Scrolling Headlines:

Worcester, Student Union renovations among subjects of first SGA Senate session -

September 26, 2017

Three thefts in Fine Arts Center over past week -

September 26, 2017

Talk on women’s resistance to Brazilian military dictatorship held at the Old Chapel -

September 26, 2017

Engstrom and MacLean lead UMass cross country at Battle in Beantown -

September 26, 2017

The anti-Semitism of the Suarez talk is not the way to discuss the Israeli-/Palestinian conflict -

September 26, 2017

No, fascists are not the same as those who oppose them -

September 26, 2017

Political factions oppose each other like passionate sports fans -

September 26, 2017

STEM Ambassador’s Program to expand impact on and off campus -

September 26, 2017

Buzz starting to build for UMass hockey -

September 26, 2017

UMass Tennis starts season strong at Brown Invitational -

September 26, 2017

Foo Fighters’ ‘Concrete and Gold’ misses the mark -

September 26, 2017

Emmy’s 2017 Red Carpet fashion recap: who, what, WEAR -

September 26, 2017

We all scream for vegan ice cream -

September 26, 2017

UMass women’s soccer takes complete control in 3-1 win vs. Davidson -

September 25, 2017

Shaughnessy Naughton speaks on STEM professionals in politics -

September 25, 2017

ESPN author and journalist talks sports and mental health at UMass -

September 25, 2017

UMass men’s soccer remains unbeaten at home -

September 25, 2017

Minutewomen split Pennsylvania trip -

September 25, 2017

Kozlowski’s minutes limited for second straight game in loss versus Fordham -

September 25, 2017

Late penalty-kick goal not enough vs. Rams -

September 25, 2017

Legendary directors and iconic characters step back into the limelight for 2013

Flickr/Zachary Tirrell

2012 was a landmark year in many ways. With the release of “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the industry saw the true power of the superhero genre as it established itself as the new Hollywood mainstay. Indie comedies such as “Safety Not Guaranteed” and Your Sister’s Sister” ruled the underground, while big-budget giants like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Skyfall” dominated the box office at the end of the year.

 Going into 2013, the pattern seems to be repeating itself. As Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off, audiences can expect an onslaught of interconnected universes in “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World” as they build toward the inevitable sequel to “The Avengers.” As if that’s not enough, Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” and James Mangold’s “The Wolverine” are both comic book films that are on deck to try to salvage two characters who have only seen moderate success on the big screen for the past two decades.

 In concert with the other major blockbusters of the summer, including “Pacific Rim,” “World War Z,” “Monsters University,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Despicable Me 2” and many others, it’s easy to overlook some of the more promising films of the year.

In July, Woody Allen is hitting the scene again with his new drama, “Blue Jasmine.” After wowing critics and moviegoers alike in 2011 with the stunning “Midnight in Paris,” Allen had a massive misfire with the lazy vignette film “To Rome with Love.” With an all-star but not overcrowded cast list — Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K. are all on board  — “Blue Jasmine” looks like it might just be the film to right Allen’s ship and bring him back into the good graces of the public once again.

 Back in 2009, previously unknown South African director Neill Blomkamp impressed audiences with his science fiction film, “District 9.” While some decried it as a not-so-subtle retelling of a well-worn narrative, it was hard not to admire the fidelity of the picture despite its low-budget origins.

 Blomkamp is back this August with his film “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon as a gun-toting citizen of a futuristic dystopia and Jodie Foster as the mayor of a space habitat for the ultra-wealthy. The writer/director again seems to be targeting a social issue with the film, this time focusing on class disparities, healthcare and the consequences of oppression. But if “District 9” is any indication, a fresh coat of paint and smartly-placed drama will elevate the story beyond its relatively simple conceits.

 Moving into September, B-movie action fans around the country will rejoice as they are treated to another bloody outing with Vin Diesel’s terse intergalactic convict, “Riddick.” Written and directed by David Twohy, the man behind the past two live-action “Riddick” installments, the simply-titled “Riddick” doesn’t seem to have much more substance than its predecessors according to its official synopsis. For many fans of the franchise, however, little more needs to be said than that the goggle-wearing, Ulak-wielding Furyan will be back on screen, slicing and dicing once again.

 Not long after “Riddick,” director Alfonso Cuarón will release his long-awaited film, “Gravity”; after two major successes with the Academy Award-nominated “Children of Men” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” fans are eager to see what else the director can do with vividly imagined fictional universes.

 “Gravity” features Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who are stranded on a badly damaged space station. Early CinemaCon buzz indicates that the film will be beautiful — sweeping space vistas are reportedly awe-inspiring, and cinephiles everywhere are excited to see how this natural beauty clashes or compliments Cuarón’s decision not to use any makeup on his actors.

 2012 was a year of highs and lows as fans’ expectations were surpassed and dashed in equal measure. While 2013 doesn’t boast such a familiar or anticipated set of films, it certainly has the potential to engage audiences with unique, challenging and ultimately satisfying stories.

 So even if you don’t see Robert Downey, Jr.’s face mugging on the poster, give these films a chance — they may just surprise you.

Søren Hough can be reached at shhough@student.umass.edu

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