With Oscar season now behind us, it's time to weather the dead zone that is the spring movie season and take a look ahead to the blockbusters and big tent-pole films slated for Summer 2013! Between Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, and a Star Trek sequel among others, this is slated to be one great summer at the movies. Let's take a look together at some films coming up this summer (and a few in the spring or the fall).
Oz the Great and Powerful
Release Date: March 8th (trailer)
Let it be known now: I am not a fan of the 1939 classic Wizard of Oz. In truth, I despise the film, while recognizing and respecting the achievement that it is. So news of this prequel isn't as exciting as it may be for Oz fans. That said, with Sam Raimi in the director's chair and a great cast (James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams, among others), it promises to be an exciting and really fun film. Raimi, however, has had his share of stinkers, but Spider-Man 3's failure was the studio's more than his. The trailer looks really fun, and the effects look great; the only thing that causes worry is the release date. One would think that Disney would want a film this big to open in December, or possibly August. It is poised for a big opening, at any rate; can it re-capture the magic of the original and stand on its own just the same?
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Release Date: March 29th (trailer)
The same problem applies to the follow-up to 2009's Rise of Cobra as with Oz above: release date. Originally slated for summer of last year, the studio yanked it to give it the 3D overhaul in post-production, and re-scheduled the film for a spring release. The 3D is understandable- even if it'll be way over the top- but the shift back to March shows a lack of confidence. The first film had some fun action, but was poorly acted and was pretty much a mess. Can the addition of the Rock and Bruce Willis make for a better second outing? There's an impressive-looking supporting cast to boot (including the always-wonderful Walton Goggins), but the trailer makes it look like another loud, boring action movie.
To the Wonder
Release Date: April 12th (trailer)
Director Terrence Malick's last effort, The Tree of Life, was a film so lost in its own self-indulgence and thematic foibles that to call it a disaster would be generous (read my review). His next effort looks to have- hopefully- learned some of those lessons, even if the trailer comes off as more of the same. What is most enticing here is the cast- Ben Affleck, Rachael McAdams, Javier Bardem, and Olga Kurylenko all look to be in top form, particularly Bardem. It'll be most interesting to see recent Oscar-winner Affleck only in front of the camera. His work on Argo was absolutely phenomenal, but by this point he has proven that his true talents lie behind the camera, not in front of it. If this film doesn't have any 30-minute long montages about life and death, it is already a step ahead of the game.
Release Date: April 19th (trailer)
Tom Cruise looks to be phoning it in as his typically stoic, rough-around-the-edges hero again in Oblivion. Even Morgan Freeman doesn't look too excited. Tom, you're a good actor when you want to be. Challenge yourself once in awhile, would you? Anyway, the most interesting thing about the film is the appearance of Olga Kurylenko and the story. Does Cruise's Jack Harper have a history with her? Sci-fi mysteries and some nice visuals aside, there seems to be a reason this film isn't opening later in the summer. Don't expect much out of it.
Iron Man 3
Release Date: May 3rd (trailer)
Summer movie season begins in earnest on May 3rd with the release of Iron Man 3, but more importantly, Marvel's much-anticipated "phase two" begins with this film (culminating in Avengers 2 in 2015). Despite Shane Black's press to the contrary, this looks to be a much darker outing for Robert Downey Jr.'s hero. With Sir Ben Kingsley joining the cast as his arch-nemesis, the Mandarin, and some interesting sequences in the trailer, this definitely looks to be a more dramatic outing. Downey Jr. will certainly get to flex his acting chops here. Can we expect to see any more solo adventures for Iron Man, or will this be his last big screen adventure outside of the Avengers films? One thing is for certain: the first film was fantastic, but the second missed a step because it wasted a great actor on an uninteresting villain (Mickey Rourke) and didn't try anything new. Can part III return the series to glory?
The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10th (trailer)
The last time Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio got together to make a film, they made Romeo & Juliet, a fairly intriguing take on Shakespeare's classic (modern setting, with Shakespearian language)- but it worked. Now they're looking to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, and bringing Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire along for the ride. While the trailer certainly has an impressive look to it (and has Luhrmann's style written all over it), the most interesting question is how effective the lead will be. Leonardo DiCaprio has basically made a career out of being largely ignored for how incredibly talented he is. Could this be the role that finally gets him some of the accolades he so sorely deserves? Tobey Maguire doesn't look as interesting here as Carey Mulligan, who looks absolutely stunning.
Star Trek into Darkness
Release Date: May 17th (trailer)
The highly-anticipated follow-up to 2009's fantastic Star Trek has a clean slate to work with, thanks to the pseudo-reboot of Abrams' Trek into its own timeline, so it doesn't have to so marry itself to the expansive mythos that it was born from. With that said, there are still many questions surrounding the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch's villain. Is he really John Harrison, or is it a red herring for a Trek villain more familiar, such as Khan, or Q? At any rate, the entire cast of the original is back (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and John Cho), and Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) delivers a fantastic monologue in the trailer. The better questions to ask might be what the future of this franchise might be- with director J.J. Abrams moving off to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, where does the Enterprise go from here?
