With the school year winding down, everyone has been seeing a lot more papers and exams than movies and spending a lot more time in the library than at the theater lately. Luckily, last Friday not only brought the end of the Emerson College school year but it also marked the start of the 2013 Summer Movie Season with the release of Iron Man 3. From May-August, Hollywood will break out the big guns as studios release many of the year’s biggest and most anticipated movies. Ah, the blockbusters! We’ve missed you this year more than ever! While it will be hard reaching the box office heights of last summer’s The Avengers, the 2013 season has its fair share of blockbuster epics, comedies, and superhero films to make it one of the highest grossing summers on record. After last summer’s independent boom thanks to Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Summer Wild, recent Sundance winners are also making their way into the season with hopes of jump starting early award buzz. In other words, the summer is bound to have at least one movie you’ll absolutely love, and in honor of the season’s official start, here are the 20 movies we’re most anticipating this Summer Season:
20. The Wolverine (July 26th)
What It’s About: Wolvy (Hugh Jackman) heads to modern day Japan to face a dangerous enemy that will leave him forever changed. An external struggle against a type of lethal Japanese steel as well as inner turmoil concerning his immortality come into play as well. Directly adapted from an arc in the Marvel comics.
Why We’re Excited: Fresh off his Best Actor-nominated turn in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman returns to the franchise of his cinematic beginnings to portray much beloved mutant Wolverine for his fifth (really sixth) time. It’s been four years since the original X-Men Origins: Wolverine – which proved to be a massive disappointment (though a huge economic win at the B.O.) – and the X-Men film franchise has gone through some maturation since, as has Jackman as a performer. With a stronger story at its core and a more reputable journeyman director at the helm – James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) – this could be the spinoff that we envisioned back in 2009. Its darker tone and more practical action-based scope is also a plus. But, at the very, very least, it’ll be nice mid-summer fluff that will quench our X-Men thirst until Bryan Singer’s highly anticipated, and hugely ambitious, X-Men: Days of Future Past comes out next year – MM
19. The Way Way Back (July 5th)
What It’s About: While on summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carrell), 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) comes into his own while working at a waterpark and befriending the manager (Sam Rockwell).
Why We’re Excited: Fox Searchlight Pictures has quite the luck releasing Sundance Film Festival crowd pleasers in the summer – ahem, Little Miss Sunshine – and if the trailers for this Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Adventureland are any indication, this should be another summer winner for the studio. While coming-of-age stories are hardly original, we’re willing to bet writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash – the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar-winners for The Descendants – will pull off one emotional laugh fest, especially with an ensemble cast as winning as this one. Marking the Little Miss Sunshine reunion of the wonderful Toni Collette and Steve Carrel and co-starring the incredible Sam Rockwell, who last wowed in the criminally underappreciated Seven Psychopaths, the film should have no problem attracting independent lovers to the theater over the July 4th holiday – ZS
18. The Heat (June 28th)
What It’s About: Veteran FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) must join forces with a crude Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) in order to take down an infamous Russian mobster.
Why We’re Excited: The last time director Paul Feig made a comedy it happened to 2011’s Bridesmaids, the crowd pleasing and critically acclaimed raunch fest that proved once and for all that a group of women can be down right hilarious and earn over $100 million at the box office. Luckily, with the help of the beloved Sandra Bullock and current comedy queen Melissa McCarthy, Feig is destined to do it again this summer. The buddy cop genre may not be anything new, but Bullock and McCarthy’s off-kilter chemistry should provide some gut busting laughs in this R-rated action-comedy. The last time Feig teamed up with McCarthy, the latter ended up with a Best Supporting Actress nomination, can they do it again? Who knows, but we’re willing to bet McCarthy gives it her all and delivers a performance way funnier and way more memorable than this February’s Identity Thief – ZS
17. Ain’t Them Body Saints (August 16th)
What It’s About: A Bonnie & Clyde-like couple are ripped apart following a violent shootout in the Texas hills. When husband Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) escapes from prison, he takes strides across the vast landscape to reunite with his wife, Ruth (Rooney Mara), and young son, who he has never met. Grit, grime, and all that good stuff ensue.
