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Release Date: May 24, 2013
Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Justin Bartha.
Plot: The Hangover Part III is the third and final film in director Todd Phillips’ record-shattering comedy franchise. This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.

Thoughts: I don’t think anyone saw the trailer for the first Hangover and thought to themselves “I see this becoming one of the funniest and most successful comedy trilogies of all time.” But here we are, four years after the first movie with two sequels and countless box office dollars later.

Now, the second movie in the series was a huge let down creatively. Story-wise it was identical to the original (save for a new setting), and all of the jokes felt tired and used. The trailer for Part III gives me a lot of hope that they recognized the mistakes of the second one and improved on them. Right from the description, “..no wedding. No bachelor party,”

Yeah, I’ll be there.

MAN OF STEEL

Release Date: June 14, 2013
Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen)
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni, and Richard Schiff.
Plot: A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do.

But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

Thoughts: I can not wait for Man of Steel to come out. Seriously. I know next to nothing about the movie. I’ve seen the trailer and we all know the very basics; origin story, Zod, and the suit looks a bit different. But I absolutely love the fact that I really don’t know much about the plot.

This is the polar opposite of the advertising of Iron Man 3, a movie that I have not seen but I feel like I know every beat of the movie. The cast is top notch, I love Snyder’s visual style, and more so than the actors that have come before him, Henry Cavill looks the part of Superman without even being in the suit.

Is it June 14th yet?

Release Date: January 4, 2013
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: John Luessenhop (Takers)
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine Neverson, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde, Shaun Sipos, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, James MacDonald, Thom Barry, Paul Rae and Richard Riehle.
Plot: TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D continues the legendary story of the homicidal Sawyer family, picking up where Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic left off in Newt, Texas, where for decades people went missing without a trace. The townspeople long suspected the Sawyer family, owners of a local barbeque pit, were somehow responsible. Their suspicions were finally confirmed one hot summer day when a young woman escaped the Sawyer house following the brutal murders of her four friends. Word around the small town quickly spread, and a vigilante mob of enraged locals surrounded the Sawyer stronghold, burning it to the ground and killing every last member of the family – or so they thought.

Decades later and hundreds of miles away from the original massacre, a young woman named Heather learns that she has inherited a Texas estate from a grandmother she never knew she had. After embarking on a road trip with friends to uncover her roots, she finds she is the sole owner of a lavish, isolated Victorian mansion. But her newfound wealth comes at a price as she stumbles upon a horror that awaits her in the mansion’s dank cellars…

Thoughts: When Lionsgate first announced the plot of the movie [SEE: Texas Chainsaw 3D Poster and Plot Details] I thought it was weird; “Even with the “3? in the title, this movie is not a sequel to the two modern rebooted movies in the series from the Platinum Dunes (the 2003 Jessica Biel starring The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2006 prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning). No, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a direct sequel to the 1974 original, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Ironically, this would mark the third direct sequel to the original film after 1986?s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 from the original director Tobe Hooper and 2004?s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.” And I still think it is weird. Why not just craft a stand alone story with Leatherface? That what the actual story feels like. It doesn’t feel like a direct sequel that picks up moments after the original. I’d prefer it if it was just “after” the other movies and stood on its own feet.

There is a lot of good horror left in a character like Leatherface. Texas Chainsaw 3D really does just seem like more of the same. Why not change it up a bit? Have Leatherface go on a massacre in Dallas or Houston. Hell, at this point I’d rather see “Leatherface in Space” than another movie with a bunch of young people in an old mansion in the middle of nowhere getting put on hooks and cut up with a chainsaw.- even if it is now in 3D. Ugh.

Release Date: November 30th, 2012
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Director: John Hyams
Cast:  Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski
Plot: John (Scott Adkins, The Expendables 2) wakes up from a coma to discover his wife and daughter were slaughtered in a brutal home invasion. Haunted by images of the attack, he vows to kill the man responsible, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme).

While John tries to piece his reality back together, things get more complicated when he is pursued by a relentless UniSol (Arlovski). As John gets closer to Deveraux and the rouge army of genetically enhanced warriors led by back-from-the-dead leader Andrew Scott (Lundgren), John discovers more about himself and begins to call into question everything he believed to be true.

Thoughts: I am a huge fan of the original Universal Soldier. It is not only one of the best tough guy action movies, but also has an awesome sci-fi element thrown it. Van Damme vs Lundgren racks right up there with Stallone vs Lundgren in Rocky 4. I was such a big fan of the original that I watched the two Soldier TV movies and even saw The Return in theaters (big mistake there).

John Hyams was able to breath new life in the series with Universal Soldier: Regeneration, reuniting both Van Damme and Lundgren. Now he brings the series forward again (and back into theaters) with Day of Reckoning, which shifts the focus from the two leads but continues to change the franchise into a movie series with legs and a ton of possibilities for the future. I just hope the trailer for Reckoning is misleading, because I’d hate to see Luc Deveraux make a full turn to the “dark side”.

