Summer 2013: A guide to the biggest films

By Karsten Burgstahler



“Iron Man 3” (May 3)


Marvel’s first post-“Avengers” flick ventures back into familiar territory, as Tony Stark/Iron Man goes up against his nemesis The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, a terrorist bent on destroying Stark’s life, as well as businessman Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, a rival of Tony’s who might be harboring a few dark secrets. Director Shane Black takes the reins of the franchise from Jon Favreau, who directed “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2,” so it will be interesting to see what spin he puts on the franchise.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” (May 17)

Director J.J. Abrams, who announced he’s going to direct Disney’s new “Star Wars” films, returns to the different, but arguably just as popular, franchise he rebooted in 2009. “Darkness” follows Captain James Kirk, played by Chris Pine, as he and his crew are confronted by terrorist “John Harrison,” who might or might not be the memorable Trek villain Khan — Abrams refuses to let the lid off the secret. In fact, he’s been rather tight-lipped about the whole movie, which will most certainly make for a better viewing experience.

“The Hangover Part III” (May 24)

The sequel to the brilliant, original first film, as well as the critically panned but incredibly successful second film, brings an end to the story of Alan, Stu, Phil and Doug, otherwise known as the Wolfpack. Once again the four are pulled into the seedy underworld by Mr. Chow, played by Ken Jeong, as one of Chow’s business associates wants to find the money he claims Chow stole from him. Instead of staying in one place, the action moves from Mexico to Las Vegas, and hopefully a different storyline can inject some life into the series that really should have remained just one movie.


Also in May: Also in May: Director Baz Luhrmann and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire add their spin to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby,” May 10; the resurrected “Fast and the Furious” franchise makes a Memorial Day comeback as the crew head to Europe to stop a lethal mercenary organization in “Fast and Furious 6,” May 24; and Will Smith joins his son Jaden in M. Night Shyamalan’s futuristic adventure “After Earth,” May 31.



“Man of Steel”(June 14)

Warner Bros. is betting big on this one, but they’ve played the marketing quite low key. “Man of Steel” is a “Dark Knight”-esque take on Superman, and it may very well set up the long-rumored “Justice League” film. Director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan make one heck of a team; Nolan can help Snyder, a director whose visuals are stunning but plots need a little work, while Snyder can help Nolan, a producer whose plots are often inventive and topical but lack Snyder’s keen eye for incredible visuals. I’m incredibly excited to see how these two work together to bring the legend to life.


“Monsters University” (June 21)

Pixar has been more focused on their sequels lately, as the only original movie they’ve produced since 2009 is “Brave,” which certainly wasn’t their finest. “Monsters University” continues this tradition. A prequel to “Monsters, Inc.,” “University” follows main characters Mike and Sulley as they meet for the first time as college rivals. The film will play well to crowds who grew up with the original, one of Pixar’s best works, but I have the odd feeling that this will play more like a crude DreamWorks movie rather than an inventive Pixar flick. It’ll be interesting to see where the studio takes this one.

“White House Down” (June 28)

If you’re having Déjà vu, you’re not alone. Back in March, “Olympus Has Fallen,” another movie about a White House siege, performed above expectations at the box office. However, director Roland Emmerich, best known for the amount of times his films have ravaged New York City, is banking on this film’s PG-13 rating, as well as star Channing Tatum, to draw in the crowds. Tatum is a wannabe secret service agent who must defend the president when a paramilitary group tries to seize Washington. Stuff will blow up.

Also in June: “Wedding Crashers” co-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson return, this time as out-of-work schlubs who manage to score an internship at Google in the aptly named “The Internship,” June 7; Seth Rogen, James Franco and cast of others star as themselves as the world comes to an end in “This is the End,” June 12; zombies take over the big screen as Brad Pitt tries to find a cure to a worldwide epidemic in “World War Z,” June 21.



“The Lone Ranger” (July 3)

Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, the duo who brought you the wildly successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, hope lightning will strike twice as they relaunch the classic TV show. Armie Hammer stars as the Ranger, while Depp takes on the role of native american Tonto. Hammer isn’t a huge draw, so if Disney wants to be successful in the Fourth of July box office, they better hope Depp has enough star power to boost a movie that we’ve seen several times before.

“Pacific Rim” (July 12)

Speaking of something we’ve seen several times before, director Guillermo del Toro brings this machines v. aliens epic to the big screen, but del Toro is going to have to do a bit more to convince me that this movie is more than “Transformers” in a foreign country. He’s an inventive director, and his visuals are impressive, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt — hopefully he has created something more unique. Of course, I’m not encouraged by lines such as “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!” in the trailer.



“The Wolverine” (July 26)

The newest movie in the X-Men franchise takes Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine to Japan in search of solace. However, he soon discovers a treatment that could take away his mutant powers and allow him to lead a normal life. I think we all know how this is going to end, considering Wolverine is in next summer’s “Days of Future Past.” Wolverine’s last solo movie, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was a dud, so my hopes aren’t incredibly high for this one. 20th Century Fox, “Wolverine”’s production company, is also notorious for chopping up action films. Set your hopes low and be pleasantly surprised.


Also in July: Steve Carell returns to voice the dastardly Gru, who has been recruited to help the good guys this time in “Despicable Me 2”, July 3; Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren reprise their roles as retired government agents who must save the world in “RED 2”, July 19; Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges are dead lawmen who protect the world of the living from souls who refuse to pass on to the afterlife in “RIPD”, July 19.



“2 Guns” (August 2)

Here’s the team you’ve been waiting to see — Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The two team up in “2 Guns,” one of the summer’s only original screenplays. The two play agents investigating each other on charges that the other is stealing from the mob. However, they soon learn they have been set up by the CIA and must work together to survive. Washington has had a good few years; he received an Oscar nomination for his incredible performance in “Flight.” Wahlberg has been weaker, with performances in “Pain and Gain” and “Broken City.” But I trust the two will make for a good screen team.

“Elysium” (August 9)

Neill Blomkamp, the director of “District 9,” returns to the screen with a tale of have’s and have not’s. “Elysium” takes place in a future where the filthy rich live on a space station free of pain and sickness. People can literally lay down in a bed and have their cancer cured. The rest of us have to live on Earth, which is quickly decaying. Matt Damon stars as an Earth dweller who is quickly dying and must fight his way onto the space station.  Blomkamp has an eye for effective visuals on a small budget, and while “Elysium” cost more than “District 9,” I think he knows how to handle his budget well.  This could be one of the summer’s better films.

“Kick-Ass 2” (August 16)

The sequel to 2010’s surprise hit returns to the story of Dave, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a superhero with no powers beyond his slightly elevated fighting skills. Dave teams up with his old partner Hit-Girl, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, to take down the new villain played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse of “Superbad” fame. I can’t actually say Mintz-Plasse’s character’s name in this paper, so that should give you an idea of how vulgar this movie might be. It’s certainly not your typical superhero movie, and hopefully it can live up to the lofty standards the first movie set.

Also in August: So the 300 soldiers died in the first one.  Warner Bros. doesn’t care. The semi-prequel to Zak Snyder’s 2007 hit “300,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” August 2, follows several naval battles that occurred at the same time as the original movie; Logan Lerman returns as a demigod searching for a golden fleece that will protect his home in the book adaptation “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” August 7; Another book franchise hits the big screen as Lily Collins plays Clary, a teenager who discovers she is a half-human, half-angel warrior in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” August 23.

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3311 ext. 255.