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2013 movies take a turn toward dystopia

Zachary Quinto is Spock in

Zachary Quinto is Spock in "Star Trek into Darkness," from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. Credit: Paramount Pictures

The year's upcoming movie schedule is already in place, and you know what that means: sequels!

Well, there's no use griping, because this is the new normal. We'll see more than 25 sequels or prequels in 2013, "a fairly standard number," according to So rather than focus on the new episodes of "Iron Man," "Star Trek" and "The Hangover" -- all surely guaranteed to mint money -- let's talk about some of the interesting movie trends bubbling up in 2013.

One is a renewed interest in science fiction. The A-list actors Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Will Smith all have big-budget sci-fi productions coming out, and Brad Pitt is contributing to the zombie epidemic with "World War Z." And these are just the name-brand movies. A theory: Now that "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" have run their course, the supernatural and fantasy genres will give way to futuristic and dystopian movies like "The Hunger Games" and the new Stephenie Meyer adaptation, "The Host."

The hard action film also seems to be back, surely due to the success of "The Expendables." Its Reagan-era stars -- Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- are in two or even three films each this year, including the twofer "The Tomb," with both Sly and Ahnuld. Channing Tatum has two actioners -- "White House Down" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" -- while Chris Pine will try to youthify a familiar old hero in "Jack Ryan."

One trend still with us is the modern frat-boy comedy, arriving this year in several guises. We'll see youngish slackers (Seth Rogen's "This Is the End"), British punters ("The World's End," with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and even graying oldsters ("Last Vegas," a December release starring Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman). Is this genre subconsciously dying? Notice the air of finality in the titles.

Over the year, you'll also notice several horror remakes ("Evil Dead" arrives April 12), animated films (Disney's Nordic adventure "Frozen" is due Nov. 27) and updates of old favorites ("Mr. Peabody & Sherman," which reboots the 1960s television characters, comes out Nov.1).

Here's a very selective list of 30 major movies to look for this year.

Warm Bodies (Feb. 1). A young zombie (Nicholas Hoult) tries to convince a terrified human (Teresa Palmer) of his love. Directed by Jonathan Levine ("50/50").

A Good Day to Die Hard (Feb. 14). Bruce Willis is back as hard-charging John McClane, this time wreaking havoc in Moscow. Directed by John Moore ("Behind Enemy Lines").

Beautiful Creatures (Feb.14). A supernatural love story based on a novel about a teenage boy (Alden Ehrenreich) who takes a shine to the mysterious new girl in town (Alice Englert).

Jack the Giant Slayer (March 1). The action version of the fairy tale, with Nicholas Hoult as a young farmhand battling a race of behemoths. Directed by Bryan Singer. In IMAX and 3-D.

Oz the Great and Powerful (March 8). Whirled away to a strange land, Kansas magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) finds himself heralded as a wonderful wizard. With Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Directed by Sam Raimi.

The Host (March 29). Stephenie Meyer's non-"Twilight" novel is now a movie, in which extraterrestrials invade Earthling minds. With Saoirse Ronan and Max Irons. Directed by Andrew Niccol ("In Time").

The Heat (April 5). Director Paul Feig puts his "Bridesmaids" star Melissa McCarthy alongside Sandra Bullock in this buddy comedy about two mismatched law enforcers.

42 (April 12). Chadwick Boseman, in one of his first screen roles, plays the legendary black baseball hero Jackie Robinson. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland ("A Knight's Tale").

Oblivion (April 12). A sci-fi adventure starring Tom Cruise as a drone repairman who discovers a downed spacecraft. With Olga Kurylenko ("Quantum of Solace"). In IMAX.

Pain & Gain (April 26). Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson play steroid-fueled boneheads who plan a kidnapping. Directed by Michael Bay ("Transformers").

Iron Man 3 (May 3). Robert Downey Jr., returns as the metal-clad superhero, this time fighting The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Directed and co-written by Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon").

The Great Gatsby (May 10). Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the Long Island-based Fitzgerald novel starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. With Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17). In J.J. Abrams' sequel to his 2009 reboot, Earth is in chaos, and the youthful crew of the USS Enterprise must save it. With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana.

The Hangover Part III (May 24). The Wolfpack is back, attending neither a wedding nor a bachelor party. Directed by Todd Phillips.

