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Fizzy or bombastic, summer's movies promise outsize action and old-fashioned escapism

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Star Trek Into Darkness

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Star Trek Into Darkness

If you want to see what kind of film embodies the summer movie, look no further than next week's release of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (May 10).

Yes, it is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel of the Jazz Age which, while set in the year 1922, remains a surgical dissection of the divide between the haves and the have-nots. Luhrmann casts Leonardo DiCaprio as the enigmatic title character, Carey Mulligan as the capricious Daisy Buchanan and Tobey Maguire as narrator Nick Carraway. Luhrmann also layers on flamboyant, lush 3D visuals and a contemporary soundtrack produced by Jay-Z.

That's in keeping with the director who plunked contemporary musical numbers -- Roxanne, Like a Virgin, Diamond Dogs -- into the Paris of 1899 in his 2001 movie Moulin Rouge.

But it is also in keeping with the summer movie, which tends to eschew the serious and sober (even if the source material is serious and sober) in favour of the gawdy, the ephemeral, the awesome.

Also on the slate for summer 2013:

We've been waiting for the other reboot to drop, and director J.J. Abrams obliges with Star Trek Into Darkness (May 16), the sequel to his 2009 Star Trek, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock, respectively, engaging in battle with a mysterious superhuman (Benedict Cumberbatch) with a serious grudge against Earth.

On May 24, the sequel action continues with Fast & Furious 6, the continuing saga of a group of outlaw street racers doing battle with a crew of, um, bad outlaw street racers. Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and -- in his fourth (!) movie release of 2013 -- Dwayne Johnson.

On a lighter note, a different breed of outlaws, known as the Wolf Pack, return to Las Vegas for a final bout of raunchy comedy in The Hangover Part III, starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms.

Set 1,000 years after humanity has abandoned our home planet, After Earth (May 31) sees a father and son marooned on the fourth rock from the sun alongside creatures that have apparently evolved with the express purpose of killing humans. If that sounds intriguing, great, but bear in mind this was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, his Sixth Sense success long behind him, and puts professional offspring Jaden Smith in the lead while his pop Will Smith takes on a supporting role.

You loved them crashing weddings. You may love them crashing Google as Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite as old-school salesmen attempting to get a leg up in the digital realm in The Internship (June 7).

Of all the trailers on view in the past month, the winner for funniest line of dialogue has got to be "Hermione just stole all our s ," from This is the End (June 12). The apocalyptic comedy stars Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride as themselves, actors brought low from their cushy Hollywood existence when Armageddon strikes. Harry Potter's Emma Watson appears as a foul-mouthed, axe-wielding version of herself, inspiring the aforementioned Hermione observation from McBride.

Coincidentally, Watson goes bad again as one of a group of real-life Hollywood felons in The Bling Ring (June), directed by Sofia Coppola.

Superman returns -- again -- in Man of Steel (June 14), a necessary reboot of the Superman franchise after Bryan Singer's 2006 attempt, Superman Returns, registered only as a slavish imitation of Richard Donner's original franchise starter. Director Zack Snyder was hired to inject some new blood in the franchise with star Henry Cavill (The Immortals).

Lovable monsters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and Sulley Sullivan (John Goodman) return for a prequel to Monsters Inc. showing how they met in their youth at Monsters University (June 21).

It's zombies that are matriculating in the much anticipated World War Z (June 21), an adaptation of Max Brooks' novel starring Brad Pitt as a government type investigating the whys and wherefores of a worldwide zombie plague. Reportedly, it was a troubled production, but director Marc Forster does give us something different: zombies with a weird swarming capability.

The second home invasion thriller of the year where the address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Roland Emmerich's White House Down (June 28) is bigger and more star-studded than the spring's Olympus Has Fallen, with Jamie Foxx as the prez and Channing Tatum as a cop who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In a lighter vein, the action is a little more goofy in The Heat (June 28) wherein a straight-shooting cop (Sandra Bullock) finds herself paired with a rule-bending rogue (Melissa McCarthy) in a comedy from the director of Bridesmaids, Paul Feig.

Can Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski do for the western what they did for the pirate movie with Pirates of the Caribbean? We'll know July 3 at the unveiling (unmasking?) of The Lone Ranger (July 3) starring Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the masked man.

The bad guy is the good guy once again in Despicable Me 2 (July 3) as former villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is obliged to join an anti-villain league to help stop some new threat to mankind. Al Pacino and Kristen Wiig provide other voices.

When giant-sized monsters threaten Earth, humans create robots of equal size to do battle. Is it a remake of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla? No, it's Pacific Rim (July 12), Guillermo del Toro's attempt to give us all the spectacle of a Transformers movie with the added incentive of an actual plot.

What can you say about a sequel to a comedy you didn't find remotely funny? Grown Ups 2 (July 12) stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade.

A snail voiced by Ryan Reynolds wants to win the Indy 500 in the oddball 'toon Turbo (July 17).

Reynolds gets even more oddball in R.I.P.D. (July 19) as a slain cop who joins up with fellow undead lawman Jeff Bridges on a special after-life task force committed to taking down paranormal bad guys.

RED 2 (July 19) sees a group of retired assassins (including Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren) back in action to track down a portable nuclear device with Anthony Hopkins along for the ride as a dotty scientist.

Director James Wan returns with his Insidious star Patrick Wilson for The Conjuring (July 19), a real-life haunted-house story co-starring Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor.

After the disappointing X-Men Origins, Hugh Jackman gets all feral in Japan in The Wolverine (July 26).

What can you say about a sequel to a cartoon you had no desire to see in the first place? The Smurfs 2 opens July 31.

Aug. 2 sees the release of 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as a DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer, respectively, pitted against one another by the mob.

Sure, just about everybody died at the end of the 2006 film 300, but there are new armies to conquer in 300: Rise of an Empire (Aug. 2), wherein that pesky invading army of Persians under Xerxes takes on the Greek general Themistocles.

As long as you're in the mood for ancient Greece, the sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Aug. 7) resumes the adventures of the modern-day son of Poseidon (Logan Lerman) on a quest for the Golden Fleece in the Bermuda Triangle.

A caustic take on the family comedy, We're the Millers (Aug. 9) sees a small-time dope dealer (Jason Sudeikis) joining forces with a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and a runaway (Emma Roberts) to masquerade as a middle-class family taking their RV on a vacation to, ahem, Mexico.

The rich one per cent live on a luxurious orbiting space station and the remaining 99 live on a decaying planet Earth in Elysium (Aug. 9), director Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

Disney presents the story of a little plane that could in Planes (Aug. 9) featuring the voice of Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper, a crop-duster with aspirations to be an aerial racer.

Teen punk costumed heroes resume their crime-fighting ways against some formidable opposition in Kick-Ass 2 (Aug. 16) which introduces Jim Carrey as a new character, a psychotic would-be hero dubbed Colonel Stars and Stripes.

Firmly in the Harry Potter/Percy Jackson mould, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Aug. 23) is about an ordinary teen (Lily Collins) who discovers she is in fact a shadowhunter, a half-angel warrior assigned to destroy demons on Earth.

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright conclude the unofficial trilogy (that began with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) with The World's End (Aug. 23), the story of a few blokes whose attempt at a legendary pub crawl is interrupted by the apocalypse.

Finally, what can you say about a 3D boy-band concert movie? One Direction: This Is Us opens Aug. 30.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2013 G1

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