It should come as little surprise that I am not a fan of blockbusters. Sure, sometimes I'm in the mood for the sheer escapist spectacle that only Hollywood can provide. Most of the time, however, the contrived plots, hackneyed performances, and general lack of artistic vision are as enticing as a bucket of yuck, and I keep as far away as possible.
But entertainment has its place, and these are the titles most likely to provide it. Some will be blockbusters, some will flop, but when you're venturing to the multiplex this summer, take these movies with a grain of salt. True cinematic worth has little to do with the studios' advertising budgets?just ask "A History of Violence" or "Match Point" about that. So remember to seek out quality films, whether independent or mainstream. Oh, and go see Meryl in "Prairie Home Companion," too.
M:I 3 (May 5)
Tom Cruise is back for a third action-packed installment, this time with recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the villain, in what could be his potential commercial breakout. Cruise had retired from active duty, but returned to confront Hoffman and rescue Cruise's love interest.
Poseidon (May 12)
This remake of a 1970s disaster film tells the story of a luxury ocean liner struck by a tsunami, which flips the massive ship over and leaves the movie stars inside, including Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss? scrambling to find a way out.
The Da Vinci Code (May 19)
Sure to be a monumental blockbuster, this film stars America's favorite everyman Tom Hanks and "Amelie" star Audrey Tautou. They search to unlock the mysteries surrounding a murder in the Louvre and clues in Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings surrounding a Christian secret society.
X-Men: The Last Stand (May 26)
This franchise's third installment will have to do without the successful direction of Bryan Singer. When a mutations cure is found, battle lines are drawn as the X-Men decide whether to remain as they are, or give up their powers and become human.
The Break-Up (June 2)
One of a number of romantic comedies hitting theaters this summer, "The Break-Up" stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn as a couple who, shockingly, break up; unfortunately, neither one is willing to move out of their apartment. Much chaos ensues, until they start to wonder if they do actually want to be together.
Cars (June 9)
Potentially the brightest spot in mainstream theaters this summer, and that's because its Pixar's latest animated picture. On his way to a big race, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) gets in trouble in Radiator Springs, and has to stay there to repay the damages he caused, learning much about what's really important along the way.
Superman Returns (June 30)
This is why Bryan Singer left X-Men, and expectations are high for Brandon Routh's big screen debut. After a long visit to Krypton, Superman returns to do what he does best: save people from harm and reclaim Lois Lane's love. Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth also star.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (July 7)
Will the second installment of Johnny Depp's Mick Jagger-inspired Jack Sparrow live up to the first? This time around, Depp finds himself with a blood debt to the legendary Davey Jones, ruler of the ocean depths. Determined to avoid eternal damnation, the wedding of Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom quickly becomes entangled in the mess.
Lady in the Water (July 21)
M. Night Shyamalan doesn't seem to be able to regain the excellence he displayed in "The Sixth Sense," but he sure does keep trying. This go-around has potential for success as Paul Giamatti plays an apartment superintendent who rescues Bryce Dallas Howard from a pool. But he discovers she is a bedtime story character determined to make the journey back to her world, as forces try to keep her in ours.
World Trade Center (August 9)
Oliver Stone becomes the second but by no means the last Hollywood director to take on the events of 9/11. Here, Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena are two police officers trapped under rubble, as rescuers refuse to stop searching for them.
Snakes on a Plane (August 18)
Already becoming something of a cult classic, Samuel L. Jackson stars as an FBI agent on a plane when an assassin releases hundreds of deadly snakes, forcing the crew and passengers to band together to survive.