Why We’re Excited: At first look, this looks like another Badlands or True Romance, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. Besides a few grisly shootout sequences, writer/director David Lowry’s Sundance breakout is apparently far more focused on the subtle turns by its fantastic leads – Affleck and Mara – and immaculate supporting cast, which includes Ben Foster, Keith Carradine, and Nate Parker. Arguably the better Affleck and Mara within the respective sibling acting pairs, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints could be dropping some Oscar-weight performances in the late summer with enough Western grit to make up for the plagued production of it-had-so-much-potential Jane Got a Gun due out next year. This is a character-centric Western a la the works of Andrew Dominick and John Hillcoat with a sprinkling of Cormac McCarthy, all of which sounds like a divine mix of genre-ed storytelling – MM
16. Kick Ass 2 (August 16th)
What It’s About: After the events of the first film, DIY-superheroes are popping up left and right, leading Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to join forces with Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and a recently retired Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) to take down the evil Red Mist (Christopher Mintz Plasse)
Why We’re Excited: Come the middle of August we could all use a kick to the nuts to wake us up and remind us to have some killer fun before the summer is dead and gone and Kick Ass 2 should be the perfect bloody reminder. Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 Kick-Ass was a high spirited and nasty comic book movie with enough violence and curse words to make the Avengers seem like school kids. This summer, Aaron Tyler-Johnson, the incredible Chloe Grace-Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (sporting a character name we can’t even write in print!) all reprise their roles, and while Nicholas Cage is sitting out this time around, his void should be easily filled by Jim Carrey, the aging comedic superstar who looks right at home as the bizarro Colonel. In a season full of blockbuster superhero films, this small little beast is bound to be the most out of control, and for that it might be the most fun too – ZS
15. The World’s End (August 23th)
What It’s About: Five good friends (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, and Paddy Considine) reunite for a boozing good time with hopes of topping their legendary pub crawl from 20 years ago, which will conclude with a stop at the fabled pub, The World’s End, which they never reached the first time around. However, as their crawl begins, they learn that nostalgia and love of the present should take a backseat to their wariness of the future, specifically the existence of it. As the future of humanity suddenly lies in the balance, reaching The World’s End becomes the least of their concerns.
Why We’re Excited: I’m currently about three episodes away from finishing Spaced, the surrealist UK comedy series starring Pegg and Frost and directed by Wright from the late 1990s and I’m just about heartbroken. I’m also a massive fan of the first two features in the ‘Blood & Ice Cream’ trilogy – Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz – to which The World’s End will be the conclusion. Plus Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one of my favorite films of recent years. Bottom line: Whatever these guys do, I’m in for the long haul. Throw in wondrous support – Sherlock Holmes’ Marsan, The Hobbit’s Freeman, and The Bourne Ultimatum’s Considine – and I can only imagine the hilarity that will ensue amidst the high intoxication. With This is the End coming out this summer as well, the apocalypse is getting a real comedic twist from two beloved comedy teams on both sides of the pond, and though there’s no trailer for The World’s End yet, it will surely only enhance our excitement upon release – MM
14. The Spectacular Now (August 2nd )
What It’s About: Opposites attract, teenagers come of age and magic is made in James Ponsoldt’s adaption of Tim Tharp’s original novel written by the writing team behind 2008’s majestic 500 Days of Summer. Up-and-comer Miles Teller stars alongside The Descendant’s Shailene Woodley as a hard-partying teenager who meets a ‘nice girl’ who begins to alter his life’s philosophy.
Why We’re Excited: We can rave on and on about 500 Days of Summer – its light beauty, heavy emotionality, as well as its luminous creativity – but we’re most excited about The Spectacular Now’s likelihood of continuing this post-John Hughes era of high flying coming-of-age films. After last year’s splendid The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this could be the second homerun for the melodramatic genre. Though I’ve yet to see Ponsoldt’s Smashed, word of mouth from that film indicates that he’s an inspired choice to bring Tharp’s work to the screen and early word is that Teller and Woodley are absolutely phenomenal. If Bob Odenkirk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kyle Chandler didn’t already round out the supporting cast, you could consider us game right Now – MM
13. Monsters University (June 21st)
What’s It About: Set 10 years before the events of Pixar’s classic Monsters Inc., this prequel follows the beloved Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) as they attend college, join a fraternity, and learn to be the best monsters in the business.