Release Date: June 7th (trailer)
In what basically looks like a star vehicle for Jaden Smith, Will Smith stars alongside his son in M. Night Shyamalan's latest outing. Can Shyamalan begin to rebuild his shattered image? No longer is he the visionary that made The Sixth Sense; he is now the faded star that made disasters like Avatar (the one not starring blue cat people) and The Happening. If anyone has the star power to fill the seats, it's Smith, but time will tell if this ends up as forgettable and despised as everything post-Unbreakable.
Much Ado About Nothing
Release Date: June 7th
A modern re-telling of a classic Shakespeare comedy shot in 12 days by Avengers director Joss Whedon?? I'm already there opening day.
Man of Steel
Release Date: June 14th (trailer)
2006's Superman Returns was a film with something of an identity crisis: was it a reboot, or a sequel? Both? Neither? Homage? Whatever it was, it confused and alienated enough Superman fans to warrant a reboot penned by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer (who brought brilliant success to Batman), and directed by Zack Snyder, of Watchmen and 300 fame. The trailer is more epic than many superhero films manage to be for their entire runtime (looking at you, Green Lantern), and the cast is top to bottom excellence (Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Michael Shannon as General Zod are by far the most inspired casting choices). All eyes, however, are on Clark Kent himself; stepping into the role is Henry Cavill, who definitely has the look down. This is easily my most anticipated film of the summer, and its success could be a springboard to the languishing Justice League film. If it succeeds, expect a lot more out of the Last Son of Krypton and DC/Warner Bros. If it fails, then everyone may as well wait for the next Batman reboot, since DC can't seem to get any other of their heroes off the ground.
World War Z
Release Date: June 21st (trailer)
Brad Pitt is still as bankable as ever, especially in a film about zombies. Yet the trailer doesn't really fill one with a lot of confidence; it is very effects-heavy, and the effects aren't really that great at that. Should have been a great summer film, but it instead looks like a poor outing, rather cartoonish, and like generic popcorn fun. Here's hoping the story (based on the book by Max Brooks) can deliver.
Release Date: June 28th (trailer)
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in a comedy directed by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig? Definitely has great potential as the trailer shows, but when does Bullock get to bring the funny? The trailer seems to want to bank on McCarthy's rising comedy star, but Bullock is so endlessly likeable and charming that the film doesn't seem like it can really miss.
Release Date: June 28th
The original Kick-Ass was a really fun flick about real-life superheroes, but two things made it most successful; the tongue-in-cheek performance of Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy and the sharp direction of Matthew Vaughn. While Kick-Ass and Hit Girl (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz) both return along with a reborn Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the most interesting new addition to the cast is Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. In the hands of Never Back Down director Jeff Wadlow, Kick-Ass 2 could be a disappointment waiting to happen.
The Lone Ranger
Release Date: July 5th (trailer)
The re-teaming of Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp is exciting enough a prospect on its own, but the most exciting members of this cast are Tom Wilkinson and Armie Hammer. The trailer looks like a whole lot of fun, and Depp is always at his best buried in a quirky character; can this one strike gold?
Release Date: July 12th (trailer)
On paper, director Guillermo del Toro's latest project sounds like an amazing film; giant robots fighting giant monsters, and with del Toro's trademark attention to creature details, this could be a wonderful throwback to monster movies of old while being wildly entertaining. Yet, the trailer for the movie doesn't seem like a whole lot of fun, and honestly seems kind of uninteresting. A movie with this grand a premise has to be able to deliver, in a major way, but right now it seems rather underwhelming. Hopefully with the release of subsequent trailers, it can ignite some excitement in fans of anime and monster movies alike.
Release Date: July 26th
The departure of Darren Aronofsky from this project early on took all of this reviewer's interest with it, as he would have been an inspired choice re-teaming with Hugh Jackman in his 50th appearance as Wolverine. The trailer will need to do a lot of things right to wash the taste of the oft-lauded X-Men Origins: Wolverine from the minds of fans, with its throwaway inclusion of random X-Men (Gambit) and embarrassingly ret-conning script. Perhaps that's why this film isn't a follow-up to that, but instead comes after X-Men 3: The Last Stand in the timeline. Jackman will likely be great in the title role as usual, but the more intriguing question is whether or not this will be his last feature-length outing as Wolverine (he is slated to appear in the upcoming First Class sequel, Days of Future Past, but in what capacity remains to be seen).
Release Date: August 9th
Director Neill Blomkamp landed a few years back with the incredible District 9, a wildly fun action adventure film with a wonderful dramatic arc, mixed with sci-fi razzle-dazzle and some good (if overdone) metaphors for apartheid. With this tale set in 2159, he is poised to bring another great sci-fi action flick with a brain and well-developed characters to the screen- or, at least one might hope. With a cast led by Matt Damon, this could promise to be every bit as epic as District 9. The only question is, when will Christopher return? Intriguing as this film sounds, a follow-up to District 9 could be spectacular, if done correctly.
Outside of the above-mentioned films, are there any others that you're looking forward to this summer? Animated fare like Turbo and Despicable Me 2 are set to hit theaters this summer, while Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is eying an October release. Between the spring and summer, two movies about a secret agent rescuing the president from an overthrown White House will premiere (Olympus has Fallen and White House Down), but both sound like generic action at best. The Internship re-unites Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, but can they re-create the magic that made Wedding Crashers such a smash hit?
By Nicholas Haskins
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