Saturday, April 22, 2006

Summer 2006 Movie Preview

Wow, where in the world did the spring go?! Just a quick glance at the calendar and you’ll see May is just around the corner. And now that in recent years Hollywood has ditched the long standing tradition of kicking off the summer movie season over Memorial Day weekend, the big movies waste no time at making a play for your time and money as May begins. Movies like “The Mummy Returns” and “Van Helsing” have employed this strategy to largely successful results, despite the fact that their primary audience was still in school. Doing so also helps movies avoid the jam packed release schedules in the months of June and July, while getting a head start on the box office battle.

This year’s summer movie schedule has got a lot of promising looking and sounding films, mixed in with the usual overblown junk that is splattered on movie screens at this time of year. The aforementioned head start strategy will be launched on the very first Friday of next month with no less than a big-budget sequel starring Tom Cruise and helmed by “Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams. As a side note, Paramount is obviously pleased with the job done by Abrams that they’ve entrusted their most profitable franchise to him. He’s just been tabbed to direct the 11th installment of the “Star Trek” movie series.

But back on the central subject, let’s take a look at what we’ll be seeing open in a theater near us for the next few months. With such a busy schedule to cover, you might want to go grab some refreshments before jumping in, as this could take a while.

“Mission: Impossible 3”

Starring Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Keri Russell and Michelle Monaghan
You would be hard pressed to find a better looking cast than this one for the third installment of the “Mission: Impossible” series, featuring a newly named Oscar winner (Hoffman) to boot. Hoffman plays the baddie in this one, making life rough for secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF team. J.J. Abrams directs from a script by himself, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who have collaborated on many TV episodes of “Alias” and “Lost.” The first two films in the series were both big money makers and there’s certainly a buzz that this one should be the biggest and best of them all. No pressure or anything. (May 5)
Official Web site

Starring Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Emmy Rossum, Jacinda Barrett, Mike Vogel, Jimmy Bennett, Mia Maestro, Andre Braugher and Richard Dreyfuss
A luxury cruise ship runs into big trouble (no, Kathy Lee Gifford isn’t on board) when a huge wave capsizes it, turning the journey into a struggle for survival for the passengers, which includes a veritable cornucopia of characters. Hope the ship is reinforced for possible scenery chewing. Of course, this film is a remake of the 1972 disaster classic, although this film evidently doesn’t want to call itself an “adventure.” To each his own. Director Wolfgang Petersen is back in the water with his third movie to center around boats (“Das Boot,” “The Perfect Storm”). Is this a fetish or what? (May 12)
Official Web site

“The Da Vinci Code”
Starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jurgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany and Jean Reno
The big screen adaptation of the seemingly unstoppable best-selling novel by Dan Brown, “The Da Vinci Code” reunites star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard (both of whom met with great success on “Apollo 13”). Hanks plays Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (somebody that badly needed to see a barber, evidently) who is called to the scene of a murder, only to find clues in the works of Da Vinci that point to a conspiracy and secret society within the Catholic church. I’m willing to give Hanks and Howard the benefit of the doubt here, but let’s go easy on the Catholic-bashing. (May 19)
Official Web site

“Over the Hedge”
Starring the voices of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, Avril Lavigne, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy and Wanda Sykes
The suburbs meets the woods when a group of woodland animals find their land being infringed on by a housing development. Rather than run away, the animals find their own way to deal with their new neighbors. This certainly has got some good talent involved, but have audiences seen one too many animated animal movies lately? There seems to be a new one every other week. (May 19)
Official Web site

“X-Men: The Last Stand”
Starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden and Patrick Stewart
Director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”) takes over for Bryan Singer in this third (and stressed, final) installment of the “X-Men” series. Although that can’t be completely believed, as a Wolverine spin-off, starring Hugh Jackman, has already been announced. But as for this one, the gang’s all back, even adding Kelsey Grammer as a superstrong blue-furred mutant. (Way to go, Frazier!) Some of the hardcore fans have been critical of Ratner as the director, but maybe they should at least reserve judgment until they’ve seen it. Radical concept, I know. (May 26)
Official Web site

“The Break Up”

Starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, John Michael Higgins, Vincent D’Onofrio
A couple buys an expensive condo, only to later decide to split up, with both stubbornly hoping the other will move out. That’s a simple enough premise and as far as comedians go, Vince Vaughn is “so money” right now, to snag one of his catchphrases from “Swingers.” Incidentally, his co-star and friend in that movie, Jon Favreau, is also in this one. Oh, and so is some girl named Jennifer Aniston. I think she and Vaughn might kind of like each other. I haven’t really heard much, so I can’t be sure. (June 2)
Official Web site

“The Omen”
Starring Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Gambon and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
Amazingly, it’s been 30 years since the original “Omen” was released and evidently, that’s long enough of a wait before doing a remake. Why leave generally good horror movies well enough alone when there’s more money to be made? At any rate, Damien (Davey-Fitzpatrick) is back and his parents aren’t going to get much guidance from parenting books about how to deal with your child when he’s the Antichrist. (June 6 – 06/06/06 – Get it?)
Official Web site

Starring the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Richard Petty, Bonnie Hunt, Dan Whitney, John Ratzenberger, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, George Carlin
Before the very expensive buyout of Pixar by Disney, this was to be the last film that the two animation giants would be involved in together. But now, the collaboration that delivered “Toy Story 1 & 2,” “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.” should continue – and that’s good news for those looking for good quality family entertainment. That said, can “Cars” deliver what would be the seventh straight box office smash for Pixar? This one could be a challenge. (June 9)
Official Web site

“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”
Starring Bow Wow, Lucas Black, Brian Tee, Nikki Griffin, Sung Kang, Jason Tobin, Nathalie Kelley
A sequel basically in name only, as no stars remain from the first two films, and the series has its third different director. However, it does still have cars going really fast, and one would assume spectacular driving stunts and crashes. And isn’t that the only real reason the first two movies were successful in the first place? No one was going to those to witness outstanding acting and stories that engaged the mind, were they? For what it’s worth, this one is set in the underground world of Japanese drift racing and speed limits are likely to be exceeded. (June 16)
Official Web site

“Nacho Libre”
Starring Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Héctor Jimenez, Richard Montoya and Peter Stormare
From the creators of “Napoleon Dynamite” comes this comedy starring Jack Black as Ignacio (nicknamed “Nacho”), a priest who decides to become a wrestler to raise money for his Mexican orphanage. It’s hard to tell which is more of a stretch, Black as a priest or as a Mexican, but for anyone who’s seen “Napoleon Dynamite” and/or the trailer for this, expect a lot of that same odd sense of humor to reign. (June 16)
Official Web site

“Garfield’s A Tale of Two Kitties”
Starring Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Billy Connolly, Lucy Davis, Ian Abercrombie, and the voice of Bill Murray
As if once wasn’t enough, here comes the kind of creepy animated feline back for more in this sequel that no one asked for. Garfield (voiced by Murray) tags along with his owner Jon (Meyer) to England, where the cat is promptly mistaken for a look-alike who has inherited a castle. Naturally, there’s a villain (Connolly) looking to do away with him, as he has designs on turning the castle into a resort. (June 16)
No official Web site yet.

Starring Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, Blake Heron, David Hasselhoff, Henry Winkler, Julie Kavner and Sean Astin
Adam Sandler finally portrays somebody in a movie that isn’t in a state of arrested development, as he’s Michael Newman, a family man that has too many demands for his time. He goes shopping for a remote control one day and is given one with magical powers that allow him to better control his life. Do they sell those at Best Buy? If so, I need to get me one. Maybe this is the sign of a more mature Sandler comedy. Then again, that just may be wishful thinking. (June 23)
Official Web site

“Superman Returns”
Starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Eva Marie Saint, Parker Posey, Sam Hunington, Kal Penn and Kevin Spacey
Relative unknown Brandon Routh dons the tights of the Man of Steel in this fifth big screen film of Superman. (Of course, most would be better off forgetting the previous two efforts.) This one takes place chronologically a couple years after the events of “Superman II,” as Superman takes an extended break only to find many things have changed in his absence. One thing that hasn’t is the nefarious scheming of archenemy Lex Luthor (Spacey), who has hatched another evil plan. Director Bryan Singer left the helm of “X-Men” to take on his childhood dream job, and the early buzz is good. (June 30)
Official Web site

