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The Top 30 Must-See Summer Movies of 2012

Summer 2012 Movies Preview
Columbia Pictures / Warner Bros.

'Tis the season for massive explosions and people running from them.

Summer movies are coming, and iconic superheroes will dominate as "Dark Knight Rises," "Avengers," and "The Amazing Spider-Man" duke it out for box office supremacy, while the sci-fi derby includes fresh takes on the "Alien" saga ("Prometheus") and Philip K. Dick ("Total Recall"), plus a return visit to MIB headquarters.

Of course, it's not all grenades and gunshots. Just see a shirtless Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages" and everythingless Channing Tatum in "Magic Mike" representing for the ladies this summer.

We count down the biggest and best blockbusters for beating the summer heat.

30. 'Battleship'


Release Date: May 18
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Rihanna
The Scoop: "John Carter" sank, but this feature version of the perennial Hasbro board game may be just the ticket to keep Taylor Kitsch's career afloat. The decision to go sci-fi with invading aliens as the heavies is clearly the filmmakers' attempt to capitalize on the success of "Transformers," but with costars Liam Neeson and singer Rihanna in tow, this could be one unsinkable "Battleship." | Watch the trailer

29. 'Bel Ami'

Bel Ami
Magnolia Pictures

Release Date: June 8
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci
The Scoop: R.Pattz is a beautiful friend indeed to the many lovely ladies in this 19th-century romp. The "Twilight" superstar plays Georges Duroy, a French libertine using his cunning and sexuality to broker his way from one powerful woman's bed to another. Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant, this one's sure to get the more literary-minded audience's home fires burning. | Watch the trailer

28. 'Sparkle'


Release Date: Aug 17
Starring: Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Cee Lo Green
The Scoop: Whitney Houston's swan song is a remake of the 1970s cult classic, which she adored as a child. The late singer was set for a big-time comeback, including a soundtrack produced by R. Kelly, before her tragic death in February. Houston and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks are "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," and audiences will be floored. | Watch the trailer

27. 'The Expendables 2'

The Expendables

Release Date: Aug 17
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Scoop: A second helping of brawny, gun-totin' geezers was inevitable after the mighty $275 million haul their pyrotechnics brought in two years ago. Stallone has ceded the director's chair to Simon West ("Tomb Raider," "Con Air") but returns as writer and star, playing mercenary Barney Ross, who leads his team into a trap in which one of them gets whacked. They recruit new members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) to get some of that sweet, tasty revenge we like so much. | Watch the trailer

26. 'What to Expect When You’re Expecting'

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Release Date: May 18
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker
The Scoop: The go-to chick flick of the summer is based on the classic baby manual and follows five couples as they navigate the ups, downs and hormones of pregnancy. Oh, and don't worry, guys, because Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon, Rob Huebel and Matthew Morrison will be on hand for some much-needed bro time. | Watch the trailer

25. 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Release Date: June 29
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki
The Scoop: Because one just wasn't enough. The Joes are back, but this time those Cobra scumbags have hatched a scheme to get their kung fu grip on the White House and eliminate America's last line of defense. Tatum returns as Duke, but it's Johnson as Roadblock and Willis as the original "Joe" who are running the show this time around. Did we mention ninjas swordfighting off a cliff face? POW! | Watch the trailer

24. 'People Like Us'

People Like Us

Release Date: June 29
Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Jon Favreau
The Scoop: You might know the name Alex Kurtzman as one of the kings of franchise screenwriting with "Transformers," "Mission: Impossible" and "Star Trek" under his belt. Instead of making a splashy debut as a director, he wrote this grounded drama (along with partner Roberto Orci) about a man named Sam (Pine) who has to deliver $150,000 to a 30-year-old alcoholic sister he's never met. He encounters her troubled 12-year-old son and probably learns something about himself, too.

