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Monday, April 28, 2008

Summer Movie Preview: Welcome back, old friends

--- Hollywood re-discovers some tried and true box office draws.

This summer marks the return of some long-lost cinematic friends.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer driving in a scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' action adventure 'Speed Racer,' distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The obvious example is Harrison Ford dusting himself off (is that an age joke?) and donning the fedora and leather jacket once again as adventurous archeologist Indiana Jones.

Incidentally, the last time we saw Indy it was the summer of '89, the same year we were treated to Tim Burton's first Batman.

Now it seems Indy will once again be up against The Dark Knight (coincidentally, both Batman flicks from then and now feature the nefarious Joker as the villain de jour).

It's also been a while since we've seen Mike Myers. This summer we find him trading in his bad teeth, groovy eyewear and psychedelic threads for long hair, a beard and flowing white robes to bring us a new character named Pitka (The Love Guru).

Then there's also a big green guy (no, not Shrek) making a reappearance after a less than incredible (there's a hint) outing last time forced him into hiding for five years--that is Marvel comics' The Incredible Hulk.

On top of those, look for the somewhat dusty Mummy franchise to be resurrected yet again later in the summer.

And you may not have heard yet, but FBI X-agents Mulder and Scully (of X-Files fame) are headed back to the cineplexes as well. Finally, Sex and the City--another small screen hit that's been absent from airwaves (unless you include syndication) for a while--makes a leap to the big screen, too.

And that ain't the half of it. Also headed our way in the toasty months to come are superhero flicks from both Robert Downy Jr. (Iron Man) and Will Smith (Hancock), comedies from funnymen Adam Sandler (You Don't Mess with the Zohan), Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder), Will Ferrell (Step Brothers) and Eddie Murphy (Meet Dave) and a trio of computer animated flicks for the kiddies (WALL•E, Kung Fu Panda and Space Chimps).

I could go on and on. Well, actually, I will--keep reading to take a sneak peek at this year's summer movie season.

May 2

Iron Man--Robert Downy Jr. stars as ego-driven billionaire/weapons designer turned metal-suited superhero Tony Stark in this action-adventure about the somewhat lesser-known Marvel Comics character of the title. While in Afghanistan to demonstrate his latest destructive creation, Stark finds himself kidnapped by terrorists who force him to develop a deadly new weapon. While in captivity, he uses his technological know-how to instead develop a protective suit of armor and uses it to escape his captors. Upon returning home he decides to use his newest creation to fight evil around the world. Iron Man also stars Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Shaun Toub and was directed by Jon Favreau (Zathura). Official Web site: ironmanmovie.marvel.com

Made of Honor--Patrick Dempsey rides his recent wave of heartthrobby fame thanks to both his hunky (my wife's term, not mine) roles in the popular TV show Grey's Anatomy and last year's hit movie Enchanted to star in this romantic comedy about a conflicted commitment-phobic guy whose best friend and secret object of affection (Michelle Monaghan) asks him to be her "maid" of honor when she suddenly falls for another guy. Made of Honor also stars Beau Garrett, Sydney Pollack and Kadeem Hardison and was directed by Paul Weiland (City Slickers 2). Official Web site: www.madeofhonor-movie.com

May 9

Redbelt--In this martial arts flick, a legendary jiu-jitsu instructor who had always refused to compete finds he must reluctantly do so in order to pay off his mounting debts. Redbelt also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga and Joe Mantegna and was directed by David Mamet (Heist). Official Web site: www.sonyclassics.com/redbelt

Speed Racer--The Wachowski Brothers (who last gave us the The Matrix and its disappointing sequels) breathe frenetic, eye-popping life into the popular anime '60s toon about a teenage car racing phenom (Emile Hirsch) who teams with his nemesis to win the race that led to his brother's untimely death. Speed Racer also stars Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci and Matthew Fox and was directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix). Official Web site: www.speedracerthemovie.com

What Happens in Vegas ...--It doesn't stay in Vegas in this romantic comedy about two strangers (Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher) who find themselves unhappily married after a wild night neither can remember that results in one of them winning a huge jackpot off playing the other one's quarter. What Happens in Vegas ... also stars Rob Corddry, Lake Bell and Dennis Farina and was directed by Tom Vaughan. Official Web site: www.whathappensinvegasmovie.com.

