After a robust May and June (even with one weekend left to go, starring The Heat and White House Down), here is the second part and second half of my full “2013 Summer Movie Preview” for “Every Movie Has a Lesson” covering the months of July and August. This year, I’ve split this preview up into two parts, each with two sections of their own. First, I cover the blockbusters that line themselves up week-after-week. They are the ones you’ve undoubtedly heard of and are hotly anticipating. Then, I offer a bonus section at the end of the little independent movies of counter-programming that are hiding like “diamonds in the rough” among the tent-poles and sluggers. Together, they make up the always exciting summer movie season, though I feel this second half is a bit of sputtering finish from the hot May and June. I don’t see too many world-beaters on this list. Enjoy!
A BLOCKBUSTER EVERY WEEK
The Lone Ranger— While this may be a completely different landscape for Johnny Depp to re-team with his Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango director Gore Verbinski, but this whole gig to remake the classic Lone Ranger character seems all too familiar. Armie Hammer gets co-billing as the title character, but we all know this is the Captain Jack Sparrow show on Fourth of July weekend. As flashy as Disney wants this to be, I have no faith in this one. I smell a Wild Wild West-level flop. (trailer)
Despicable Me 2— While I didn’t think much of first movie (my full review), I can’t argue with the movie’s appeal and the fun of Steve Carell. I’ve personally witness kids sing along with the yellow minions in this teaser. With a decent little break after Monsters University, the holiday weekend boost, and a two-week lead-in before Turbo, this movie should find some nice business. I predict this one might just make more money than The Lone Ranger. (trailer)
Pacific Rim— With the next Transformers a year or two away, Hellboy franchise guru Guillermo del Toro looks to make Michael Bay his bitch with an immense post-apocalyptic alien invasion movie where mankind battles the heinous beasts back with pilot-led robot warriors. This has nerds all frothed up and rightfully so. The commercials and trailers have been dished out more “wow” moments than all three Transformers movies combined. (trailer)
Grown Ups 2— As I ask every year, please, pretty please with sugar on top, stop giving Adam Sandler your hard-earned money by paying to see his movies. When you do, he keeps making crappy movies. Stop giving him the box office results that lead up to future bombs like Grown Ups 2. The first movie had one good joke and was a sad combination excuse to give David Spade and Rob Schneider relevant time in a movie with their more popular friends (Chris Rock, Kevin James, and Sandler). (trailer)
Red 2— In a surprise studio move, of all the movies on the Warner Bros. summer 2013 schedule (Man of Steel, Pacific Rim) to get their coveted third-week-of-July slot that has previously produced record numbers for the Dark Knight and Harry Potter franchise, the studio bestows it to Red 2. While Pacific Rim and Man of Steel sell themselves and Red 2 needs the most help, you still don’t put your third best hope in the clean-up slot. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Mary-Louise Parker return for this loose graphic novel sequel of aging former government agents and pick up newcomers Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and Byung-hun Lee. You’ve seen all of these jokes before. (trailer)
R.I.P.D.— In what could be the weirdest and most awful-looking trailer of the summer, Jeff Bridges (in full Rooster Cogburn mode) and Ryan Reynolds (in full typical befuddlement mode) are put together as a Men in Black copycat team of dead lawmen who come back to the land (as an old Chinese man and a supermodel) of the living to apprehend dead souls that escape judgement. Yup, it looks as dumb as it sounds.
Turbo— While Pixar and Disney have long-dominated the animation landscape, there’s always one animated movie every summer that challenges to be #2. May’s Fox release Epic didn’t set the world on fire. This year, it’s between Despicable Me 2 and Turbo. This entry is a racing movie about a snail (Ryan Reynolds) who acquires super-speed and joins the race circuit. Fun trailer with fun characters! This gets my vote to be second to Monsters University.
