Hi Ho Silver! It's a Very Nerdy Summer Movie Preview!

Who was that masked man?

You’ll never have to ask that about us. We are geeked out about summer film fare, and we don’t care who knows it.

From a stressed out Tony Stark to a long-suffering Tonto, this summer promises to be a popcorn party.

Herein is what we’re excited about. How about you? Chime in with your upcoming blockbuster favorites in the comments section:

Andy Smith

“Iron Man 3” — opens May 3

As the comic book becomes just another medium regularly adapted to film, this year’s crop begins with the return of Ol’ Shellhead in “Iron Man 3.” Tony Stark, once again portrayed by quipmaster Robert Downey Jr., is now pitted against familiar funnybook foes The Mandarin (Ben Kinsley) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce).

Killian is the architect of the Extremis virus, a bioelectronic solution for those wanting a super-soldier boost in the form of nanotechnology. Shane Black, helmer and co-writer of this entry to the mythos, decided to add a techno-thriller edge to the series with his take. He’s also reintroducing the Ten Rings terrorist group (led by Kingsley’s The Mandarin), a thread from the first “Iron Man” film that’s remained dormant until now.

From the trailer, we get a few clues to what “Iron Man 3” will offer. We know someone destroys Stark’s home. We know several suits make series debuts (with Don Cheadle returning to his War Machine glory and a possible Hulkbuster armor spotted). We’ve learned that there’s an emotional journey to the film that challenges what it means to be Iron Man (and let’s hope that angle isn’t nearly as lame as that sounds). But mostly, we can make the bold assertion that cool-looking things shoot other things, and those things shoot back at the things that shot them.

The film is the first of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Two offerings, joined later this year by “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014, and finally, “The Avengers 2” in 2015. After a successful Phase One, which was capped off by the triumphant “Marvel’s The Avengers,” it’s not looking like Marvel Studios is stopping anytime soon.

As it’s not clear whether we’ll see another “Iron Man” film within the next decade, most fans are hoping that “Iron Man 3” at least surpasses the slightly disappointing “Iron Man 2.” I’m just hoping it makes enough money to justify giving a solo Squirrel Girl film a chance in years ahead.

 

Lauren McGill

“The Great Gatsby” — opens May 10

I’ve already gone head over heels for ‘The Great Gatsby,’ the Baz Luhrmann cinematic version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, just from watching the trailer.

The glittering portrayal of 1920s New York, the young and beautiful cast, the Kanye West song in the background … wait, what was I saying?
I don’t get out to the movies much anymore — what, with a toddler and all — but I’m hoping to make a post-birthday exception for ‘Gatsby.’ Though I admittedly need a refresher on the fairly short story of Jay Gatsby, man of great mystery and intrigue, I can still remember the night I finished a loaned copy of the book — gazing at the cover, still in the moment, and thinking “this, THIS is a story.”
Likewise, I can vividly recall being a junior-high-aged girl enamored with Luhrmann’s take on “Romeo and Juliet” (which also, coincidentally, stars Leo DiCaprio).
So I have no doubt that ‘Gatsby’ is visually stunning, generally aesthetically appealing and written with deftness and reverence for its source material. Now, should these fast-paced, modernized, glossy versions of literary classics stand in for their dead-tree originals? Absolutely not. But as someone familiar with the stories, I adore Luhrmann’s riffs on the beloved. I hope his most recent creation doesn’t leave me clinging to my paperback, disappointed, but I’m not worried.
Dave Ryan

“Star Trek” was always a tough sell for me. As someone who dipped into the original TV series casually, I always found it a little dull. It never really piqued my interest, which is no judgment of the show. It just didn’t appeal to me. When JJ Abrams’ vision finally debuted in theatres, I was blown away.

“Star Trek” was funny and fast with brilliant visual effects and gave those of us who weren’t Trekkies an entry point. “Star Trek Into Darkness” looks to continue that trait, this time adding the acting chops of Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s “Sherlock”) as John Harrison.

The film’s official synopsis:

After being called back home, the crew of the USS Enterprise find a seemingly unstoppable force which has attacked Starfleet and left Earth in chaos. Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are tasked with leading the deadly manhunt to capture the party responsible and settle an old score.

The film promises the fast-paced action and intense visuals Abrams’ is known for, meaning this won’t be just a movie for “Star Trek” loyalists – but an adventure that promises thrills for everyone. At the very least, a theater full of people trying to do a Vulcan salute in their seats.

 

Derek Redd

“This Is The End” — opens June 12

We love Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for giving us “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.” We forgive them for “Green Hornet” and “The Watch.” (That I saw “Green Hornet” in IMAX 3D – don’t judge me – with a gift card is the only reason I haven’t gone to Rogen and Goldberg’s homes “South Park” style and demanded a refund.)