After Earth (June 7). Father-and-son Will and Jaden Smith ("The Pursuit of Happyness") star in this sci-fi adventure set on an abandoned Earth. Directed and co-written by M. Night Shyamalan.

The Internship (June 7). Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, last paired in "The Wedding Crashers," play unemployed salesmen who finagle internships at Google alongside whiz kids half their age. Directed by Shawn Levy ("Date Night").

Man of Steel (June 14). A "Superman" reboot starring British actor Henry Cavill in the title role. With Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe and, as General Zod, Michael Shannon. Directed by Zack Snyder ("Watchmen").

Monsters University (June 21). The prequel to 2001's "Monsters, Inc.," with John Goodman and Billy Crystal returning as the voices of not-yet-buddies Sullivan and Wazowski.

World War Z (June 21). Brad Pitt plays a UN employee trying to stop a zombie pandemic. Directed by Marc Forster ("Quantum of Solace").

The Lone Ranger (July 3). Armie Hammer takes the title role, and Johnny Depp is Tonto in this Western directed by Gore Verbinski (the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films).

The Wolverine (July 26). The hunky superhero (Hugh Jackman) takes his blades and beard to modern-day Japan. Directed by James Mangold ("Knight and Day").

Captain Phillips (Oct. 11). Paul Greengrass ("The Bourne Supremacy") directs Tom Hanks in an action film based on the true story of an American cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.

Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8). Chris Hemsworth returns as the Norse superhero, this time hammering a villain who predates the universe itself. With Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov. 22). Part two of the dystopian-survival franchise, in which a rebellion begins to stir. With Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues (Dec. 20). The long-awaited return of Will Ferrell as swaggering newscaster Ron Burgundy. With Paul Rudd and Steve Carell. Directed by Adam McKay.

Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 20). A Disney film starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney himself. It's about the making of 1964's "Mary Poppins," and the title refers to that movie's stuffy British patriarch.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dec. 13). Chapter two of Peter Jackson's new Tolkien trilogy, with Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. In high frame-rate 3-D.

47 Ronin (Dec. 25). Keanu Reeves stars in a 3-D fantasy-adventure version of an enduring Japanese tale of battle, vengeance and honor.

Jack Ryan (Dec. 25). Chris Pine ("Star Trek") is the latest to play Tom Clancy's popular paperback hero, following Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. Directed by Kenneth Branagh.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dec. 25). Director Ben Stiller plays a shy nebbish whose fantasies are better than reality. Based on the James Thurber story that became a 1947 Danny Kaye classic. With Kristen Wiig.


And keep in mind ...

Admission (March 22). Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are a strait-laced Princeton staffer and a freethinking high-school dean in this romantic comedy. Directed by Paul Weitz ("About a Boy").

Tyler Perry's Temptation (March 29). A married career-woman (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) falls in lust with a handsome billionaire (Robbie Jones). With Kim Kardashian.

The Company You Keep (April 5). An ambitious reporter (Shia LaBeouf) exposes a single father (Robert Redford, who also directs) as a former Weather Underground member.

Now You See Me (June 7). Four magicians who rob from the rich and give to their audience plan their biggest heist yet. With Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent and Mark Ruffalo.

Turbo (July 19). A 3-D animated comedy about a snail whose wish for superspeed is magically granted. With the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Maya Rudolph.

Elysium (Aug. 9). In the year 2159, impoverished Earthling Max (Matt Damon) must infiltrate a pristine space-station run by the wealthy Delacourt (Jodie Foster). Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp ("District 9").

The Tomb (Sept. 27). Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in this jailbreak flick about a top-secret, high-tech facility. With Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.

Delivery Man (Oct. 4). An amiable slacker (Vince Vaughn) who donated sperm 20 years ago discovers he now has 533 children. Based on the Canadian comedy "Starbuck," which actually comes out first, in March.

Carrie (Oct. 18). A remake of Brian De Palma's classic 1976 Steven King adaptation, with Chloe Grace Moretz in the telekinetic title role. Julianne Moore plays her unpleasant mother.

Ender's Game (Nov. 1). Finally, Orson Scott Card's enduring sci-fi novel from 1985 has become a movie. Asa Butterfield plays a shy but brilliant boy being trained for battle. With Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit").

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