Our MEGA movie guide to summer's 26 hottest sci-fi flicks

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

It's summer movie time and we've got sequels, prequels, reboots and even a few originals coming at you. While we're hopeful this will be the best summer movie season EVER, we've put together a guide that explores our hopes and fears about what's to come. Well, that and we've scrounged up movie trailers for all but two of the 26 movies below.

While Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean jumped the gun, the official summer movie season doesn't start until today with Memorial Day weekend. So break out the suntan lotion and the popcorn, because it's time to see what's worth checking out.

Here's our list, by their expected release dates (and remember, these dates may change):

May 26


Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Starring the voices of: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh and Danny McBride
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's a sequel.
And: It's in 3-D, 2-D and IMAX 3-D!
Log Line: Po and The Furious Five must save kung fu! When a formidable villain plans to use an powerful weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu, Po and his friends must leave the Valley of Peace to save their way of life. To succeed, Po must uncover the secrets of his mysterious origin.
Why Kung Fu Panda 2 might be awesome: While this sequel could skate through on the massive success of the first movie, the funny trailers make us think it might be worth seeing this even if you don't have a kid to drag along. Jack Black is never funnier than when he's animated, and he's got some serious star power (even if it's just their voices) backing him up.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Sequels are rarely as good as the originals.

Here's the trailer:

June 1


Written and directed by: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton
Starring: Cassidy Freeman, Anessa Ramsey, Laura Heisler and Lee Wilkof
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
Log Line: During the fall of 1940, the entire population of Friar, N.H., left their homes and walked up an ancient trail, never to be seen alive again. A team of present-day researchers discover their trailhead and try to track the doomed citizens' last steps, only to run into the same thing that was responsible for their disappearance.
Why Yellowbrickroad might be awesome: The trailer's got a Blair Witch vibe.
Why they might screw it up: The trailer's got a Blair Witch vibe. Didn't we already do that, a couple of times?

Here's the trailer:

June 3


Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Bryne, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Jason Flemyng and Oliver Platt
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's a prequel.
Log Line: Before mutants revealed themselves, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr were friends. This is the story of how they fought together as Professor X and Magneto to stop nuclear armageddon and eventually went to war against each other.
Why this X-Men prequel might be awesome: The trailer looks great, and it's about time we found out what when down between Charles and Erik. Suddenly we're excited about X-Men again, something we haven't been for a movie or two.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are amazing actors who created characters wonderful enough to make us want to watch a prequel about them. If James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender don't remind us of Stewart's Professor Xavier and McKellen's Magneto, the rest of the movie will fall apart.

Here's the trailer:

June 10


Written and directed by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Noah Emmerich, Ron Eldard, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee and Zach Mills
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No, it's original. Shocker!
And: It's in conventional theaters and IMAX theaters!
Log Line: During the summer of 1979, a group of kids from a small Ohio town set out to make a Super 8 movie and ended up witnessing a catastrophic train crash. But that's only the beginning of the story, because something on that train got out, and now it's loose in their town.
Why Super 8 might be awesome: J.J. Abrams revitalized Star Trek and has two cool-looking television series headed our way this fall. And Steven Spielberg is ... well ... Steven Spielberg. What's not to love?
What we're afraid they'll screw up: The monster could suck. Our expectations are pretty high. And except for Undercovers on NBC, Abrams hasn't really failed at anything in recent memory. Maybe his time has come.

Here's the trailer:


Written and directed by: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Mørck, Knut Nærum, Robert Stoltenberg and Glenn Erland Tosterud
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
Log Line: Going a little Blair Witch, the story follows a group of Norwegian film students who go on the hunt to capture real-life trolls on camera after they discover that a government conspiracy has covered up their existence for years.
Why TrollHunter might be awesome: Well, it could be the next Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. Maybe. But probably not.
How they might screw it up: The really, really big trolls look silly in the trailer instead of scary. Can't say this is on the must-see list.

