Notable new releases and events
The symbol indicates titles of unusual interest, quality, and/or critical acclaim.
Could The Last of Us be the last great exclusive released for the soon-to-be-defunct PlayStation 3 console? Regardless, dozens of effusive early reviews (at press time, 61 of 61 are positive) have made it the highest-scoring PS3 game this year. Arriving in stores Friday, the horror-themed third-person action-adventure is a brand-new new franchise from one of PlayStation's top developers, Naughty Dog, creators of Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and, best of all, the Uncharted series. The action follows Joel and the younger Ellie across a post-apocalyptic America teeming with zombie-like infected humans and small groups of healthy survivors. Reviewers are unanimous in praise of the story, design, and presentation, though a few find moments where gameplay and story make for a less harmonious match.
Don't expect any other major game releases this week; the industry's attention will be focused on Los Angeles, where the annual E3 conference officially kicks off on Tuesday. Visit our sister site GameSpot for in-depth E3 coverage throughout the week.
|Superman II (1981)||87|
|Superman III (1983)||42|
|Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)||22|
|Superman Returns (2006)||72|
At the time we're writing this, we don't yet know how critics (or fans) are going to react to Man of Steel—reviews likely won't start showing up until Monday evening, when an embargo lifts—though there is certainly reason to be optimistic. Opening Friday, this reboot of the Superman franchise is produced by Christopher Nolan (we seem to recall him having some success rebooting the Batman franchise) and features a strong supporting cast, including Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, and Laurence Fishburne. And, for what it's worth, internet chatter after recent advance screenings suggests an action-filled success. Yet there are two major question marks. One is star Henry Cavill, a relative unknown at the time of his casting who has subsequently underwhelmed while starring in Immortals and The Cold Light of Day (though, in both cases, the material could have been to blame). The second is the choice of Zack Snyder as director; unlike Nolan, Snyder has never impressed critics with any of his films, and his most recent effort, Sucker Punch, was his worst yet. Yet with all the buzz surrounding the new film, reviews may not even matter; this could be a billion-dollar success.
Opening in limited release in the U.S. on Friday after first premiering in Britain last year, Berberian Sound Studio is already—quietly—one of the best-reviewed films of 2013, while drawing comparisons to Brian De Palma's Blow Out, Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, and the film that influenced both, Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. Toby Jones stars as a British sound engineer who travels to Rome in 1976 to work on the post-production sound mix of The Equestrian Vortex, a horror film about witchcraft set in an all-girl riding academy. While there, he begins to suffer from his own vortex of madness as he struggles to distinguish between what is real and what is not. The new film also features a great soundtrack by the band Broadcast.
The work of writer-director Sofia Coppola has become increasingly divisive since Lost in Translation in 2003, with many fans and critics especially disappointed by her most recent effort, 2010's Somewhere. Opening in limited release Friday, her new film The Bling Ring looks like it won't reverse that trend, with early reviews generally positive though hardly uniform. In this ripped-from-the-headlines story, the crush of celebrity culture and the desire to be famous drives Emma Watson and her gang of friends to rob the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton, who allowed Coppola to shoot in her home where the actual crime took place. Leslie Mann plays Watson’s mom, while Bush’s Gavin Rossdale plays the helpful dealer of the gang’s stolen goods. Newcomers Israel Broussard, Taissa Farmiga, Katie Chang, and Claire Julien play the other fame-obsessed teens.
Opening nationwide on Wednesday as comedic counterprogramming to Man of Steel, This Is the End is one of multiple end-of-the-world comedies hitting the big screen this year. The new film marks the directorial debut for the writing team of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet), and features even more celebrity cameos than The Bling Ring. Rogen himself stars alongside James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson, and they all play fictionalized versions of themselves as a global apocalypse intrudes on a Hollywood party (at Franco's house, naturally) they're attending. Aziz Ansari, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and Rihanna are among the many familiar faces who also appear.
A Daft Punk album and a Boards of Canada album in the same year? All we need now is a new LP from the Avalanches. Tuesday, however, indeed brings a new release from beloved but reclusive Scottish electronica duo Boards of Canada; Tomorrow's Harvest is their first album since 2005's The Campfire Headphase and just their fourth LP overall. Early reviews (and a one-time-only advance stream last week) suggest that it was worth the wait; it might be their best album since their 1990s heyday, though a few early reviews suggest that a few of its 17 tracks could have been trimmed.
Listen to Black Sabbath's 13 in its entirety prior to its Tuesday release at iTunes
Listen to Surfer Blood's Pythons in its entirety prior to its Tuesday release at NPR
Also arriving in stores Tuesday is 13, the first album by the original lineup (mostly) of Black Sabbath in 35 years. The Rick Rubin-produced set features Ozzy Osbourne on lead vocals, and early reviews are surprisingly encouraging. ... And Florida alt-rockers Surfer Blood make their major-label debut with their second album, Pythons, produced by Gil Norton (Pixies).
Kicking off HBO's new Monday night documentary series this week is Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (Monday, 9p), a feature about the jailed Russian band/protest group. ... Meanwhile, this week's lone major new series premiere is TNT's King & Maxwell (Monday at 10p), a rather average drama about a pair of private detectives (Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romijn) from NCIS: L.A. creator Shane Brennan, based on David Baldacci's books.
However, many returning shows make their season debuts this week, including HBO's True Blood (Sunday at 9p), back for a short (10-episode) sixth season and its first without series creator Alan Ball at the helm (as well as his replacement Mark Hudis, who departed midway through production of these episodes). New faces include Rutger Hauer, Jurnee Smollett (Friday Night Lights), Luke Grimes (Brothers & Sisters), Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders), and Karolina Wydra (House), while Anna Camp returns as Sarah. ... And the Starz period drama Magic City (Friday at 9p) returns for a second season that finds its world expanding to include Chicago- and Cuba-set storylines (in addition to Miami), while notable cast additions include James Caan (playing a Chicago mobster), Esai Morales (playing a Cuban rebel who fought alongside Castro), and rapper Rick Ross (playing the proprietor of a Miami gambling den).
Though you can't find it on television, Jerry Seinfeld's web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee also returns for a sophomore season this week; joining Jerry in his constant search for caffeine are David Letterman, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, and more. Watch the new season online beginning Thursday. ... And, beginning Monday night, Belgian waffle aficionado John Oliver will attempt to not destroy the franchise that is The Daily Show when he begins a two-month stint as host of Comedy Central's nightly program while Jon Stewart takes a leave of absence to direct a movie.
Closing the book on last week
|Most Popular Title on Metacritic|
|The Last of Us 96||Week of 6/2-6/8|
|Weekend Box Office Champion (Estimated, U.S. only; source: Boxofficemojo.com)|
|The Purge 43||$36.4 million; 1st week at #1|
|#1 Album on Billboard 200 (Source: Billboard.com/Nielsen SoundScan)|
|Daft Punk: Random Access Memories 87||2nd week at #1|
|Top-Rated Primetime Broadcast Show (Source: Nielsen)|
|The Voice [Monday] (NBC)||11.0 million viewers; week of 5/27-6/2|