We're getting down to the wire and I'm getting more and more excited as I write about these movies. I think there's a lot of potential for an amazing summer blockbuster season and these next five movies mostly fit that bill. It even seems like the studios want to extend that summer lovin' all the way through Thanksgiving because there's a summer superhero flick destined to show up during the least sexiest holiday of the year. I don't want to jinx anything, but 2013 is turning out to be a lot better than I expected.
15. The Fast and the Furious 6
Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Release Date: May 24
When they "re-booted" the Fast & Furious franchise back in 2009, I really didn't take any notice. Sure, the movie was good - a heckuva lot better than Tokyo Drift, for sure. So the fifth movie didn't really scream "must-see!" to me when I put it at number 40 on my list two years ago, I had no idea this would be, by far, the best movie in the series since the first one. It was a completely satisfying, Ocean's 11-type movie - they brought in everyone they could from all the movies to stage a heist. With fast cars. And Dwayne Johnson was the cop hell-bent on bringing them down. It was a nice change of pace for the series and the ending, if you stayed after the credits, totally blew me away and got me completely psyched for this installment. As it turns out, Michelle Rodriguez isn't dead and probably sipping Mai Tai's somewhere in the Caribbean along with Notorious BIG and Tupac. The plot is completely under wraps, but the writers and studio wanted to shift the focus of the franchise to newer heights - that of the heist movie. Fast Five was the intentional transition to becoming a more broader action franchise. I love this direction they're taking and Justin Lin and Chris Morgan have actually written this movie and it's subsequent sequel together so that there is a cohesive story with a conclusion. Which is awesome - most of the time when these movies are written and/or shot back to back (which I don't think Universal is doing, but they were at least considering), it ends up being a win (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean). I'm excited to see where this franchise is headed and even when they wrap up Vin Diesel and Paul Walker's bromance, they can continue this franchise with Dwayne Johnson, whom I'm assuming is going to go rogue at some point during this movie and quit his day job to become a professional heist guy. It would be fitting, although I'll feel bad for Paul Walker because then he won't have something to look forward to every year...
14. Mad Max: Fury Road
Starring: Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Charlize Theron
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Nick Lathouris, Brendan McCarthy
Release Date: ???
Speaking of shooting movies back to back - George Miller emerges from hibernation (well, not really) to furiously finish the long-awaited sequels to his Mad Max trilogy. Mad Max: Fury Road and Mad Max: Furiosa will immediately follow the events after Beyond Thunderdome and follow Max doing his thing - kicking ass and driving cars. The yummy (according to Maggie! Oh, who am I kidding - I would probably swoon if he came and hugged me) Tom Hardy will be replacing Mel Gibson as the title character and I don't think they could've picked a better actor. Hardy, best known for being Bane in The Dark Knight Rises will surely be able to fill the role and possibly make it better. Nicholas Hoult (see! I told you this kid is going to blow up!) and Charlize Theron are involved as well and so far, the plot has been kept secret, so who the hell knows what kind of shenanigans Max is going to get into. I have a really good feeling this movie is going to just kill - I'm a huge fan of the original trilogy - they're some of the best post-apocalyptic movies set to celluloid. They're mean, campy as hell, but a lot of fun. I'm sure George Miller still has a little bit of action magic left in him. After years of writing and directing family-oriented films, it's going to be awesome seeing him come back to his roots.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Release Date: May 10
Another movie (yet again!) that got moved back to 2013, The Great Gatsby was number 39 last year, but after completely winning me over with this highly-energetic and out-of-nowhere trailer, I'm really, really excited to see where Luhrmann takes this iconic American story. I have a confession - I love Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. Hell, I really like Australia, which absolutely no one liked. I guess I love the bombastic and glamorous scenes Luhrmann can create. He has a very unique voice and at first I questioned this decision to put him behind the camera for this re-telling, and then I was like, okay, we'll see and now I'm like, "Awwww yeah, this movie be bumpin'!!" It's too bad there won't be a tie-in soundtrack like Moulin Rouge that features the vocal talents of Christina Aguilera and Pink. At those that might scoff at the notion Hollywood is ruining classic literature, well, it's not like this is something new or that this is a new low (I think that title remains The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore). Plus, this just looks like it's going to be a fantastic visual treat! This is a movie I am actually stoked to go see in 3D! Who knew that out of all the possible 3D releases next year, this would be the most exciting to see! Baz Luhrmann mainly wanted to recreate New York City in the 1920s in 3D and I think it's going to look gorgeous. It's almost like what they did to Los Angeles in the video game L.A. Noire - recreating a mostly forgotten era of the biggest city in the world. I love how this movie is shaping up and how the studio, in a bold move, decided to push this for a summer release. I'm sure a lot of critics will bash this movie, but I know I'll be first in line to grab my 3D glasses and be blown away.
