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Macon Chronicle-Herald - Macon, MO
  • PULSE: Summer movies — what to watch for from June to August

  • The carefree days of summer are just ahead, which means warm weekends, light traffic and vacation plans. And yet, filmmakers seem to have something darker in mind: doomsday. Movie releases promise a zombie apocolyse and massive monsters, humans moving to another planet and others relocating to a space station. There are even ...
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  • The carefree days of summer are just ahead, which means warm weekends, light traffic and vacation plans. And yet, filmmakers seem to have something darker in mind: doomsday. Movie releases promise a zombie apocolyse and massive monsters, humans moving to another planet and others relocating to a space station. There are even a couple of catastrophe comedies. Of course, if armageddon isn’t your thing, there will be other options. Read on for a look at upcoming theater releases, including some lighter, less cataclysmic entertainment.
    JUNE 7
    The Kings of Summer
    Stars: Nick Offerman, Moises Arias, Nick Robinson and Alison Brie
    Scoop: Two best friends and one oddball interloper decide to escape their stifling parents and live in the woods for the summer in director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s feel-good feature debut.
    Why to see it: Chris Galletta’s hilarious, heartfelt script could turn this little dramedy into the breakout indie hit of the summer. A cast filled with established comedians, such as Offerman and Megan Mullally, plus fresh talent, including Arias (looking like the next Zach Galifianakis), provides plenty of laughs.
    The Internship
    Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Rose Byrne
    Scoop: Vaughn and Wilson, playing their customary characters (the motormouth and the straight man), are dropped into another fish-out-of-water scenario. After the salesmen lose their jobs, they somehow snag internships at Google, despite their lack of tech knowledge.
    The Purge
    Stars: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey and Tony Oller
    Scoop: One night a year, the police let murder and mayhem ensue while turning a blind eye. The one-percenters bolt their doors and turn on their security systems, but the 12-hour period is going to prove especially harrowing for one family when their daughter lets in an outsider.
    Dirty Wars
    Scoop: The Sundance-selected documentary tracks “Blackwater” author and investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill as he travels the globe to research the U.S. government’s “kill list” and uncovers mysteries surrounding the secretive Joint Special Operations Command.
    Wish You Were Here
    Stars: Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer
    Scoop: The non-linear feature debut for Australian writer-director Kieran Darcy-Smith is about four friends who go on vacation together. But when only three return home to Sydney, the group tries to piece together the events of a drug-fueled night in Cambodia.
    Shadow Dancer
    Stars: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and Gillian Anderson
    Page 2 of 5 - Scoop: Documentary director James Marsh tries his hand at fiction with an adaptation of Tom Bradby’s novel. Set in the 1990s, the drama follows an Irish woman and IRA member who is forced to supply information to British intelligence.
    Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie
    Scoop: The documentary looks at the 1980s talk show host who chain-smoked on camera and berated his guests, ushering in an era where talking heads could be screaming banshees.
    Syrup
    Stars: Brittany Snow, Shiloh Fernandez, Amber Heard and Kellan Lutz
    Scoop: The adaptation of Max Barry’s cult novel satirizes the gleaming deception of marketing by looking at a slacker with a get-rich-quick scheme.
    JUNE 12
    This is the End
    Stars: James Franco, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill
    Scoop: Members of the cast play themselves, watching Los Angeles collapse around them and facing doomsday with as much urgency as a stoner can muster.
    Why to see it: Writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg also penned “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” which should give some indication of the idiocy, but also the laughter, audiences can expect. The movie marks the pair’s directorial debut.
    JUNE 14
    Man of Steel
    Stars: Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams
    Scoop: It seems like yesterday that Superman was getting a reboot with Brandon Routh as Krypton’s most famous export. But that was seven years ago, which is long enough (in Hollywood years) to warrant another creation story, this time with “The Tudors” star Cavill in the cape.
    Why to see it: In addition to Crowe and Adams, the big-name cast boasts Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and the seemingly ubiquitous Michael Shannon. And Zack Snyder, who also directed “300” and “Watchmen,” knows his way around special effects.
    Stuck in Love
    Stars: Greg Kinnear, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell and Jennifer Connelly
    Scoop: This might be the “Crazy Stupid Love” of 2013, starring Kinnear as a recently divorced writer struggling with his single status, just as his kids and ex-wife grapple with their own relationships, both within and outside the family.
    The Painting
    Stars: The voices of Jean Barney, Chloe Berthier and Julien Bouanich
    Scoop: In this fantastical animated French film, fighting breaks out among the characters in an unfinished painting, leading some of the figures to search for the artist to restore order.
    Molly’s Theory of Relativity
    Stars: Reed Birney, Cady Huffman and Nicholas Lampiasi
    Scoop: A woman who recently has lost her job consults friends, family and imaginary acquaintances on making a big life change.
    Page 3 of 5 - JUNE 21
    World War Z
    Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and David Morse
    Scoop: If you thought the zombie takeover had run its course, think again. Seven years after writer Max Brooks’s post-apocalyptic thriller, director Marc Forster is bringing the adaptation to life. Pitt plays a United Nations worker who might save humanity if he can figure out how to stop the proliferation of the undead.