Why We’re Excited: The summer is a popular time for animated family movies and while Despicable Me 2 looks like another winner, we have to give the animated edge to the minds at Pixar, who are destined to rebound from last summer’s overly-safe Brave with an eye-poppingly colorful comedy starring two of the studios’ most iconic characters. Could this be Pixar’s Animal House? If so, this might be the funniest Pixar outing yet – it’s certainly shaping up to be their most high-spirited too. While Pixar doesn’t have a perfect sequel track record – Cars 2 – the nostalgia working in Mike and Sully’s favor should result in a warmly received return both critically and at the box office. Cute little Boo may be missing but expect Pixar to keep all the heart and humor that made the original such a classic. We’re enrolling in tickets already! – ZS
12. This Is The End (June 12th)
What It’s About: Comedy actors James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson must band together and figure out how to survive apocalyptic Hollywood and the end of the world.
Why We’re Excited: This superstar comedy featuring some of today’s funniest actors as fictional versions of themselves looks absolutely hilarious, just take one look at the red band trailer and try not laughing in horrific delight at all the messed up one liners and over-the-top events. Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – the duo behind Superbad – this R-rated comedy is poised to be the big comedy of the summer, hopefully following in the footsteps of last summer’s Ted and not the countless R-rated comedies that bombed (That’s My Boy, The Watch, The Dictator). With a cast this outrageously funny, plus cameos raging from Michael Cera to Rihanna and Emma Watson – yes, Hermione Granger in a raunchy comedy with the Apatow crew! – we’re betting in this film’s favor at the box office. It’d be stupid not to, don’t you think? – ZS
11. The Great Gatsby (May 10th)
What It’s About: Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) migrates to Long Island post-war in order to start a new life and becomes attracted to the luxurious lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who indulges in lavish parties and wild accessories. As their friendship deepens, the cracks in Gatsby’s world begin to show and the magical memories of the past start to clash with the harsh realities of the now. It’s a true tale of the 20th Century detailing obsession, madness, and, ultimately, tragedy.
Why We’re Excited: All-star cast aside, this is the much-anticipated adaptation from the MC of period piece eccentricities, Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge). While his bombastic embellishments may be too much for some casual viewers, his visual flairs have always been of personal interest and he’s captured the atmosphere of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original novel quite controversially. While the aura of subtlety may be definitely missing, he dramatizes West Egg as a giant party that not a single person is actually enjoying, which is actually the feeling I always got from the novel (which I’m sure everybody read in high school). While Gatsby was pushed back from its original Christmas time release date, the added third dimension – ‘poetic glue’ as Luhrmann called it – should lead to an immersive cinematic experience and the contemporary soundtrack (a Luhrmann trademark) spearheaded by hip hop legend, Jay-Z, is sure to be the summer bump. From the Lost Generation to the modern cinema, prepare to be polarized, therefore color us eagerly intrigued – MM
10. Pacific Rim (July 12th)
What It’s About: When giant monsters known as “Kaiju” arise from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and threaten to destroy the world, the government turns to human controlled robots to save the day and preserve humanity.
Why We’re Excited: Inception ushered in an era of high concept event films but Pacific Rim might just restore the bombastic core of the blockbuster this summer by being the loudest, most badass sock-em’ bop-em’ extravaganza of the year. For starters, the Avatar approach for controlling enormous robots (two humans use a neural mind bridge to operate the robotics) seems absolutely wild and the jaw dropping trailers promise loads of CGI-spectacle set pieces. Above all, Pacific Rim cracks our top 10 because it brings cinematic wizard Guillermo Del Toro back to the big screen, and if he’s proved anything with Pans Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies, it’s that this is the man who was born to create eye-popping imagination on screen. In other words, giant monsters fighting giant aliens sounds right at home in the Del Toro wheelhouse – ZS
9. Fruitvale Station (July 26th)
What It’s About: The tragic true tale of Bay Area resident Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), whose checkered past was slowly being reconciled when he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time on New Year’s Eve, 2009.
