Youth Culture Window

The Flicks Teens Will Pick (Part 1)

Popcorn won’t be the only thing that’s hot in theaters this summer! This year’s lineup will be as scorching as the mid-year weather. Hollywood is promising superheroes galore, villains bent on destroying humanity, and some super cool animated flicks. Oh yeah…and (more) vampires.

So what kind of content can we expect from these films? Good fun entertainment, or needless negative imitatable behaviors? Is it possible that this year’s pendulum is swinging a little more toward good fun entertainment? (Pinch me. I want to make sure I’m not dreaming.)

An Epic Summer on the Silver Screen
We’re all pretty excited about several of this year’s films over here at and For starters, audiences are gonna see their first Avengers movie (starring the entire action team from Marvel). If you’re like us, you’ve probably already enjoyed the Marvel films laying the groundwork for Avengers, films like the Ironman films, Captain America, and Thor. Audiences are also gonna be treated to the conclusion of the Batman trilogy this summer, helmed by filmmaker Christopher Nolan. And there are several really cool animation films for kids, including Brave, Madagascar 3, and Ice Age 4. Perhaps there’s a little something for everyone this summer, and this year’s lineup seems far freer of the filth that usually encroaches upon summer movie lists…case in point, several from last year.

In the following 2-part article – an annual offering provided by The Source – we’ll help you wade through the summer films that will be big with teens and families. For each film highlighted below, we’ll include a short description of the plot and cast, a link to the official trailer(s), and the movie’s rating (if currently available), in the order of their release date. In some cases, we’ll even chime in with our two cents on the kind of content you can expect.

Since May is gonna be big, real big, let’s start there.

May 4 – The Avengers (PG-13)
Marvel threw down the gauntlet for summer, 2012, with the official trailer for The Avengers. (Now take a peek at our official review of this film– now posted)

I expect this movie to be HUGE for several reasons. First…well, it’s first!Marvel has a history of jumping out of the gate early each year, and 2012 is no exception. All the Marvel hero fans will probably come out of the woodworks for the midnight premier of this first of the summer blockbusters. Our movie review team will be there! But second, this movie features ALL of Marvel’s most-beloved superheroes – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Nick Fury – and a few lesser known ones as well – like Black Widow and Hawkeye – crammed into one movie. Third, it’s tempting Earth’s movie-goers with the most compelling reason to watch: the possible destruction of our planet at the hands of other-worldly super villains.

The story promises to offer lots of action, great special effects, and maybe even a few lessons about how heroes deal with pride and work together as a team.

If the previous Marvel films are any indicator of the content of this film, parents don’t have much to worry about. Films like Captain America provide all the ingredients that today’s hero films should include. We need more films like this. So enjoy the fact that kids are already planning on flocking to the theaters to see this one. Say “Yes!” if they ask you to see it. Better yet, accompany them and enjoy it with them!

May 11 – Dark Shadows (Currently Unrated)
I gotta be honest, I almost left this one off the list. But it’s hard to kick Johnny Depp to the curb just because a movie is based on a gothic (and somewhat cheesy) TV series from the 1960s. Plus, the role of Barnabas Collins, the vampire the movie centers on, was one of Depp’s favorite childhood personalities.

Bottom line: it never hurts to have a multimillion dollar actor excited about the role he’s playing.

The movie’s official trailer gives a pretty good idea of what the film is about. Barnabas Collins (Depp) was an 18th Century business man who was cursed and transformed into a vampire by an evil – and very sexy – witch (played by Eva Green) who then buried him alive for two centuries. When Collins’ tomb is re-opened in 1972, a decade known for its “anything goes” mindset, he sets out to rebuild his home, family, and business…while the witch continues to haunt him.

This one won’t be for everybody, but it will definitely lure those who are fans of vampire stories, and those who are fans of anything Johnny Depp and Tim Burton collaborate on (like Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Alice in Wonderland). The preview alone reveals that the film will be probably be a little racy—probably a good vampire film for the young ones to skip.

But this won’t be vampires’ last blockbuster this summer….

May 18 – Battleship (Currently Unrated)
According to this action film, “the battle for Earth begins at sea.”

The story opens with Navy Lt. Alex Hopper (played by Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights fame) trying to win the hand of Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) from her hard-nosed father, Admiral Shane (played by the manly Liam Neeson). Hopper’s problems only worsen when some sort of alien super power invades the Pacific Ocean…with the potential to destroy all of Earth.

The official trailer not only shows off the stellar cast, which includes FBI agent Raikes (played by none other than singer Rhianna), but also the state-of-the-art special effects that will draw in lots of action junkies. Because of the cast, this movie has sex appeal, and because of the unknown bad guys, it also has intrigue. Those two ingredients could combine for an explosive weekend at the box office. Hopefully it will prove better than Kitsch’s recent box office flop, John Carter. (Wow… Disney spent $250 million and only made a little over $60 million. Whooops! Well… they can afford it.)

