2011 has been a bit of a crap shoot movie wise, particularly in the big-ticket entertainment department. Nothing that’s come out in the prime summer season of May through August 1st has met with anything approaching universal approval; the blockbuster movies have pretty much divided audiences down the middle. It seems outside of the underseen Attack the Block and the overpraised Bridesmaids, audiences seem genuinely nonplussed with the years crop of “fun” films (Sorry Thor and Super 8, you really weren’t that great). One could say that the summer season has been decidedly mediocre. So now it’s August, and it’s pretty much a wash, right?

Now hold on a minute. Last weekend we got a big surprise in the form of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a big spectacle movie with undeniable heart that most people with taste will agree is exactly the kind of movie you want from the summer. That came out in August, the month usually reserved for the “also ran” dregs of the summer season. And if the word of mouth is to be trusted, we’ve got a few more gems coming, especially for genre fans.

I can personally testify for one of them. I probably shouldn’t name it because there’s an embargo, but it is a really fun horror movie, the kind Hollywood (or the Indies, for that matter) doesn’t make very often these days.  And now I’m hearing great things about Final Destination 5. I’ve heard positive word on Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (from places other than this site). There seems to be promising comedies coming our way with 30 Minutes Or Less and Our Idiot Brother. And most shockingly of all, word is beginning to trickle in that Conan the Barbarian is decent. What the hell is going on here?!

Now of course, some of these movies will be disappointing, and not everyone will like everything. But I can personally attest that my favorite summer movies so far have August release dates. I think there may be a reason for this. Maybe these were the non-megabudgeted films the studios let fly under the radar a little, having diminished hopes for them, and as a result they were allowed to be the movies they needed to be. I know it sounds absurd, but if it turns out the best popcorn movies in this year’s crop come in August, I’m calling conspiracy. That never happens.

Either way, I hope you didn’t spend your entire summer movie budget on crap like Pirates of the CaribbeanTransformers or Hangover 2 because I’m predicting that for fun popcorn flicks, the dog days of 2011 are going to be the best days.