Here's the trailer:

June 17


Directed by: Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Jay O. Sanders, Taika Waititi, Jon Tenney, Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? Nope, but it does have comic book-itis.
And: It's in 2-D and 3-D!
Log Line: A gifted and cocky test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself chosen to be the latest recruit to the Green Lantern Corps, a group of protectors of the universe who stand for peace and justice. As Hal tries to master the superpowers his Green Lantern ring has granted him, he must go up against an enemy called Parallax, which threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe.
Why Green Lantern might be awesome: While Ryan Reynolds will play Deadpool in a couple years, first we get to see him in green as the Green Lantern. Although this may not be the next Spider-Man, the special effects look pretty good and Reynolds seems perfect for the role.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Let's talk Ang Lee's Hulk and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and every other movie based on a comic-book character that disappointed us.

Here's the trailer:

June 24


Directed by: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna and Bruce Campbell
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's a sequel.
And: It's in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D!
Log Line: In this sequel to Cars, racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) head off overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix, which will determine the world's fastest car. Along the way they run into potholes, detours, spies and plenty of surprises.
Why Cars 2 might be awesome: The creative Pixar team has a strong record in creating quality sequels and Cars was a megahit.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: The best Pixar movies tug at our heart just a bit. This one seems more like an adventure for the sake of adventure.

Here's the trailer:

June 29


Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Patrick Dempsey, Alan Tudyk, John Turturro and Leonard Nimoy
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's a sequel. In fact, it's the third Transformers film starring Shia LaBeouf.
And: It's in 3D, 2D and IMAX!
Log Line: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) once again finds himself at the center of gigantic robot war, when events from the past erupt meaning a war for the Earth that's so big, even the Transformers might not be able to stop it.
Why Transformers: Dark of the Moon might be awesome: There's a new hot chick (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) for this third edition, and a good cast, including a formerly retired Leonard Nimoy. Maybe director Michael Bay learned from his past mistakes.
How we think they mighty'll screw up: Oh, we still remember Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and that was not pretty.

Here's the trailer:

July 8


(Limited release)

Directed by: John Carpenter, his first new film in over ten years
Starring: Amber Heard, Danielle Panabaker, Mamie Gummer, Lyndsy Fonseca and Jared Harris
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
Log Line: A troubled young woman named Kristen (Amber Heard) ends up bruised, drugged and held against her will in the remote ward of a mental institution in the 1960s. From there things only get worse.
Why The Ward might be awesome: Carpenter gave us great movies like Halloween and The Thing.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Maybe there's a reason he hasn't made a movie in ten years.

Here's the trailer:


Directed by: Frank Coraci
Starring: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb, Cher, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler and Sylvester Stallone
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
Log Line: When kindhearted zookeeper Griffin Keyes (Kevin James), decides it's time to get a different job with hopes of getting the girl he's fallen for, the animals under Griffin's watch have to take drastic action. They decide to break their time-honored code of silence and teach him how to get the girl, animal style.
Why Zookeeper might be awesome: This looks very silly and kind of funny. There's some Night at the Museum potential here and it's not a sequel.
How they might screw it up: It won't take much for the talking animals to go past funny.

Here's the trailer:

July 15


Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright and Kelly Macdonald
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? Oh, yes. It's got a severe case of sequel-itis.
And: It's in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D!
Log Line: In part two of the epic finale, the forces of good and evil of the Wizarding world battle in an all out war. Will Harry have to make the ultimate sacrifice in his battle with Lord Voldemort?
Why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 might be awesome: The end is finally here! If you've seen all the others, you can't stop now.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Part one was dark and not very satisfying. However, we think this will be the ending we're hoping for since they've done such a good job at honoring the books up to this point.

Here's the trailer:


Directed by: Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall
Starring: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Tom Kenny, Travis Oates, Bud Luckey, Jack Boulter, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Wyatt Hall, Huell Howser and John Cleese (Narrator)
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No. It's a new adventure inspired by three stories from A.A. Milne's books.
Log Line: Owl sends Winnie the Pooh and his gang of friends out on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit.
Why Winnie the Pooh might be awesome: Yes, you'll need a child to make you feel like you belong in the theater, but how many kids movies are there really for the younger set that harken back to a simpler time?
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Let's see... it's not in 3D and the animation is done in Disney's classic, hand-drawn art style. Maybe it will be too quiet and gentle for today's kiddies.