May 25 – Men in Black 3 (Currently Unrated)
Fear not! Even though the last installment in this franchise was released way back in 2002, Earth has evidently remained under the watchful protection of those well-dressed alien hunters known as the Men in Black. And that’s a good thing, because in MIB3, the worst plot against Earth is already underway.

Between this official trailer and this other official trailer, it’s easy to see that MIB3 is going to stick with the same action/comedy/sci-fi mash up that made its first two films a success. Expect lots of crazy weapons, lots of really weird aliens, some unapologetic slapstick, and of course, the inevitable relationship complications of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones).

Umm, make that TWO Agent K’s.

Yep. Evidently, time travel is also a tool at the disposal of the Men in Black, and Agent J must venture back to 1969 in order to find Young Agent K (played by Josh Brolin) who has somehow found himself at the center of Earth’s greatest threat.

Between the combination of Smith and Brolin – not to mention Jones, as well – and the general interest that accompanies a long-awaited sequel, expect this one to abduct young viewers on opening weekend. Will the film be clean? I guess that really depends what you call clean. Compared to last year’s summer garbage, yes. But the previous MIB films definitely included a little typical PG-13 eye-candy and racy humor. You’ll want to be sure and exercise discernment with this one.

June 1 – Snow White and the Huntsmen (Currently Unrated)
If you guessed this was a re-work of the original fairy tale animated by Disney, you’re right.

But no artist conception is needed to “draw up” a more alluring cast filled with living sex symbols. The movie’s website reveals that Snow White will be played by Kristen Stewart (of Twilight fame), The Huntsman will be played by the hunky Chris Hemsworth (from Thor), and the evil Queen Ravenna will be played by Charlize Theron (from Hancock…and Prometheus, also releasing later this summer).

The second version of the movie’s official trailer shows the well-known story of a powerful and vain queen who seeks to destroy a perceived threat which takes the form of a beautiful maiden. Needing the bleeding heart from Snow White’s chest, the evil queen sends the Huntsman on a grim task into the dreaded Dark Forest.

Some of this movie’s scenes make the CGI appear to be on par with Avatar. Couple that with a cast that’s accustomed to drawing out crowds in the “fantasy” genre, and I’d say this movie will definitely appeal to young viewers, especially girls. As for how appropriate the film will be? That still remains a mystery.

June 15 – Rock of Ages (Currently Unrated)
No, this movie has nothing to do with the hymn of the same name, but it will definitely have spiritual overtones. In fact, the best way to describe this movie, based on the official trailer, is Hairspray-plus-The Blues Brothers-versus-Footloose.

Set in Hollywood in 1987, Rock of Ages tells the story of a small town girl named Sherrie (played by Julianne Hough from Footloose and Burlesque) and a city boy named Drew (played by Diego Boneta from Mean Girls 2), who meet on the Sunset Strip in pursuit of their dream of showbiz dominance. Adding to the cast of up-and-comers already mentioned is a slate of tried-and-true stars like Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, and yes, you’re gonna read this correctly, Tom Cruise.

We’ll say this about the movie. It’s got an epic soundtrack…but, as children of the 80s, we are both a bit biased. Just some of the music that’s featured in the film includes Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, Joan Jett, and Twisted Sister. This movie will probably make the summer lineup of many “children of the 80’s” (i.e. parents) because of this draw.

Will the film be appropriate for teenagers? I think one glimpse of the trailer (linked above) will answer that question for you.

June 22 – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Currently Unrated)
I (David) readily admit to being a history nerd. And nowhere – in any book that I’ve ever read about President Lincoln – did I hear about his midnight battles against the undead.

Am I just reading the wrong books?

Tim Burton hopes so. The director behind the vampire flick Dark Shadows (highlighted above) is also producing this other movie about vampires. The shorter version of the official trailer sets the stage for the wild idea, but this slightly longer one tells the story of the Vampire War Lincoln fought BEFORE the Civil War he’s famous for (actually) winning.

This isn’t exactly an all-star cast, but it will be led by Benjamin Walker (playing Lincoln) and Dominic Cooper (who played Howard Stark in Captain America). However, because the undead has captured the attention of our nation – to the point that some universities are now offering actual college credit for zombie classes – this will probably draw in a sizeable crowd.

This is a great place to take a break. At this point, we’ve covered just over half of this summer’s biggest films. In our next article, we not only highlight the remaining blockbusters of 2012, but we’ll also provide some helpful resources to help guide you, your family, and your youth ministry through movie choices this summer.

Stay tuned!

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Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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