San Diego Entertainer’s Top Summer Movies

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Memorial Day signals the unofficial start to summer. Schools are almost out, the weather is heating up, and summer blockbusters are making their way to the big screen. The San Diego Entertainer and UltraStar Cinemas bring you the hottest movies to hit theaters this summer. Be sure to check for showings in your area.

Here are our picks for the must-see movies this season:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The summer movie season started with a roar last weekend, May 20, with the release of the fourth installment of Disney’s wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” The story continues sans Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner (Kiera Knightly and Orlando Bloom) two of the series’ principal players, but audiences still turned out in waves to watch Captain Jack Sparrow embark on a new adventure on the high seas. In this installment, Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and the mysterious Angelica (Penelope Cruise) join forces to find the fountain of youth. Along the way they encounter mermaids and other kinds of tests and villains.

The Hangover: Part II

The “Wolf Pack” returns this Friday, May 27th for “The Hangover: Part II.”  Another attempt at a bachelor party. Another blacked out night, and another series of wild adventures. Stu, Phil, Doug and Alan head to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Wary of having his own stag party after the group’s previous experiences in Vegas when they lost the groom (Doug) and after a night of uninhibited drinking and partying Stu plans for a tame bachelor brunch. But after being coerced into having a party, the guys awake in Bangkok, lost, hungover, and unsure of the whereabouts of Teddy, Stu’s fiancés younger brother. The Wolf Pack then struggles to trace their steps from the night before, only to encounter the weirdest, and wildest that Bangkok has to offer.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Also releasing on May 27th is the family-friendly “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Jack Black returns as the oafish panda, Po, who has mastered the art of kung fu and is part of an elite group of animal kung fu warriors known as the Furious Five. Under the guidance of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) Po must join the Furious Five to defeat the villainous Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) an albino peacock who is terrorizing the Valley of Peace, and threatens the very existence of kung fu with a mysterious weapon. The film also stars Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, and Jean Claude Van-Damme.

The Tree of Life

For those who prefer more artistic cinematic fare, Terrence Malik’s long anticipated film, “The Tree of Life” will also be released on May 27th. Although less advertised, it’s a must-see, and an Oscar contender. The film has already garnered huge accolades at Cannes, where it won the prestigious Palme d’Or, the top prize at the festival.  The film follows the life of Jack, a boy born in the Midwest during the 1940’s. He grows to learn the meaning of life, the loss of innocence, and the way of the world. The love of his tender and merciful mother contradicts with the selfish, pragmatic teachings of his father. The film focuses mainly on Jack as an adult, struggling to grapple with the responsibilities and disillusion of adulthood all while trying to mend his volatile relationship with his father.

X-Men: First Class

Hot on the heels of its box office hit “Thor,” Marvel releases it’s second film this year on June 3rd. “X-Men: First Class is the prequel to the X-Men series. It shows the creation of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, who later become Professor X and Magneto. The two struggle to find a place in the world for the new mutant breed amidst the tumultuous 1960’s. James McAvoy stars as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as a young Magneto.

Super 8

Sci-fi master J.J. Abrams makes his prominent return to theaters June 10 with “Super 8.” Together with Stephen Spielberg, Abrams brings theater-goers a sci-fi thriller about a mysterious government project gone awry. A group of youngsters experimenting with Super 8mm film witness a train being derailed and capture the incident. Following the accident, a series of paranormal events shake the midterm.

The Green Lantern

Another superhero makes his film debut this summer, “The Green Lantern” with Ryan Reynolds in the title role hits theaters June 17. Hal, a charming albeit irresponsible test pilot is selected by a group of intergalactic guardians known as the Green Lantern Corps to help protect the universe from the villainous Parallax. As the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps, Hal must learn to overcome his inhibitions and humanity to become as fearless as his fellow guardians.