23. 'Katy Perry: Part of Me'

Katy Perry
Getty Images

Release Date: July 5
Starring: Katy Perry
The Scoop: This concert documentary chronicles the life of the world's biggest female pop star, from her humble beginnings as a gospel singer to when she kissed a girl and liked it. If you really want to have fun, try hopping back and forth between the theater showing this film and another one showing ex-hubby Russell Brand's "Rock of Ages." | Watch the trailer

22. 'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Focus Features

Release Date: June 22
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Derek Luke, Connie Britton
The Scoop: Here's a perfect 2012 comedy for the Mayan-minded. With an impending asteroid about to smush the Earth into a pancake, a man teams up with a neighbor to road-trip across an apocalyptic U.S. and reunite with his childhood sweetheart. We'd never have thought to cast Carell opposite Knightley, but that unlikely chemistry might just prove magical, especially given the unconventional nature of the script. | Watch the trailer

21. 'ParaNorman'

Focus Features

Release Date: Aug 17
Starring: (voices) Casey Affleck, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
The Scoop: From the 3-D stop-motion geniuses at Laika -- the very patient animators who brought us "Coraline" -- comes this slab of spooky fun revolving around an outcast kid named Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who communicates with the dead to protect his sleepy New England town from a horde of ghosts, witches and zombies. The trailers are awesome, with some incredible puppet animation and a hilarious "Monster House" vibe to the story.


Also Check Out: Summer Movie Polls

20. 'Men in Black 3'

Men in Black 3
Columbia Pictures

Release Date: May 21
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve
The Scoop: Call it cautious optimism, but despite some clunky-looking effects and tales of production woes (delays, unfinished scripts), we're still amped to see Will and Tommy back in black. With Josh Brolin doing a so-dead-on-it's-scary Tommy Lee Jones impersonation as a '60s-era Agent K, this will indeed be like walking into a time machine. | Watch the trailer

19. 'To Rome With Love'

To Rome With Love
Sony Pictures Classics

Release Date: June 22
Starring: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page
The Scoop: Woody Allen made box office magic with last summer's "Midnight in Paris," so let's see if he can strike gold twice in a row. The Woodman continues his globetrotting (London, Barcelona, France) with this trip to the boot of Europe as famous Italians (Benigni) mix with American tourists (Baldwin, Eisenberg, Page) in four interconnected comedic vignettes. Throw in an Academy Award-winning Spaniard (Cruz) and Allen himself, and you've got yourself a heaping plate of laughs al dente.

18. 'Magic Mike'

Magic Mike
Warner Bros.

Release Date: June 29
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer
The Scoop: Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody ("Juno") remarked on an episode of "WTF with Marc Maron" that when she released her stripping memoir, it resulted in criticism and controversy, and she wondered if this film -- based on Channing Tatum's teen experiences takin' it all off in Tampa, Florida -- would bring the "21 Jump Street" star equal scorn. Only one way to find out, as Steven Soderbergh directs a beefcake wonderland eager to please. Tatum is, to put this tastefully, the Jedi stripping master, while Pettyfer is his Padawan disciple, and the ladies should look forward to some red-hot "lightsabers." | Watch the trailer

17. 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Moonrise Kingdom
Focus Features

Release Date: May 25
Starring: Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman
The Scoop: With Ed Norton as a cigarette-smoking Boy Scout troop leader, Bruce Willis as a sheriff with translucent glasses and Bill Murray as a disenchanted father, this couldn't be anything but a standard-issue Wes Anderson affair. The director of "The Royal Tenenbaums" always has something delightfully eccentric up his corduroy sleeves, and his tale of two young kids in a runaway romance will not disappoint. | Watch the trailer

16. 'Rock of Ages'

Rock of Ages
Warner Bros.

Release Date: June 15
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise
The Scoop: Tom Cruise likes his old-time rock 'n' roll Bon Jovi-style as he belts out "Wanted Dead Or Alive." Word on the street is Cruise brings down the house, but for backup you've got pros Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige waiting in the wings to make sure this Broadway musical takes it to the next level. Adam Shankman ("Hairspray") directs. | Watch the trailer

Keep Reading: Top 30 Must-See Summer Movies of 2012 (15 - 1) >>

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