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Originally published April 29, 2012 at 5:32 AM | Page modified April 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM

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I know what you're doing this summer: watching these 75 movies

From summer blockbusters to family movies and romantic comedies, here's a mondo list of summer 2012 movie openings. Highlights include "The Avengers 3D," "Dark Shadows," "Men in Black 3," "You Sister's Sister," "Hope Springs" and the documentary "Neil Young Journeys."

Seattle Times movie critic

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Here's a sampling of what will be turning up on Seattle-area screens this summer; note that all release dates are tentative and as changeable as Johnny Depp's voice.

Big, bigger, biggest ...

The summer blockbusters kick off with a team of superheroes: "The Avengers 3D" (May 4) features Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo; wait, Mark Ruffalo?). "Battleship," based on the game that involved sticking pegs into holes but presumably a little more exciting (let's hope), arrives May 18; "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," inspired by those handsome dolls, opens June 29. "Prometheus," Ridley Scott's sort-of-prequel to "Alien," arrives June 8 and stars Noomi Rapace (the original Girl with a Dragon Tattoo), Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender.

In the sequels-and-remakes department, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones team up again for "Men in Black 3" (May 25), whether you wanted them to or not, and Jeremy Renner stars as a spy who isn't Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Legacy"(Aug. 3). And, if you've ever looked at Colin Farrell and thought, "That guy reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger," then you might understand the casting of the "Total Recall" remake (Aug. 3), with Farrell taking over the Schwarzenegger role, alongside Bryan Cranston.

Based on ...

Johnny Depp dons fangs for "Dark Shadows" (May 11), the Tim Burton film based on the '60s vampire soap opera. Snow White turns up on screen in her second incarnation this year (following "Mirror Mirror"), this time played by Kristen "Bella" Stewart, in "Snow White and the Huntsman" (June 1). "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (June 22) goes from page to screen, as does "Headhunters" (May 11), the Norwegian film version of Jo Nesbø's crime-caper novel. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," based on the book "These Foolish Things" by Deborah Moggach and starring the formidable trio of Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith, opens May 11. Michael Winterbottom's "Trishna" (July 20), starring Freida Pinto ("Slumdog Millionaire"), is a version of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles," set in contemporary India. "Sparkle" (Aug. 17), inspired by the 1976 movie, features American Idol Jordin Sparks and the final screen appearance of Whitney Houston. And the year's most unlikely adaptation has to be "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (May 18), based on the popular how-to-be-pregnant book and transformed, somehow, into a romantic comedy.

Are we laughing yet?

Sacha Baron Cohen returns as "The Dictator" (May 16) — that character he was portraying on the Oscar red carpet earlier this year, when he tossed fake ashes on Ryan Seacrest. Will this start a trend? In "Ted" (July 13), Mark Wahlberg's teddy bear comes to life; in "That's My Boy" (June 15), Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg play father and son; in "Neighborhood Watch" (July 27), Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn defend their suburb against alien invasion, and sometimes it feels like I'm making all of this stuff up, doesn't it? Meanwhile, Tyler Perry returns with "Madea's Witness Protection" (June 29), starring Perry and Eugene Levy as unexpected housemates, and Bobcat Goldthwaite directs "God Bless America" (June 29), in which a man goes on a rampage to rid the country of its most repellent citizens. (Why does no one do that for movies?)

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy star in "Hysteria" (June 15), a proper little Victorian comedy about the invention of the vibrator. Channing Tatum plays a stripper in Steven Soderberg's "Magic Mike" (June 29), and Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis play unlikely political rivals in "The Campaign" (Aug. 10). In "Lola Versus" (June date TBD), Greta Gerwig plays a young woman dumped by her fiancee, and "Turn Me On, Damn It!" (which easily wins the prize for the season's most forthright title), a Norwegian coming-of-age comedy about a hormone-crazed teenage girl, arrives June 15.

For the kids

Pixar, bouncing back (let's hope) from the disappointing "Cars 2," presents "Brave" (June 22), with Kelly Macdonald voicing a Scottish princess who must overcome a curse. "ParaNorman"(Aug. 17), a stop-

motion-animation tale of a boy who faces off against ghosts and goblins to overcome (yet another) curse, features the voices of Anna Kendrick, John Goodman and Casey Affleck. And it wouldn't be summer without a host of kid-friendly sequels: "Madagascar 3" (June 8), "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (July 13), and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" (Aug. 3).

Thrill me

A group of tourists visits the former site of a nuclear reactor, for some reason, in the thriller "Chernobyl Diaries" (May 25). "Twilight" vamp Ashley Greene stars in the ghost story "The Apparition" (Aug. 24); Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick turn up in another supernatural tale, "The Possession" (Aug. 31); and more ghosts haunt the airborne thriller "7500" (Aug. 31). The psychological thriller "Sound of My Voice" (May 4), starring and cowritten by Brit Marling ("Another Earth"), features two investigative journalists who infiltrate a cultlike group.