Here's the trailer:

July 18


(Limited release)

Directed by: David Winning
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Shahin Sean Solimon and Isaac C. Singleton Jr.
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? Not really, but there have been many Sinbads before this one.
Log Line: When a Sultan's first born daughter is kidnapped by an evil sorcerer, he sends Sinbad off through a desert of magic and creatures to rescue her.
Why Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage might be awesome: Based on the trailer, no reason we can think of, except that Patrick Stewart's voice is featured.
How they might screw it up: It's filmed using Ray Harryhausen's Dynamation (a combination of animation, human action and trick photography) as inspiration and it looks terrible.

Here's the trailer:

July 22


(Limited release)

Directed by: Mike Cahill
Written by: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling
Starring: William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker and Robin Lord Taylor
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
Log Line: Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) is accepted into MIT's astrophysics program and she's thrilled she's going to get to explore the cosmos. However, on the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, her life intersects with a brilliant composer who suffers a tragic loss, and their lives become irrevocably intertwined.
Why Another Earth might be awesome: The film won the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film prize at the Sundance Festival, and in a summer filled with big, loud films based on comic books, this looks like a terrific little science fiction film.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Independent films like these often take chances, which can take them in creative places. However, creative and artistic doesn't always mean a satisfying film experience.

Here's the trailer:


Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Neal McDonough and Derek Luke
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No, but it's from a comic book.
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: Steve Rogers wants to sign up to serve his country, but none of the military branches will take him. That is until he signs up for an experimental program to create a super soldier and he turns into Captain America.
Why Captain America might be awesome: The trailer lays out the story nicely and they've got really nasty looking Nazis as their villains. The period look is cool and Chris Evans has a strong cast behind him.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: It's the third superhero origin story of the summer (X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern), and if it's not done perfectly, Captain America's movie franchise might die here.

Here's the trailer:

July 29


Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Noah Ringer, Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown, Ana de la Reguera and Abigail Spencer
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No, but it is based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.
Log Line: It's the Arizona Territory in 1873. A stranger (Daniel Craig) with no memory and a mysterious shackle around his wrist stumbles into a desert town called Absolution and runs afowl of the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). However, when the town is suddenly attacked by marauders from the sky (aka aliens), everyone in Absolution must band together to survive.
Why Cowboys & Aliens might be awesome: It's executive produced by Steven Spielberg, produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau and written by Lost's Damon Lindelof and Fringe's Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It's got a fantastic cast and the title says it all.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: There's a lot of cooks involved in this stew, and that can be a bad thing when it comes to a big production like this.

Here's the trailer:


Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria, Anton Yelchin, Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, Paul Reubens, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson, B.J. Novak, Jeff Foxworthy, Wolfgang Puck, Gary Basaraba and Tim Gunn
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's not the first film, but this could hardly be called a sequel.
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: The evil wizard Gargamel drives the tiny blue Smurfs out of their magical world and into ours, directly into Central Park.
Why The Smurfs might be awesome: It's the Smurfs first 3D trip to the big screen and its got Dr. Horrible's Neil Patrick Harris. However, any respectable adult will certainly have to have a small child along to blend in.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: It looks like there's lots of slap stick, so this might not have much for adults to enjoy.

Here's the trailer:


(Limited release)

Directed by: Catherine Breillat
Starring: Carla Besnaïnou, Julia Artamonov and Kerian Mayan
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? Let's call this one a reboot.
Log Line: French provocateur Catherine Breillat continues her deconstruction of classic fairytales.
Why Sleeping Beauty might be awesome: Spinning Sleeping Beauty on its head might turn out to be great.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: On the other hand, will we recognize it by the time Breillat is done?

No trailer available.

August 5


Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo and Andy Serkis
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? Hmmm ... Well, let's call this a long, long awaited prequel reboot, considering 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes explored how the apes took over.
Log Line: How those pesky apes became the dominant species on the planet.
Why Rise of the Planet of the Apes might be awesome: The Oscar-winning visual effects team from Avatar and Lord of the Rings, created CGI apes and the epic battles between man and primate. Beyond that it looks like a great cautionary tale of taking science too far.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: Remember the Tim Burton movie with Mark Wahlberg about ten years ago?

