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Commentary: ‘Pacific Rim,’ ‘Now You See Me,’ ‘This Is The End’ highlight summer

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'This Is The End' hit theaters June 12. Credit: Courtesy of Suzanne Hanover / Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

‘This Is The End’ hit theaters June 12. Credit: Courtesy of Suzanne Hanover / Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Another year and another summer of movies has gone by. It was a summer of remarkable highs, like the uproarious moments from “This Is The End” and the genuinely frightening “The Conjuring,” as well as some painful lows like the tragically flawed “Man of Steel” and terribly disappointing “The Lone Ranger.” With that being said, let’s go over some 2013 summer films that are definitely worth the trip to the dollar theater.

“Pacific Rim” — Released July 12

Director Guillermo del Toro has been impressing audiences with his keen eye for special effects and his masterful make-up work with films like “Hellboy” (2004) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) for years. “Pacific Rim” follows in its predecessors’ footsteps as a visually stunning experience. “Pacific Rim” is a modern day, Godzilla-style monster flick done right – an incredible work of effects magic that will delight old school monster fanatics as well as young Sci-Fi fans.

The story goes that, in the near future, giant monsters known asKaiju begin coming through an undersea portal into our world and attacking major cities. In order to combat these creatures, the nations of the world create their own giant mechanical fighters calledJaegers. However, the Kaiju began growing too powerful to be defeated by the Jaegers, so it falls upon a veteran Jaeger pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untrained amateur pilot (Rinko Kikuchi) to mount one last strike on the portal.

The plot is silly and, at times, nonsensical, but it really only exists to set up the monster ­­­battles which are both fun and frequent. “Pacific Rim” is del Toro at his best. The monsters are beautifully designed behemoths, and the Jaegers look like the gigantic engineering masterpieces they are supposed to be. The fight scenes are where del Toro really shows off his skills. The battles between the creatures actually feel earth-shattering and the cinematography does an excellent job conveying the sheer size of the beasts and robots. The movie certainly has its shortcomings ­— the dialogue is terrible and the acting is no better than mediocre (Although Charlie Day’s performance as a mad scientist is amusing). However, “Pacific Rim” is still worth watching for action lovers and is a must-see for fans of old school monster movies.

“Now You See Me” — Released May 31

“Now You See Me” is a stylish, fast-paced heist movie from director Louis Leterrier, better known for 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” and the “Clash of the Titans” remake (2010). “Now You See Me” could have been an early summer flop, but it actually features a smart plot along with engaging action and a clever twist. The movie should also be commended for drawing out strong acting performances from some Hollywood stalwarts like Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson.

The plot is a unique take on the heist movie formula. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Harrelson play upcoming magicians who pull off a series of heists disguised as magic shows in order to join a secret organization of illusionists. Ruffalo is a no-nonsense police officer who’s out to put an end to the group’s run of thievery, Mélanie Laurent plays his assigned partner from Interpol and Morgan Freeman is a shady con man who exposes magicians’ tricks for profit. “Now You See Me” takes the audience through several different heists/shows all leading up to the young illusionist’s final test.

The movie is surprisingly well put together — cleverly combining magic tricks with bank robbery techniques to create interesting heists. The film even manages to sneak in an impressive chase and fight scene between Ruffalo and Franco that shows off Leterrier’s talent for directing action sequences. Harrelson shines as a con man-hypnotist and Ruffalo is relatable as the frustrated policeman unable to keep up with the thieving illusionists. These two are complimented by above average performances from the rest of the cast, although the romantic tension angle between Fisher and Eisenberg is awkward at best. Overall, “Now You See Me” is an overlooked gem and well worth your time.

“This Is the End” — Released June 12

Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen team up to direct this rowdy comedy based off a short sketch entitled “Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse.” The hook of the movie is that all of the actors in it are playing themselves, dealing with an “end of the world scenario.” The setup is clever, allowing the actors to play over-blown caricatures of themselves — channeling all of the vanity and stupidity that the general public thinks is common amongst Hollywood personalities. The result makes for great comedy.

The storyline goes that the Apocalypse occurs while James Franco is hosting a party at his Beverly Hills house leaving only Franco, Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride alive. The film chronicles their struggles for survival in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles as well as the growing tension betweenRogen and Baruchel due to Rogen’s newfound Hollywood friends.

“This Is the End” does the only thing a comedy movie has to do — it makes people laugh. The jokes are numerous and hysterical, and the performers all have fantastic chemistry from working with each other on previous projects. A couple notable funny sequences include the gang creating a fake “Pineapple Express 2,” a sequence where Jonah Hill is possessed by a demon and some hysterical cameos from Emma Watson and Channing Tatum. “This is the End” is a great film to watch with some friends and enjoy the work of some of comedy’s best stars.

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