Which Movies to See This Summer: The Reader’s Digest Version

The season of computer-generated apocalypses is upon us, and we used "science" to rank this summer's popcorn-chompin'est, alien-fightin'est, DiCaprio-exploitin'est blockbuster movies, so you don't have to.

6. World War Z (June 21)

The Reader’s Digest Version: UN employee/perfect human Brad Pitt just wants to save his family, but he’ll have to save the whole dumb world from a zombie pandemic first. Splatters ensue.

The cast: WWZ is a no-shame Brad Pitt vehicle, in which Brad Pitt plays a vehicle for his own hair and deltoids. Leading lady Mireille Enos was nominated for a Tony and has done a lot of quality TV work (Big Love, The Killing), but probably won’t be asked to do much here besides long for Brad Pitt, a role for which my mother could win a Oscar.

The crew: Director Marc Forster works better with emotion (Monster’s Ball, Finding Never Land) than action (Quantum of Solace, Machine Gun Preacher,) so this zombie apocalypse could prove messy. But cinematographer Robert Richardson pulled DP duty for Oliver Stone all throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and for Tarantino all throughout the ‘aughts, so at least we know it’ll be a pretty apocalypse.

Freshness: There’s only so many zombies one zeitgeist can tolerate—and these are fast zombies; smart zombies; why-did-they-even-bother-calling-them-zombies zombies. Admit it, escapists: you just want to see a bunch of humans getting gunned down, but don’t want to feel guilty about it, huh? Depressing trend. At least WWZ was based on a book, so its mere existence proves people are still reading (encouraging trend!).

5. Oblivion (April 19)

The Reader’s Digest Version: It’s 2073 and the world is pretty much down to Tom Cruise and a bunch of robots. Like a less endearing WALL•E, Tom chills on an empty planet repairing murder drones; like a less sociable Morpheus, Morgan Freeman lives in a cave with a bunch of Armageddon truthers. Revelations ensue.

The Cast: Tom Cruise playing a hard-runnin’, hard-gunnin’ savior? Yawn. Morgan Freeman playing anything? Always! Worst case scenario, if Cruise proves a snoozer, just close your eyes and pretend that dream grandpa Morgan is reading you a bedtime story about conspiracy theories.

The Crew: So far director Joseph Kosinski has only made TRON: Legacy, which was far more sonically and visually breathtaking than such a bad, bad movie deserved to be. Oblivion looks similar. A muddled congress of four screenwriters bring the words; French dance shamans M83 bring the beats; Oscar-winning cinematographer and Middle Earth hair tribute Claudio Miranda brings the swooping.

Freshness: Evil murder drones are definitely in right now. Meanwhile, the screenplay is based on an unpublished graphic novel, which means—at the very least—we have not seen this exact thing made by someone else yet. Points deducted for the shamelessly Matrix-y trailer, but especially Morgan Freeman’s ridiculous full-moon spectacles.

4. Star Trek: Into Darkness (May 15)

The Reader’s Digest Version: A young James Tiberius Kirk must save the galaxy from war and terrorism by being ballsy. Interstellar explosions, risk management ensues.

The cast: The solid cast from 2009’s Trek reboot returns older, wiser, and wearing angrier eyebrows: Chris Pine as Cap’n Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Doc Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, and Simon Pegg as Scotty form the cast’s core eye/ear candy. In a sweet upgrade, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock from Sherlock) plays the big baddie who may or may not turn out to be Khan. Either way, it’s a perfect angle for his spooky otter-skeleton face.

The crew: JJ Abrams and the new Trek writing team have collectively given us Lost, Transformers, Prometheus, and Cowboys & Aliens—an impressive list of spectacular productions with plots that don’t make any real sense. Bank on some of the most thrilling, pointless trans-galactic catastrophes in film history. Consider any plot that slips through the smoky debris and pulsing space gas a bonus.

Freshness: It’s been four years since the first chapter of this Trek reboot, which is half a lifetime for the 8-year-old minds it was primarily marketed to. The world is eager for this sequel…if just so we can all get it out of the way and start talking about Star Wars again.

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