Cars 2

Disney’s “Cars 2” is arriving at theaters June 24th. This sequel has dynamic duo champion racer Lightning McQueen and his sidekick Mater find themselves at the World Grand Prix in Tokyo, Japan. Mater somehow manages to get himself tangled in a case of international espionage, forcing him to take the streets of Europe and Japan. The film features returning voice actors such as Owen Wilson, and Larry the Cable Guy. It also features Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer as the British secret agents. “Cars 2” will be available in Disney Digital 3-D as well as IMAX 3-D.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

July kicks off with the third installment Michael Bay’s blockbuster behemoth Transformers series, with “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” coming out July 1. The Autobots discover a Cybertronian spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. This becomes a race between them and the Decepticons to find the spacecraft which may contain secrets to end the war between the Transformers forever. Shia LaBeouf reprises his role as Sam Witicky, but he is joined by a new co-star, British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

On July 15th the Harry Potter series comes to a close with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.” When we last saw our heroes, Dobby the house elf had sacrificed his life to ensure that Harry, Ron, and Hermione they had just escaped the home of Bellatrix Lestrange. Now tasked with finding the three remaining Horcruxes, which is the key to destroying Voldemort. This film concludes the Harry Potter film series, which has been entertaining audiences since 2001, when “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was released starring a fresh faced Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.

Captain America

The third feature from Marvel this summer is “Captain America” which hits theaters July 22nd. Seth Rogers, an aspiring soldier is refused enlistment because he is physically unfit. Instead he joins a secret government project that transforms him into a super solider. He and his sidekick Bucky Barnes have to stop Hitler’s head of advanced weaponry, Red Skull from taking over the world with  his newest invention the Tesseract. The film stars Chris Evans as Captain America, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull.

Cowboys and Aliens

With undoubtedly the most interesting movie title all summer “Cowboys and Aliens” hits theaters July 29th. The ultimate mix of genres, Cowboys and Aliens takes place in Absolution, a remote town in Arizona in 1873. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakes with his memory gone, and a strange device attached to his wrist. He learns that he is a wanted man for committing crimes he does not recall, and meets Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), the ruthless marshal of Absolution. But when aliens begin to attack the town, Jake discovers that he is the only one who can stop them, and must join forces with the Dolarhyde to survive.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

And for those who head to theaters that weekend hoping for a little more romance, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” will also be released on July 29th. This romantic comedy has Steve Carell at the helm as Cal Weaver, a middle aged man who discovers that his marriage is falling apart. On the verge of divorce, he meets a handsome playboy named Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) in a bar and asks him to revamp his love life. But despite his success under Jacob’s guidance, Cal still longs for his wife (Julianne Moore) while Jacob rethinks his ways when he meets the girl of his dreams (Emma Stone).

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

On August 5th the 1970’s classic Planet of the Apes gets a facelift with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes. “ This film tells the origins of the Planet of the Apes series, when a rogue group of scientists accidently creates a species of super-intelligent apes, and then accidently releases them into our world. The film stars James Franco, Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow, and Andy Serkins.

There is no shortage of films to see this summer. Enjoy your summer of sun and sand, just don’t forget to make it to the theater a few times. With so many great movies hitting the big screen this season, there will be something new to see every few weeks. Get the family together and enjoy!

Want to enter to win free movie tickets? Enter to win a 4-pack of tickets to UltraStar here. The giveaway ends Friday, May 27th at 4pm.

Ultra Star Cinemas is headquartered in San Diego County and operates 141 screens at 14 sites throughout Southern California and Arizona. The company was formed in 1999 by John Ellison, Jr. and Alan Grossberg with the same goal in mind – be a pioneer in the industry and consistently stay on the forefront of technology, while providing the best movie-going experience to every guest that walks through the doors.

UltraStar was the first exhibitor in the world to be equipped with D-BOX Motion Seats. D-BOX Technologies uses motion integrated within theater seats to capture some of the best action scenes in all types of movies. Feeling the action immerses the guest in the movie like never before. D-BOX films opening this summer include Pirates of the Caribbean and Super 8.

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