Now they give us “This Is The End,” where Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride play … Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride. Or at least they play parodies of themselves as Los Angeles is blowing up all around them and the boys hole themselves up at Franco’s house.

What we get is no surprise, a raunchy, R-rated adventure that allows a bunch of comedians who are great at riffing to riff all over the place. Plus, you’re getting a cast-against-type Emma Watson, Michael Cera and Mindy Kaling, among others. That’s a lot of funny people shoehorned into one movie.

I’ve already seen the red-band trailer (all you folks 18 and up should give it a look yourselves) and it’s about what I expected from this group of jokesters, which means it’s pretty flippin’ funny. Don’t go into it thinking it’ll change your life and you should be quite entertained. If anything, it could be a table setter for Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s offering in the apocalypse genre, “The World’s End,” the third movie in a trilogy that includes “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.”

But that, my friends, is a topic for another geek-out.

Ashley B. Craig

“Man of Steel” — opens June 14

The granddaddy of them all will be soaring back into theaters this summer.

Superman will be returning to the big screen in June, much to this girl’s excitement. The movie comes at the perfect time as the hero celebrates his 75th birthday this year.

“Man of Steel” starring Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane hits theaters June 14. Cavill is good. Amy Adams is solid and has the hardware to back it up.

This film has been getting hype since last summer when the first teasers were released with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Honestly I was so excited after seeing that teaser that I don’t remember much of TDKR other than Tom Hardy’s hilarious voice.

These teasers (and really it was a tease because from that moment all I wanted was to watch that movie) showed the stark picture of a scruffy Clark Kent working as a fisherman in rough seas and as a boy running around the Smallville farm where he grew up, red cape billowing in the wind.

They were visually the same but carried different voice-overs by the Academy Award-winning men who will play the hero’s two dads. Russell Crowe as Jor-El tells him he’s destined for greatness, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent tells him his destiny is his choice.

So we’re getting another origin story on Superman. That’s fine, just fine. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right and start at the beginning.

Clark Kent’s beginning in this case seems to be more detailed, in that there was life before the Daily Planet and before the cape.

We’re also going to see a villain who isn’t Lex Luthor, which is something I’m terribly thankful for. General Zod is an interesting pick, but picking Michael Shannon to play him is even more interesting. He can be truly terrifying, which is something the Superman movies need. Superman needs a villain worth fighting, and I think that’s what we’ve got with Zod.

It will be interesting if this movie, directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and produced by Christopher Nolan (Batman: Dark Knight trilogy, Inception) follows Nolan’s realism approach. Because to believe in Superman, you must suspend your belief in reality.

I’m excited about this film.

I grew up with Christopher Reeve in the cape and Margot Kidder as the gutsy Ms. Lane. I watched the old George Reeves television series and have probably seen every episode of Smallville. My nephew and I are reading the comics on my iPad now.

My friend, who is not a Superman fan, says the magic’s been gone from the franchise for a long time. I have to admit, he’s right. Christopher Reeve was my Superman and always will be. I believed him, even when he stopped the Earth and spun it backwards to save Lois. I believed it all because it was Superman, and he could do that.

I have to be honest, I didn’t hate Superman Returns (2006). I didn’t see the need for the whole ‘by the way, this is Superman’s son’ plot element and I didn’t care for Lois’ vindictive but award winning piece “Why the world doesn’t need Superman.” Seriously lady, take a journalism ethics class.

I thought Brandon Routh was good. Kevin Spacey is always good. The film was shot beautifully. I’ll admit I stood up and cheered when Superman (in full cape and tights) made his first save of the movie, stopping that plane full of people from crashing into a baseball field with a smile and a reminder that it’s still the safest way to travel.

I didn’t hate the movie. It was good, but it wasn’t great.

Superman needs to be great. He’s got to be someone we can believe in.

This might be the one.

 

Brad McElhinny

“World War Z” — opens June 21

Last summer, my geeky movie pick was “Prometheus,” mostly because I couldn’t figure out how filmmakers were going to come up with a movie in the “Aliens” world that wasn’t a prequel and that didn’t feature any actual chestbusters. “Prometheus” wound up not being the movie I enjoyed most last summer but it was definitely the one I thought the most about. Like, “Uh, what were they trying to say?” I mean that mostly in a good way, although the mishmash nature of the movie certainly added to my wonderment.

I have similar confusion/anticipation about “World War Z,” which is based on a book that I and many others have read. The book is structured as a travelogue with the narrator jumping from place to place to sort out just how this worldwide zombie mess spread so rapidly and how it was finally resolved. Few characters but the narrator reappear from chapter to chapter, and the narrator’s only action is to talk to other people about what they witnessed. This structure doesn’t exactly lend itself to two hours in the theater.

