By Drew Taylor | The Playlist April 29, 2013 at 12:03PM
"The Hangover Part III"
Synopsis: The Wolf Pack is back for one last debauchery-filled go-round. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha return to Las Vegas, the site of the very first "The Hangover," to get into more outrageous, vile, blackout-drunk mischief.
What You Need To Know: There seems to be an active campaign from almost everyone involved in the movie to assure potential viewers that this entry will be very different from the abhorrent "The Hangover Part II," a movie that was so lazy and creatively bereft that it barely qualified as a different movie. And we've got to admit that the promotional materials so far have a certain amount of punchy zing that the sequel was sorely lacking. Also, John Goodman is a part of the cast as some kind of skuzzy villain character, which excites us endlessly. Not that the "The Hangover" franchise is some glittery Hollywood benchmark, but we do hope that it goes out on a big, nasty high. Consider us in the "cautiously optimistic" camp.
When? May 24th
"Fast & Furious 6"
Synopsis: The gang (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Ludacris, Tyrese, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is back after the "Fast and Furious" franchise took a sharp left turn with 2011’s genuinely fun “Fast Five." This time they're going up against some evil British guy (Luke Evans) and encountering a character from their past who was long-thought dead (Michelle Rodriguez). In the trailer, a car speeds out of a flaming airplane. Where the hell is Eva Mendes, though, seriously?
What You Need To Know: Somewhere, along the way, the "Fast and Furious" franchise went from running on fumes to being one of Universal's most important and beloved properties, with a seventh entry already in the pipeline for next summer. This largely has to do with the directorial chops of Justin Lin, who has directed every entry since the third one, and has truly made it into his baby, transitioning it away from the tired street racing “Point Break” formula to a more bouncy, stylistically ambitious "Ocean's Eleven"-on-wheels. The trailers for the new film promise a kind of "greatest hits" compilation of "Fast and Furious" moments, which isn't a bad thing at all, especially considering the new blood he's got in this one (Gina Carano from "Haywire" and two dudes from "The Raid"). Sadly, this will be Lin's last entry in the fuel-injected franchise (James Wan takes over next time).
When? May 24th
"Star Trek Into Darkness"
Synopsis: The newly refreshed crew of peacekeeping space vessel the USS Enterprise (including Chris Pine's Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock) face a deadly threat in one John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), an evil terrorist with plans for galactic annihilation.
What You Need to Know: Even though the movie has already started screening abroad, details are still few and far between for the hotly anticipated sequel to director J.J. Abrams' unexpectedly outstanding 2009 "Star Trek" reboot. That movie was fast and flirty and fun, and while those elements still seem to be in place for the sequel, there's obviously a greater emphasis on danger and potential loss of life (especially given the movie's ominous, slightly dopey title). Most of the speculation about the sequel has been about who, exactly, Cumberbatch actually plays, since early reports indicated that he would assume the iconic role of Khan (who first appeared in the '60s series and the best-original-'Trek' feature "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" played by Ricardo Montalban). Anyone who saw the rousing nine-minute preview attached to select IMAX 3D screenings of "The Hobbit" this past winter knows to get really, really excited about this movie – it looks like a jumbo-sized blast.
When? May 17th
Synopsis: A father and son (played by real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith) are traveling through the cosmos when their spaceship crashes on a strange and alien planet – Earth.
What You Need To Know: This large-scale science fiction epic, co-written by videogame author Gary Whitta (with additional polishes by Stephen Gaghan and Mark Boal), is designed as the big-time comeback for director M. Night Shyamalan, whose name, which used to be synonymous with the kind of awe and wonder of a young Steven Spielberg, has been tarnished after a series of embarrassing, creatively bankrupt thrillers ("The Happening," anyone?). Supposedly Shyamalan, who is credited with co-writing the script and whose production company was partially responsible for the movie’s huge budget, scrapped a small, secretive project (set to star Bruce Willis, Bradley Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow) in favor of this more surefire hit. The plot for "After Earth," although now rather similar to Tom Cruise's "Oblivion," was originally about a father and son who crash their car in the middle of the wilderness, with the son having to go out and find materials. But, you know, everything is more exciting if it involves spaceships and monsters and the original version did sound better suited to David Gordon Green than Shyamalan anyway.
When? May 31st
"Man of Steel"
Synopsis: Superman (Henry Cavill) must defeat the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon), who has come to Earth looking for payback following Krypton's destruction. Superman, if you've forgotten, can leap tall buildings in a single bound and run faster than a speeding train.
What You Need To Know: After the abysmal failure of Brian Singer's "Superman Returns" to re-launch the Superman brand, Warner Bros. and DC Comics turned to screenwriter David S. Goyer and director Christopher Nolan, who had successfully turned the Batman property into a crown jewel in the Warner Bros/DC Comics crown. Nolan installed "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder at the helm, assembled a crack supporting cast (among them: Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Superman’s Kryptonian father and Lawrence Fishburne as the head of the Daily Planet) and tried to ground the story in the real world, if the melancholic first trailers are any indication (plot specifics have been largely kept under lock and key). The ratio between gee-whiz spectacle and human emotion seems to be almost perfectly calibrated (at a whopping 148 minutes, it better be).
When? June 14th