferson as the title character, who returns to the resentful family he abandoned 40 years earlier. The cast also includes Val Kilmer, Hilary Duff and Dwight Yoakam ... Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are out as leading players, but Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are back for a fourth plundering with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in which Jack Sparrow (Depp) tangles with a sexy swashbuckler (Penelope Cruz), Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and, of course, Captain Barbossa (Rush) while searching for the Fountain of Youth ... Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock only used funding from product placements to finance POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about, you got it, product placement ... During World War II, a Dutch boy (Martijn Lakemeier) learns that he can't trust any of the adults around him in Winter In Wartime.

MAY 26: The Hangover Part II finds the boys — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) — inflicting and receiving more physical abuse, this time in Bangkok ... Meanwhile, Kung Fu Panda 2 finds Po (again voiced by Jack Black) and the Furious Five springing into action against a villain who plots to conquer China.

MAY 27: The Beaver stars Mel Gibson as a mentally distraught man who uses a hand puppet in order to communicate with the world around him. Jodie Foster, who also directed, plays Gibson's wife, while recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) turns up in a key supporting role.

JUNE 3: Wolverine isn't the only one enjoying an Origins tale: X-Men First Class goes back to the beginning, when Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) was a young mutant with the idea of beginning a school for fellow outcasts. Michael Fassbinder co-stars as his best friend, Erik Lehnsherr — soon to become his worst enemy, Magneto.

JUNE 10: An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, the Canadian drama Incendies centers on twins (Mélissa Désormeaux Poulin and Maxim Gaudette) who travel to the Middle East to learn about their recently deceased mother's mysterious past ... Based on Megan McDonald's children's books, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer finds Judy (Jordana Beatty), her brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) and their wacky Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) cooking up various activities to pass the warm-weather months ... In 1979, several kids witness a train wreck and later wonder if it's somehow connected to the weird events taking place around town in Super 8, from director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) and producer Steven Spielberg.

JUNE 17: In the midst of this summer's various Marvel adaptations, DC bravely enters the fray with Green Lantern, in which test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is given a ring that allows him to become part of an intergalactic squad tasked with maintaining peace throughout the galaxy ... New York businessman Thomas Popper (Jim Carrey) finds his life turned upside down after he's forced to share his living quarters with six flightless fowl in the family flick Mr. Popper's Penguins ... The enigmatic Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) returns with The Tree of Life, in which the writer-director posits questions of life, death, fate and faith via the members of a 1950s Midwestern family. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star.

JUNE 24: Bad Teacher refers to the character played by Cameron Diaz: She's an irresponsible, foul-mouthed drunkard who ignores the advances of the school's gym teacher (Jason Segel) while pursuing a clueless colleague (Justin Timberlake) ... Cars 2 takes the stateside auto-heroes from the first film and sends them overseas for a major international race. Paul Newman is sadly no longer with us, but the rest of the vocal gang is back (Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, etc.), and there are some big-name newcomers as well (among them the tireless Michael Caine) ... Woody Allen is still cranking out a movie a year; his 2011 offering is Midnight in Paris, a romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen and Marion Cotillard.

JULY 1: Tom Hanks sits in the director's chair and tackles the title role in Larry Crowne, in which a middle-aged man decides to head to college after losing his job. Julia Robert co-stars as the new lady in his life, while the supporting cast includes My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos (who co-wrote the script with Hanks), Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier and Star Trek vet George Takei ... While vacationing in Paris, an American girl is mistaken for (and treated like) royalty in Monte Carlo, starring Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester ... Transformers: Dark of the Moon again finds Michael Bay directing, Shia LaBeouf again starring, and the Autobots and Decepticons again waging war. But! Megan Fox doesn't appear again; she's been replaced by new fanboy-flavor-of-the-month (and Victoria's Secret model) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

JULY 8: Following the dubious advice of an ex-con named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx), three friends (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) plot to kill their odious employers (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston) in the comedy Horrible Bosses ... Zookeeper stars Kevin James as a lonely caretaker who's taught how to woo the ladies by a group of talking animals. Listen for Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Cher and Nick Nolte among those providing the vocals.

