Movie watchers. Photo: rpb1001 via Flickr

Photo: rpb1001

The oppressive heat of global warming got you headed to your local air-conditioned movie theater? No? It’s just the popcorn? Well, either way, you may end up seeing a blockbuster with an environmental theme. Lately there’s been a bumper crop of eco-stuff hitting the big screen or making its way there soon.

For starters, you’ve probably heard the not-so-friendly reviews of The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest showing. But rotten (organic) tomatoes or no, this one does have an eco-theme — the premise being that as revenge for humankind’s mistreatment of the earth, trees begin releasing a neurotoxin that causes people to commit suicide. An uplifting message!

In the mood for something lighter? Check out Pixar’s highly anticipated newbie Wall-E. Set in the future on an Earth trashed and then deserted by humans, the film focuses on the robots left to tend to the wasteland. Interestingly, one reviewer who attended the press junket noted that the writer/director didn’t actually plan to give the film much of an eco-bent — and the flood of Wall-E gewgaws in stores seem to support that.

While Hulk itself didn’t have a green theme (aside from, you know, the huge green dude), it was the first film to feature the Environmental Media Association’s Green Seal in the closing credits, an award recognizing the film’s eco-production efforts. (Thanks, Ed Norton!)

In related news, the director of Hulk is moving on to direct Strays, an eco-thriller about a group of business travelers who wake up to find themselves in an abandoned radioactive city in Russia. I hate when that happens!

Speaking of main characters deserving of workers’ comp, Val Kilmer will play the role of an Arctic researcher plagued by a deadly prehistoric parasite brought to life by melting ice caps in The Thaw.

Also being brought to life soon? The Creature from the Black Lagoon. And this remake will change the creature’s backstory to include the evil doings of a pharmaceutical company dumping in the Amazon.

Another eco-tinged remake, The Edge of Darkness, stars Mel Gibson as a policeman investigating the murder of his environmental activist daughter.

Titanic director James Cameron’s latest work, a sci-fi flick called Avatar, has been described as “an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience.”

And finally, it’s rumored that Shrek 4 — about a different big green guy — could have an environmental theme, if Cammie D has anything to say about it.

Of course, as always, there are myriad earnest eco-documentaries out there as well. But, uh, been there done that, am I right? Get back to me when you’ve got a musical and an opera in the works.