Nevertheless, I’m reassured by what I’ve read about the film version of “World War Z.” Plus, it apparently includes a scene where Brad Pitt has to decide between facing off with some zombies on an airplane or blow apart the cabin and risk his life in a crash. Spoiler: He goes for the crash.

 

Ashlee Maddy

“The Lone Ranger” — opens July 3

So, just who was that masked man anyway?

“The Lone Ranger” solidified its place in radio history with nearly 3,000 episodes featuring the masked former Texas Ranger and his Native American sidekick, Tonto. The heroic pair fought injustice one outlaw at a time in the Old West atop their trusty steeds, Silver and Scout. The tales captivated the country and also spawned a successful television series running for eight seasons. Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels gave faces to the iconic characters beloved by millions of Americans.

This summer, Disney attempts to revitalize the franchise for the first time in several generations, which coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Rider of the Plains.

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger star in the updated version of the radio classic this summer.

“The Lone Ranger” will ride again on July 3, a fitting release date for the American icon. Armie Hammer stars as the former Texas Ranger and Johnny Depp finally brings Tonto out from the sidelines.

The studio is undoubtedly banking on Depp’s star power to help make the revamped Ranger a box office success. Depp’s portrayal marks the first time the Ranger’s unlikely partner has been at the top of the bill. The heavily face-painted and feathered Native American spirit warrior also narrates the film.

Judging from the latest fast-paced trailer, it looks as though “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have combined plenty of action sequences with the right amount of subtle humor.

In this version, lawman John Reid is left for dead after witnessing the murder of his brother and six other Rangers by an unknown assailant. After being nursed back to health by Tonto, the unlikely duo set out on a quest for justice — a journey that includes the pair blowing up railroads and hunting for treasure.

Whether “Ranger” can compete with proven box office heavyweights remains to be seen, but the footage looks amazing and introduces Tonto and his kemo sabe to a new generation.

All I can say is bring on the summer movie season!

“Hi-Ho! Silver! Away!”

Josh Work

“Pacific Rim” — opens July 12

I’m excited for “Pacific Rim” for a lot of reasons. Guillermo del Toro! Giant robots fighting giant monsters! An homage to one of the best video games of the past decade!

In a throwback to old “kaiju” monster movies from Japan (think Godzilla and Rodan), the film follows a battle for survival against an army of giant creatures that emerge from the Pacific Ocean. After countless lives are lost, humanity constructs massive mecha – of course – to fight the beasts.

I’ve been a fan of del Toro’s work since “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the first Hellboy movie. He’s no stranger to bone-chilling creature effects, and he’s working with the acclaimed Industrial Light & Magic for “Pacific Rim.” Add to that del Toro’s desire to make a movie that is both emotional and spectacular on a grand scale, and we’ve got the potential for something epic.

The director’s name alone has me interested, but when I first heard Ellen McLain’s robotic voice in the trailer, I knew I had to see this movie. For those unfamiliar with McLain’s previous work, she provides the voice for GLaDOS, a sinister artificial intelligence, in the widely well-received Valve video game “Portal.”

Of course, “Pacific Rim” might end up being a shallow, unimpressive action film on par with “Battleship.” Early buzz is rather positive, though. If nothing else, it might just be a fun flick to see on a summer evening. I will admit that I’m not usually a fan of big-budget, silly action movies. You couldn’t make me sit through any of the Transformers movies. Even so, I’m holding out hope that this one will be special.

 

Derek Redd

The Wolverine — opens July 26

OK, so I think we can all admit that, while we like Wolverine, we weren’t too blown away with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” (Bigger sin: Making Deadpool a mute, or putting will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas anywhere near the movie?)

It looks like Marvel is trying to make amends with “The Wolverine” which puts Hugh Jackman’s claw-popping mutant in modern-day Japan. This is after the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” so it’s not like they’re trying to create some whacked-out new history for the character. Plus, James Mangold is in the director’s chair for this one. This is the guy who directed “Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Girl, Interrupted,” and he might offer a new perspective on the character.

And then there’s the story …

Warning: Spoilers are coming.

I’m serious. Here they come. If you don’t want to know anything about the movie, turn away now.

I mean it. If you aren’t plugging your ears and chanting “la, la, la,” I can’t be held responsible.

OK, part of the storyline for this movie can be summed up in one line from the trailer: “I can make you mortal.” A Wolverine without a healing factor? That actually adds some suspense to the film, since, if true, cuts and bullet wounds don’t just miraculously disappear. It adds an interesting layer to the character and a new challenge for him to face.

