Zombies, robots and aliens galore

The Star Trek sequel is already outpacing the first movie, and it’s genuinely good because Abrams is a master at handling franchises. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he was chosen to helm the new Star Wars films.

Photo © Warner Bros. Pictures
Photo © Warner Bros. Pictures

For every film lover there comes a time to discuss serious, independent films and what some of the brilliant auteurs on the fringes of Hollywood are working on.

There also comes a time to discuss Oscar-bait and which three-hour biopics featuring horses running in slow motion or actors in awkward old-age makeup are competing for the prize.

And yes, thankfully, there comes a time to discuss summer blockbusters. Guess which of these is my favorite.

The 2013 summer movie season officially kicked off with the release of Iron Man 3 and Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby. Both films are doing very well at the box office—in fact, Iron Man 3 had the second-biggest opening weekend ever after last year’s The Avengers—but I feel like the narrative is already over.

How much of Iron Man 3’s success can be attributed to the fact that Avengers fans are just hungry for more Marvel movies? I geek out over movie marketing, I have to admit.

I’m hoping J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness won’t suffer from the same burden of being forgettable, but it very well might. That’s the problem with summer blockbusters: They’re big news one weekend, and the next weekend the audience moves on to a new one.

I’m sure Abrams is one of many directors who would love to know the secret of The Avengers, which remained more popular throughout the summer than any of the films released after it.

The Star Trek sequel is already outpacing the first movie, and it’s genuinely good because Abrams is a master at handling franchises. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he was chosen to helm the new Star Wars films.

Since Hollywood doesn’t seem to have made a wholly original movie that isn’t based on something already in existence for a while now, it should take a lesson from Abrams.

It’s hard to dumb down Star Trek; the references it makes to the original series and movies aren’t ever meant to be gags. Even more than that, Abrams’ film is not afraid to be intelligent or philosophical because it’s grandiose and fun enough to make up for it.

So what’s next? In May we have The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6, both in the “mindless money-making machines” category.

There’s also Will Smith’s vanity project, After Earth. The trailer looks like a Scientology training video.

The magician heist film Now You See Me is the only promising May film. The cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Melanie Laurent, and it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.

In June, it’s a different story: First, Seth Rogen will release This Is the End, which he wrote, directed and starred in as himself alongside James Franco and Jonah Hill. The trailer for the apocalyptic comedy is hilarious, and it could turn out to be a stroke of genius or the worst film ever made, which is exciting.

On June 14, it’s time for the big one. Warner Brothers releases Man of Steel, the Superman reboot directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan. Many people have their issues with Snyder, but I’m a big fan, and I really hope that this new Superman will earn him the respect he deserves.

Man of Steel looks fantastic and could not be more perfectly cast. As a superhero and a leading man, Henry Cavill makes Andrew Garfield look like the homely nerd he is, and how awesome is it that, instead of some forgettable starlet, they cast Amy Adams as Lois Lane?

Add to that the impressive roster of Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon, and I have high hopes for Man of Steel to be the winner of the summer.

I wish I could say the same for Brad Pitt’s World War Z, which comes out June 21. From what I’ve heard, the book is excellent, and supposedly the first draft of the script was, too. But Pitt’s production company seems to have gutted the project and turned it into a bland special effects fest.

If The Walking Dead had never existed, maybe it would be easier to muster up some interest in the computer-generated swarms we see in the trailer, but as it is they just left me hoping there’s something scarier, or at least more interesting, that they haven’t shown yet. I like Pitt a lot and respect him as an actor, but I wouldn’t be shocked if this one sucks.

My most anticipated July release is Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro. Sure, it’s about giant robots saving the world from aliens, but with del Toro’s name attached, you know there has to be something brilliant and unique behind that premise.

Plus, Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba are two fantastically underrated actors. My second vote is for Despicable Me 2, because why not? The first one was possibly the best children’s movie to come out in years, and there have been some great ones.

July also brings us Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger. I love Gore Verbinski, I love the Pirates movies, but this one just looks like a bad idea from the start. Still, it’s not as bad as Grown Ups 2 or Smurfs 2, which will also be rearing their ugly heads.

This year, a couple of the best releases are saved for August. On August 9, Matt Damon stars in Elysium, directed by Neill Blomkamp (who made District 9). Based on the trailer, it seems like a must-see for anyone who loves intelligent science fiction.

I’m also excited for Kick-Ass 2, which falls into that rare category of sequels I’m actually glad got made. And The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, another film based on a popular young adult book series, comes out August 23. Hopefully it’s more Hunger Games and less Twilight, because Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower are adorable and the plot looks like it’s a lot of fun.

Overall, summer 2013 should be a great one for movies. There’s plenty of throwaway junk, but there’s also a definitive move toward blockbusters that are better written, better acted and more original.

At this point, summer means sequels, comic book characters and reboots; this is the world we live in. But maybe this year we can all have fun at the movies without having to turn off our brains.