Summer Movie Preview: Get ready for an apocalypse or two — or 10

The Philadelphia InquirerMay 2, 2013 

Contrary to the Mayan calendar, which had Dec. 21, 2012, penciled in as the day everything was to go ka-boom, we're all still here. But at the movies, the apocalypse is now.

Take a look through the films premiering this weekend — when Iron Man 3 explodes on a zillion screens, kick-starting Hollywood's summer season — through Labor Day weekend. Doom and gloom are everywhere, from global holocaust to alien invasions to putting Jay Gatsby and Jay-Z in the same movie.

HIGHLIGHTS

Here are some of the anticipated biggies (as always, dates are subject to change).

Iron Man 3 (this weekend). Can a new director — with an '80s action-screenwriting pedigree — keep the Robert Downey-in-a- titanium-alloy-suit franchise going? Jon Favreau, who helmed the first two Iron Man movies, is out, and Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame is in. So is Ben Kingsley, as maniac villain Mandarin. Tony Stark, the billionaire industrialist with the high-tech, heavy-metal getup, has to save a bunch of people, including gal Friday, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). And thus Hollywood's summer begins. PG-13.

The Great Gatsby (May 10): "It takes two to make an accident," F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his Roaring '20s novel. Let's hope Aussie auteur Baz Luhrmann hasn't made a gigantic, expensive accident with his 3-D, Jay-Z- soundtracked spectacle. The cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio (Gatsby), Carey Mulligan (Daisy) and Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway). This is the fourth adaptation of the 1925 classic, the fifth if you count the 2000 TV movie, and none has pulled it off. PG-13.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17): No punctuation, no "the," just Star Trek Into Darkness — can't get more streamlined than that. J.J. Abrams is back in the director's chair, Chris Pine returns in the captain's chair, and Zoe Saldana (Uhuru), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) are all back on the Enterprise's bridge. Benedict Cumberbatch is the new nemesis, although Trekker rumors abound that he actually is playing Khan, the wrathful superhuman of the 1982 Star Trek film. PG-13.

Fast & Furious 6 (May 24): "You're talking vehicular warfare," Vin Diesel says, as only Vin Diesel can, in the trailer for the fifth sequel in the ridiculously successful stunt-driving series. This time, Dwayne Johnson needs Dom and crew to squash a rogue Special Ops team. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who was killed two movies ago, miraculously returns. PG-13

The Hangover Part III (May 24): We know from the trailer that a giraffe meets a grisly end, and we know that Zach Galifianakis is just plain grisly. The third and promised final installment in the male-bonding screwball nightmare finds Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, et al., back where it all began — in Las Vegas. And then they're off to Tijuana and other places where the Wolfpack can run wild and run amok. R.

After Earth (May 31): Humankind has relocated to a new planet after an apocalypse lays ruin to Earth. But then Will and Jaden Smith, sometime in the 31st century, crash-land on the old orb, now seemingly devoid of human life — except for moviemaker M. Night Shyamalan, telling the movie-star father-and-son duo what to do from his director's chair. PG-13.

This Is the End (June 12): Adapted from the post-Knocked Up short Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, a squad of comedy stars — Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Michael Cera playing versions of themselves — head over to James Franco's house for a giant party, and then have to face the end of the world and Harry Potter's Hermione — Emma Watson — wielding an ax. R.

Man of Steel (June 14): Superman gets an epic reboot from Zac Snyder (300), with Henry Cavill as the new Clark Kent/Superman and the whole Krypton-to-Earth origin story retold, with Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as the respective patriarchs. Lexington native Michael Shannon plays supervillain General Zod. PG-13.

Monsters University (June 21): Pixar's prequel to Monsters, Inc. finds Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) on a college campus and not exactly the best of buds. Then the bromance begins. PG.

World War Z (June 21): Brad Pitt's zombie pandemic epic, adapted from the Max Brooks books and directed by Marc Forster, has been plagued with bad press from the get-go. So, maybe it'll surprise us. PG-13.

The Heat (June 28): Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy join forces in this distaff buddy-cop comedy from the director of Bridesmaids. Bullock is an FBI agent, and McCarthy is a Boston police detective. Neither has any social skills, or friends. R.

The Lone Ranger (July 3): Kentucky native Johnny Depp has long claimed to have Native American blood, so the idea of the rapscallion star wearing war paint and feathers isn't entirely ridiculous. Armie Hammer is the lawman-turned-outlaw in the white hat and black mask who partners with Tonto to tame the West. Gore Verbinski, Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean collaborator, directs. PG-13.

Pacific Rim (July 12): Of all the summer's sci-fi apocalyptic disaster pics, this (from Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro) looks the most promising. The alien invasion this time comes from "a portal between dimensions in the Pacific Ocean." Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Ron Perlman star. PG-13.

The Wolverine (July 26): The sixth installment in The X-Men series finds Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) visiting Japan, where the mutant with the retractable claws and the superhuman ability to heal himself meets up with the Silver Samurai and a wild bunch of Yakuzas. PG-13.

2 Guns (Aug. 2): Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are DEA and naval intelligence, respectively — undercover agents who don't know the other guy is an undercover agent. Crazy heists, shootouts, car chases, and wisecracking follow. R.

Elysium (Aug. 9): It's the middle of the 22nd century, and the rich and powerful have moved on from the rubble and ruin of Earth to settle in a place with no war, poverty or disease. That leaves everybody else to fight among themselves, until Matt Damon comes along to start some trouble. From Neill Blomkamp, director of another haves-and-have-nots sci-fi allegory, District 9. Not yet rated.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service