We're nearly halfway through the summer blockbuster movie lineup and it's a safe bet to say the summer slate has lived up to the hype thus far. Here is a brief rundown of the top films so far:
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Personally, my favorite film of the year so far. Director J.J. Abrams treads a fine line of telling a new chapter in the Star Trek universe while cleverly paying homage to films of yesteryear. The acting, particularly by Benedict Cumberbatch, is top notch and you genuinely see more character development between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine). This film has everything you would want in a summer blockbuster with action, a clever story, compelling characters, and top notch special effects. If you haven't seen it yet, there are still a few theaters in the greater Nashville area showing it.
Man of Steel
Perhaps the most hyped film of the summer, Man of Steel reboots the Superman franchise after the abysmal Superman: Returns, which debuted in 2006. Director Zack Snyder gives fans a new take on Superman's origin, coupled with superior acting, is the best rendition in years of the Man of Steel.
Clearly borrowing plot lines and story direction from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight saga, Man of Steel lays an impressive groundwork for future Superman films to be made.
Rather than the typical, campy comic book style (i.e. Iron Man), Man of Steel gives a very real sense of just what it means to be the last of an entire species, and the struggles associated with such a burden.
There's a clever meaning behind Supes' "S" (which actually isn't an "S" at all) and a sense of isolationism. It's much-less of a comic book movie and really more of an alien, last of a dying world type movie, which works fine with the film's story. It has a few minor quirks that irk some Superman fanboys, but overall it's a fun bit to check out.
World War Z
After all the budgeting issues and having to re-shoot the last 40 minutes of the film, World War Z seemed like it would be a disaster from start to finish. In reality, it's a pretty fun summer action flick that delivers zombies in a new way.
The film stars Brad Pitt, a former United Nations worker, who has spent his share of time in the field in some of the world's most desolate war zones, administering first aid where he could. Right from the get-go, the film dives into a world-wide zombie plague, which sends Pitt's character, Gerry Lane and his family running from an overrun Philadelphia and seeking refuge for his family. From there, Lane goes on a globe-trotting expedition, seeking the origin of the outbreak, as well as a cure.
Normally, zombie movies feature lots of blood and gore, but in WWZ, there's more of a focus on action, and less on the stereotypical grotesque gore associated with zombie flicks. Still, not a film to see with the kids, WWZ is not a Dawn of the Dead type, but still loads of fun for a summer action flick.
Iron Man 3
Robert Downey Jr.'s fourth go around in the Iron Man armor is a ton of fun. The cash cow for Marvel Studios is a fitting third Iron Man flick, which deals with a darker side of Tony Stark, but still manages to incorporate solid action, a good comic book story line, and plenty of twists along the way.
It's not as good as 2012's The Avengers, but it's another outing in Downey Jr.'s character defining role. Though most everybody has seen the flick, which kicked off the summer lineup, it's still worth another go-around for a few laughs and top of the line action.
Fast and Furious 6
Some franchises just keep getting better and better. Far from the street racing origins of LA the original Fast and Furious debuted nearly a decade ago, Fast 6 gives fans exactly what they wanted- fast cars, over the top action, fast cars, a killer soundtrack, oh, and did I mention fast cars?
While picking up where the cliff-hanger extra scene of Fast Five left off, Fast 6 follows a bit of a weak plot line for a story, but these are characters fans of the franchise have come to enjoy over the past five outings. Tasked with stopping this heist which could result in the black market sale of a weapon that could end civilized life as we know it, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) tracks down Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel) and offers them immunity for their part in helping bring the bad guys to justice.
Again, it's all over the top action and completely unbelievable stunts, but that's what we want. And director Justin Lin delivers.
Much life it's predecessor, Fast 6 gives fans a cliffhanger extra scene that undoubtedly has us wanting more when Fast 7 rolls around in 2014.
So there's a look at a few of the summer's top hits so far this year. But we're just halfway through the lineup. Here are a few flicks that will be hitting the big screen throughout the rest of the summer:
The Lone Ranger
From the same team that delivered the ultra-blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, the big-budget adaptation of the Lone Ranger features Armie Hammer as the man behind the mask with Johnny Depp as his sidekick Tonto.
This is your typical origins story that probably won't have many twists and turns along the way, but rather everything you want from this type of movie.
The Lone Ranger's cast is without a doubt the selling point, particularly Depp's role. Knowing his versatility and his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in mind, he seems to be the perfect actor for the role.
The Lone Ranger hits theaters July 3rd.
Despicable Me 2
The sequel to one of my favorite animated films of all time, Despicable Me 2 once again finds Gru (Steve Carrell) voicing the master bad guy, who adopted three young girls in the previous film in an attempt to one-up his arch rival. Instead of using the girls to further his devious plot, the girls melt the cold heart of Gru and cast him into the father-type relationship with the three.
Despicable Me 2 once again calls on Gru to help stop another criminal mastermind, where he gets to showcase his expertise in the art of villainy.
The film hits theaters July 3rd.
At first glance, the Conjuring might appear to be the typical horror movie that has flooded the genre over the last several years. But on the surface, the Conjuring looks like it's a film that pays homage to the greats of the genre. In the teaser trailer, it has a mother playing hide and seek in what's obviously a haunted house with three girls. Without giving too much away from the trailer, it's evident the film isn't relying on anything revolutionary in the horror genre, but rather building up tension before getting you with a scare when you least expect it. The film calls on paranormal investigators to help a family confronted with an evil presence in their isolated farm.
The Conjuring definitely looks like it could be up to the task of delivering one of the finest horror films in years.
The movie hits theaters on July 19.