Sunday, May 20, 2018
Things To Do

Summer Movie Preview: From 'Star Trek' to 'Monsters U', go wild

By Steve Persall | Times Movie Critic

Summertime in movie theaters and it's a jungle in there, air conditioned but hotly contested, as beasts of all species battle to be king.

It's a free-for-all, except for those moviegoers expected to shell out nearly $4 billion on ringside stadium seats between Iron Man 3 and Labor Day.

The beasts come in all imposing shapes, sizes and entertainment values: mutants, monsters, robots, aliens and immortals alike. Good guys and bad news from the past (see The Great Gatsby review, Page 5), present and futures we don't want to see happen.

They're animated eyeballs and fur balls, garden snails and leafy sprites, yellow Minions and blue Smurfs.

Some are even human, though if anyone confuses Vin Diesel with the lumbering cyborgs of Pacific Rim it's an honest mistake.

Our annual Summer Movie Preview is a rundown of the contenders for Hollywood's most coveted prize. No, not the best picture Oscar. That fight comes later, when kids are back in school and grownup movies take over theaters again.

The summer tournament is when the top-grossing movie of the year is decided, and studios will take a huge pile of cash over a gold statuette anytime.

These are the movies most likely to wind up in the top tier of this season's box office chart, the Beasts of the Summer Wild. Release dates are subject to change but not their movies' intentions, to separate you from your money while not minding the expense.

Let's get ready to rumble, starting with…

Star Trek Into Darkness

(May 15 in IMAX, May 16 everywhere)

The buildup: After a thrilling reboot of a stale franchise, Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) hunt down a galaxy-busting bad guy (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The beasts: Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch who don't like it when I poke fun at his name.

The Hangover Part III

May 24

The buildup: Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms decide Zach Galifianakis needs psychological help — d'ya think? — and on the way to the hospital the boring one (Justin Bartha) gets kidnapped.

The beasts: Well, they're not called the Wolfpack for nothing.

Fast & Furious 6

May 24

The buildup: Deep-rooted emotional feelings emerge after a Nobel laureate … who am I fooling? A lot of cars go really, really fast, and furiously so.

The beasts: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Vin "The Weasel" Diesel in size and box office clout, equally muscular cars in horsepower.

After Earth

May 31

The buildup: Estranged father (Will Smith) and son (Jaden Smith) get marooned in a future Earth long after it becomes inhabitable.

The beast: Not the murderously evolved zoo critters but director M. Night Shayamalan, who destroys moviegoer hopes like Godzilla stomping Tokyo.

Man of Steel

June 14

The buildup: Stop me if you've heard this one before: Baby escapes doomed Krypton, grows up super powerful on Earth and saves mankind all the time. At least Henry Cavill is a new Superman.

The beast: Today's finest movie psycho Michael Shannon as General Zod. Kneel before him.

World War Z

June 21

The buildup: International plague wakes the dead and, boy, are they hungry. Brad Pitt stars as a United Nations crisis solver called in to do something about it. Because the UN always solves problems.

The beasts: Zombies that multiply like fleas and swarm like fire ants. What else do you need?

Monsters University

June 21

The buildup: Returning to the college days of Mike Wasowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley Sullivan (John Goodman) before they were best friends. Imagine the frat hazing in a college of creatures.

The beasts: You can't swing a stick without hitting one. Even Helen Mirren does the monster mash this time.

White House Down

June 28

The buildup: Washington D.C. policeman (Channing Tatum) wants to be a Secret Service agent. His prayer is answered when terrorists take the president (Jamie Foxx) hostage.

The beast: Tatum, heavily armed (i.e. guns and biceps), and the fact that Olympus Has Fallen leaves this affair sounding pretty familiar.

The Heat

June 28

The buildup: Buddy cop comedy with Sandra Bullock playing by the book and Melissa McCarthy ripping it to shreds. Lethal Weapon meets Bridesmaids.

The beast: Without trying to sound like Rex Reed, it's McCarthy, who isn't ashamed to release her inner troll if the laughs are there.

The Lone Ranger

July 3

The buildup: Disney expects plenty of hi-yo silver plunked down to see Johnny Depp as Tonto and, um, some other guy (okay, it's Armie Hammer) as his masked kemosabe.

The beast: That dead crow perched on Depp's head.

Despicable Me 2

July 3

The buildup: Bad guy gone good Gru (voice of Steve Carell) helps the Anti-Villain League track down the arch criminal Eduardo (Bejamin Bratt, a late replacement for Al Pacino).

The beasts: On the adorable side, Gru's minions named Minions. On the startling side, Pacino, for having "creative differences" with a cartoon.

Pacific Rim

July 12

The buildup: Fantasy visionary Guillermo Del Toro pits aliens vs. Earthlings, as if that's never been done before.

The beasts: Take your pick: Toho Studio-style creatures from outer space, or Transformers-style robots piloted by human soldiers.

Grown Ups 2

July 12

The buildup: Developmentally arrested dad (Adam Sandler) moves back to his hometown to be near the buddies he reconnected with in Part 1.

The beasts: Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider and David Spade for repeaters; Shaquille O'Neal to add sizable humor to the slapstick mix.



July 17

The buildup: Ryan Reynolds voices a garden snail that miraculously becomes fast enough to qualify for racing in the Indianapolis 500.

The beast: Tough to consider a snail as a beast but then it's hard thinking of one winning the Indy 500, too.


The Wolverine

July 26

The buildup: Occasional X-Man and future Hair Club for Men spokesperson "Logan" (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan in a cultural exchange of butt kicking.

The beasts: Samurai bad guys and of course Jackman, now that he's back to sprouting razor claws, rather than singing operatic Broadway tunes.

