Crash course: Summer blockbusters, from Star Trek Into Darkness to The Hangover Part III
The Avengers and Batman helped make 2012 the biggest box-office year on record. Can this summer’s popcorn movies repeat the trick?
Star Trek Into Darkness
JJ Abrams' sequel started the season – along with Iron Man 3 – with Benedict Cumberbatch in villainous form
The Hangover Part III
Comedy with a following this big means block- buster, with Bradley Cooper and co getting insensibly drunk (again)
Man of Steel
Superman returns, once more. Christopher Nolan produces, Zack Snyder directs, while little-known Brit Henry Cavill dons the red cape
World War Z
Produced by and starring Brad Pitt, and shot partly in the UK. Pitt is the UN agent saving us all from zombie apocalypse
Humanity battles ocean-dwelling beasts. Director Guillermo del Toro promises a "beautiful poem to giant monsters"
Pixar release their first prequel – about the undergraduate days of Monsters Inc heroes Mike and Sulley
300: Rise of an Empire
Much the same formula as the blood-and-guts, comic-book take on ancient warfare of 2007's 300. Eva Green stars
The Lone Ranger
Johnny Depp dons odd headgear and make-up – not another Jack Sparrow outing but as Tonto, in Disney's big-budget Western
Pain & Gain
Directed by Michael Bay, the reigning king of the summer blockbuster (see Profile), this is the true story of murderous Miami bodybuilders
How to: Be a baddie
By Simon Usborne
The greatest blockbuster baddies must be smarter, stronger and crazier than their hero nemeses (even if they have a massive fin) right until their inevitable demise.
Clever camerawork, 40 technicians and, crucially, the right music can turn even a lump of rubber and steel into the scariest thing in the world – and, in the case of Jaws, launch the era of the summer blockbuster.
Fancy being an intergalactic tyrant like Star Wars’ Darth Vader? Acquire dark latex clothing and a cape, add voice distortion and a personality disorder. A destructive father-son relationship helps too.
Are you a homicidal sadist with a brilliant mind, seeking Batman to taunt on the way to global destruction? Throw in a touch of camp and wild face paint and you can emulate the late Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson as the greatest villain of all, the Joker.
Profile: Action man Michael Bay
By Tim Walker
Michael Bay recently appeared to offer a mea culpa for his 1998 movie, Armageddon, in which an asteroid threatening to wipe out life on Earth was foiled by Bruce Willis. "I will apologise for Armageddon," the 48-year-old director told the Miami Herald. Before the bloggers could finish snarking, however, Bay recanted, claiming the interviewer "twisted [his] words".
There are several adjectives to describe Bay's oeuvre, but one of the few we can print here is: unapologetic.
Bay's name is a byword for Hollywood's crass, explosion-crammed summer output, which earns box-office dollars and critical derision in inverse proportion. As for his working practices, Megan Fox, sometime star of his Trans-formers trilogy, once likened the director to Hitler – she was fired.
His latest is Pain & Gain, starring Mark Wahlberg and The Rock as bodybuilders who kidnap and torture a wealthy local businessman. The film was made for $26m, which, by Bay's standards, makes it practically a home video.
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