Mockingbird at the Movies: A Quick 2013 Summer Blockbuster Preview

It’s April, and you know what that means? A mere four weeks away till the […]

Bryan J. / 4.8.13

It’s April, and you know what that means? A mere four weeks away till the start of the summer blockbuster season! By no means complete, here’s a list of “big” movies to look out for this summer, based upon trailers, the likelihood they’ll merit a fuller Mbird review after they premiere, and my personal taste in movies. But if I run afoul of the almighty Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, perhaps my recommendations will change? As has been noted elsewhere, it looks like we’re in for a quite a bit of post-apocalyptic mayhem:

4/5 Jurassic Park 3D: This is the first of all the rebooted 3D movies I’ll likely shell out the extra $3 to see. Jurassic Park terrified me as a kid, and I’m curious to see what it looks like to have animatronic dinos in 3D as opposed to a CGI special effects headache (I’m looking at you, Phantom Menace!). Plus, my parents never let me watch it in theaters when it was released because the T-Rex ate the lawyer, so I’ll likely go just to “stick it to the man” in a way I couldn’t when I was 7. It should also win the award for most clever trailer. Date Night Bros-Night-Out

4/19 Oblivion: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, sci-fi action adventure romp. I’m a fan of all those things, but I’m unfamiliar with the source material. So this could be a District 9 (a unique sci-fi thriller with a refreshingly new tale to tell- see also Looper) or a Battlefield Earth (John Travolta’s fantastic failure at a Scientology sci-fi). And from the trailer, I’m getting a lot of flashy unnecessary CGI (hovercrafts that launch upside down? feels gimmicky), so my hopes aren’t high. But the score from M83 certainily sounds promising. Redbox or Matinee depending on The Tomatometer.

5/3 Iron Man 3: Tony Stark spent Iron Man 1 and 2 hugging the cactus for all his economic and familial sins. And if the trailer for 3 is any indication, things continue to get personal for the man whose suit is made of iron, though he’s still flesh and blood underneath. Pepper Potts in danger, his mansion falling into the Pacific Ocean, and dozens of new iron suits are joining the fray–a perfect movie to kick off the summer! Opening Weekend

5/10 The Great Gatsby: As with everything Baz Luhrmann does (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) middle ground here–this is either some serious Oscar fodder in the middle of the summer or a major box office dud. But Leo has been unstoppable for years, so I’m leaning to the former, not the latter. Is it too much to suggest that The Great Gatsby is America’s response to Downton Abbey, historical “golden age” fondness with less manners and more skin? Redbox or Matinee depending on Tomatometer.

5/17 Star Trek: Into Darkness: With Benedict Cumberbatch joining the same stellar cast from 2009’s reboot, and with the internet abuzz about a resurrection of Star Trek II’s infamous Kahn villain, there’s some serious potential for this movie to be the summer’s breakaway block buster. J.J. Abrams killed at honoring the futuristic universe of the original Captain Kirk (lens flares the exception!), so KAHN(!) he do the same with the best themes of the best of the older Star Trek movie of the franchise? Bring on the CGI ear worms! Midnight Showing.

6/7/13 After Earth: Will Smith sets his son Jaden Smith up to be the next Will Smith? We’ll see! Unless, the tomatometer peaks high–and director M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t exactly been on a hot streak recently–I’m calling this one a Redbox. Though I enjoyed I am Legend, so it’s likely I’m super wrong on this one.

6/12/13 This Is The End: a meta movie where the most popular comedy actors of our day play themselves surviving the apocalypse. Michael Cera is impaled by a telephone pole, Aziz Ansari falls into a bottomless pit, and an ax wielding Emma Watson steals James Franco’s remaining food supply. To paraphrase star Seth Rogen, “We thought it’d be funny to see a lot of famous people die in really gruesome ways.” Date Night if you liked Hot Tub Time Machine or Cabin in the Woods (which I did!), Redbox if you don’t recognize any of the aforementioned actors.

6/14 Man of Steel: Christopher Nolan defined for at least the next two decades how the Batman Franchise will be remembered. Can he do the same thing for the Man of Steel after the 2006 flop Superman Returns? This reboot has a ton going for it, including Nolan, Zack Snyder, an interesting villain in General Zod, and Amy Adams playing Lois Lane (Full Disclosure: I’ll see anything with Amy Adams in it). The question remains though: how can you tell a compelling story about an indestructible man, especially when every great superhero movie to come out of hollywood these past few years has focused less on the super and more on the man (see everything done by Marvel, Dark Knight Trilogy, etc.). Opening Weekend Matinee

6/21 World War Z: Look out for fast zombies! Yikes! The most recent trailer betrays that this WWZ movie is absolutely nothing like the WWZ book (which I finished a few weeks ago and highly recommend to any zombie fan!). Brad Pitt brings a fun action performance, but the story aspect is up in the air, so I’m gonna say this is a Redbox or Matinee depending on Tomatometer. Even worse, it’s going up against Monsters U the same weekend, meaning this high-profile zombie flick could flop, leaving a black eye on the profitability of my beloved genre.

6/21 Monsters U: This will not be the first time Disney has done college- the direct-to-video An Extremely Goofy Movie chronicled the foibles and hijinks of Goofy enrolling in college with this son, while becoming a gold-medal X-Games athlete in the process. I’m not kidding. In my head, it’s hard for me to get excited for this prequel to Monsters Inc.  This feels more like Cars than Up, and when so many people have differing “college experiences,” I’m hopeful Pixar can move beyond the “slow slug monster is late for class” jokes to tell a story with some universal significance. Matinee or Redbox depending on the Tomatometer

7/12 Pacific Rim: Guillermo Del Toro + Giant Robots + Giant Monsters. I’m impressed, though it feels like an Americanized version of the anime Neo Genesis Evangelion. And I’m a sucker for Giant Fighting Robots. Matinee

7/26 The Wolverine: I haven’t been a huge fan of the X-men film franchise at all, though I confess I missed last year’s origins movie, which I hear was the best of the crop. I was also reflecting recently how vividly I remember owning the first X-men movie on VHS. The first Wolverine movie was greeted with thoroughly “meh” reviews, (something Hugh Jackman’s never used to hearing!), and I gotta be honest with you, pairing Wolverine with ninjas doesn’t feel like much of an improvement to me. Redbox

8/9 Elysium. Neill Blomkamp’s long-awaited dystopian follow-up to District 9, starring a bulked-up Matt Damon, trying to bridge the gap between a floating aristocracy and Earth-bound underclass, this may be the one I’m most looking forward to and know least about. Expect a big viral campaign to precede it, such as:


Other movies of note–

Kick Ass 2: Loved the first one for its superhero lampoonery, irreverent characters, and innovative story. Here’s hoping we get more of the same in round 2! Matinee

Smurfs 2: There was a smurfs 1? Netflix

Fast and Furious 6: “Umm guys? They got a tank!” Redbox

Lone Ranger: You’re never sure with these Disney/Brukheimer action films whether you’ll get Pirates of the Caribbean or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Fortunately, Gore Verbinski, who directed this one, has only been getting better and better (Rango!). Oh, and Johnny Depp has a bird on his head, what looks like the entire movie. Redbox or Matinee depending on Tomatometer.

Despicable Me 2: The anti-villian league needs help outsmarting a villain, so they turn to a former villain. Some serious anthropology potential here for the kiddos? Family Matinee?

Turbo: Dreamworks’ version of Ratatouille? A rat who wants to cook vs. a snail who wants to race? We’ll see! Redbox