The Valdosta Daily Times
In many ways, Tom Cruise beat Iron Man to the punch by starting the 2013 summer movie season two weeks early.
Cruise’s “Oblivion” has all of the hallmarks of a summer blockbuster: big-name star, lavish special effects, fantasy-fueled plot. But “Oblivion” was released last weekend, in mid April, while “Iron Man 3” will be released next weekend, the first Friday of May.
For the past several years, the first weekend of May has marked the summer movie start. Was a time the summer movie season didn’t start until Memorial Day weekend, but that is more than a decade past. From last year’s “The Avengers” to the first “Iron Man” and even further back, the movie season has marked its beginning the first Friday in May.
Whether “Oblivion” will edge the start even earlier depends on how well it does at the box office and a look at next year’s April releases.
But for now, the coming weeks will see superheroes such as Iron Man in his third sequel, Superman in “The Man of Steel,” a masked man in “The Lone Ranger” and the return of “The Wolverine,” among others. But it will also see a new version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” along with the expected animated features and wild comedies like “The Hangover: Part III.”
So sit back, dig into some popcorn and enjoy some movie previews.
IRON MAN 3: Judging from the previews, this outing will be darker than its two “Iron Man” predecessors and “The Avengers.” Robert Downey Jr.’s quips, however, helped propel all three of those other films into mega-blockbuster status so don’t expect “Iron Man 3” to completely abandon the fun of the past. But here, Downey’s Tony Stark must deal with the angst of saving the world in “The Avengers” as well as facing Iron Man’s arch-enemy, The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. May 3.
THE GREAT GATSBY: Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the title character in what is expected to maintain F. Scott Fitzgerald’s doomed American luxury of the early 20th century while fueling it with 21st century music and taste. Baz Luhrmann directs. His past works include “Moulin Rouge,” “Austrailia” and “Romeo + Juliet,” which starred a much younger DiCaprio. May 10.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS: Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, Mr. Spock and the Enterprise crew face terrorism in the future in this second entry in the rebooted “Star Trek” movie franchise from director J.J. Abrams. May 17.
FAST & FURIOUS 6: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, check. Vin Diesel, check. Plenty of fast cars, check, check, check, check, check ... Help stop a rival gang in exchange for clear criminal records; plot open enough for a “Fast & Furious 7”? We’ll go ahead and check that, too. May 24.
EPIC: The makers of “Ice Age” and “Rio” present this new animated story that promises to be legend ... wait for it ... OK, it will be epic. A teen becomes embroiled in a battle of good versus evil, and she must save the world. Voices include Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, etc. May 24.
THE HANGOVER: PART III: It is likely to be similar to the last two “Hangover” comedies. Only this time, III promises no wedding, no bachelor party, but the same gang of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis and Ed Helms and several things will go wrong. Hopefully, several of these several things will also be funny. This will reportedly be the last “Hangover” movie. May 24.
AFTER EARTH: They were great together in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and have been great separately with the son’s remake of “The Karate Kid” and dad in numerous films, but father and son Will Smith and Jaden Smith are back in this movie by director M. Night Shyamalan. The premise: a young man and his father crashland on Earth a millennium after humanity escaped the planet. Can they survive? Will Shyamalan be able to resist throwing in a surprise ending? Only the end of May will tell. May 31.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: A modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s tale of two couple’s diverging views of romance. This is something completely different from director Joss Whedon’s last project which was “The Avengers.” June 7.
MAN OF STEEL: Notice, nowhere in any of the previews is the name Superman mentioned. Zack Snyder knows his comic book movies; he’s directed “300” and “Watchmen.” This Superman take reportedly comes at the familiar story with more depth and some changes similar to the popular and critically acclaimed reboot of Batman in recent years. June 14.
WORLD WAR Z: Yes, the capital Z stands for Zombies and stars Brad Pitt in this tale of a U.N. worker trying to stop a zombie pandemic destroying humanity. Yes, another zombie movie but fans of zombie movies are something of a pandemic themselves. They are everywhere and if this film is well done, they will drag themselves out to see it. June 21.
WHITE HOUSE DOWN: A few weeks ago, theatres hosted the movie “Olympus Has Fallen” about an attack on the White House and the President; it starred Gerard Butler as the man who does his best to save the day. Several weeks from now, theatres will host “White House Down” about an attack on the White House and the President; it stars Channing Tatum as the man who does his best to save the day. Also stars Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. June 28.
DESPICABLE ME 2: A sequel to the popular animated film of a few years ago with Steve Carell returning as the bushy-browed, flat-headed, evil genius with a soft side. Al Pacino lends his voice to this outing. July 3.
THE LONE RANGER: Notice how previews for this movie avoid using Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” ... that was the music of the Lone Ranger back in the days of Clayton Moore. Now, Armand Hammer plays the Masked Man, and a paint-faced Johnny Depp plays his Native American kemosabe Tonto. This is by the same folks who turned the Disney ride Pirates of the Caribbean into a monster movie franchise so the Lone Ranger may ride again and again ... July 3.
GROWN UPS 2: They’re back: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, etc. Sandler’s character returns to his old hometown and old friends along with numerous unexpected troubles in this comedy sequel. July 12.
THE WOLVERINE: Hugh Jackman returns as the feral X-Man, again in a solo outing. “The Wolverine” is based loosely on the Chris Claremont-Frank Miller graphic novel that secured Wolverine’s popularity three decades ago with comic book readers. In this story, Wolverine goes to Japan where he faces enemies and changes. Note: Jackman is already signed and playing Wolverine again in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” slated to open next year. July 26.
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE: Tough making a sequel when the original movie left all of the main characters dead by its conclusion. Here, General Themistocles battles the invading ruler Xerxes. “300” was an unexpected hit ... can the sequel be a hit with none of the past stars? Aug. 2.
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS: “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” was an enjoyable movie about a teen who discovers he is the son of Greek god Poseidon, but its box office suggested that the only way to learn what happened next would be to read Rick Riordan’s series of novels. Not so fast, here comes the sequel in fewer than a handful of months from now. Here, Percy must find the mythical Golden Fleece. Aug. 7.
KICK-ASS 2: Another movie sequel based on a comic book. The first movie was a surprise hit, solid box office, even better critical reviews. Here, the costumed, high-schooler who decided to become a superhero joins with a group of other regular people inspired to dress up and fight crime, all while dealing a revenge plot from arch-nemesis the Red Mist. Aug. 16.
LOOK FOR ANOTHER SUMMER MOVIES GUIDE LATER THIS WEEK IN THE TIMES