May 16

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian--This epic sequel, which supposedly takes place a mere 1,300 Narnian years after the previous Chronicles flick (and we thought it's been a long time in between Indiana Jones movies), finds the young, previously dubbed human kings and queens of Narnia returning to find it under the control of an evil monarch despite the existence of the honorable rightful heir to the throne (the Prince of the title) who has been forced into hiding. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian also stars Peter Dinklage, Anna Popplewell, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes and was directed by Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). Official Web site: www.narnia.com.

May 22

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls--The wait is nearly over--cue the Raiders March because the man with the whip and fedora finally returns (can you believe it's been 19 years?!?) in this long-in-development third sequel to the famous adventure series. This time out, our aging hero (I think it's now safe to say that "it's both the miles and the years") finds himself, along with a young sidekick played by Shia LeBeouf and the return of old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), on a quest to find a mystical Crystal Skull before evil Russian agents get to it first. The rest of the plot is being kept tightly under wraps, but rumors have mentioned the existence of aliens and Indy paying a visit to the infamous Area 51. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls also stars Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Jim Broadbent and was directed by Steven Spielberg. Official Web site: www.indianajones.com.

May 30

Sex and the City: The Movie--Four years after the end of the popular HBO comedy series comes this movie that continues the romantic misadventures of gal pals Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Sex and the City: The Movie stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Christopher Noth and was directed by Michael Patrick King. Official Web site: www.sexandthecitymovie.com.

The Foot Fist Way--This low-budget independent comedy flick about a clueless tae kwon do instructor found fans in such high-powered Hollywood folk as Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow that it somehow managed to find a theatrical release. The Foot Fist Way stars Danny McBride and was directed by Jody Hill. Official Web site: www.thefootfistway.com.

June 6

Kung Fu Panda--Jack Black lends his voice to the title computer-animated character, an overweight and clumsy panda bear who is reluctantly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and learn the ancient art of kung fu. Kung Fu Panda also features the voices of Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Ian McShane and Lucy Liu and was directed by John Wayne Stevenson and Mark Randolph Osborne. Official Web site: www.kungfupanda.com.

You Don't Mess with the Zohan--It wouldn't be summer without a comedy from Adam Sandler and this year's finds the love-him-or-hate-him funnyman hidden under a mane of thick hair and a goatee as an Israeli intelligence agent who fakes his death in order to leave his violent life behind and travel to the United States to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a hair stylist. You Don't Mess with the Zohan also stars John Turturro, Rob Schneider, Mariah Carey and Emmanuelle Chriqui and was directed by Dennis Dugan (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry). Official Web site: www.youdontmesswiththezohan.com.

The Promotion--Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly star in this comedy about two grocery story assistant managers who try to outdo one another for a promotion to store manager. The Promotion also stars Jenna Fischer, Lili Taylor and Gil Bellows and was directed by Steve Conrad. Official Web site: Coming soon.

June 13

The Happening--Director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) returns with this seemingly Twilight Zone-ish thriller about a wave of terrifying paranoia that spreads all over the world when an unknown epidemic starts to spread that causes people, for seemingly no reason, to suddenly slip into a trance and kill themselves right where they stand. The Happening also stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin and Ashlyn Sanchez. Official Web site: www.thehappeningmovie.com.

The Incredible Hulk--Both Marvel and Universal are asking us to forget 2003's less incredibly titled (and even less incredibly received) Hulk and takes the big green guy back to formula with a new Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), a new director and a new story. This time out the usually mild-mannered scientist turned destructive radioactive mutant must face off with a new nemesis dubbed The Abomination. The Incredible Hulk also stars Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt and Christina Cabot and was directed by Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2). Official Web site: incrediblehulk.marvel.com.

