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Summer movies preview: They’re playing again

Posted 4:53pm on Thursday, May. 02, 2013

It’s not that I always bemoan the blockbusters and reboots that crash-land into theaters this time of year. I love a good alien-invasion scarefest as much as the next fanboy.

But it’s the sheer volume — in both frequency and loudness — that is so infuriating. And that’s especially true of the sequels that roll off the dream-factory assembly line this time of year like Camrys in a Toyota plant. Nothing screams a lack of original ideas in Hollywood more than a movie title with a numeral attached to the end of it.

Here’s hoping that at least one of these turns out to be a lucky number:

Star Trek Into Darkness — J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise was a genial calling card, but Into Darkness will show where he really wants to take these iconic characters. The title would seem to indicate a much grittier, bleaker vision of the 23rd century, where our heroes have to deal with terrorism. May 17.

The Hangover Part III — Director Todd Phillips promises this is the last “Hangover” movie. Considering how poorly critics received the second movie — it’s at 34 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, though it has grossed more than $85 million — that’s probably a wise move. For this one, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis get more deeply involved in the world of Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow crime-boss character. May 24.

Fast & Furious 6 — Of course, there are lots of fast cars that crash — and at least one plane — in this latest celebration of gas guzzling. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson are all back in the driver’s seat. May 24.

Man of Steel — Less a sequel than a reboot, this Superman tale directed by Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead remake) is going to give us a more introspective man of the cape (played by Henry Cavill, The Tudors) as Earth is invaded by people from his home planet. June 14.

Monsters University — Pixar can’t seem to do any wrong, so it’s going back to the Monsters Inc. well for a prequel in which Sulley and Mike meet in college. June 21.

Despicable Me 2 — The voices of Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig return in this animated adventure about the soft-hearted villain Gru who tried to steal the moon in the first film. This time he faces off against a more evil villain. July 3.

Grown Ups 2 — The original Grown Ups wasn’t exactly an Oscar contender but this Adam Sandler vehicle — which paired him with Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade as old friends reuniting — made enough (more than $160 million domestically) to greenlight a sequel. In this one, Sandler’s Lenny character moves back to his hometown and finds out things really haven’t changed. July 19.

Red 2 — Just because you’ve got an AARP card doesn’t mean you can’t take down bad guys. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freedman and Helen Mirren reteam to go on the hunt for a weapon of mass destruction. Anthony Hopkins joins the cast. July 19.

The Wolverine — Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) promises a darker vision for this followup to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, once again starring Hugh Jackman. July 26.

The Smurfs 2 — The little blue people are back to take on the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria) after he kidnaps Smurfette (Katy Perry). Oy. July 31.

300: Rise of an Empire — Most of the ripped Spartans from 300 didn’t survive, so this not-really-a-sequel tells of a fight between Persians and Athenians. And there’s a woman, Artemisia (Eva Green), at the heart of the story this time. Aug. 2.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters — Makers of this franchise based on the popular young-adult series about the half-human son of Poseidon struck $88 million dollars worth of gold the first time around in 2010. This one has a new director (Thor Freudenthal, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), but there’s no reason to believe this won’t be equally appealing to fans of the books. Aug. 7.

Kick-Ass 2 — This could be a big gamble. The first Kick-Ass wasn’t a huge hit and some were put off by its meshing of comic-book sensibilities with a very R-rated approach to language and violence, especially as it involved the young pre-teen superhero Hit Girl (Chloe-Grace Moretz). But she and Kick-Ass himself (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) return and hook up with another superhero, Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes. Aug. 16.

— Cary Darling

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