July 2013 Movie Guide: A Checklist
If you’re like me, sequel and franchise movies can be fun…but stressful. As is the case with book and comic book adaptations, there is so much I feel like I should read, watch, or rewatch before the newest movie lands in theaters. Just last month, World War Z and Man of Steel fit into some sort of franchise (although both were unique situations).
Therefore, I’ve decided to compile a complete prequel guide to July’s movies. I’ve broken down the prequel information into three categories, with “Essential” obviously being the most important. There are other things that are certainly “Useful” with “Extra” being reserved for those with lots of time on their hands.
In chronological order (based on July release date), here is your July guide:
Despicable Me – Illumination Entertainment’s extremely popular (and super cute, if I’m allowed to say that) 2010 animated film set the way for a sequel (and likely a series). Unlike roughly half of the animated movies, Despicable Me is able to capture the younger audiences and the ones that bring them to the movie. Voice starring Steve Carell, Jason Segel, and Russell Brand, the primary character development occurs in Gru, a supervillian with a soft heart, and he continues on to Despicable Me 2. He’s still a main character in the sequel, and it’ll see him on the other side of the law as he tries to hunt down a different villain.
The Lone Ranger (TV Series) – Although it wasn’t the first incarnation of The Lone Ranger (that honor goes to the about-to-be mentioned radio show), ABC’s The Lone Ranger TV series is probably the most accessible today. However, it might be hard to power through all 221 episodes of the popular Western. It originally aired from 1949-1957, so it is a little dated. In all, this isn’t absolutely necessary because Gore Verbinski’s film is a complete reboot.
The Lone Ranger (Radio Serial) – It may be tough to find the serial, but WXYZ (out of Detroit) originally created and aired The Lone Ranger radio specials. Beginning in 1933, George W. Trendle and Fran Striker have been credited for the inception of the character.
Film Serials – The Lone Ranger (1938) and The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939)
Films – The Lone Ranger (1956), The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958), The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981), and The Lone Ranger (2003)
Books – There are 18 books in the series, starting with Gaylord DuBois’ The Lone Ranger (1938) and ranging to Fran Striker’s The Lone Ranger on Red Butte Trail (1956)
Comic Books – There are 5 comic books (Volume 1-4 and The Lone Ranger & Tonto)
Grown Ups – The sequel to the critically-panned comedy Grown Ups releases later this month. It’s set three years after the original and returns Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade. There’s no way to really tell how necessary it is to see the original – I’d venture to guess it’s probably not exactly essential – but there have to be themes and jokes that transfer from movie to movie.
V/H/S – V/H/S/2 is a sequel to the horror anthology V/H/S, but even that movie wasn’t really connected since they’re both essentially collections of horror shorts. Maybe there’s a potential for the shorts to connect to a larger narrative, but I can tell you V/H/S didn’t do that.
Red – Red 2 stars Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Anthony Hopkins and is a direct sequel to the original. I’ve actually never seen the first one (and fully intend to by July 19), but it appears Frank (Willis) is the biggest plot draw from the first one. Both are about a retired group of assassins back to their old ways.
Comic Books – Red and Red 2 are based on a limited comic book series also titled Red. It was only three issues created by Warren Ellis back in 2003 and 2004. These would be nice little additions to the franchise.
Rest In Peace Department – Peter M. Lenkov’s comic book inspired the supernatural/action mash-up R.I.P.D., which releases July 19. Since it’s the first movie of the franchise, you have to think they’ll be plenty of set-up during the movie. Therefore, it’s not essential, but definitely useful to read the comic book.
X-Men film franchise – The Wolverine will be the sixth movie in Marvel’s X-Men series that started way back in 2000. The series consists of X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: The Wolverine, and X-Men: First Class. As for chronology, The Wolverine occurs after the events of the third one (The Last Stand). Yes, Wolverine barely (and I mean barely) appears in First Class, but I think it’s essential to understand the whole X-Men mythos before seeing the newest installment.
Wolverine – Of all the comic books Wolverine has appeared in, The Wolverine (movie) is based primarily on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s series that started in 1982 (and runs through today). There are a lot of issues, but if you had to narrow down the comic reading to one series, it’d be this.
Comic Books – I’m not about to name all of the comic books that feature Wolverine, so pretty much any X-Men related readings could help your viewing pleasure.
TV Series – There are at least 13 shows (all animated) that feature X-Men or Wolverine. The most important, in my estimation, would be either X-Men: Evolution or Wolverine and X-Men. However, none of the series are absolutely necessary.
The Smurfs – The Smurfs 2 is the second of a planned trilogy. Therefore, seeing the first one is necessary (especially given the returning cast).
Comic Books – Originally created as a Swedish comic book series, getting your hands on some comics wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Films – Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs and La Flûte à six schtroumpfs.
TV Shows – The reason I know (and love) The Smurfs came from the 256 episodes that were released during the 80’s. Although I watched them through their syndication run, I still picture the TV shows first when I hear the term “Smurf.” It wouldn’t be a bad idea to brush up on some of the episodes, but I can’t imagine the plot transferring mediums.
Alright…there is your checklist for the month of July. In short, you should watch Despicable Me, Red, The X-Men franchise (the most extensive for sure), and The Smurfs before their sequels. If you have time, I’d check out Grown Ups and V/H/S before their sequels. And as always, brush up on your comic books!
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