The Conjuring— Saw director James Wan teams up Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators assisting a family dealing with disturbing events in their farmhouse. After the strong showing of The Purge in May, The Conjuring gets elevated from the “little movies in-between” list from below to here. Horror movies are really hitting strong this year. (July 19) (trailer)
The Wolverine— With the X-Men franchise in line for a merge between the X-Men: First Class origin reboot and the old Bryan Singer-started series with next summer’s all-star X-Men: Days of Future Past directed by Singer himself, the series’s #1 character, played once again by Hugh Jackman, still has enough clout to get his second standalone solo movie. Following his own origin story from 2009, this new film from director James Mangold (Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, and Walk the Line) is intended to be a modern sequel to 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand following our favorite clawed Canadian to Japan. Can this movie redeem the bad fan boy backlash from 2009? We shall see. (trailer)
2 Guns— If you put Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington together, it isn’t going to be for a romantic comedy. It’s going to be an action/crime film. They can’t fool us. This one follows a DEA agent and a NCIS officer (like the TV show) who are investigating each other for mob ties, but (of course) end up teaming up to take on the real people who set them up. Paula Patton, James Marsden, and Bill Paxton punch their tickets as well. (trailer)
The Smurfs 2— Yes, they are ruining your childhood memories with a second one. This requires no description or hope. (trailer)
Elysium— District 9 director Neill Blomkamp is back and with a bigger science fiction palette than his shoestring budgeted 2009 hit. Nearly a century and a half from now, mankind is starkly divided between the rich and affluent who have left the polluted and war-torn planet for Elysium, a decadent space habitat above Earth, and the overwhelming majority of people still living on the surface in squalor. Matt Damon is one of those ordinary men who seeks to get to Elysium at all costs, starting a mission that pits him against the security forces led by Jodie Foster. In 2013’s continuing year of daring original science fiction, this one looks to be one of the most promising. (trailer)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters— The sequel train continues. Despite only making back $36+ million against a nearly $100 million budget domestically on Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief in 2010, the movie made enough coin overseas to get an unlikely sequel. Series star Logan Lerman returns as the son of Poseidon leading his friends on a quest for the Golden Fleece. Sean Bean, Stanley Tucci, and Nathan Fillion fill the chairs of gods this time around. (trailer)
Planes— In a humorous spin-off of Cars, Disney sets off on its own from Pixar to take you into a concurrent world of talking and living planes. Expect the usual celebrity voices (Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer) and classic underdog-makes-good story, but with a little less polish and wonder than if was done by Pixar themselves. This is like a cover band jamming after the actual hit band. (trailer)
We’re the Millers— Once that trailer of Jennifer Aniston lap-dancing showed up, the movie-going attention span put this one on the summer map. While it’s drug trafficking plot of quirky losers is far from Ted-level appeal, this one should make a comedy dent at the box office in a season fairly bereft of a comedy winner. (red band trailer)
Kick-Ass 2— In the last gasp of fun summer entertainment possibilities, we get the outlandish version of superhero movies with Kick-Ass 2. This sequel to the 2010 hit brings back Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) dodging revenge from the Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). The part everyone is talking about is the inclusion of Jim Carrey as the wild Colonel Stars and Stripes. Check out the red band trailer to see for yourself.
Jobs— The “blockbuster” label might be a stretch on these next two, but the buzz around them is higher than that of the little independent films. First, we’ve been hearing the tease for months that Ashton Kutcher was going to play Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in a biopic and we finally get our chance to see it here in August. It’s trying to fly under the radar since it’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Once word and a trailer comes out, the Apple crowd and general curiosity will bring people out. (trailer)
The To Do List— Following up We’re the Millers the week before, we’ve got another hard-R comedy that is angling to be this year’s Ted. Billed as a bit of a woman’s version of American Pie, Aubrey Plaza of Safety Not Guaranteed and TV’s Parks and Recreation stars as an awkward 90’s teen trying to conquer the acts of sexual vocabulary before heading to college. The big ensemble cast includes Bill Hader, Rachel Bilson, Andy Samberg, Clark Gregg, Alia Shawkat, Christopher Mintz-Plasses, and Donald Glover. (red band trailer)
Paranoia— The Hunger Games star and brother of Thor Liam Hemsworth plays a young man seduced by the big riches and caught in the middle of playing both sides of corporate espionage between two long-time rival business leaders (Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford). Buyer beware, the trailer gives the entire movie away in just over two minutes.