Why We’re Excited: Another emotionally powerful character piece, be on the lookout for this film to be the indie smash of the summer. The debut from writer/director Ryan Coogler scored rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and was touted as one of, if not the best, film to screen at the festival. A film that is wholly about the journey of its main character as opposed to his ultimate end, Fruitvale Station’s sensitive showcase of a shattered life is surely as moving as it sounds. I’m going to prepare myself now and bring along a pack of tissues. Star Michael B. Jordan shines when playing doomed characters (his breakout came from playing the young and emotionally compromised Wallace on HBO’s The Wire), so we’re counting on his stardom expanding exponentially this summer with his name possibly among 2013’s Best Actor Oscar nominees – MM
8. Fast and Furious 6 (May 24th)
What It’s About: After the events of Fast Five, criminal mastermind Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel) and the Fast crew agree to take down a lethal mercenary organization in exchange for pardons to allow them entry back into the US. The only problem? The organization’s second-in-command is Letty Ortiz (Michele Rodriguez), Dom’s thought-dead lover.
Why We’re Excited: If one movie is poised to take the crown from Pacific Rim for the summer’s best mindless blockbuster award it’s probably going to be this sixth entry in the very much alive Fast and Furious franchise. If Fast Five proved anything, it’s that this beast of a car has a lot of gas left in it, and with key cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, and The Rock all reprising their roles, this should be another solid outing in this turbo charged series. Adding intrigue is the return of Michele Rodriquez, whose character’s reemergence could add some Dark Knight level bleakness to the series. But let’s face it, we’re paying $12 for the over the top and out of control action set pieces and if you’ve seen the trailer you already know there’s not a chance in hell this film messes up in that department; I mean, seriously, did you see that car come flying out of an exploding plane?! The ridiculousness of scenes like this are why we love the franchise and Fast 6 might just be the Citizen Kane of mindlessness – yes, that’s a big compliment. – ZS
7. The Bling Ring (June 14th)
What It’s About: Another true story brought to the big screen by an intelligent cinematic voice, Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) chronicles the Beverly Hills crime spree where fame-obsessed teens used the Internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.
Why We’re Excited: Generation Y is in these days. Piggybacking on Harmony Korine’s excellent Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring is another cinematic examination of the generation at large, most specifically G-Y at its most horrific. Coppola has dabbled with big boisterous works, like Marie Antoinette, but this seems to be more in keeping with her vibrant and subtly charming works like Lost in Translation. Blending dark humor with cultural drama seems like Coppola’s cocktail of choice and with Emma Watson’s killer-looking performance at the forefront, it really may not be that long before we forget that she was Hermione Granger first and foremost. This movie is going to be a ride! – MM
6. Iron Man 3 (May 3rd)
What It’s About: While recovering and trying to make sense of the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) must suit up as Iron Man once more when a terrorist called the Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley) begins wreaking havoc.
Why We’re Excited: Exactly a year after The Avengers kicked off the 2012 Summer Movie Season in unbelievable fashion with a record breaking $207 million opening, Marvel kicked off this season again in high flying style thanks Iron Man 3’s insane $175 million debut, the second biggest of all time. Not only has the film already grossed over $680 million internationally in just a week, but its domestic opening weekend also indicates that the film should have no problem becoming the first $1 billion blockbuster of 2013. In other words, Tony Stark is back in action after the shaky Iron Man 2. While director Shane Black has crafted some pretty killer set pieces, these movies thrive off of the cocky charm of Downey Jr. and any chance to see him relish in the haughtiness of Stark and shoot off one liners like it’s his day job is enough to get us really excited. Most of the world has already suited up, have you? – ZS
5. Before Midnight (May 24th)
What It’s About: In the third installment of the “Before…” trilogy, we pick up with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Deply) nine years after the events of Before Sunset. Happily married and on vacation in Greece, the film follows one night in the life of the couple as their insecurities and regrets slowly come to light.
