Sunday, May 5, 2013

2013 Big Summer Movies Schedule and Reviews

“Summer!” – The cast of Firefly/Serenity (they would yell Summer Glau’s name whenever they messed up a line because she reportedly never screwed up herself.)

The purpose of this post is to give you a quick reference for the big films that are coming out this summer movie season.  I will be writing separate reviews of the movies I see that are good enough to recommend, and I will put the links to those here.  If the movie is not good enough to recommend I will add a short review into this post.  Either way you may want to save this post for future reference.

[By the way, you can see my 2011 Big Summer Movies and 2012 Big Summer Movies posts by clicking on those titles.]

Note – so many movies come out every summer, and so many of the smaller ones get moved around or even postponed, that I concentrate on the “big” movies.  These are the ones that are heavily advertised, expensive to make, have big names in them, and/or have had their opening dates scheduled for a long time. 

First, the list, then a little more about each movie:


Iron Man 3
Nothing looks big (maybe The Great Gatsby)
Star Trek into Darkness
Fast & Furious 6

The Hangover Part III
Skip it.  See below.
After Earth
Not horrible, but not recommendable either.  See below.


Nothing looks big (After Earth left a hole)

Man of Steel
Monsters University

World War Z
Not horrible, but not recommendable either.  See below.
Nothing looks big (maybe The Heat)


Despicable Me 2

The Lone Ranger
Skip it.  See below.
Pacific Rim
So bad it's almost good.  See below.
Nothing looks big (maybe Red 2)

The Wolverine
Silly ending hurts movie.  See below.


Nothing looks big (maybe the 300 prequel)

Shakycam in Space.  See below.
Kick-Ass 2
Nothing looks big (maybe Mortal Instruments)

Nothing looks big (maybe One Direction)

May 3rd:

Title:  Iron Man 3

Stars:  Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce

Summary:  Iron Man returns, but how have the events of The Avengers movie affected Tony Stark, and who is this new terrorist threat called The Mandarin?

Review:  Read my review here

May 17th:

Title:  Star Trek into Darkness

Stars:  All the crew from the first film, plus Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve

Summary:  Sequel to the Star Trek reboot with J.J. Abrams pointing his shakycam lens on a reboot of another iconic Star Trek story.  Will it play with fans?

Review: Read my review here

May 24th:

Title:  Fast & Furious 6

Stars:  Everyone from every prior movie

Summary:  Director Justin Lin actually made this a franchise, with each film from number 3 on being better than the ones before.  Can he continue the streak?

Review: Read my review here

Title:  The Hangover Part III

Stars:  All the same guys, plus Heather Graham returns, and Melissa McCarthy is added to the mix.

Summary:  Everyone bands together to try to help one of their own, but their road trip gets interrupted by a kidnapping.  Will this end the trilogy with a bang or a whimper?

Review:  I thought the first one was hilarious and the second one okay.  I literally did not laugh once during this entire third movie.  There are some attempts at humor, but they fall flat.  Instead they try to focus more on the adventures the guys get into, but those really don't hold much entertainment or suspense in them.  This is just an all around not very good movie.

May 31st:

Title:  After Earth

Stars:  Will Smith, Jaden Smith

Summary:  Will and his son re-team for a film, but this time they are in a big science fiction movie where they play a father and son who get stranded on Earth 1,000 years after humanity abandoned it.  The father is injured and the son must go for help.  Will there be too much Jaden and not enough Will to satisfy movie viewers?

Review:  This movie is not as horrible as you may have heard.  Much of that is backlash against M. Night Shyamalan in general, and against Will Smith trying to push his son on the movie-going public in particular.  People expecting to see a "Will Smith movie" instead get a "Jaden Smith movie".  The son is the star and Will just speaks instructions to him.  Unfortunately, Will Smith seems to see his fearless military leader character as someone who would speak and act like a robot and Jaden just doesn't have the acting skills yet to carry a movie as the lead.  This isn't a bad movie plot-wise, but there's just not enough there to recommend it.

June 14th:

Title:  Man of Steel

Stars:  Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne

Summary:  Zack Snyder’s attempt to reboot the Superman story.  Like Bryan Singer before him Snyder feels he has to “fix” both the iconic costume and the origin story.  Will he succeed, or is he making the same mistake Singer did with Superman Returns?

Review: Read my review here

June 21st:

Title:  Monsters University

Stars:  voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal

Summary:  Pixar’s prequel to their 2001 film Monsters, Inc.  See how Mike and Sully first meet in college and how they learn to become monsters.  Is Pixar cannibalizing yet another previously popular film, or do they have a real winner on their hands?  (And enough is enough; where is the damn Incredibles sequel already?)

Review: Read my review here

Title:  World War Z

Stars:  Brad Pitt

Summary:  Pitt takes on the zombie apocalypse movie genre.  Buzz was good for it until people learned that massive re-shoots had to be ordered to try to save the film.  Zombie fans will turn out for it in droves, but will it bring in the other movie viewers?

Review: The plot was okay up until it reaches the point where they apparently decided to completely change things. From that point on it was completely nonsensical. Combine this with the fact that another director has been infected with the shakycam virus and most of the action scenes were impossible to follow. Making matters worse is that three major action scenes are shot in very low light, combined with shakycam, just to make sure you can't see what is happening.  This film is trying really, really hard to be 28 Days Later, but it ends up being 28 Weeks Later.

July 3rd:

Title: Despicable Me 2

Stars:  voices of Steve Carell and Al Pacino

Summary:  Sequel to the surprise 2010 hit.  This time Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain league to try to stop a dangerous new bad guy.  Will it have the magic of the first film or is this just a cash grab by the studio?

