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Savages (July 6). Battleship's Taylor Kitsch and Kick-Ass's Aaron Johnson star in this crime thriller as a pair of low-key marijuana kingpins who must resort to extreme measures when the Mexican drug cartels try to take over their operation. Blake Lively plays the woman they both love, while Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro portray villains. Don Winslow's novel blends the plotting of "Breaking Bad" with the violent swagger of James Ellroy's best work, and Winslow co-wrote the script with Shane Salerno and director Oliver Stone. Let's hope Stone doesn't take the book's extremities as license to go overboard.
Ted (July 13). Seth MacFarlane, creator of "Family Guy" and most of Fox's other animated series, makes his big-screen feature debut with this tale of a boy whose beloved teddy bear comes to life and becomes an unwelcome presence in his adult life. Mark Wahlberg plays Ted's hapless owner, Mila Kunis is his love interest, while MacFarlane himself voices the vulgar bear. It sounds like an Adult Swim treatment of Winnie the Pooh.
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20). When we last saw Christian Bale's brooding take on Batman, the Caped Crusader took the fall for murders committed by Gotham City's beloved Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. The sequel supposedly picks up eight years later, with Batman returning to save his hometown from Catwoman (a muscle-bound Anne Hathaway). It's hard to get a sense of the story from the spectacular trailers, and director Christopher Nolan will be hard-pressed to top the previous Dark Knight, with Heath Ledger's superb turn as the Joker. But Nolan has an excellent track record at matching lavish production with operatic, big-city themes.
Neighborhood Watch (July 27). Filmed in Atlanta, this sci-fi comedy stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade as four suburban guys who form a neighborhood watch group to take a break from their families, only to face a crisis involving — what else? — invaders from another world. The Lonely Island's Akiva Schaffer directs a script by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Even if it's not good, it'll be fun to look for such familiar locations as Inman Park.
The Bourne Legacy (Aug. 3). What do you call a Bourne sequel without Matt Damon, director Paul Greengrass, or even the Jason Bourne character? Apparently you call it The Bourne Legacy and draft Jeremy Renner (who also plays the archer Hawkeye in The Avengers) as an intelligence operative caught up in high-level, cloak-and-dagger adventures. Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, and Scott Glenn reprise their roles from the Damon movies, while director Tony Gilroy scripted the three films and earned Oscar nominations for Michael Clayton. Just because it's not necessary doesn't mean it can't be good.
The Campaign -- No trailer yet
The Campaign (Aug. 10). Will Ferrell plays a disgraced North Carolina congressman who faces an unexpected challenge from a political novice, played by Zach Galifianakis. Director Jay Roach might be best known for the broad humor of Meet the Parents and the Austin Powers movies, but he's recently made two of HBO's high-profile political docudramas, Recount and Game Change, so he may be able to ground The Campaign in enough credible political detail to give its humor some satirical bite.
ParaNorman (Aug. 17). A boy who can speak to dead people must try to avert a zombie invasion of his hometown in this 3-D stop-motion animated film. It's hard to believe that Tim Burton isn't involved with this. In fact, it's co-directed by Aardman Animations alumnus Sam Fell and screenwriter/storyboard artist Chris Butler. Kodi Smit-McPhee of The Road and Let Me In voices Norman, leading a cast that includes John Goodman, Jeff Garlin, Tempestt Bledsoe, and Leslie Mann. The trailer's puckish use of Donovan's "Season of the Witch" sold me.
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