The Smurfs 2

July 31

The buildup: Oh, just the usual: Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry) gets kidnapped and the blue weenies must rescue her.

The beasts: Evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his bizarro-Smurf gang of Naughties.

300: Rise of an Empire

Aug. 2

The buildup: The Persian army led by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) that wiped out Gerard Butler's crew in Part 1 continues its world domination tour. Ah, but there's another previously unheralded hunk (Sullivan Stapleton) on the horizon.

The beasts: Sweaty, grunting, manly men swinging swords and not wearing much.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Aug. 7

The buildup: Poseidon's semi-mortal son (Logan Lerman, The Perks of being a Wallflower) seeks the Golden Fleece under the watchful eye of Zeus (Sean Bean).

The beasts: Umm, I'm guessing sea monsters. And hopefully a Pierce Brosnan encore as the half-man, half-horse dude.

Kick-Ass 2

Aug. 16

The buildup: The further adventures of Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), and not a moment too soon.

The beasts: Jim Carrey as Col. Stars and Stripes, a superhero so demented that he ignores his name and wears camouflage; a super villain (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) with an unprintable 12-letter alter ego.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Aug. 23

The buildup: Ordinary teenaged girl (Lily Collins) discovers her extraordinary bloodlines enable her to see dead people, and they're trying to kill her.

The beasts: Demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and ghosts of the Twilight Saga.


These summer releases won't be beasts but maybe they'll be blasts.

Now You See Me (May 31): Las Vegas illusionists rob banks and give the loot to their audiences. Let's see David Copperfield top that.

The Internship (June 7): Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are Google crashers, taking low-pay jobs alongside computer geeks.

This is the End (June 12): It's a mad, mad, mad, mad end of the world with James Franco, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and more than a dozen funny friends spoofing themselves.

The Bling Ring (June 14): Inspired by the true story of L.A. teenagers who cased celebrity homes on the Internet then burglarized them.

Epic (May 24): Animated eco-adventure with the Brave angle of a young woman (voice of Amanda Seyfried) leading the way.

R.I.P.D. (July 19): Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges play dead lawmen resurrected to solve crimes committed by dead crooks. Like Men in Black with cemeteries rather than spaceships.

Red 2 (July 19): Anthony Hopkins joins Bruce Willis' crew of geriatric black-ops experts, in a sequel to 2010's action comedy hit.

2 Guns (Aug. 2): Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are undercover cops investigating each other for corruption until the mob gives them a common enemy.

We're the Millers (Aug. 9): Marijuana dealer (Jason Sudeikis) needs a fake family to stay in business, so he hires a stripper (Jennifer Aniston!) to pose as his wife.

Planes (Aug. 9): After this and Cars, Disney needs only to make Trains for the John Hughes trifecta of transportation animation.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

Note: This story has been changed to note the following correction: Epic debuts in theaters May 24, and After Earth opens May 31. The Summer Movie Guide in Thursday's Weekend listed incorrect dates for each.


Florida Orchestra closes 50th masterworks season with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony

Florida Orchestra closes 50th masterworks season with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony

TAMPA — The Florida Orchestra wraps up its final masterworks concert of the season with a masterfully complex Johannes Brahms piano concerto and Ludwig van Beethoven’s warmly accessible Symphony No. 6, commonly known as the "Pastoral."Friday’s sold-o...
Published: 05/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Kendrick Lamar: The Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop powerhouse leads The Championship Tour on Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, with fellow hit makers including SZA and Schoolboy Q. $35-$125. Ba...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Sunday

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Sunday

Our editors' picks for events on May 20.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 20

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 20

Florida Orchestra Masterworks: In the season finale, the orchestra performs Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, under the direction of Michael Francis and accompanied by pianist Javier Perianes. 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Cle...
Updated: 9 hours ago
St. Pete artist holding funeral for 600 block's vanished art galleries on Sunday

St. Pete artist holding funeral for 600 block's vanished art galleries on Sunday

If you're out in downtown on Sunday, this is what's going on.
Published: 05/18/18
St. Pete artist holding funeral for 600 block’s vanished art galleries on Sunday

St. Pete artist holding funeral for 600 block’s vanished art galleries on Sunday

Local artist Boo Ehrsam remembers seeing the photo in the news years ago. "It was this dark, empty street, and an egret flying away," she said. "The caption read, ‘Will the last one to leave St. Pete please turn out the lights.’ " That ...
Published: 05/18/18
The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

om Wolfe’s best writing lifted real people into legend: car designers and astronauts and disciples of LSD. With that writing, Wolfe lifted himself into legend as well.The author of 16 books, including such bestsellers as The Right Stuff and The Bonfi...
Published: 05/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Saturday

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Saturday

Our editors' picks for events on May 19.
Published: 05/18/18
Have your favorite shows been canceled? Here’s a breakdown by network

Have your favorite shows been canceled? Here’s a breakdown by network

Last week brought the up-front presentations, when broadcast networks show off their new fall series to advertisers and, less ceremoniously, dump dozens of others.This year the bloodletting included beloved sitcoms and high-concept dramas, and the ne...
Published: 05/18/18
Walt’s Fish Market, a Sarasota institution, to celebrate its 100th anniversary

Walt’s Fish Market, a Sarasota institution, to celebrate its 100th anniversary

A Sarasota seafood fixture is celebrating its 100th anniversary.Walt’s Fish Market, Restaurant and Tiki Bar, 4144 S Tamiami Trail, will host a party at noon on Sunday complete with a mechanical shark, live music, live auctions, silent auctions, an al...
Published: 05/18/18