Throwback: 2013 Summer Movie Preview Guide

My time at UCSD, though short-lived, provided me the opportunity to write and edit for their campus paper, The Guardian. I wrote dozens of articles and reviews for their Arts and Entertainment section, so I figure this would be a good place to highlight some of my faves. We'll start with the Summer Movie Preview edition, which included "Man of Steel" and "The Lone Ranger," both critical failures but audience favorites (at least, my favorites). Enjoy!

The Lone Ranger

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Directed by Gore Verbinski
Starring Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp
Release Date July 3

Ah, America. There’s no better way to celebrate this year’s Independence Day than with a little trip back to the days of swashbuckling cowboys, native warriors and the Wild West. “The Lone Ranger,” which originated long before the time of John Wayne or “Walker, Texas Ranger” (sorry, Chuck Norris), is getting a reboot. From its 1933 radio debut to the long-running 1950s television show, the adventures of the titular vigilante and his quick-witted Native American comrade have been slingin’ knuckles for quite some time.

This time around, the year is 1869, and the Ranger, given the name John Reid, is a city-educated lawyer who comes to Texas to instill his moral, righteous ways of life upon the community. However, after his partner (and older brother) is killed by the unrelenting Cavendish gang, he keeps his badge, throws out legalities, adds a mask and teams up with his capricious bird-hat-wearing savior, Tonto, to strike fear into outlaws and lawless officials alike.

Aside from keeping intact the series’ themes of justice and heroism and its endless catchphrases (“Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!” still rings across playgrounds nationwide), this summer’s “The Lone Ranger” is a different brand of the classic Western. Helmed by director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), “Ranger” is a tour de force of Revisionist Western splendor. Armie Hammer’s (“The Social Network”) Ranger looks mighty fine and devilish as hell — and then there’s Johnny Depp. Depp both narrates and plays the wayward Tonto, reinventing the role from that of a mere sidekick to a jaunty warrior who will surely display some of the actor’s eccentric mannerisms. Throw in some not-so-surprising cohorts (Helena Bonham Carter, we’re lookin’ at you) and quite an impressive update to the original’s action sequences (if only Clayton Moore could see that train explode), and the film’s visually magnificent soiree is sure to blow you away.

So, kemosabe — come July 4, get your ass to the movie theater.

 

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Man of Steel

Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe
Release Date June 14

Sometimes, a superhero just needs a facelift (or extensive full-body plastic surgery, as is the case in the Superman universe). America’s original superhero has begot a half-century of reboots and remakes since his 1951 film inception (including one gender change — 1984’s “Supergirl,” anyone?), each one falling several steps below the last. Of course, if anybody can lead a resurrection to glory, it’s Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight”). With Nolan running the show as producer and Zack Snyder directing, 2013’s “Man of Steel” will have to fall quite a long way to fail.

Part of reinventing this DC Comics hero dealt with making him a little more relatable and a little less invincible — something difficult to accomplish, considering his only weakness is a glowing green space rock. Snyder and Nolan, however, trashed the Kryptonite, instead choosing to focus on the emotional vulnerabilities of Mr. Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill (“The Tudors,” “Immortals”). “Man of Steel” tests Kent in far more than just physical ways as he is forced to reckon with both his true identity in the face of a global menace — Kryptonian supremacist General Zod (Michael Shannon), to be exact — and his biological father’s resurgence (Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe).

In the midst of making a grittier, more modern Superman, the hero lost his classic red undies. Despite this, Superman’s origin story doesn’t stray too far from the original, as screenwriter David S. Goyer was sure to include Kent/Kal-El’s childhood flight from Krypton to Earth — albeit with a slight change in the stakes. “Man of Steel”’s Krypton features engineered children bred for specific purposes, making the natural-born Kal-El a crime purely by his existence. Jor-El sends his son to safety, and he lands in the hands of the country-grown Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), who teach him all he needs to know to be a humble, all-American boy. As an adult, Kent stays away from the beaten path, but fails to evade the attention of Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

From a confused loner with a little too much strength to a purebred superhero, Clark Kent’s journey has been 75 years in the making — and with “Man of Steel,” Marvel may have finally met its match.