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Peter Travers’ 2012 Summer Movie Preview

From ‘The Avengers’ to ‘The Campaign,’ the season’s 10 must-see flicks

summer movie preview

Damn summer. It gets us hard about hitting the multiplex, even though we know from experience that 90 percent of what we see will be supersize crap. Still, there's nothing like IMAX-big, Dolby-loud, school's-out escapism to bring out our inner geek. Hollywood's lined up more than 100 temptations: a prequel to Alien, a sequel to The Dark Knight, a remake of Spider-Man, an army of Avengers, plus stars (Downey! Sacha! Streep!), surprises (Tom Cruise sings!), Pixar dust in Brave and Oscar bait in Christopher Nolan's Knight and Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. So here's my shortlist of summer movies (seen whole or in part) that may actually be worth getting gouged for the price of admission. 

dark knight

Ron Phillips/Warner Bros

‘The Dark Knight Rises’

In Theaters: July 20th

"Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story." And so, in the words of director Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises ends his Batman trilogy. Cue the tears. This will be the last of Christian Bale in the bat suit, fighting crime – in this case Tom Hardy's dastardly Bane – as a psychological night falls over Gotham City. Nobody really knows anything about this finale, though the trailer, currently on the Web, is a knockout. What's clear is that The Dark Knight Rises is the movie against which every movie this summer, this year, will be measured. Nolan is a true artist. His accomplishment goes beyond escapism. Nolan makes comic-book art. If you think you've seen everything, listen to the Caped Crusader: "Not everything – not yet."

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The Travers Take: Reviews and Interviews From Peter Travers 

bourne legacy

Mary Cybulski

‘The Bourne Legacy’

In Theaters: August 3rd

"There is no taking over for Matt Damon – Matt will always be Jason Bourne." Props to Jeremy Renner for explaining that Aaron Cross, the CIA assassin he plays in The Bourne Legacy, is a new character. Damon can come back when the spirit moves him. My money is on Renner to give summer audiences the jolt they're looking for. Hell, he's Hawkeye in The Avengers.

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• The Travers Take: Reviews and Interviews From Peter Travers 

the campaign

Patti Perret/© 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

‘The Campaign’

In Theaters: August 10th 

"I think the timing for this one is ideal," understates director Jay Roach. He's talking about The Campaign, a political comedy that makes a perfect run-up to the November elections. August usually produces one surprise hit. I'm betting The Campaign is it. How do you beat Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis playing dirty politics to win a congressional seat? Alexander Payne used a high school campaign to skewer hypocrisy in Election. And Roach (HBO's Recount and Game Change) is just the satirist to raise the stakes with the help of two comic icons. 

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The Travers Take: Reviews and Interviews From Peter Travers 

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