Why We’re Excited: There are a lot of big independent movies coming out this summer but none may come with as much hype as Before Midnight, which has the impossible task of following up two incredibly praised romance films. Can Linklater, Hawke, and Deply do it again? Having already seen this wonderful film I can say that not only have they pulled off a romantic hat-trick for the ages, but I can also confirm that Before Midnight is one of the year’s best films, an honest, tender, heartbreaking, and humorous study of love and life. Gentlemen, prepare yourself, this film is bound to strip your guard down and leave you in a state of emotional catharsis – as for the women, there’s not a chance they won’t be moved. Do yourself a favor and catch up with Before Sunrise and Before Sunset ahead of May 24th, you’ll regret missing the end (or is it?) to this fantastic trilogy. The greatest romance of all time? Without a doubt – ZS
4. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17th)
What It’s About: Let’s be honest, we know nothing about this movie other than the obvious fact that the rebooted crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise face a destructively powerful villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is possibly one of their own Starfleet members.
Why We’re Excited: Well, the Abramsian secrecy obviously has our interest peaked. But other than that, this is the long awaited follow up to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot which was a breath of fresh air in the most overly inclusive sense. It spawned Trek fans anew and painted a wide smile on those of us who were already familiar with Gene Roddenberry’s universe. Epic-looking trailers, endless speculation, and a ferocious looking Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) have been amassing into widespread hype that will most likely be met by Abrams and writers Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof. Beam us up, Scotty! – MM
3. Only God Forgives (July 19th)
What It’s About: Julian (Ryan Gosling), a drug-smuggler living and thriving within the grimy underworld of Thailand, is sought out by his mother (Kristen Scott Thomas) who demands that he find his late brother’s murderer and bring him to justice, whatever the cost.
Why We’re Excited: Ryan Gosling + Nicolas Winding Refn…need I say more? The duo’s first collaboration was the retro-hip arthouse flick, Drive, which was met with rich polarization but has found immense love by certain cinephiles (this writer included). This marks another stylized departure from mainstream cinema and for the versatile Gosling, who already delivered an awards worthy performance in this spring’s The Place Beyond the Pines. The trailers look violent, visceral, and oddly beautiful; this will surely be the dirtiest movie you see this summer, with a mysterious Kristen Scott Thomas playing up the sultry, possibly oedipal vengeance-hungry mama. To read about our anticipation in full, check out our trailer reaction – MM
2. Man of Steel (June 14th)
What It’s About: A gritty, Dark Knight-esque spin on the Superman origin story
Why We’re Excited: Iron Man 3 might take the superhero summer crown at the box office, but if early word of mouth turns out to be true than Man of Steel might be the cream of the critical crop. With producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder, plus an all-star cast of Henry Cavil, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and, best of all, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, all the talent is in place for a stunner of a superhero movie and the dazzling trailers provide quick peaks of what are bound to be astonishing moments on screen. The only big question is whether or not audiences are ready to embrace the Last Son of Krypton on the silver screen. After abysmal Christopher Reeves-sequels and the underwhelming Superman Returns (2006), it’s been extremely difficult for anyone to mine big bucks from the Man of Steel on the big screen, though the heavy promotion touting Christopher Nolan tells us that’ll probably all change this June. After years of non stop superhero sequels, Man of Steel might just be the fresh, mind blowing epic we’ve been craving since The Dark Knight… fingers crossed – ZS
1. Elysium (August 9th)
What It’s About: In 2154, the have’s and have not’s are separated from one another. The wealthy live on the man-made space station, Elysium, free of disease, violence, and poverty, while the less fortunate remain on Earth. When faced with a life-threatening situation, Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) must do the impossible: Find his way from Earth to Elysium, while combating the anti-immigration mayor of Elysium (Jodie Foster) and her dangerous operatives (including Sharlto Copley).
Why We’re Excited: We try to keep level heads here at Reel Reactions, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves and when it comes to Elysium, our excitement just cannot be tamed. Call it the next Blade Runner or an assured science fiction classic for the current generation, what we know is that this is going to be intelligent and timely science fiction written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, who gained massive love after debuting with District 9 in 2009. The trailer for Elysium blew our socks off and we’ll be anxiously twiddling our thumbs until early August. Our trailer reaction dissects Elysium’s potential, but take our word for it that this will be the movie of the summer. We honestly don’t have enough positively encouraging things to say about this flick – MM
So there you have it, our 20 most anticipated films of the 2013 Summer Movie Season; what moves are you looking forward to most this summer? Sound off in the discussions board below…
Article by Mike Murphy & Zack Sharf