7 Pre-Summer Movies Worth Seeing

The pre-summer months are usually the season for the absolute dregs of the Hollywood studio system, a dumping ground for movies that weren’t deemed attractive enough to compete with the big boys of the summer and not artistically relevant enough to be released in the fall. There’s always the occasional gem that crops up in the early months of the year, particularly in the last few months before the official kickoff of the summer movie season in May. Today, we’re taking a look at a handful of movies that might actually be worth your $10 that will hit theaters before the official start of summer (in this case, we’re considering May 6th to be the official kickoff of summer movie season with the premiere of Marvel’s Thor).

Red Riding Hood (March 11)

We here at FilmNerds are no fans of the Twilight series but there’s no denying that director Catherine Hardwicke’s got game. Her early critically acclaimed directorial work on Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown established her as a name worth watching and yes, even her technical contributions to Twilight were something to be admired. Here Hardwicke is paired with one of the hottest young names in Hollywood in Amanda Seyfried and gets to explore similarly gothic territory that will likely appeal heavily to the “Twihard” crowd. Lukas Haas and Gary Oldman showing up in supporting roles makes this horror/fantasy/romance film worth keeping an eye on.

Paul (March 18)

Yeah, I know…the CGI alien looks annoying. But that’s just because you’re conditioned to hate computer generated comic relief characters! Don’t let the mistakes of George Lucas make you believe that CGI inherently means “not funny”, especially when we’re talking about a movie written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (two-thirds of the team that brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and directed by Greg Mottola whose past credits include Superbad, Adventureland and work on Arrested Development. Sign us up.

Sucker Punch (March 25)

Zack Snyder is the king of the pre-summer hit. With the exception of his odd venture into animation last year, every film Snyder has made has been released in March and has done surprisingly well at the box office. This time Snyder yet again brings a March-released effects-heavy action thriller, though unlike his previous three films Sucker Punch is an entirely original idea rather than an adaptation. We’re still not entirely sure how this mash-up of teenage beauties with guns and swords battling giant robots and dragons is all going to come together but it sure doesn’t look boring.

Source Code (April 1)

British director Duncan Jones made a splash last year with the little-seen but highly-acclaimed sci-fi/psychological thriller Moon and his follow-up focuses on a time traveling Jake Gyllenhaal who transports himself back to try and stop a bomber from destroying a crowded train. Time travel movies are always subject to heavy scrutiny for getting mired down in their own rules but based on Jones’ work in Moon, a movie that did an excellent job of bringing the characters to the forefront and the high concept to the background, I expect Source Code to break that pattern and give us a truly thoughtful time travel thriller.

Your Highness (April 8 )

After establishing himself as one of the most revered young voices in filmmaking early in his career, David Gordon Green has suddenly and surprisingly plunged himself into the world of stoner comedy with Pineapple Express, the HBO series Eastbound and Down and now his homage to epic ’80s fantasy Your Highness. James Franco and Danny McBride take top billing as the male leads but the real star might turn out to be recently crowned Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, who will likely be a major focus of the movie’s pre-release advertising.

Hanna (April 8 )

Joe Wright is one of a handful of young British directors making waves these days and while The Soloist didn’t exactly pan out, Wright’s adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement were superb and Oscar-worthy films making his latest film more than a mere curiosity. Atonement star Saoirse Ronan stars as the titular Hanna who appears to be some kind of child assassin being hunted by an intelligence agent played by Cate Blanchett. The score by The Chemical Brothers seals the deal for us on this one.

Water for Elephants (April 22)

Of any of these picks, I’m most skeptical about this one but there’s plenty of reasons to think this movie could attract big crowds this spring. Reese Witherspoon’s drawing power is on the wane but Robert Pattison gets a chance to prove his non-Twilight acting chops while supporting performances from Hal Holbrook and Cristoph Waltz give this movie plenty of high-caliber credibility. While the trailer is a little saccharin, the novel the film is based on has a big following and that alone could be enough to make this a surprise pre-summer hit.