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Man of Steel,' 'World War Z,' 'Pacific Rim,' 'The World's End' among summer's 15 most-anticipated movies'

 

Related: 'Smurfs 2,' 'White House Down' among the 7 least-anticipated summer movies

I’ve sifted through the June-July-August schedule and found 14 films that piqued my curiosity most, capped by the final chapter of a comic trilogy from one of the last decade’s funniest filmmaking collaboratives:

1. “The World’s End” (Not yet rated)

Buddies Edgar Wright (writer, director) and Simon Pegg (writer, star) crafted comedy gold with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” and this will wrap their cheeky “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy with the story of five buddies re-living an epic pub crawl from two decades prior. Meanwhile, something happens that threatens the existence of humankind, leaving the group of boozed-up misfits as the Earth’s only hope. Joining Pegg in the cast are Nick Frost (of course), Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and Paddy Considine. I can’t wait to see what Wright and Pegg have come up with this time. (Opens Aug. 23)

2. "Only God Forgives" (R)

 

3. “Blue Jasmine” (PG-13)

4. “Pacific Rim” (PG-13)

Director Guillermo del Toro, one of the modern masters, finally returns with a new film – his last work was 2008’s “Hellboy II,” and a lot of his time was devoured by his dalliance with “The Hobbit,” a project he eventually abandoned. Anyway, this is a massive-scale story about a towering alien monster attack, and humans defending the Earth with equally huge robots. It’ll be good to see charismatic “Sons of Anarchy” TV star Charlie Hunnam on the big screen, and it looks like del Toro will kick Michael Bay’s butt in the giant-robot game. On the other hand, I’m brutally scarred by “Transformers,” and am skeptical. I also would rather see the director take on smaller, smarter “Pan’s Labyrinth”-style material instead of summer-popcorn fare. (July 12)

5. “Monsters University” (G)

“May not actually be canon with first movie,” reads a header on the Internet Movie Database message board. The controversy begins! OK, serious now: A dozen years after “Monsters Inc.” – a thoroughly enjoyable minor-Pixar favorite – comes this prequel, featuring the higher-ed shenanigans of eyeball-with-legs Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and his hulking furball buddy Sully (John Goodman). As is the case for most animated features, you could play celebrity bingo with the cast, which features a dozen-plus recognizable voices, including Helen Mirren, John Kraskinski, Nathan Fillion and Bonnie Hunt. (June 21)

6. “Man of Steel” (PG-13)

7. “Much Ado About Nothing” (PG-13)

Before shooting “The Avengers,” Joss Whedon filmed this modern-day interpretation of the Shakespeare classic, recruiting some of his Whedonverse regulars for the cast, including Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker and “Avengers” scene-stealer Clark Gregg. Those of us who consider Whedon the 21st-century Geek Bard should be stoked to see how his gift for penning wily-clever dialogue merges with Shakespeare’s words. (Local release TBA)

8. “Despicable Me 2” (PG)

The first film from 2010 was an unexpected delight and a runaway hit, a piece of lightweight, family-friendly fun that has us welcoming a sequel with open arms. The story finds reformed supervillain Gru (a returning Steve Carell) helping the forces of good against a new bad guy. Funny voices will be provided by new cast members Kristen Wiig, Ken Jeong and Russell Brand. Expect the pill-shaped, yellow, pidgin-talking Minions to provide the most laughs – they’ll also get their own spinoff feature in 2014. (July 3)

9. “Elysium” (not yet rated)

We’ll overlook the superficial resemblance to recent futuristic, Earth-in-ruins sci-fi stories “After Earth” and “Oblivion,” and instead choose to be excited about the return of filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, whose “District 9” was exceptional (and an unlikely Best Picture Oscar nominee). He writes and directs this story where rick folk live on an orbiting space station, and the poor dwell in the desolation below. Matt Damon is the hero of the downtrodden, and Jodie Foster is the politician trying to preserve the status quo. (Aug. 9)

10. “The Bling Ring” (R)

11.“The Way Way Back” (PG-13)

12. “The Wolverine” (not yet rated)

13. “The Lone Ranger” (not yet rated)

Gore Verbinski, who helmed the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” flicks, talked Johnny Depp into playing Tonto, and “Social Network” star Armie Hammer into playing the title character. Pros: Verbinski has a solid track record with the first “Pirates” and the wonderful animation “Rango”; Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Wilkinson have supporting roles; the nostalgic tug for those of us who watched reruns of the old TV show from the ‘40s and ‘50s. Cons: Depp’s shtick is getting old; the crazed loopiness of the “Pirates” sequels has not aged well; another old idea rehashed. (July 3)

14. “Kick-Ass 2” (R)

I’m not sure the sequel to the hyper-violent 2010 movie is entirely necessary, especially with second-rate director Jeff Wadlow. However, Chloe Grace Moretz reprising the role of foul-mouthed vigilante hero Hit-Girl isn’t such a bad thing. She’ll join original cast member Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as hero Kick-Ass, who hooks up with a group of quasi-superhero lunatics, including Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Strips. Also returning is Christopher Mintz-Plasse, whose Red Mist character causes trouble for the good guys. (Aug. 16)

Warning: trailer contains violence, harsh language.

15. “World War Z” (PG-13)

This could be the movie to decapitate the zombie-apocalypse subgenre in the realm of public interest. This adaptation of Max Brooks’ popular novel already has fans of the book grumbling about a lack of devotion to the source material, and the film was reportedly a troubled production. Brad Pitt headlines, playing a United Nations honcho trying to stop the epidemic. Marc Forster, who proved with “Quantum of Solace” that he’s a sub-par action director, helms the project. Also, the trailer is hot garbage (although most trailers can be classified as such). Anyone else smell a dud here? (June 21)

Email: jserba@mlive.com or follow John Serba on Twitter

 

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