By Drew Taylor | The Playlist April 29, 2013 at 12:03PM
Synopsis: Set sometime after the events of "X-Men: The Last Stand," the story picks up with adamantium-clawed Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, forever and always) in Japan, where he gets involved with the yakuza and ninjas and bullet trains.
What You Need to Know: Originally planned as director Darren Aronofsky's follow-up to "Black Swan," the filmmaker eventually bowed out because the international production would keep him out of the country and away from his kids for too long. Fox then tapped James Mangold, who had just made the competent but commercially underwhelming action movie "Knight and Day" for the studio. The original Christopher McQuarrie draft of the script, based largely on a 1982 comic book run by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont, was augmented with work from Mark Bomback and Scott Frank, and production began last summer in Australia and Japan. It seems like everyone knew what a shit-show the last stand-alone Logan movie, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," turned out to be and are consciously trying to correct its mistakes. The storyline seems more grounded and relatable, with a Faustian deal being proposed to Logan and a criminal love triangle developing, and Mangold, especially with his underrated "3:10 to Yuma" remake, has proven himself when it comes to handling complex action set pieces. We hope our expectations are sliced and diced and we're pleasantly surprised. Snikt!
When? July 26th
Synopsis: In the future, the rich and powerful live on a floating space haven called Elysium (run by Jodie Foster), while the grunts work on a hostile and dangerous Earth. When one of those Earth-dwellers (Matt Damon) becomes irradiated and in need of the medical care on Elysium, he outfits himself in a robot suit and makes a run for it, with a bounty hunter (Shartlo Copley) hot on his trail.
What You Need To Know: The long, long, ridiculously long-awaited sophomore film from "District 9" director Neil Blomkamp, "Elysium" again features his trademark mix of barbed social commentary and cutting-edge futurism (simultaneously gleaming and impossibly junky). Production on the film started in mid-2011, but reshoots and complex visual effects work pushed back its intended release date from this past spring to late summer. While the "social commentary" part of the movie is always tricky – if the message comes on too strong it can easily be mistaken for being preachy, but if it isn't there enough it becomes another dumb sci-fi movie – there are enough jaw-dropping visuals (robots! Space ships! Matt Damon's shaved head! Samurai swords!) that it doesn't seem like it will be much of a problem. We're ready to go to Elysium, please.
When? August 9th
Synopsis: High school superhero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) returns, this time forming a real-life Justice League with characters like Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), along with his sidekick Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz). Once again they're battling the Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who has redubbed himself The Mother Fucker.
What You Need To Know: Since Matthew Vaughn was, at the time of production, attached to an "X-Men: First Class" sequel, the original director turned over the reigns to Jeff Wadlow, who both wrote and directed the new film (based on Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s "Kick-Ass 2" comic book and the "Hit Girl" miniseries). A more expansive palette and an added cast of characters could end up being just what this franchise needs. If its lifeblood in the first place was to take gleeful aim at the tired comic book genre, well, the genre is even more tired now. However we worry that it could be too much of a good thing and the trailers don't exactly inspire much confidence (it looks cheap, although we do like the line "Act like a bitch, get slapped like a bitch"). Still, we'll temper out expectations so that if Wadlow can just recapture the irreverent spirit of the first film, while adding some new flourishes, then that would truly kick ass.
When? August 18th
"White House Down"
Synopsis: A group of terrorists (led by Jason Clarke) overtake the White House, leaving a rejected Secret Service applicant (Channing Tatum) to save the President (Jamie Foxx) and his daughter (Joey King) from certain doom.
What You Need To Know: One of two terrorists-take-over-the-White-House movies to come out this year, following this spring's surprise modest hit "Olympus Has Fallen," this action extravaganza was directed by Roland Emmerich, the master of destruction behind "Independence Day" and "2012." We were shown footage earlier this year and were pleased with what we saw – the action set pieces look phenomenal and the emphasis on the relationship between Tatum and Foxx was refreshing, as a marked contrast to the nonstop, numbing violence of "Olympus Has Fallen." If anyone can wow us with this kind of thing, it's Emmerich (working from a script by "Zodiac" writer Jamie Vanderbilt). Shit is gonna blow up real good.
When? June 28th
There are still plenty of potential summertime treats waiting in the wings, additionally including: “300: Rise of An Empire,”a prequel/sequel thingie to the original Greek action extravaganza (August 2nd); "2 Guns," a "dadcore" action movie starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as criminals or cops posing as criminals or something -- the trailer was a little confusing (August 2nd); Sony attempts to cash in on the young adult craze with the supernaturally-themed "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," just nobody mention "Beautiful Creatures" (August 22nd); "R.I.P.D." looks like a fun/goofy amalgamation of "Beetlejuice," "Men in Black," and "Hellboy" and stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as undead cops – what more do you want? (July 19th); people love old fogey action movies so Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren are back for more lowbrow fun in "RED 2" (July 19th); Ryan Reynolds (again) is a snail with Formula 1 dreams in DreamWorks Animation's "Turbo" (July 19th); Adam Sandler's first sequel is "Grown Ups 2" (July 12th); Steve Carell returns to animated super-villainy in "Despicable Me 2" (July 3rd) and while "Monsters University" is an actual Pixar sequel (June 21st), "Planes" is just a Disney-supervised spin-off of Pixar's "Cars" franchise (August 9th), so, you know, buyer (or flyer) beware.
What are you looking forward to? Let us know below.