Ever since the 1975 when Steven Spielberg busted blocks with his horror adventure “Jaws”, the Summer months have been set apart from all other times of the year cinematically.  This is the time when studios bet the farm on their biggest productions, where flops and instant classics are made.  Each summer many franchises or adaptations play their hands and attempt to make boatloads of cash.  This year is no different, and as any good cinephile would tell you, it is important to be informed on what films to watch out for.

In addition to this venue is very important.  Each film calls for a setting in which to enjoy it.  You wouldn’t want to watch a huge action film at your local art house theater just as much as you wouldn’t want to see a foreign film at a giant Cineplex.  Seattle has been a pioneer in the film industry since 1914, when the Liberty Theater opened in Pike’s Place and was one of the first place to exclusively offer films.  The city offers a wide variety of theatrical experiences, from the epic to the subtle.  Here is a countdown of the top movie experiences this summer and where you are going to want to have them.

5. Metro Cinemas: The Last Airbender (July 2)

This film marks a genre-hop of the mysterious M. Night Shyamalan.  After the brutal failure that was “The Happening” he has taken on adapting this famous Nickelodeon T.V. series.  The previews make it seem like it could be a rousing adventure epic, but expect a tinge of Shyamalan weirdness.  The action looks very gripping and the effects are spectacular, it should please fans of the show and newcomers alike.  Skip the gimmicky 3-D they are attaching to this, its the “Avatar Effect” where studios think they can make a billion dollars with anything 3-D.  It is probably something they did in post-production on just a couple shots.  This is a perfect fit for the Metro Cinemas, a Ten-Screen gem located over in the University District and featuring classy decorations and film choices.  It even has a Cinebar with Espresso and Snacks to improve your Seattle film experience.

Noah Ringer in "The Last Airbender"

4. Harvard Exit Theatre: I Am Love (June 18)

This Italian film starring Tilda Swinton is really spectacular; it played at the Seattle International Film Festival and is a beautiful movie.  It is very sensually made and offers an unconventional love story set in modern Milan.  Incredibly well shot and very intentionally directed by Luca Guadagnino it is a film that gives you much to think and ponder on well after the experience is over.  The perfect venue for this is the Harvard Exit Theatre in Capitol Hill.  This ritzy two-screen art house theatre offers an incredibly classy experience.  The lobby is a time capsule to the 1920’s (seeing as it was originally constructed as a Club in 1925) and has a beautiful chandelier and a great atmosphere.  The snack bar serves chilled Junior Mints in truly throwback fashion and it is always playing the best foreign films.  Take a date here and guarantee a night full of class and romance.

3. Cinerama: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (July 14)

Nicolas Cage has long been an enigma in Hollywood, his works ranging from the subtle and restrained to the wild and wacky.  However he is returning to form with this year’s “Kick-Ass” as well as this Disney film loosely based on “Fantasia”.  He seems to be having loads of fun as an elder mentor of a young prodigy (Jay Baruchel) fighting against the evil Alfred Molina.  The most fitting location to see this would have to be the Cinerama down town.  This relic of the 70mm epic days was recently restored with help from Paul Allen.  On top of a great movie experience they often have free giveaways and offer a matinee ticket price of 6 dollars.  This is the perfect place to enjoy a rip-roaring summer blockbuster like Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Nicolas Cage and Alfred Molina in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"

2. Lincoln Square Cinemas: Toy Story 3 (June 18)

Pixar has had a truly unheard of run of great films since its humble beginnings in 1995.  As a studio they have yet to release a film that hasn’t been a success commercially and critically, with four of their features ranking in the top-50 grossing films of all time.  They bring their work full-circle this summer with the release of “Toy Story 3” a second sequel to their first feature “Toy Story”.  Expect a moving and engaging story with well-placed humor and top-notch animation as Buzz and Woody return for another on-screen adventure.  A great place to enjoy this is Lincoln Square Cinemas across the 520 bridge in Bellevue.  This is a multiplex with an elegant atmosphere that is great fun for the whole family.  They have 3-D capable screens, which are very important, as this film has been developed from the start in Disney Digital 3-D.   Another great perk is the free parking, a huge issue at other comparable large theaters in Seattle.

1. Pacific Science Center IMAX: Inception (July 16)

The most anticipated film this summer is Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”.  “The Dark Knight” Director has been developing this one for awhile and has kept it shrouded in mystery, claiming it is a thriller set “in the architecture of the mind”.   With such big names as Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cottilard, Ellen Page, Michael Caine, and Ken Wantanabe.  Little is known about this, however the trailers offer truly jaw dropping visuals and it seems like the closest bet to being an instant classic this summer.  Nolan loves filming with IMAX cameras and it enhances the viewing of any of his films due to the larger image and the crisper sound quality.   The Pacific Science Center offers an unparalleled IMAX experience.  Crafted by Boeing, this screen is over six stories tall and 80 feet wide and hits you with 12,000 watts of surround sound.  There will be no better place to enjoy this enigmatic blockbuster.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Inception"

Home Culture Summer Films 2010: Seattle’s Best Cinema Offerings