    Why to see it: Although rewrites and delays are often the harbingers of disappointing films, it’s hard not to be intrigued by this adaptation. Yes, it’s a zombie movie, but it’s one that seeks to be more of a thoughtful thriller than a campy confection filled with face-eaters.
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Stars: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg
    Scoop: The cast may look familiar to Joss Whedon’s army of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans. Despite populating the film with his usual collaborators, the writer-director defies predictability with a black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.
    Why to see it: Whedon reportedly shot the film in just 12 days, using his own house as the set. And yet, the homemade creation received fairly glowing reviews at its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, proving great things can come from little budgets.
    The Bling Ring
    Stars: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and Emma Watson
    Scoop: Director Sofia Coppola’s latest was inspired by the true story of a group of California teens who robbed the houses of famous tabloid fixtures.
    Why to see it: Coppola, who directed “Lost in Translation” and “The Virgin Suicides,” has her detractors. But she undoubtedly has a talent for creating mood and establishing a specific time and place, all of which could come in handy here. Plus, the film was chosen to open the Cannes Film Festival’s “Un Certain Regard” series, which spotlights innovative approaches to making movies.
    Monsters University
    Stars: The voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi
    Scoop: The prequel to Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” chronicles how the odd couple of animation met.
    Why to see it: It turns out Mike (Crystal) and Sulley (Goodman) were college roommates and rivals before becoming best friends and colleagues. That opens up all kinds of possibilities for Pixar, which got a little inspiration from “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” The result worked for enthusiastic early audiences at CinemaCon.
    JUNE 28
    White House Down
    Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal
    Scoop: It’s the second coming of “Olympus Has Fallen.” The other terrorists-take-Washington film of 2013 comes to the screen courtesy of the prince of the apocalypse, director Roland Emmerich (“2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”).
    Page 4 of 5 - The Heat
    Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock and Marlon Wayans
    Scoop: “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig oversees this comedy about an FBI agent (Bullock, doing her perfected persnickety thing) forced to work with a disheveled Boston police officer (McCarthy, looking especially unkempt) on a big drug case.
    JULY 3
    The Lone Ranger
    Stars: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, William Fichtner and Helena Bonham Carter
    Scoop: After countless setbacks and budget concerns, audiences finally can confirm that director Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) did in fact cast Depp as the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick, Tonto.
    Despicable Me 2
    Stars: The voices of Al Pacino, Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig
    Scoop: The sequel to the 2010 animated hit finds the reformed bad guy, Gru, recruited by an anti-villain league.
    JULY 12
    Grown Ups 2
    Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock
    Scoop: Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison, seem poised to continue their streak of critical bombs and Razzie contenders, which included the first “Grown Ups” installment.
    Pacific Rim
    Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Charlie Day
    Scoop: Humans build robots to defend the Earth after massive monsters emerge from the ocean and threaten to conquer the planet.
    Why to see it: “Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro brought this big-budget action movie to life, which explains why there’s as much early chatter about mood and atmospherics as there is about special effects.
    JULY 26
    The Wolverine
    Stars: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen and Will Yun Lee
    Scoop: The never-ending saga of the clawed, hirsute Canadian continues, this time in Japan.
    AUG. 2
    2 Guns
    Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington and Paula Patton
    Scoop: Baltasar Kormakur, who directed Wahlberg in the well-received “Contraband,” once again collaborates with the actor in this convoluted story about two undercover agents who start out investigating each other and end up allies when they wind up on the wrong side of both the mob and the law.
    AUG. 9
    Elysium
    Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley
    Scoop: In the futuristic sci-fi film, the wealthy live on a state-of-the-art space station, while the prols are stuck on Earth with no hope of gaining access to the Shangri-la above. Damon plays a man capable of bringing the two groups together, but only if he succeeds on a dangerous mission.
    Why to see it: This is the second feature from writer-director Neill Blomkamp, the man behind 2009’s “District 9,” which artfully inserted political undertones into sci-fi action.
    Page 5 of 5 - Computer Chess
    Stars: Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins
    Scoop: The 1980s-set fuzzy black-and-white faux-documentary looks at a crew of nerds who meet up for a weekend of fun — which means comparing their computer-based chess programs.
    Why to see it: Mumblecore aficionado Andrew Bujalski (“Funny Ha Ha”) wrote and directed the understated dramedy that took home the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, awarded to movies that focus on science or technology, at Sundance.
    The Spectacular Now
    Stars: Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Jennifer Jason Leigh
    Scoop: After a drunk high school senior (Teller) passes out on the lawn of his classmate (Woodley), the pair become friends, despite his live-in-the-moment mantra and her hopes for a bright future.
    Why to see it: In addition to two impressive up-and-comers in lead roles, the film joins James Ponsoldt, the director of “Smashed,” and Scott Neustadter, who co-wrote “(500) Days of Summer,” for a movie that reportedly spans a gulf, speaking to both teen and adult audiences.
    AUG. 16
    Kick-Ass 2
    Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
    Scoop: Carrey joins the crew for this sequel to the comic book adaptation featuring a girl with a foul mouth and some serious martial arts skills.
     
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