June 20

Get Smart--The '60s spy spoof gets the big screen treatment with Steve Carell filling Don Adams' shoe-phones as the hapless secret agent known as Maxwell Smart. When all of the operatives at the U.S.'s spy agency CONTROL are killed off, The Chief (Alan Arkin) has no choice but to promote clueless agent-wannabe Smart, pairing him with the far more competent Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), in order to save the world from the evil Siegfried (Terence Stamp) whose organization (known as KAOS) is bent on world domination. Get Smart also stars Dwayne Johnson, Masi Oka, David Koechner and Bill Murray and was directed by Peter Segal (The Longest Yard). Official Web site: www.getsmartmovie.com.

The Love Guru--After a five-year "physical" absence from the big screen (we've only heard him as the voice of Shrek) since he bombed in the live action Cat in the Hat, Mike Myers returns with his newest, supposedly comedy club-tested character, Pitka, an American raised in India by gurus who returns to the States to break into the self-help trade. His first mission is to help a hockey player deal with his wife leaving him for another player. The Love Guru also stars Jessica Alba, Romany Malco, Verne Troyer, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley and Meagan Good and was directed by Marco Schnabel. Official Web site: www.lovegurumovie.com.

June 27

WALL•E--In the latest animated offering from Pixar, it's 700 years in the future and mankind has long since left Earth behind, as well as its sole inhabitant, a lonely Waste Allocation Load Lifter--Earth Class robot who looks strikingly similar to a height-challenged version of Johnny Five from the '80s flick Short Circuit. WALL•E features the voices of Jeff Garlin, Ben Burtt, Kim Kop and Fred Willard and was directed Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo). Official Web site: www.wall-e.com.

Wanted--This action thriller finds the boring life of a 25-year-old slacker (James McAvoy) shot to heck when he's recruited into a secret society of assassins by a mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie) who unlocks hidden killer instincts and abilities within him that he never knew he had. Wanted also stars Morgan Freeman, Common and Kristen Hager and was directed Timur Bekmambetov. Official Web site: www.wantedmovie.com.

July 2

Hancock--It wouldn't be the 4th of July without a big budget action flick starring Will Smith and this year we find him portraying the title character, a superhero who's a walking (and flying) PR nightmare. He's sarcastic, bitter and has a nasty knack for racking up collateral damage every time he tries to be heroic. When he finally decides to hire a public relations manager (Jason Bateman), things get even messier after he falls for the guy's wife (Charlize Theron). Hancock also stars Adam Del Rio and Jameson Dixon Jr. and was directed by Peter Berg (The Kingdom). Official Web site: sonypictures.com/movies/hancock.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl--Abigail Breslin (who, based on the amount of movies she's been in lately, seems to be the "new" Dakota Fanning) stars in this kids flick about a 9-year-old girl growing up during the Great Depression. Kit Kittredge also stars Stanley Tucci, Glenne Headly, Chris O'Donnell, Joan Cusack, Jane Krakowski and Julia Ormond and was directed by Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park). Official Web site: www.americangirl.com/movie.

July 11

Hellboy II: The Golden Army--In this supernatural sequel based on the underworld anti-hero Hellboy, the mythical world declares war on humankind and sets it's sights on world domination. Hellboy II: The Golden Army also stars Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Doug Jones and Ladislav Beran and was directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy). Official Web site: www.hellboymovie.com.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D--In this 3-D action adventure loosely based on the classic Jules Verne tale, a scientist (Brendan Fraser) and his nephew find themselves on an adventure below the surface of the Earth where they find amazing new worlds and creatures. Whether or not this film does well, you can expect 3-D to make a huge comeback in theaters in the coming years. Journey to the Center of the Earth also stars Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem and was directed by Eric Brevig. Official Web site: www.journey3dmovie.com.

Meet Dave--Eddie Murphy hopes to make up for his last box office dud, the Oscar nominated (seriously, look it up) Norbit, by starring in this sci-fi comedy about quarter-inch-tall aliens who travel to Earth in a spaceship resembling a human being (more specifically Eddie Murphy) in hopes of enlisting us to help save their planet. Meet Dave also stars Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Elizabeth Banks and Judah Friedlander and was directed by Brian Robbins (Norbit). Official Web site: www.meetdavemovie.com.

