Although plum geek-bait like “Man of Steel,” “World War Z,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Pacific Rim,” “R.I.P.D.” and “The Wolverine” have each, for better or worse, bowed at the box office, there are still plenty of geek thrills to come at your local multiplex this year. Therefore, it's time for another installment of “Geekfest 2013.”
Remember, to qualify for inclusion, a film needs to possess a frame of reference particularly beloved by geeks, like comic books, science fiction, action-figure toys or action-adventure animation. Here's a rundown of the upcoming films that I believe are worthy of inclusion in this year's Geekfest, in order of release from August 2 through September 30:
“2 Guns.” Based on the Boom! Studios graphic novels. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play two federal undercover agents from competing bureaus that are investigating an illegal narcotics syndicate. The twist? Neither one knows the other is a government operative. After a planned infiltration of a Mexican drug cartel goes sideways, the two agents are written off by their superiors and forced to go on the run. Mayhem and wisecracks ensue. Could be fun. Washington usually is good in these types of roles.
“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.” For “young adult” geeks, this year's sequel to 2010's “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” reunites the principle cast of the first film. “Lightning Thief” director Chris Columbus has been replaced by “Hotel for Dogs” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” director Thor Freudenthal. Percy (Logan Lerman), the son of Greek god Poseidon, and friends must find the mythical Golden Fleece (not available at Old Navy!) in an effort to save a magical tree. Not sure if Stanley Tucci turns out to be a centaur like Pierce Brosnan did in the first film, but he's rockin' quite the head of hair in the previews.
“Elysium.” Director Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) presents this tale of life in 2154, when the privileged live aboard a vast utopian space station called Elysium, while the have-nots scrape by on an overpopulated, crime- and disease-ridden Earth. Matt Damon stars as Max, a factory worker who has been exposed to deadly levels of radiation. Believing that a cure for his ills can be found on Elysium, Max plans to invade. Jodie Foster, as the Elysium secretary of defense, is pledged to uphold the station's super-strict immigration laws and will stop at nothing to deny Max access. Expect more futuristic decay and degradation of the kind on display in “District 9.” Battle scenes featuring a cybernetically enhanced Max taking on robotic guards look pretty cool, too.
“Kick-Ass 2.” Sequel to 2010's “Kick-Ass,” the ridiculously violent, over-the-top story of a comic-book-loving teenager (Aaron Taylor Johnson) who decides to try being a superhero in the real world. In the original, Kick-Ass discovered that a former cop (Nicholas Cage) and his pre-teen daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz) had beaten him to the punch and were prepared to behave as harshly, if not more so, than the villains they were committed to stopping. Following the death of Cage's character in the original, his daughter Mindy (aka Hit Girl) must adjust to a more “normal” existence with her foster parents in this outing. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass unites with other superheroes he has inspired to form “Justice Forever,” a team of would-be crime-stoppers. But the supervillain “Red Mist,” son of a notorious mobster that Kick-Ass and Hit Girl defeated in the original film, has returned in a new guise with murderous revenge in his heart. Officially, no-fun-at-all former star Jim Carrey (who plays Colonel Stars and Stripes) has since denounced the violence of the new movie and his role in it, but if it's half as funny as the first film, it will still be a great time.
“The World's End.” The third installment of Edgar Wright's comedy trilogy, following the equally uproarious “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return, this time as parts of a group of five friends who are determined to re-enact an epic pub crawl from their youth, in an effort to finally reach the legendary pub The World's End. The group comes to realize that they are engaged in a struggle for humankind's future, as events during the course of the crawl reveal that the Earth is being invaded and that humans are being replaced by otherworldly robots. Wright describes the film as “social science fiction.” It sounds like a recipe for more over-the-top amusement to me.
“Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones.” A teenage girl (Lily Collins, “Mirror, Mirror”) discovers that she is actually part of a line of half-angel, half-human “Shadowhunters” whose mission it is to defend the world from demons. From the series of bestselling novels.
“The Colony.” Underground survivors of a new ice age, Laurence Fishburne (“Man of Steel”) and Bill Paxton (“Hatfields and McCoys,”) face a terrifying new threat to their continued existence.
“Riddick.” Vin Diesel revisits his other furious, but not quite as fast, franchise. The night-vision empowered Furyan antihero of “Pitch Black” and “The Chronicles of Riddick,” as well as (vocally) the animated, “Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury,” returns to live action. Having been left for dead on a desolate planet filled with dangerous alien predators, Riddick must fight to defeat not only them but also numerous bounty hunters who are after him as well — all while orchestrating a plan for vengeance against his enemies and a return to his home planet to prevent its destruction. Sounds like the nearly indestructible one-man army is going to have a busy movie. Another opportunity for Diesel to bring his patented brand of complete sincerity to what would otherwise be a ridiculously overwrought sci-fi melodrama, and entertain the heck out of us in the process.
What do you get when you combine and intercut the Metallica concert experience with the apparently post-apocalyptic story of a roadie (“Chronicle's” Dane DeHaan) who is sent on an errand only to find himself engulfed in riots, explosions and violent confrontations with a gas-masked Death Dealer on horseback though the streets of New York? Er, well, apparently this film, “Metallica Through the Never.” Not sure if this would qualify as a musical, but from previews, it appears to be sporting one of the more original concepts I've seen in a while. Seems to me that whether you like Metallica, end-of-civilization-based action or the Death Dealer, there's something in this for you.
That's it for now. But don't worry. There's lots more geek-friendly fare coming in the final three months of the year, and I plan to preview it down the road.