The Butler— Aiming to be this year’s The Help, Lee Daniels, the director of Precious, assembles an impressive colossal cast of historical characters (Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman, James Marsden, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrance Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Vanessa Redgrave, David Oyelowo, Liev Schrieber, Alex Pettyfer, Minka Kelly, Mariah Carey, and Robin Williams) to tell the decades-spanning story of a black butler (Forest Whitaker) at the White House who witnesses the history and social change of his era. (trailer)
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones— It’s after the middle of August that the summer starts to run out of gas and it begins right here with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It clearly wants to be a blockbuster, but the label doesn’t fit. (trailer)
The World’s End— No, this isn’t a prequel to the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The World’s End is the semi-annual British import team-up of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They lead an epic pub crawl between reunited friends (including The Hobbit‘s Martin Freeman and Hot Fuzz‘s Paddy Considine) that unfortunately takes place during a strange alien invasion. If you like Shaun of the Dead, this one’s for you. For everyone else, it could be a bad foreign version of The Watch. (trailer)
One Direction: This is Us— The crotch-grabbing and dancing boy band Brits, whose poster is on your teenage daughter’s wall, get the Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Lizzy Maguire treatment of a live concert movie/documentary. Good luck, parents. (trailer)
THE LITTLE MOVIES IN-BETWEEN
As aforementioned, mixed in-between the blockbusters every summer are a batch of lesser-known and independent movies looking for an audience as a dose of counter-programming to the superheroes, science fiction, and special effects. Sure enough every summer, there’s at least one indie “little engine that could” which turns heads and becomes a surprise success and sometimes even an Oscar contender by year’s end. Past movies like this include Moonrise Kingdom, Midnight in Paris, The Kids Are All Right, and Little Miss Sunshine. Read on and find that little movie you can brag about seeing before everyone else at work!
The Way, Way Back— The Oscar-winning co-writers of The Descendants, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, direct this Sundance favorite about a teen’s summer vacation dealing with not fitting in to comedic circumstances. Steve Carrel, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Rob Corddry, and the directors themselves star. (July 5) (trailer)
Blue Jasmine— Here’s the annual summer counter-programming effort from famed writer/director Woody Allen. In Blue Jasmine, a well-off trophy housewife (Cate Blanchett) has hit middle age and financial loss causing crisis and meltdown for her and those around her. Let’s hope this is more Midnight in Paris than To Rome with Love. Allen, as always, nets quite the ensemble cast including Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stuhlbarg. (July 26) (trailer)
Fruitvale Station— The big winner from January’s Sundance Film Festival, a drama about an Oakland young man tragically killed by a police officer, ascended to the Cannes Film Festival in France last month. It’s now ready to make its debut for all of us. It’s being well-received as billed as this year’s “little movie that could,” following in the footsteps of Precious and Beasts of the Southern Wild. (July 26) (trailer)
The Spectacular Now— In another favorite from Sundance, newcomer Miles Teller (Footloose, 21 and Over) plays the life of the party who’s drawn to the “nice girl” (Shailene Woodley) instead of the usual debauchery and trouble. This is getting solid reviews and looks to be even better than The Kings of Summer from earlier this summer. (August 2) (trailer)
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints— Combining a bit of the Cold Mountain story with a little bit of the Terrance Malick vibe from The Tree of Life, Casey Affleck plays an escaped convict on the run in old Texas with the goal to make it across the state to reunite with his wife (Rooney Mara) and the daughter he has never met. This film won the cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival and the trailer’s vistas sure show why it did. (August 16) (trailer)
The Grandmasters— Renowned Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Chungking Express) presents this drama based on the life story of the Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man, one of the martial arts teachers of Bruce Lee. Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi star. (August 23) (trailer)
Getaway— From the director of An American Haunting, an ordinary man (the everywhere Ethan Hawke) is forced to go behind the wheel on the run to save his wife and follow the orders of a bad guy (Jon Voight). His only help is a computer chick played by Selena Gomez. (August 30) (trailer)
Closed Circuit— In the mold of Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star in a British legal thriller about a defense lawyer defending a prolific terrorist and murderer. (August 30) (trailer)