Summer movies full of gloom, doom

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WARNING: Be on your guard at the movies this season. Danger looms for planet Earth.

"Jaws" made it an iffy proposition to swim in the ocean in 1975, but you could always hang out on the beach and worry about a sunburn instead. These days, all the world is a much scarier place. Sure, aliens threatened life as we know it on "Independence Day" 1996, and humanity took a turn for the worse in films such as "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" (June 2001) and even "Wall-E" (June 2008), but this summer, there's the threat of annihilation on screen on an almost weekly basis.

"Pacific Rim," which opened Thursday, is Guillermo del Toro's supersized monster movie of the summer. The film's signature line in the human race's last-ditch effort to survive says it all: "Today we are canceling the apocalypse!"

Here are some examples of how Earth stares down its nemeses during summer 2013 (future release dates subject to change):

"OBLIVION" (alien invasion)

This end-of-the-world salvo got things rolling early. Tom Cruise plays a futuristic Mr. Fix-It on a decimated Earth, where the major threat to humanity is not what it seems. (April 19)

"AFTER EARTH" (environmental catastrophe)

Will Smith, who knows his way around an apocalypse -- "Independence Day," "I Am Legend" -- and real-life son Jaden play a father and son who crash-land on a futuristic Earth that has evolved into a dangerous place. (May 31)

"THIS IS THE END" (The Rapture)

Best buddies Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel gather friends from projects such as "Superbad" and "Freaks & Geeks" for an R-rated raunch-fest of debauchery, destruction and demons. As things get hellish, the guys learn whether heaven awaits. (June 12)

"WORLD WAR Z" (zombies)

Based loosely on the Max Brooks novel, swarming zombies are on the march to wipe out humanity. Can Brad Pitt save the day? (June 21)

"PACIFIC RIM" (undersea monsters from another dimension)

Rock 'em, sock 'em robots relatively the size of Godzilla are piloted by humans in a showdown with gigantic invaders hellbent on our destruction. (July 12)

"ELYSIUM" (pollution, overpopulation)

Wealthy haves led by Jodie Foster hover above ground in an idyllic existence, while have-nots (Matt Damon et. al) struggle to survive on a burned-out Earth. How long do you figure that can last? (Aug. 9)

"THE COLONY" (big freeze, dwindling resources)

Forced underground by the next Ice Age, a struggling outpost of survivors including Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton must fight to preserve humanity against "a threat even more savage than nature." (Aug. 23)

"THE WORLD'S END" (robot body snatchers)

"Shaun of the Dead's" Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and "The Hobbit's" Martin Freeman are among pals who reunite to top an epic pub crawl of 20 years earlier, only to become humankind's hope for survival. (Aug. 23)


Sharon Eberson: or 412-263-1960.


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