Review: Read my review here

Title: The Lone Ranger

Stars:  Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter

Summary:  Reboot of the Lone Ranger story, but this time with Gore Verbinski at the helm.  Depp plays Tonto, with Hammer as the title character.  Will this be another great Verbinski/Depp pairing (Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango) or will their string of successes end here?

Review: There is a very good action sequence involving two trains at the climax of the movie. Unfortunately, it takes two hours to get to that point and it's about the only thing positive I can say about the film.

Most of the attempts at humor do not work and pretty much every single white man in the film is evil, for no other apparent reason than that they are white men. The one that isn't (the title character) is an idiot. A few other white men who have not yet had a chance to show how they are evil are quickly killed. Every single Indian, Chinese, and black man, however, is noble, brave, and good, all while being betrayed, beaten, and killed by white men. Gee, I wonder why this movie failed at the box office in a country whose large majority of the population is white?

Oh, and Depp simply plays Capt. Jack Sparrow again, just with a "me big heap Indian" accent.

July 12th:

Title:  Pacific Rim

Stars:  Ron Perlman, Idris Elba, and a young, photogenic, international cast

Summary:  Giant monsters from another dimension have invaded Earth and man builds giant robots to combat them.  Anticipation for this film is high, and you should never doubt director Guillermo del Toro, but I just keep getting a Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla feel every time I see the trailer.  Will it be able to sustain itself after the first weekend?

Review: This movie is really silly. In fact, it actually moves into the "so bad it's good" territory for large stretches. I was laughing at several scenes in this film (and not the few that were supposed to be funny.)

A bunch of giant monsters come out of a trench in the ocean so mankind's response it to build 300 foot tall robots to punch them really, really hard? I knew this going in, of course, but I was hoping it would entertain my inner 8 year old boy. Even an 8 year old was rolling his eyes at this.

They say at the beginning that planes, tanks, AND MISSILES (my emphasis) took six days to stop the first monster. As the movie shows, though, pretty much anything can stop them - except being punched by a giant robot. After eventually giving up on the punching, the robots kill them by electrocution, swords, bombs, and...wait for it...missiles launched from the robots.

Another solution is to build massive walls around tens of thousands of miles of Pacific coastline to keep the monsters out...instead of building a thousand feet of wall cap over the trench they are coming out of?  And mankind waits for the monsters to approach shore and destroy cities before trying to stop them instead of just positioning defenses right outside the trench the monsters are coming out of?

But maybe there's a good human angle to the film? Nope. Every character is either bland or an asshole, except for the Japanese pilot played by Rinko Kikuchi, who was also the best thing about 2006's Babel.  The CGI is good, but you don't get to enjoy it much since almost all of the major action scenes take place at night and/or in the rain/water so you can't see much of what is going on.

Pacific Rim is this summer's Battleship - big, loud, incredibly stupid...and unintentionally funny in so many places that you may still enjoy yourself. If you must see it I'd wait and rent it for a buck when it comes to DVD.

July 26th:

Title:  The Wolverine

Stars:  Hugh Jackman

Summary:  Long-delayed sequel to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  This time around the film is based on the classic tale of Wolverine’s time in Japan and his attempts to fend off an old enemy while figuring out his future.  Is there still enough interest in this character or is this one too many movies with Wolverine in it?

Review:  I was conflicted on how to rate this film. On the one hand, the first hour and forty minutes were mostly a good movie. On the other hand, the last fifteen minutes were completely silly. The ending is the part of the film that leaves the most lasting impression when you are done with it, though.

We get something a little different in this movie: a superhero character study. It's a good look at the burdens Logan carries around with him. Yes, there are a few action sequences (complete with heavy shakycam) thrown in here and there, but by and large it's a quieter, more thoughtful movie than you may expect. Then in the last 15 minutes they completely undo everything with all kinds of silliness regarding both the adamantium in Logan, as well as what you can do with it in general.

Also, there is a credits sequence that creates yet another continuity problem with the X-Men movies.

So, I really wish that the writers could have come up with any other way to end the movie than the one they chose. Had they done so, this would have gotten a high enough rating for me to recommend it.

August 9th:

Title:  Elysium

Stars:  Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley

Summary:  A space station holds all the rich people, while the Earth is where all the poor live.  Can one man rectify this situation?  This is director Neill Blomkamp’s first film since 2009’s District 9.  That movie was much loved by critics, but was only a modest success at the box office.  Has there been enough growth in his fan base since then to make this a hit, or will this film be his “sophomore slump”?

Review:  Elysium, aka Shakycam in Space, had a decent concept, but a poor execution. Jodie Foster was completely wasted and out of place in her role. The entire plot point of changing code was silly because it can simply be changed back in a matter of seconds by going to the last backup. And the shakycam levels in the quiet parts of the film were set to "earthquake", while during the action sequences they were set to "paint mixer". There was a 10 minute stretch in the middle of the movie where I literally could not tell you a single thing that happened. I'm assuming some people died because those characters never showed up again, but you couldn't prove it by me.

August 16th:

Title:  Kick-Ass 2

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

Summary:  Sequel to the fantastic 2010 film Kick-Ass with the title character and Hit Girl returning to combat the threat of the Red Mist.  This time around they have a whole team of other heroes to help them, but Red Mist has countered with a team of villains.  Will this be as great as the first one, or is the release date change from late June to mid-August a bad sign that the studio doubts the box office potential of this film?

Review: Read my review here

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