In addition to watching the movie in theaters, you can order Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning right now on demand!

Release Date: October 5th, 2012
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, and Rade Serbedzija
Plot: Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who stopped at nothing to save his abducted daughter in TAKEN. When he is targeted by a vengeance-seeking crimelord, Bryan must employ his “particular set of skills” to protect his family against an army out to kill them.

Thoughts: When the first Taken came out, I’ll be honest, the trailers hooked me. Liam Neeson uttering “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want…. I have a very particular set of skills…. I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.”  It was that monologue that made the first film an action classic and brought Liam Neeson into a whole new realm of fame. Before Taken, he was best known for Schnidler’s List, but after it he has had a career people kill for.

Only there is something off with the latest trailers for Taken 2, though they are a flashy and beautiful, that same raw feeling, unexpected violence is gone. I suspect this film is going to go the way of The Hangover Part II, wherein the same story is told again but with a slight twist. From what I’ve gathered this film will see a family member of one of the guys killed in film one coming after Bryan Mills (Neeson) and his family for revenge and clearly people are going to be kidnapped and of course people will be killed in Mills’ pursuit to “get his family back.”

Honestly, I’m of the opinion that they should have let this one go and kept Taken as an action gem with no sequel. Unlike the Hangover, where they could have taken it into a new direction but didn’t, it’s hard to see where Taken 2 would go beyond this premise. Revenge. Simple. Sounds appealing but I get the feeling this is going to be the same old, been there before/seen him do that thing. There were early rumors that Maggie Grace, the actress who played the daughter in the first film, would take the hero role but judging from those trailers, that’s likely not going to be the case and that is disappointing. I would have loved to have seen her save her daddy this time and maybe, as a twist, have them team up halfway through the movie to save the mom and other possibly family members (brother? sister? cousin?) as a father and daughter duo. Again, though, that is likely not going to be the case here and again — that’s disappointing.

Will I be seeing this film in theaters? Maybe, if my friends drag me to it. I’ll likely see this on TV or maybe I’ll Netflix or Redbox it down the line. At this point, Taken 2 just does not have the same “must see” factor that the first film had and I’m worried that it is just not as fresh as it could be. My verdict? Wait until the reviews trickle out…

Release Date: September 28th, 2012
Studio: Sony Pictures
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spad, CeeLo Green, Jon Lovitz, Chris Parnell, and Andy Samberg
Plot: Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world’s most famous monsters – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more – to celebrate his daughter Mavis’ 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem – but his world could come crashing down when a human stumbles on the hotel for the first time and takes a shine to Mavis.

Thoughts: I absolutely love love love the classic monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolfman, etc, the list goes on. Growing up one of my favorite movies was The Monster Squad, which brought so many of these characters together in one movie. Sure, at the time I thought it was a horror movie and it took many years to realize that it was more of a family comedy than an actual horror movie. Nevertheless, even as an adult, the movie still works on all levels for me. I have high hopes for Hotel Transylvania and I hope that the animated flick can capture even just a little bit of the magic of The Monster Squad. The voice cast is a who’s who of modern comedy with Adam Sandler as Dracula and Kevin James as Frankenstien and enough ex-SNLers to fill a truck. The director, Genndy Tartakovsky, has a ton of TV animation work on shows such as Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpull Girls, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars: Clone Wars. I am familar with the shows, but have not watched enough of any of them to get an actual opinion on the guy. He works, and works a lot, so I’m sure that is a good sign.

This very well could be a hit or miss. It has talent behind it, but will it have enough heart? We’ll see on October 5th. Are you going to be checking into Hotel Transylvania?

Release Date: September 28, 2012
Studio: Sony Pictures
Director:  Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, Garret Dillahunt, and Piper Perabo.
Plot: In a futuristic gangland in the year 2042, a 25-year-old assassin named Joseph Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) works for a mafia company in Kansas City as a “Looper”. Loopers kill and dispose of agents sent by their employers from corporate headquarters in Shanghai from the year 2072. Loopers are foot soldiers, paid on the condition that all targets must never escape.

When Simmons recognizes his target as a future version of himself (Willis), his older self escapes after incapacitating him. The failure of his job causes his employers to come after him, forcing him to fight for his life as he hunts his older self.

Thoughts: I don’t understand why Looper didn’t come out in the May through August release calendar. The trailers are thrilling. The casting could not be better, headlined by the always impressive Joseph Gordon-Levitt and action legend Bruce Willis, with top notch supporting talents including Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels. The time travel paradox/assassin/mafia concept is right up the alley for both genre fans and action flick fans. And Rian Johnson. You might not know the name, but you should. He directed the pitch perfect Brick, which also starred JGL, and the very creative and entertaining The Brothers Bloom, with Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo. This is a director with a clear vision who surrounds himself with some of the best working talents around. I can’t wait to head to the theater to check out Looper, then maybe I’ll go back in time and see it again for the first time.

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