07/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Summertime Movie Blues

If you think of the year in movies in food terms, then the period from early May through Labor Day is like being required to shop exclusively in the junk-food aisle of your local supermarket.

Summer starts today -- in terms of the movie season -- with the release of Iron Man 2, a movie as full of empty calories as you're likely to find. Not a terrible movie; not a great movie, either. But a movie created to cause sensation -- excitement, tension -- rather than to provoke thought.

No, of course, all movies shouldn't force you to think; indeed, we live in a world where there are fewer and fewer things that do. It's a world in which less and less value is placed on the ability to entertain a cogent, complex thought.

As a critic, the summer season is like being force-fed containers of cake frosting. It can be endured but it's not pleasant -- and you spend your time wishing for something salty or savory.

But the summer movie season seems to yield fewer and fewer movies that aren't engineered solely to attract the movie-going equivalent of a magpie, attracted by shiny things (or, in this case, big flashy special effects, including many exploding fireballs).

I've examined the lists of upcoming summer fare in a variety of publications, looking at the titles of movies working their way down the pipeline toward the multiplexes -- and it's not a pretty picture. If our collective brains could be compared to the Gulf Coast, then the bulk of summer movies are like those hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil gushing up from the ocean bottom thanks to British Petroleum. Except that moviegoers have the choice not to be polluted by the spew of sequels and remakes that will soon be clogging screens.

Look at what is zeroing in on theaters in Iron Man 2's wake.