After seeking refuge from the heat with zombies (World War Z) and men of steel (Superman), what could Hollywood possibly have in store for us in July? How about fiery wolverines, the most entertaining Tonto ever, or giant kaiju monsters and robots – both in the same film! Yes, my fellow kiddies, if any of this perks your ears or sends shivers through your defiantly proud, film geek heart, you have arrived at the right place! Buckle up for part three of this Examiner’s summer 2013 movie madness preview (catch up with May and June’s delicious offerings right here: http://usedview.com/article/summer-2013-movie-preview-june-s-most-an…). This month might just burst that sweaty cinematic thermometer, so prepare for another gazillion-dollar, popcorn-drenched doozy!
1) Pacific Rim (Releasing July 12):
Could anything possibly manifest an uber-geek fanboy’s twin wet dreams more than the action-packed, fantasy-fueled alternate worlds of Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth)? Giant kaiju monsters? Check. Giant robots? Check. Anyone who has ever gotten off on either one (or, like this Examiner, has a perverse inclination for ridiculous high-concept versus movies), has one hell of a ride ahead of them when Pacific Rim stomps down on theaters in the second week of July.
If the juicily simplistic idea of humans commandeering humongous high-tech robots to battle gigantic sea monsters doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, stop reading here. More detailed plot synopses neither will, nor should, be offered. Interest in this film is a rite of passage inspired by that lonely niche of glorious geekdom that actually recognizes the term, kaiju – or at least those whom have a wacky enough brain to embrace Del Toro’s unique alchemical brand of visually rich and ambitiously absurd, yet emotionally resonant concoctions. Inspired by Del Toro’s childhood affection for this rich kaiju tradition – those massive latex monsters made famous by Japan’s anti-nuclear, social commentary behemoth, Gojira, aka Godzilla – Pacific Rim takes the aforementioned fanboy’s wet dream and pumps it full of steroids in the form of human-piloted robots named Jaegers.
The trailer plays like that old arcade game, King of Monsters, which allowed gamers to wantonly destroy entire cities in their quest to nail the perfect assault combo. Except now the graphics are fueled by one of the silver screen’s maddest maestros, along with whoever is smart enough to fling millions of dollars at him (god bless you Warner Bros.). Nor should one be fooled by the Transformers vs Godzilla trappings, as Del Toro assures fans they can expect all the idiosyncratic quirks that have made his films so beloved throughout the years.
Now if only Del Toro can find time for his adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness and Hellboy 3…Game on!
2) The Lone Ranger (Releasing July 3):
Fresh on the heels of their ultra-successful Rango and Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, director Gore Verbinski reunites with Johnny Depp to justify yet another $200 million dollar price tag, with their update on The Lone Ranger. Aptly funded by blockbuster producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, and co-starring Armie Hammer (Mirror, Mirror) as the titular character, The Lone Ranger ironically promises to place the traditional sidekick character of Tonto center stage, in what Hammer describes to Entertainment Weekly as “a big-ass comedy-Western rock opera.”Cherry-picking plot points from a franchise that originally started with a 1933 radio serial, The Lone Ranger wisely decides to enlist Depp’s unique skill-set as Tonto to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of a small, 1869 Texas town gang – a factor that Depp was keen to correct after the traditionally less than impressive portrayals of Tonto throughout the years.
Granted, it may be tough to ever reclaim the early glory of one of this Examiner’s favorite maverick-turned-mainstream directors, who burst on the scene with 1997’s surprisingly brilliant and criminally under-rated Mousehunt, followed by what might represent the most chilling and accomplished depiction of one messed up young Japanese girl in his surreal and polished 2002 remake of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (aka: The Ring). With glimpses of his former genius peeking through Rango, however, Verbinski seems ready to thrill and entertain on a new level with all his big-budget action chops honed throughout the turbulent waters of Disney’s often exhausting Pirates franchise. If Depp can even handle looking at Verbinski after four virtually continuous productions together, there must be something special on the horizon for The Lone Ranger’s Tonto when the film hits theaters this Friday!
3) The Wolverine (Releasing July 26):
In a cinematic field crowded with sophisticated superhero films, one may be inclined to simply groan upon hearing of the new Wolverine film, particularly after the titular character’s roots have already been explored in 2009’s serviceable X-Men Origins: Wolverine, not to mention all of the other various X-Men films. Coupled with the fact that mastermind auteur, Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), dropped out of the film due to creative differences after nearly a year of preproduction, one can’t help but wonder if The Wolverine represents merely a lazy studio cash-in on what is otherwise a generally beloved franchise.
Just don’t tell that to the titular character played by the returning Hugh Jackman, who heavily exercised twice a day for months to achieve Photoshop-free, bulging muscles and veins that – according to Entertainment Weekly – inspired his own trainer to refer to them as his “vein-iture” (gross – thanks for that EW)…Of course, it takes more than sweaty muscles to satisfy, well, most film-goers, so here’s a couple more reasons to give this flick a chance…One, for the first time it delves deeply into The Wolverine’s true and revered comic book roots in Japan, where he battled ninjas and the yakuza en route to becoming one of the silver screen’s most feared humanimals. Two, director James Mangold of 2007’s stellar 3:10 to Yuma (lovingly reviewed here as part of this Examiner’s Christian Bale career retrospective: http://usedview.com/article/the-five-best-most-under-appreciated-fil…), has taken over the reins from Aronofsky, so the project still appears to reside in sure hands.
Although the verdict will remain out until July 26, The Wolverine trailer, replete with visceral, multi-bladed battles and, yes, those rippling, sweat-drenched muscles – all framed in the overdue and authentic Far East flavors of ol’ Wolvie’s true roots – at least give one reason to hope.
Other Notable July Releases: Steve Carrell returns with supporting players Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong and Steve Coogan for Despicable Me 2, Patrick Wilson reunites with Insidious director James Wan as a real-life supernatural investigator who comes to the need of an exorcism-needing family for The Conjuring, Red’s action-packed cast returns for the titular sequel, Ryan Reynolds and iconic actor, Jeff Bridges, play unusual cops hunting down the undead in R.I.P.D., Michael Cera travels across the desert with a shaman woman called The Crystal Fairy to find a hallucinogenic cactus, unrepentant death-squad leaders reflect on The Act of Killing, Stephen Moyer and Radha Mitchell compile Evidence to track down a gas-station murderer, Christian Slater and a team of U.S. astronauts get Stranded on the moon and discover a terrifying shape-shifting life-form hiding in the craters, while Rachel McAdams and Noomi Raapace each have a ruthless Passion for success at an ad agency, and they’ll do whatever (and whomever) it takes to get ahead in Brian De Palma’s kinky thriller.