Summer movie preview: Super heroes prevail

For the News-DemocratMay 5, 2013 

Bigger, louder, faster -- the mega-watt blockbusters will make some noise in movie theaters this summer. Mix in slick thrillers, offbeat adventures and anxious projections about the future, and you'll be immersed in whole new worlds on the big screen.

The Summer Movie Season will see chaos reign. Mere mortals will try to save the world, as will our super-duper heroes in their never-ending fight for truth, justice and the American way. The firepower is more intense than ever.

Yet, it's pretty much the same formulas of every summer: the crucial need for speed in high-octane action movies, and a familiarity in a plethora sequels dominating the landscape.

But you don't have to leave your brain at the box office. The classic all-American novel and a Shakespeare comedy get extreme makeovers, and the quirky little independent movies with the biggest buzz at the Sundance Film Festival start trickling into the arthouses.

So, fasten your seatbelts, and get ready for souped-up cinematic amusement.

SAVING THE WORLD

"Man of Steel"

Who: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner.

What: Clark Kent's eternal struggle with his Superman identity is given a fresh spin, as he must face the extraterrestials who are his people. Directed by Zack Snyder ("Watchmen").

When: June 14

"Iron Man 3"

Who: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau.

What: Tony Stark's alter-ego takes on The Mandarin and a geeky scientist he once scorned as his world crumbled around him. Panic attacks and malfunctioning hardware are just two of our snarky Marvel superhero's many problems.

When: Opened May 3

'The Wolverine'

Who: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen.

What: X-Man Logan travels to Japan, where an enemy of the past may impact his future.

When: July 26

"The Lone Ranger"

Who: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Tom Wilkinson. Gore Verbinski ("Rango") directed.

What: Hammer is the famous masked lawman John Reid, while Depp is his Native American sidekick, Tonto.

When: July 5

"White House Down"

Who: Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") directed Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

What: The President faces imminent danger from paramilitary invaders, thus the free world's at stake.

When: June 28

"Kick-Ass 2"

Who: Chloe Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

What: More homemade heroes get in on the good fight, but the Red Mist remains a pesky problem.

When: Aug. 16

HIGH OCTANE ACTION

"Fast and Furious 6"

Who: Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez.

What: It's the sixth one -- you know the drill.

When: May 24

"Pacific Rim"

Who: Guillermo del Toro directed Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day.

What: Giant robots piloted by humans are our only hope against a formidable alien attack.

When: July 12

"Only God Forgives"

Who: Ryan Gosling reunites with "Drive" director Nicholas Winding Refn. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Mommie Dearest.

What: Setting is Thailand. Equal parts mayhem and family drama.

When: July 19

"2 Guns"

Who: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Edward James Olmos.

What: DEA agent and under-cover Naval Intelligence Officer are set up by the mob.

When: Aug. 2

"R.I.P.D."

Who: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker.

What: An action comedy that features a dead cop helping the Rest in Peace Department to solve his murder.

When: July 19

"RED 2"

Who: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren.

What: The band is back together (but not Morgan Freeman). Those fearless retired CIA black-ops agents team up on a case.

When: July 19

FUTURE FRONTIERS

"Star Trek Into Darkness"

Who: JJ Abrams directed the sequel, with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana returning. Peter Weller joins the staff and Benedict Cumberbatch is the new villain.

What: A one man weapon of mass destruction must be vanquished by our intrepid Enterprise crew.

When: May 17

"World War Z"

Who: Brad Pitt, James Badge Dale; Marc Forster directed.

What: Max Brooks' (son of Mel) book about a zombie pandemic adapted for the screen as a race-against-time thriller.

When: June 21

"Elysium"

Who: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, directed by Neill Blomkamp ("District 9").

What: The wealthy elite live on a space station while the great unwashed eke out existence on a scorched Earth. One man's mission might help equal things out.

When: Aug. 9

"After Earth"

Who: Will Smith and son Jaden

What: M. Night Shymalan directed a sci-fi adventure that he didn't write. A father-and-son duo crash-land on Earth 1,000 years after humanity fled.

When: May 31

"The World's End"

Who: Those wacky Brits who gave us "Shaun of the Dead" are back. Edgar Wright directed, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost starring.

What: Part of the "Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy, friends try to recreate their epic pub crawl 20 years earlier, and discover they might be humanity's last chance for survival.

When: Aug. 23

ADULT DRAMAS

"The Great Gatsby"

Who: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carrie Mulligan, Joel Edgerton.

What: Director Baz Luhrman's high-speed remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece about a war hero's fascination with his millionaire neighbor.

When: May 10

"Much Ado About Nothing"

Who: Joss Whedon ("The Avengers") directed this reboot.

What: Shakespeare's comedy about two couples and their views on romance.

When: June 7

"Ain't Them Bodies Saints"

Who: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker.