July 18

The Dark Knight--Arguably this summer's most anticipated movie (unless you're a bigger Indy fan, that is), this less-obviously named sequel to Batman Begins picks up right where that one left off, with Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) facing off against the twisted psycho-clown known as The Joker (the late Heath Ledger in a supposedly mesmerizing performance). Also watch for an appearance of Gotham's District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaoron Eckhart) whom comic fans know is fated to become the villain known as Two Face. Also returning are Gary Oldman as police Lt. James Gordon and Michael Caine as Alfred the butler. Not returning is Katie Holmes, who has been replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachael Dawes. The Dark Knight was directed by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins). Official Web site: www.thedarkknight.com.

Mamma Mia!--The Movie--Meryl Streep leads in this ABBA song-infused Broadway hit turned movie musical about a bride-to-be who tries to locate her real father by inviting three suspects to her wedding. Mamma Mia! also stars Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard and was directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Official Web site: www.mammamiamovie.com.

Space Chimps--In this computer animated kiddie flick, we follow a trio of monkeys as they are launched into space and travel to an uncharted planet. Space Chimps features the voices of Jeff Daniels, Andy Samberg, Kenan Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Patrick Warburton and was directed by Kirk de Micco. Official Web site: www.spacechimpspower.com.

July 25

Henry Poole is Here--Luke Wilson is Henry Poole in this dramedy, a man who learns he has only six weeks left to live and decides to leave his job, fiancée and family behind to live his remaining days in seclusion. Henry Poole is Here also stars Adriana Barraza, Radha Mitchell, Cheryl Hines and George Lopez and was directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road). Official Web site: Coming soon.


Step Brothers--Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly pair up again for this goofy comedy about two grown men still living at home who are strangers to one another until their respective parents marry, forcing them to share a bedroom and be, as the title suggests, step brothers. Step Brothers also stars Adam Scott, Mary Steenburgen and Kathryn Hahn and was directed by Adam McKay (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby). Official Web site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/stepbrothers.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe--It's been about a decade since we last saw them, but paranormal FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are still out there searching for the truth. I'd love to be able to tell you more, but not much is known yet regarding the plot other than it's a stand- alone story (not a sequel to the last movie) and I can pretty much guarantee it won't be a musical utilizing ABBA songs to tell its story. Hope that doesn't disappoint. The X-Files 2 also stars Xzibit, Amanda Peet and Billy Connolly and was directed by Chris Carter (The X-Files). Official Web site: xfiles.com.

August 1

Swing Vote--Kevin Costner stars in this political comedy that finds the Presidential election shockingly coming down to a single man's vote. Swing Vote also stars Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci and was directed by Joshua Michael Stern. Official Web site: Coming soon.

He's Just Not That Into You--This ensemble comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Kris Kristofferson and Kevin Connolly deals with a series of interconnecting relationships and is loosely based on the relationship self-help book of the same name. He's Just Not That Into You was directed by Ken Kwapis (License to Wed). Official Web site: Coming soon.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor--Adventurer/mummy magnet Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), his wife Eve (Maria Bello taking Rachel Weisz's place) and son Alex (Luke Ford) return in this second sequel that finds them traveling to China to face off against the resurrected evil Emperor Han (Jet Li). The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor also stars Michelle Yeoh and was directed by Rob Cohen (Dragonheart). Official Web site: Coming soon.

The Rocker--Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute from TV's "The Office") stars in this comic tale about the ex-drummer of an '80s hair metal band (he got kicked out just before the band hit it big) who gets a second chance at fame when his nephew's high school band needs a new drummer. The Rocker also stars Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Josh Gad and was directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty). Official Web site: Coming soon.

August 8

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2--Those girls with the magical jeans are back; this time we see them parting ways to go to college, but keeping in touch by sharing their experiences as they begin their journey to adulthood. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 also stars America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively and Josh Barclay Caras and was directed by Sanaa Hamri (Something New). Official Web site: www.sisterhoodofthetravelingpants2.com.
Pineapple Express--This stoner comedy (the title refers to, well, reefer) about two dazed and confused friends (Seth Rogan and James Franco) who are forced to go on the paranoia-filled run after one of them witnesses a cop commit a murder. Pineapple Express also stars Craig Robinson, James Remar and Joe Lo Truglio and was directed by David Gordon Green (Snow Angels). Official Web site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/pineappleexpress.

