‘Spider-Man 3'
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Summer movie standouts

‘Spider-Man 3'
‘Spider-Man 3'
It worked for Christian Bale in “Batman Begins” and could work for Tobey Maguire in “Spider-Man 3.” Showcasing the darker side of a superhero is somehow irresistible to audiences, and with a special effects-laden performance by Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman, this latest and possibly final iteration of the franchise could break the box office.

Release date: May 4 (Sony Pictures)
‘Shrek The Third’
‘Shrek The Third’
The cast of the latest animated “Shrek” adventure reads like a “who’s who” of funny people (see Mike Myers, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris and John Krasinski). Of course, Justin Timberlake is sprinkled into the mix of movie regulars Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, but he’s not why we’re watching.

Release date: May 18 (DreamWorks Animation)
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End’
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End’
For the third (and presumably final) installment of Jack Sparrow’s adventures, the producers have brought along everyone from Asian action star Chow Yun-Fat to original bad guy Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to the inspiration for Jack Sparrow himself, Keith Richards. The budget’s huge, the running time is rumored to be epic, but it’s guaranteed to pack theaters anyway. No one can resist a good swashbuckler.

Release date: May 25 (Disney)
‘Knocked Up’
‘Knocked Up’
Judd Apatow, the person who helped bring “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” “Talladega Nights” and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” to the pantheon of funny movies, offers yet another tale that is both hilarious and cautionary: a woman on the fast track of her career (played by “Grey’s Anatomy” beauty Katherine Heigl) gets pregnant after a one-night stand with a slacker (Seth Rogen). Humor in this flick is like low-hanging fruit for the comedy-starved.

Release date: June 1 (Universal Pictures)
‘Surf’s Up’
‘Surf’s Up’
Will audiences ever stop loving penguins? Penguin cuteness continues in this animated feature about the aquatic birds who enter into a surfing competition. Shia LaBeouf, who stars in multiple blockbuster movies this year, lends his voice alongside indie favorite Zooey Deschanel and the always-humorous Jon Heder.

Release date: June 8 (Sony Pictures Animation)
‘Ocean’s Thirteen’
‘Ocean’s Thirteen’
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is back with his motley crew (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, to name a few) for yet another casino heist. This time, however, they team up against a formidable foe: Al Pacino.

Release date: June 8 (Warner Bros. Pictures)
‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’
‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’
The sequel to the surprise $150-million-grossing hit brings more of the comic book mythology to the big screen, with the arrival of the enigmatic Silver Surfer, herald of the planet-devouring alien Galactus. Will mainstream fans and die-hard comic enthusiasts embrace this further mining of the Marvel comics vaults? We’re betting yes.

Release date: June 15 (20th Century Fox)
‘Evan Almighty’
‘Evan Almighty’
Think of this sequel to “Bruce Almighty” as a modern-day version of the Noah’s Ark story of the Bible. A flood is coming, but Steve Carell’s performance as the man who must save the animals is enough to buoy this film to the top of our must-see summer movie list.

Release date: June 22 (Universal Pictures)
‘Ratatouille’
‘Ratatouille’
The mastermind behind “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles” returns with another intricate Pixar creation. This time they’re taking on the world of high cuisine and low vermin, as a rat dreams of becoming a top-rated chef in Paris’ notoriously snooty restaurant scene.

Release date: June 29 (Pixar)
‘Live Free or Die Hard’
‘Live Free or Die Hard’
Yes, the title’s goofy. Yes, Bruce Willis is getting long in the tooth to be an action star. Yes, “Die Hard’s” glory days were over a decade ago. Maybe if the younger generation had bothered to come up with a decent action hero of its own, Willis wouldn’t have to slip back on his stained undershirt and “Yippie kay ay” all over again. He’s teaming up with the kid from the Mac commercials in this one, so at least he’ll get a pleasant user experience.

Release date: June 27 (20th Century Fox)
‘Transformers’
‘Transformers’
It’s Autobots versus Deceptacons in this Michael Bay-directed film centered around the1980s-era robotic action figures. Considering the fact it stars new It Guy Shia LaBeouf, we’re hoping the live-action film will live up to the hype.

Release date: July 4  (Paramount Pictures)
‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’
‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’
We can already see the line for tickets go for miles to this wizardry fest. It’s Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, Voldemort is on the loose and there’s a coming battle against evil that’s putting everyone on edge. We don’t need to read reviews to know this will be hot this summer.

Release date: July 13 (Warner Bros. Pictures)
‘Hairspray’
‘Hairspray’
John Travolta became a musical icon in “Grease” and, dressed in drag, returns to singing and dancing as the lovable Edna Turnblad in this musical based on the Broadway show. The cast includes Queen Latifah and the hilarious Christopher Walken. Need we say more?

Release date: July 20 (New Line Cinema)
‘The Simpsons Movie’
‘The Simpsons Movie’
What’s the plot? Who cares! The film’s creators have been pretty cagey about what we’ll be seeing in the big screen version of the (very) long-running Fox cartoon series, but anyone who grew up watching Homer, Bart, Marge and the rest (and at this point, that’s quite a lot of us) will be checking this one out. Expect box office lines to rival the opening weekend of “Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie.”

Release date: July 27 (20th Century Fox)
‘Bourne Ultimatum’
‘Bourne Ultimatum’
The first one surprised everyone with Matt Damon’s ability as an action star. The second one upped the ante with some eye-popping car chases. So what will they do for a third go-round? Trade in the previous films’ European locales for the bright lights of New York City. What the heck, it worked in “Home Alone 2,” so we’re pretty sure it’ll work for Jason Bourne.

Release date: August 3 (Universal Pictures)
‘Rush Hour 3'
‘Rush Hour 3'
What’s that, you say? You’ve had enough of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan reprising their roles as buddy cops? No bother. This time, they’re traveling to Paris and there’s enough feel-good comedy to make for a fun movie night.

Release date: August 10 (New Line Cinema)
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