The end of the world is near

Well, maybe, but in any case there are two movies on that subject this summer. "4:44 Last Day on Earth" (May 18), written and directed by Abel Ferrara ("Bad Lieutenant"), focuses on how an artist spends his final day. In "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (June 22), Steve Carell and Keira Knightley take a last-days road trip as an asteroid looms near.

And this year's Jessica Chastain is ...

Mark Duplass, half of the "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" filmmaking duo, who pops up as an actor in three films this summer: "Darling Companion" (May 11), with Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline; "People Like Us" (June 29), with Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks; and Lynn Shelton's made-in-the-Northwest comedy "Your Sister's Sister" (which opens the Seattle International Film Festival in May and then returns to theaters June 15), alongside Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Shall we dance?

Toes will be twinkling with three dance-themed movies this summer: "Step Up: Revolution" (July 27), featuring plenty of dance-crew moves, and the documentaries "First Position" (May 18), about an international youth ballet competition, and "Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance" (June 1), about the groundbreaking dance company founded by Northwest native Robert Joffrey.

You can't make it up

Speaking of documentaries, this summer's offerings include nonfiction films about men's grooming ("Mansome," May 18), marriage equality ("Question One," May 25), surfing in New Guinea ("Splinters," Aug. 17), the displaced tenants of Carnegie Hall ("Lost Bohemia," June 22), a contemporary artist ("Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present," June 15), the President of the Maldives ("The Island President," May 4) and the issues facing today's young adults and youth ("ReGeneration," May 4).

They'll mention this in the trailer

A handful of Oscar-winning actors turns up in movies this summer — including the currently reigning Best Actress, Meryl Streep. She reunites with her "Devil Wears Prada" director, David Frankel, for "Hope Springs" (Aug. 10), in which a middle-age couple (Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) attempts marriage counseling. Jane Fonda (who won an Oscar 40 years ago for "Klute") turns up in the comedy "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" (June 8) playing Catherine Keener's hippie mother. Woody Allen's new comedy, "To Rome with Love" (July 6), features Penélope Cruz (who won an Oscar in another Allen film, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") and Roberto Benigni ("Life Is Beautiful"). And Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") and Frances McDormand ("Fargo") star in Wes Anderson's latest, "Moonrise Kingdom" (May 25), set in 1960s New England.

Speaking of award winners ...

"Where Do We Go Now?," a Lebanese tale of a group of women determined to protect their village from war, was the top prizewinner at last fall's Toronto International Film Festival; it opens here June 22. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (July date TBD), a fantasy set in a forgotten bayou community, won the grand jury prize for drama at the Sundance Film Festival this year. And while "A Cat in Paris" (July 6), set among the rooftops of the City of Light, didn't win an Oscar, it was among the nominees for the year's best animated film.

Well, that was fast

Those seeking action films sans superheroes this summer might watch for "Premium Rush" (Aug. 24), with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger pursued by a cop; "The Expendables 2" (Aug. 17), with Sylvester Stallone leading a crew of tough guys; and "Hit & Run" (Aug. 24), with Dax Shepherd and Kristen Bell chased by both the Feds and a gang. (Which sounds unfortunate.)

Against the law

Oliver Stone's latest, "Savages" (July 6), pits a pair of pot growers (say that three times fast) against a Mexican drug cartel. And "Lawless" (Aug. 31) is the tale of a Depression-era bootlegging gang, starring Tom Hardy, Shia LeBoeuf and Guy Pearce.

But I always wanted to write

A novelist creates his ideal woman in "Ruby Sparks" (July date TBD), directed by the "Little Miss Sunshine" team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. In the French thriller "Nobody Else But You" (May 11), a popular crime novelist investigates the murder of a Marilyn Monroe look-alike. Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") plays a writer, also French, investigating college-student prostitution in "Elles" (May 4).

Play the music

Music-related documentaries this summer include the concert films "Neil Young Journeys" (July 13) and "Katy Perry: Part of Me" (July 5), as well as the locally made "Hit So Hard" (May 25), about Hole drummer Patty Schemel. Tuneful fictional films include the musical "Rock of Ages" (June 15), starring Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin; "Tonight You're Mine" (June 1), a British comedy in which two rock stars are handcuffed together at a music festival; and "Restless City" (May 4), a drama about an immigrant musician in New York, recently seen at the Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival.

And if you still want more ...

Northwest Film Forum presents a festival of films on 35mm this summer; among the offerings will be "The Grand Illusion," "The Graduate" and "The Long Day Closes." It plays throughout the season; see for more information. And the granddaddy of all local festivals, the Seattle International Film Festival, unspools May 17 through June 10, with more than 450 features and short films. For more information:

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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