August 15

The International--Clive Owen stars in this action thriller as an Interpol agent who risks it all in an attempt to uncover the dirty dealings (money laundering, arms trading, destabilization of governments, library book theft ... OK, I made that last one up) of one of the world's most powerful banks. The International also stars Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Jack McGee and Armin Mueller-Stahl and was directed by Tom Tykwer. Official Web site: Coming soon.

Tropic Thunder--This comedy directed by and starring Ben Stiller details the misadventures of a group of self-absorbed actors (including Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.) filming a war movie who end up becoming real soldiers after the studio financing the movie drops out due to its ballooning budget and the director refuses to stop filming. Tropic Thunder also stars Jay Baruchel and Nick Nolte. Official Web site: www.tropicthunder.com.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars--I know what you're thinking--what is this?! How have I never heard of this?! There's a new Star Wars flick coming this summer and it's being unceremoniously released in the last remaining days of the season with little or no (at least yet) fanfare?! Well, before you get your light saber twisted too much in a knot, you should know that this is animated and will soon after appear in series form on Cartoon Network. George Lucas continues his hit (most of the original trilogy) and miss (most of the prequel trilogy) saga by giving us this animated tale that takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and before Anakin slipped too far into the dark side. Star Wars: The Clone Wars was directed by Dave Filoni. Official Web site: Coming soon.

August 22

The Accidental Husband--Uma Thurman stars in this romantic comedy about a radio relationship therapist who causes the breakup of an engagement and finds herself unwittingly married to the now ex-fiancé in question in an act of revenge. The Accidental Husband also stars Colin Firth, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Shepard and Isabella Rossellini and was directed by Griffin Dunne (Addicted to Love). Official Web site: www.theaccidentalhusbandmovie.com.

Bangkok Dangerous--Nicolas Cage stars in this action-thriller about a cold-blooded assassin who, while in the city of the title, winds up falling for a local girl. Bangkok Dangerous also stars Steve Baldocchi, Chris Heebink, James Wearing Smith and Charlie Young and was directed by Oxide and Danny Pang (The Messengers). Official Web site: Coming soon.

The House Bunny--In this comedy, a mansion-ousted (for being too old) Playboy Bunny finds a job as the "housemother" of an unpopular college sorority. The House Bunny stars Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Rumer Willis, Kat Dennings and Monet Mazur and was directed by Fred Wolf (Strange Wilderness). Official Web site: www.thehousebunny.com.

Wild Child--This comedy sees a spoiled rich girl (Emma Roberts) being shipped off to a British boarding school after her father has had enough of her rebellious ways. Wild Child also stars Nick Frost, Aidan Quinn, Shirley Henderson and Natasha Richardson and was directed by Nick Moore. Official Web site: Coming soon.

Hamlet 2--In this comic take on the classic "inspirational teacher" genre, a drama teacher tries to save his high school's drama department by writing and producing an original play entitled "To Be Or Not To Be"--a sequel to the famed William Shakespeare play. Hamlet 2 stars Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, David Arquette and Elizabeth Shue and was directed by Andrew Fleming (Nancy Drew). Official Web site: Coming soon.

August 29

Babylon A.D.--Vin Diesel returns to the big screen in this paranormal thriller about a mercenary who escorts a woman from Russia to China only to find out she carries a virus that could lead to the end of the human race. Babylon A.D. also stars Vincent Cassel, Michelle Yeoh, Melanie Thierry and Gerard Depardieu and was directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika). Official Web site: Coming soon.

That's the summer movie season in a huge, air-conditioned, popcorn-stuffed nutshell. Here's hoping there are more hits than misses. As always, dates are subject to change without notice. See you in line!

The author, a Delavan native, is an art director at The Cimarron Group, a motion picture and television advertising company in Los Angeles.

ooo

1 Comments:

Anonymous ashii said...

Prince caspian is the most awaited movie this summer. That's my favorite this year. Ben Barnes, William Moseley and Skander Keynes are all just stunning.
I have read all the books. They are simply great.
The countdown has begun....17 days to go! i just can't wait.

April 29, 2008 5:42 AM  

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