Here's the trailer:

August 12


Directed by: Steven Quale
Starring: Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, Tony Todd, Courtney B. Vance, P.J. Byrne, Ellen Wroe and Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? Absolutely. But is the fifth time a charm?
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: When a man has a premonition that a suspension bridge is about to collapse, he's able to save a group of his coworkers. Unfortunately for them, death isn't about to be cheated.
Why Final Destination 5 might be awesome: You can always count on the Final Destination movies for quality kills, but we're so over this series.
How they might screw it up: Oh, please screw it up! Please!

Here's the trailer:

August 19


Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Starring: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ron Perlman, Leo Howard, Steve O'Donnell, Raad Rawi Fassir, Nonso Anozie, Bob Sapp and Milton Welsh
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's a remake.
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: The fierce Cimmerian warrior finds himself on a quest that has him facing off against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, impossible odds and a creepy Rose McGowan. It leads to an epic battle, as Conan discovers he is the only hope to save the nations of Hyboria from an evil force.
Why Conan the Barbarian might be awesome: Jason Momoa. Shirtless. Oh, yeah.
Why we're afraid it will get screwed up: Jason Momoa. He's done some good work on Stargate: Atlantis and Game of Thrones, but can he hold up a rocking fantasy epic with a character who barely speaks?

Here's the trailer:


Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Written by: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Marti Noxon
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's a remake.
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: High school senior Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is in with the popular crowd and dating the hottest girl in school. However, when a mysterious man named Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves next door and people start disappearing, Charlie begins to watch his new neighbor only to discover that the man is actually a vampire. And when Jerry begins to suspect that Charlie knows what he is, it's up to the teen to stop the vamp to save the people he cares about.
Why Fright Night might be awesome: It's been 26 years since the original Fright Night, so it's time for a remake and who better to write it than Buffy alum, Marti Noxon. However, based on the trailer, let's hope David Tennant's Peter Vincent is more than a cameo.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: While the new version looks a little more grown up and a little more serious, hopefully it won't get too far away from what made the first one a classic.

Here's the trailer:


Written and directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It's kind of a sequel.
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: When a former spy (Jessica Alba) is called back in action to help stop the maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) from taking over the planet, and its up to her twin step kids to help stop Armageddon. Luckily they have help from a couple familiar Spy Kids and some mind-blowing gadgets to help save the world.
Why Spy Kids might be awesome: It has Alba in it, but the kids are the stars, so it's hard to feel too enthusiastic about this one.
Why we don't care if they'll screw it up: We're not entirely sure why we've needed four Spy Kid movies in the universe.

No trailer available.

August 26


Directed by: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Starring: Not available
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
Log Line: On December 17, 1972, Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon. Or was it. This "actual footage" is of a secret mission that sent two American astronauts to the moon when something went terribly wrong.
Why Apollo 18 might be awesome: This looks pretty cool and could have potential. And it's not a sequel, prequel or reboot.
How they might screw it up: It's late in the summer and we don't have any real expectations for Apollo 18.

Here's the trailer:


Directed by: Troy Nixey
Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison and Jack Thompson
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? It is a reboot.
Log Line: When a man (Guy Pearce), his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) and his young daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) move into a 19th century mansion they're restoring, Sally unwittingly unleashes something terrible from the mansion's hidden basement.
Why Don't Be Afraid of the Dark might be awesome: It's from Guillermo del Toro, who co-wrote the script, this looks plenty spooky.
What we're afraid they'll screw up: The standard's been set in horror with movies like The Grudge and The Ring, so we'll see if this new entry can hold up.

Here's the trailer:

September 2


Directed by: David R. Ellis
Starring: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Katharine McPhee, Chris Carmack, Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore, Donal Logue, Sinqua Walls and Chris Zylka
Sequel-itis? Prequel-itis? Reboot-itis? No.
And: It's in 3D and 2D!
Log Line: A group of college students end up trapped on an island surrounded by man (and woman) eating sharks.
Why Shark Night 3D might be awesome: Scantly clad girls and guys? Naw. Lot's of sexy young adults getting chomped on by big sharks? Nope. Jaws times 20? Nada. Actually I can't think of a reason this will be anywhere close to awesome, or even mediocre.
Why we think they might screw it up: Well, they can't all be like last year's Piranha 3D or the upcoming Piranha 3DD.

Here's the trailer:

What movies are on your "must see" list?

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