JULY 15: There's not much to say about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The grudge match between Harry and Voldemort will finally be settled, we'll miss seeing the likes of Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith in their iconic roles, and series stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ron Weasley and Emma Watson will say goodbye to a franchise that's been with them for over a decade ... Presented in a hand-drawn style, Disney's Winnie the Pooh journeys back into the Hundred Acre Wood to hang out with the beloved bear and his friends Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and the others.

JULY 22: A secret experiment turns Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into Captain America: The First Avenger, a patriotic superhero who eventually must do battle with the evil Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). This follows Thor as the second movie this summer to serve as a prelude to The Avengers ... The end result will probably be different, but Friends With Benefits sure sounds like this spring's No Strings Attached, as Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis play two acquaintances who decide to spice up their friendship with shallow sex.

JULY 29: Cowboys & Aliens finds 007 star Daniel Craig cast as a mysterious figure who stumbles into an Arizona town back in the days of the Wild West; is he a threat, or will he help the local gunslingers (led by Harrison Ford) in their upcoming battle against e.t. invaders? ... Crazy, Stupid, Love appears to be a comedy with dramatic heft, as a man (Steve Carell) separated from his wife (Julianne Moore) falls in with a smooth operator (Ryan Gosling) who teaches him how to score with the ladies; it proceeds smoothly until the player finds himself falling for one of his targets (Emma Stone) and the amateur finds himself still thinking about his wife ... Live action and animation blend Garfield-style in The Smurfs, in which the blue critters find themselves stranded in Central Park.

AUG. 5: Last year, Jason Bateman swapped semen in The Switch; this time, he swaps bodies in The Change-Up, a comedy in which he portrays a bored family man who magically exchanges bodies with his womanizing best friend (Ryan Reynolds) ... In an attempt to jumpstart the venerable Planet of the Apes franchise, we now get Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which looks at how the experiments of a young scientist (James Franco) eventually resulted in mankind losing control of Earth.

AUG. 12: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest is a documentary that looks at the influential hip-hop band over the past quarter-century ... More people futilely attempt to outwit and outrun Death in Final Destination 5 ... An adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's controversial bestseller, The Help looks at the relationship between a white writer (Emma Stone) and two African-American maids (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) ... Following their successful Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer and star Jesse Eisenberg re-team for 30 Minutes or Less, a comedy in which two bumbling crooks (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) force a pizza delivery man (Eisenberg) to rob a bank on their behalf.

AUG. 19: '80s Rewind, Part One: Conan the Barbarian finds Jason Momoa filling the sizable sandals of Arnold Schwarzenegger (who first played the role in 1982) as the sword-slinging warrior who's out for revenge ... '80s Rewind, Part Two: Fright Night is a remake of the engaging 1985 horror yarn, this time with Colin Farrell as the new neighbor who might be a vampire, Anton Yelchin as the kid who suspects his dark secret, and Dr. Who's David Tennant as the TV horror-show host who gets involved ... Director Lone Scherfig's first film since her terrific An Education, One Day follows two college friends (Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) who get together on the same day every year to find out how life's been treating the other since graduation ... Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World relegates the now-grown-up stars of the first three films (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) to supporting roles; the lead is now Jessica Alba (older than both of them), who plays a former spy returning to active duty.

AUG. 26: Going after those Paranormal Activity / Blair Witch Project dollars, Apollo 18 purports to show footage from NASA's secret moon mission, one which detected other life forms ... A remake of a 1970s TV movie that scared — and scarred — many a Baby Boomer and Generation Xer, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark centers on a little girl (Bailee Madison) who learns that there are strange creatures living in the basement of her family's new home ... Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer portray sisters, while Paul Rudd stars as Our Idiot Brother.

AUG. 31: A remake of a 2007 Israeli movie, The Debt stars Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson as Mossad agents who, in 1997, learn that a Nazi war criminal they believe they had killed back in the '60s might still be alive. C

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