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Peter Travers’ Dozen Must-See Summer Movies

Plus: Five unheralded gems – and five more to skip

For me, summer movies usually offer less to anticipate and more to dread. Hey, it's Michael Bay's favorite time to do his unbeatable worst. Using the lamest excuse ("We just want to entertain"), Hollywood studios dump acres of sequel/prequel/remake garbage. Remember last summer? For every Toy Story 3 there was a crap chip off the block of Twilight or Iron Man or Karate Kid or Sex and the City. For every original work like Inception, there was a Knight and Day or Jonah Hex or Killers or – Adam Sandler be damned – Grown Ups. This summer, I offer up a dozen movies that at least show promise, five that fill me with horror and five goodies that come in under the radar.


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Under the Radar, #3: ‘A Better Life’

In Theaters: June 24th

Demián Bichir, Mary Louise Parker's love interest on Weeds, gives one of the year's best performances as a Mexican gardener working illegally in Los Angeles and trying to keep his teen son (Jose Julian) away from gang life. Director Chris Weitz, a long way from the vacuous bloodsucking of Twilight: New Moon, creates a haunting movie that gets under your skin. Powerful work.


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Under the Radar, #4: ‘Bellflower’

In Theaters: August 5th

Here's a truly experimental film, a real flamethrower that explodes with the energy of fearless young talent. Writer-director Evan Glodell even built the hi-def camera that recorded the film's hallucinatory images. Bellflower, about two friends — Glodell and Tyler Dawson — who dream of creating their own Mad Max apocalypse, practically jumps off the screen.


The Complete Archive: Over 20 Years of Peter Travers' Movie Reviews Now Online

Courtesy of Lionsgate

Under the Radar, #5: ‘The Devil’s Double’

In Theaters: July 29th

Brit actor Dominic Cooper delivers a tour de force playing two roles – Uday Hussein, the psychopath son of the Iraqi dictator, and Latif, the working-class dupe who gets coerced into playing body double for a monster everyone wants to kill. Director Lee Tamahori generates tremendous excitement, tearing into every scene, with Cooper as his match. If there's such a thing as an art-house action blockbuster, The Devil's Double is it.


The Complete Archive: Over 20 Years of Peter Travers' Movie Reviews Now Online

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