Summer Movie Preview
That time of year is upon us once again, when pure escapism is encouraged during a two hour period or so, while buttery contents of popcorn tubs are eaten right down to the "old maids" and sodas are drained of their last fizzy drop.
It's time for the summer movie season, arguably the best chance during the celluloid year to catch a superhero or two in action, a slew of sequels and other "rapturous" Hollywood films.
Take a look at this year's offerings, designed to draw you in like moths to the flickering projector's light, housed in the dark reaches of your local Cineplex.
I’M SUPER, THANKS FOR ASKING...
The third installment in the Iron Man franchise has Robert Downey, Jr.’s heroic alter-ego grappling with a tried-and-true, good-guy existential crisis: Does the suit make the man or does the man make the suit? His doubts are put to the test, as he takes on The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), with assistance from a few extra Iron Men and one Iron Woman, girlfriend Pepper Potts-in the form of Gwyneth Paltrow. (May 3)
"Man of Steel" has Metropolis’ favorite son coming out of cinematic retirement (again), even after the disappointment that was 2006’s "Superman Returns." This time around, Superman (Henry Cavill) searches for what his purpose is on Earth and how he can use his powers for good-literally. Impeding his search for truth, justice and the American way are fellow Kryptonians General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his evil female cohort Faora (Antje Traue). Meanwhile, his affable Clark Kent persona does his best to uphold duties as a Daily Planet reporter, including his dealings with Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) and of course the lovely Lois Lane (Amy Adams). The film’s director is 300’s Zack Synder and is produced by The Dark Knight Rises’ director, Christopher Nolan. (June 14)
Hugh Jackman re-sharpens his razor-sharp claws as "The Wolverine" in his fifth film outing as the popular X-Men character. A mysterious person from his past confronts him during travels in Japan, one who may irrevocably alter his present and future. Could it possibly be Jean Grey in the form of Famke Janssen, seemingly killed off in X-Men: The Last Stand? (July 26)
"Kick-Ass 2" reunites amateur superheroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moritz) and their arch nemesis Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), under the new pseudonym of The Mother F%&*^r. When MoFo launches a campaign to dispose of the dynamic duo, they join forces with Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and the Justice Forever league. (August 16)
STOP ME IF YOU’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE...
One of the remakes for this summer is "The Great Gatsby," which last made a cinematic appearance in 1974, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. The 2013 version features Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carroway, a well-to-do Midwestern transplant entranced by the lifestyles of the rich and famous in New York City; most notably Jay Gatsby’s. Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann helms this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel and gives it a modern-day spin by filming and releasing the circa-1922 film in 3D. (May 10)
"The Lone Ranger" was originally created in 1933 for radio, then achieved television fame from 1949 to 1957, starring Clayton Moore as the masked man and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. A remake was made circa 1981 and the current 2013 edition brings us Armie Hammer as the "Hi-Yo Silver" vigilante and Johnny Depp portraying The Lone Ranger’s trusted sidekick Tonto, reuniting him with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. (July 3)
Boldly go where the 2009 reboot went once before with "Star Trek Into Darkness." This time we find the crew of the starship Enterprise again helmed by Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), with their future-world-in-a-state-of-crisis, when lone wolf John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares war on earth. Kirk sets off on a personal vendetta against the madman-rumored to be Khan-jeopardizing the lives of his crew, including Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Bones), John Cho (Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Checkov) and Zoë Saldaña (Uhura). (May 17)
Get ready to hit the nitro... for the sixth time... as Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson headline in the latest "Fast & Furious." Picking up from the former film’s last chapter, Diesel and Walker are on the lam after pulling a $100 million heist and explosively traverse 12 countries after being pulled into a mercenary-based group of drivers. (May 21)
Nearly on the same release date, another franchise looks to recapture cinematic "lightning in a bottle." "The Hangover Part III" continues the misadventures of everyone’s favorite group of blackout drunks, wrapping up the popular and very profitable comedy trio in this final chapter. The wolf pack again sets out not for a wedding or bachelor party this time around, but for an "intervention" road trip. The ensuing hilarity continues with returning stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and newcomer in-the-guise-of-a-bad-guy John Goodman for this installment. (May 24)
"Red 2" continues the ass-kicking adventures of this motley crew of retired assassins, starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker. It’s a desperate race to prevent a missing portable nuclear device from falling into the wrong hands and brings Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones into the action-comedy mix. (August 2)
Do you like sexy gladiators? Then most-assuredly you must check out this summer’s "300: Rise of an Empire," which chronicles the tale of Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his quest to amalgamate all of Greece’s forces while staving off an attack from Persian enemies. (August 2)
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT...
The recent box-office success of Tom Cruise’s "Oblivion" has paved the way for summer’s most common-thread plot lines, the end of the world... Again.
"After Earth" stars Will Smith and son Jaden Smith, crash-landing on Earth 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced its citizens to colonize Nova Prime light-years away. As his father lies dying in their mangled spacecraft, brave 13-year-old Kitai is forced to explore this alien world in order to recover their rescue beacon and their only hope. (May 31)
"This Is The End" is another comedic poke at the end of days that features Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Emma Watson and Paul Rudd, portraying themselves-as Los Angeles is besieged by apocalyptic occurrences-during a party thrown by James Franco. (June 12)
Brad Pitt headlines "World War Z," based on the post-apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks. Grip your seats as United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) searches the quickly-unraveling world, for a way to stop the zombie pandemic that has humanity teetering on the edge of collapse. (June 21)
Mankind again faces doom, when legions of gigantic monsters called Kaiju emerge from a portal deep in the sea in "Pacific Rim." The only chance for humanity comes in the form of giant robots called Jaegers and two improbable heroes-a washed up pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) in director Guillermo del Toro’s titan’s tale. (July 12)
Five childhood friends reunite to recreate a legendary pub-crawl that transpired 20 years prior, only to discover they are the singular hope for humankind’s survival when they converge on the pub known as "The World’s End." This English comedy stars Simon Pegg and re-teams him with his Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. (August 23)
So there you have it, a tiny smattering of summer movies that will be competing for your praise (or not) and attention. Just remember (and don’t yell at me if they do), the Hollywood powers-that-be can change any of the release dates mentioned. More than likely though, they’ll want to capture their share of your hard-earned summertime bucks, so fork ’em over and choose wisely.