"This Is The End"
Synopsis: The end of the world befalls a bunch of Hollywood goofballs playing themselves (James Franco, Danny McBride, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Barcuchel, Craig Robinson), who try survive while holed up in Franco’s luxurious pad.
What You Need To Know: The proposition of these young stars playing themselves is dicey to say the least, with the potential for unctuous smugness at an alarming high (especially since Rogen co-wrote and co-directed the movie, with his creative partner Evan Goldberg). Thankfully, everything that the trailers have shown suggest that they are poking fun at themselves more than anything else. It seems like Rogen and Goldberg have fully committed to the apocalyptic conceit, which includes extreme violence and all sorts of other weirdness (including – spoiler alert -- all manner of cataclysmic events including scary alien visitors) and the duo did, largely successfully, walk a similarly fine tonal line with their script for “The Pineapple Express.” What's more of a question mark is whether or not audiences will be able to tell this movie apart from the lower budget, similarly titled Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg joint "The World's End" (opening later in the summer). If you're wondering which one features Emma Watson playing herself, it's "This Is The End."
When? June 12th
Synopsis: A UN employee (Brad Pitt) tries to gather information about the zombie apocalypse as it unfolds.
What You Need To Know: Based on an ingenious novel by Max Brooks that was billed as an "oral history of the zombie apocalypse," "World War Z" has a tantalizing concept that proved infuriatingly difficult to crack for the big screen. High-profile screenwriters (including “Babylon 5” creator J. Michael Straczynski) came and went and, most notoriously, the movie missed its release date by half a year. It underwent extensive reshoots under the creative leadership of Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard, who took over from a beleaguered Marc Forster, who supposedly caved due to his inexperience helming a giant, effects-driven studio tent-pole. Even with its very public problems, "World War Z" still looks pretty cool and we give studio Paramount credit for mounting what can genuinely be described as a "horror epic," something that hasn't really been attempted in a little while. It'll be interesting, too, to see if audiences still want their zombies on the big screen after having been fed a steady diet of flesh-eaters on TV with "The Walking Dead."
When? June 21st
"The Lone Ranger"
Synopsis: A lawyer-turned-Texas Ranger (Armie Hammer) returns from the dead to avenge his brother's death, teaming up with a mysterious Native American named Tonto (Johnny Depp), to take down a supernaturally empowered villain (William Fichtner) and thwart an evil railroad tycoon (Tom Wilkinson). You know, in the Old West.
What You Need To Know: "The Lone Ranger," an adaptation of a popular radio and TV hero from the olden times, was outright canceled at least once when Disney balked at the budget proposed by director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The movie was eventually reassembled, with a more modest budget, although from the looks of it (both the trailer and the 20 minutes of footage we saw last week), it's still going to be huge. Maybe not "biggest train sequence in the history of cinema” huge (one of Verbinski’s goals, at least originally), but still: pretty damn big. And while all of the stunts and visual effects and train sequences are sure to dazzle, it’s the chemistry between Hammer and Depp that most caught our attention in the footage we saw. Early reports are that it’s just as much riotous fun as Verbinski and Depp’s first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. We hope they’re right.
When? July 3rd
Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future a dimensional rift opens up in the Pacific Ocean, allowing giant, Godzilla-ish monsters (called "kaiju") to come through, leading to large-scale destruction and loss of life. In response, humanity has created giant robotic warriors called Jaegers, controlled by pairs of pilots connected via a "neural bridge." Because obviously the answer to "giant monsters" is "giant robots."
What You Need To Know: "Pacific Rim" is the kind of movie that seems to have been designed, on an almost genetic level, for director Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy," "Pan's Labyrinth"), whose love affair with all things ooey, gooey, clawed, and fanged, has been well documented, although it served more as a "rebound movie" for the filmmaker more than anything else. Del Toro was attached to direct (at the time) two "The Hobbit" movies for Peter Jackson (production delays forced him out) and then later was mounting a huge adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" (with Tom Cruise attached to star and James Cameron producing) for Universal, before they got nervous about the movie's budget and R rating. A refreshingly original sci-fi contraption, "Pacific Rim" has an eclectic cast (Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and, of course, Ron Perlman) and a genuinely fun concept. "Looper" director Rian Johnson saw a rough cut earlier this year and loved it. Warner Bros is so confident they've already begun development on a sequel.
When? July 12th