Jackman does a really good job as Wolverine, and the pieces seem to be in place for a much better movie than Logan’s first solo adventure. Just as long as Fergie doesn’t make a cameo.

Hey, isn't that … Abraham Lincoln?

Have you spotted Old Hickory on the streets of Charleston, WV?
Well, you’re not alone.
(Click on the little arrow burst in the lower right hand corner to expand the slideshow.)

Win 'Pearls Blows Up'

We’ve got a few copies of ‘Pearls Blows up’ lying around. That’s a treasury from the ‘Pearls Before Swine’ comic strips that run daily in the Charleston Daily Mail.

This is what you could win!

Here’s the lowdown:

Stephan Pastis offers ‘Pearls Before Swine’ fans a combustible collection brimming with explosive action inside ‘Pearls Blows Up.’ Collecting every cartoon from 50,000,000 ‘Pearls Fans Can’t Be Wrong’ and ‘When Pigs Fly,’ this hot-to-the-touch, volatile edition also includes annotated thoughts reflecting Pastis’s searing wit.

Want to win one?

Enter our contest below and if you are the winner we will send a copy your way!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

'Doctor Who' Recap: 'Cold War'

(c) BBC America

By now you should have had a chance to see the latest episode of ‘Doctor Who.’ If you haven’t, you may want to look away and go enjoy it on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, BBC America on Demand or whatever platform you need to. Otherwise, watch along with the tweets or just ponder some thoughts I had watching the episode.

It’s a solid episode from ‘Sherlock’ co-creator Mark Gatiss featuring an old alien not seen for some time.

[View the story “Doctor Who: 7-9 ‘Cold War'” on Storify]

Sen. Joe Manchin parodied in 'SNL' opening skit

As much as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin made headlines this past week, it shouldn’t have been surprising that he also made the opening skit of “Saturday Night Live.”

Well — it wasn’t Joe himself, but rather actor Jason Sudeikis who portrayed the 65-year-old politician. While Manchin was busy brokering a Senate deal that would expand background checks for gun sales, the writers at “SNL” were watching with a critical eye.

Here’s the 3-minute clip of Manchin and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey:

Among the highlights of the “SNL” version of the compromise bill (transcribed by website Mediaite):

No individual can purchase a handgun from a private dealer without being asked, ‘Are you a good person?’ along with the follow-up question “Seriously, are you?”

Absolutely no limit on the amount of ammunition you can carry in magazines.

Limit the number of guns you can shoot at once to two.

Anyone caught shooting three or more guns at the same time will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, the penalty for which is we give you a fourth gun.

Bans AK-47s from all coin-operated vending machines.

The Papa John’s promotion, buy two medium pizzas, get a free gun has been completely outlawed

 

Here are some of the details of the real compromise bill, as reported by Dave Boucher and as distributed on a Fact Sheet by Manchin’s staff.

“SNL” also made reference to Manchin’s “Dead Aim” television ad, in which he famously shot a copy of a cap-and-trade bill with a rifle.

 

It was back to work for Manchin and Toomey in real life early Sunday, however.

(Hat tip to sportswriter and pop culture buff Derek Redd for hooking me up with a link this morning!)

 

Maple bacon frozen yogurt — a review with video!

I am a big fan of food that doesn’t make any sense.

I have had more than one beer milkshake in my lifetime, friends.

That is why, when you ask yourself “Who is the target audience for maple bacon frozen yogurt?” the answer is me.

Yogurt Mountain recently made this miracle product available, along with other nontraditional frozen yogurts such as “Cup of Coffee.”

Yes. Not just a frappuccino.

Frozen yogurt with coffee flavor.

Oh, yeah.

If you don’t live near a Yogurt Mountain, never fear! For other similar products are available at locations such as Sweet Frog, which boasts “maple bacon donut.”

I have a feeling these miracle yogurt options won’t be available permanently, which I why I hurried out to get a sample.

I gleefully pulled the handle to shoot a pile of maple bacon frozen yogurt into one side of my plastic bowl. Then I did the same with the coffee frozen yogurt on the other side.

My children eyed me suspiciously and went for more traditional flavors.

But what can you get as a topping for frozen yogurt meant to taste like a stack of pancakes and delicious crispy pork? Oh, fortunately Yogurt Mountain had thought ahead and provided bacon bits. I sprinkled them atop my culinary delight.

How did it taste? Not as good as actual pancakes and bacon, I am afraid. Yet it evoked a benchmark on the way to our Jetsons-like future, when all food will be in pill form.

I finished every last drip and drop of my bowl. But next time I get a hankering for breakfast I might just eat breakfast.

What weird foods have you enjoyed? (Or regretted.)