What: An outlaw escapes, traveling the Texas Hills to reunite with his wife and see the daughter he's never met.

When: Aug. 16

"The Bling Ring"

Who: Sofia Coppola directed Emma Watson, Katie Chang and other young actresses.

What: Based on the true story of thieves tracking celebrities' whereabouts on the Internet and then robbing them when they're not home.

When: June 14

"Blue Jasmine"

Who: Woody Allen directed Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard.

What: All that's known is that it is a drama, not comedy.

When: July 26

"Stories We Tell"

Who: Director-writer Sarah Polley.

What: Family is explored through remembrances by related storytellers. Sometimes, truth and memories prove elusive.

When: May 31

"The Reluctant Fundamentalist"

Who: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schrieber, Keifer Sutherland.

What: A Pakastani on Wall Street has his life shaken up by 9-11, and the turmoil draws him to his homeland.

When: May 10

FUNNY BUSINESS

"The Hangover, Part III"

Who: Writer-Director Todd Phillips returns with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Mike Epps and Sasha Barrese. John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy are added.

What: What are Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan up to now? This time the Wolf Pack takes a road trip, but it does not involve a wedding or bachelor party.

When: May 24

"This Is the End"

Who: James Franco, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel..

What: The bromance stars are over at Franco's, and it turns out the evening will be the last night on earth. Oh no. Wackiness ensues.

When: June 12

"The Heat"

Who: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans; directed by Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids").

What: Female buddy comedy about an uptight FBI agent and a testy Boston cop who are paired to hunt a ruthless drug lord.

When: June 28

"The Way, Way Back"

Who: Steve Carell, AnnaSophia Robb, Toni Collette, Allison Janney.

What: A summer break adventure, penned by Oscar-winning screenwriters of "The Descendants."

When: July 5

"Peeples"

Who: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier.

What: A fellow crashed a family reunion to ask for the daughter's hand in marriage.

When: May 10

"The Internship"

Who: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, John Goodman.

What: Unemployed technically challenged guys get internship at Google.

When: June 7

FAMILY FUN

"Monsters University"

Who: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Nathan Fillion, Steve Buscemi (voices).

What: In Pixar sequel to Monsters, Inc., Mike and Sulley meet in college, but aren't pals yet.

When: June 21

"Epic"

Who: Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell (voices).

What: A teen surfaces in a forest where the forces of good and evil are about to do battle.

When: May 24

"Turbo"

Who: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph (voices).

What: A garden snail dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500.

When: July 19

"Despicable Me 2"

Who: Steve Carell, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig (voices).

What: Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to take on a big bad guy.

When: July 5

"The Smurfs 2"

Who: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Katy Perry.

What: Smurfette has been kidnapped! Who will save the day?

When: Aug. 2

THRILLERS

"Now You See Me"

Who: Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, directed by Louis Leterrier ("The Transporter").

What: FBI on the trial of illusionists, who pull off heists and spread the wealth with their audiences.

When: May 31

"The East"

Who: Brit Marling (also co-writer), Jason Ritter, Julia Ormond, Alexander Skarsgard.

What: An intelligence operative infiltrates an anarchist group wreaking havoc on corporations.

When: June 14

"Byzantium"

Who: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, directed by Neil Jordan ("In Dreams").

What: Two mysterious women seek shelter at a resort, and the coastal town residents will soon bear the consequences.

When: June 28

"The Conjuring"

Who: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, directed by James Wan ("Saw").

What: A family's farmhouse has a presence that paranormal investigators are looking into, and they aren't unscathed by this event.

When: July 19

"Paranoia"

Who: Harrison Ford, Amber Heard, Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth.

What: Ambitious young man must spy on his boss's mentor, and it becomes a tangled web.

When: Aug. 16

OFFBEAT ADVENTURES

"Frances Ha"

Who: Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") directed Greta Gerwig.

What: A New York woman is hell-bent to follow her dreams.

When: May 24

"Prince Avalanche"

Who: David Gordon Green directed Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

What: Two highway road workers are out of town the summer of 1988, and misadventures aplenty occur.

When: Aug. 16

"The Kings of Summer"

Who: Megan Mullaly, Nick Offerman, Nick Robinson, Moises Arias, Gabriel Basso.

What: Rebellious suburban teens live on their own in a home they built themselves.

When: June 7

"Fruitvale Station"

Who: Kevin Durand, Michael B. Johnson, Octavia Spencer.

What: The tragic true story of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by a police officer. Things don't end well in this Northern California incident. Sundance fave.

When: TBD

"The Spectacular Now"

Who: Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler.

What: A hard-partying senior is drawn to a 'nice' girl. Sundance fave.

When: TBD

"Before Midnight"

Who: Richard Linklater again directed Ethan Hawke and Julia Delpy.

What: The third film of his "Before Sunrise" series, Linklater finds Jesse and Celine in Greece, nine years after "Before Sunset."

When: May 24

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