Starring: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: David S. Goyer
Release Date: June 14
Normally any Superman movie would be much, much lower on my list. I just don't get this superhero - the dude is practically invincible so it's hard for me to understand how he can have any problems with normal, human villains. Which is why it's a relief that the main villain in the new movie will be General Zod, a fellow Kryptonian who has all the same abilities as Superman. It's also nice to know Zack Snyder is directing this movie. Most thought his last film, Sucker Punch, was unwatchable, but I thought it was simply astonishing. But they also thought Watchmen was a perfect adaptation of one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. And here he tackles another iconic superhero character and he has help. David S. Goyer, the guy who wrote The Dark Knight trilogy, has written a modern take on the superhero and there's a lot of speculation about where the story will go, especially after the release of a teaser poster that showed Superman in handcuffs. First off, this whole notion of taking superheros more seriously and grounded in a more real-world setting is still awesome and has not gotten old - I love these gritty takes on campy characters. Secondly, this could be the film that starts the DC-universe lovefest. Batman is Batman, but besides that, DC hasn't really broken out with an amazing list of movies (Daredevil, Superman Returns, Green Lantern, anyone?). So it's exciting to see where DC and Warner Brothers decide to take their characters - certainly The Justice League movie is going to happen eventually, but I hope that they take notes and lessons from Marvel, because they've created a blueprint on how to do these things properly. Zack Snyder has teased about how Man of Steel could be a potential launching pad for a Justice League movie, but it's still too early to speculate (supposedly Robin/Batman will show up at the end of the movie in a meet cute). If that is the case, however, this would be amazing - I've never really gotten into any of these superheros, but I'm game to seeing how everything plays out. Now back to the movie itself - if the tone of the movie comes close to the tone in this teaser trailer, I think we're all going to be blown away. There's a new trailer emerging in front of The Hobbit next weekend and supposedly it's insane and completely different from this teaser. Which is fine - I think if the film manages to keep us enthralled by the drama while kicking ass in the action department, this is going to be a great kick-start to the both the Superman and Justice League franchises.
11. Thor: The Dark World
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: Christopher Youst, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Release Date: November 8
Thor was a nice surprise two years ago - it managed to take a relatively unknown superhero and make him one of the most recognizable characters in the Marvel Universe. This was largely thanks to the genius casting of Hemsworth, who definitely embodies the character of Thor. And also Kenneth Branagh's direction - he brought a sense of credibility to what may have been another ho-hum superhero film. Now Branagh's off doing more stuff that will likely get him an Oscar and Alan Taylor has been brought in to direct - a man who's directed a lot of TV shows including Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. And all the cast is back, so really this should be a fantastic follow-up. This will be the second movie in The Avengers: Phase Two canon (after Iron Man 3) and the plot sounds like it's going to once again set up another Avengers movie: Thor battles to save all the Nine Realms from a mysterious enemy older than the universe itself. However, a primeval race led by Malekith, who is out for revenge, intends to descend the universe into darkness. Confronted by an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot overcome, Thor must reunite with Jane Foster and set out on a dangerous journey that will force him to make the ultimate sacrifice. This sounds ambitious and ambiguous enough to get me excited and really speculative about who the mysterious race is. That's what I love about these movies - Marvel has really got another plan for its big characters and wants them to all come together again in 2015 for The Avengers 2. I don't know how that can be more exciting for fans of the films - this should be a step in the right direction. It's also great to know that they want to expand the window for releases - normally this would have been a summer release but pushing it more towards the holidays makes for some awesome superhero action for all of us to enjoy with our turkey and mashed potatoes!