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgard, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally and Jonathan Pryce
After the huge success of the first “Pirates,” Disney green-lighted not one, but two sequels. So in this first one, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is racing against time to find a way out of a debt to the legendary Davy Jones (not the Monkee) or face eternal damnation. He once again enlists the reluctant help of Will Turner (Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) to save his hide. Director Gore Verbinski is also back on board in what should be one of the summer’s biggest hits. (July 7)
Official Web site

“You, Me and Dupree”
Starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon and Michael Douglas
Wilson stars as Dupree, a perpetual bachelor and slacker who is invited to stay at his best friend’s place for a few days, as he attempts to get his life back on track. But his friend (Dillon) and his new wife (Hudson) find starting their new life together a challenge with Dupree around. Wilson could probably do this kind of role in his sleep by now, but hopefully, he’ll bring something new to the table here. There is reason for hope, as directors Joe and Anthony Russo were both quite involved in TV’s late, great “Arrested Development.” (July 14)
Official Web site

“Lady in the Water”
Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffery Wright, Bob Balaban, Freddy Rodriguez, Sarita Choudury, Jared Harris, Bill Irwin
A building superintendent (Giamiatti) finds his life transformed after finding a sea nymph (Howard) swimming in his apartment complex’s pool. Hopefully, M. Night Shyamalan can get back on track after the disappointing taste left behind by “The Village.” Howard, who was the best part of that film, reunites with the writer-director, while Giamatti gets a chance to once again take on a bit of a romantic lead. (July 21)
Official Web site

“Miami Vice”
Starring Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciaran Hinds, Justin Theroux
The hit 1980s cop drama gets an updated makeover as it makes a trip to the big screen, with Farrell and Foxx portraying Detectives Crockett and Tubbs. No word on whether the cool theme music will make the cut, but writer-director Michael Mann knows a little bit about the series – he was its executive producer when it aired on NBC. (July 28)
Official Web site

“The Ant Bully”

Starring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Paul Giamatti, Lily Tomlin, Cheri Oteri, Alan Cumming, Regina King, Ricardo Montalban, Zach Tyler Eisen
Tired of being picked on by a school bully, a 10-year-old decides to take it out on an ant hill in his yard. But the ants get revenge through a magic potion that shrinks him to their size and put him to work for them. This one’s from the director of “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. The voice talent ain’t too shabby, either. (Aug. 4)
Official Web site

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”
Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sascha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch
From the slightly twisted minds behind “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy” comes this equally wordy and overstated tale of an intelligence-deficient guy (again played by Ferrell) trying to stay on top in his profession. This time, it's the world of NASCAR, as a flamboyant French racer (Cohen) challenges Ricky Bobby’s status as the sport’s top racer. Anyone who’s seen “Anchorman” should be prepared for this film’s likely anything for a laugh mentality. (Aug. 4)
Official Web site

“Flags of Our Fathers”
Starring Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, Barry Pepper, John Benjamin Hickey
Taking a significant departure from many of the season’s movies that preceded it, comes a true World War II story based on the book by James Bradley that focuses on the Battle of Iwo Jima. Before you dismiss this as yet another war movie, keep this in mind: It’s directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay by Paul Haggis, the same combo that struck Oscar gold in 2004 with “Million Dollar Baby,” also a late summer release. You might want to start placing some Oscar bets on this one for 2007. (Aug. 4)
No official Web site yet.

“World Trade Center”
Starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jay Hernandez
OK, it has to be said that the combination of director Oliver Stone and anything to do with 9/11 probably has many people a bit uneasy. This is, after all, the director of “JFK” and “Nixon.” But on the other hand, this story mostly focuses on the true story of two Port Authority policeman John McLoughlin (Cage) and Will Jimeno (Peña), who got trapped in the WTC rubble and their subsequent rescue. The strong cast is another plus, so we’ll see what kind of controversy follows. (Aug. 9)
Official Web site

“Snakes on a Plane”
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Phillips, Benjamin McKenzie, Julianna Margulies
In what may be a first for a studio, New Line Cinema recently had the makers of this action pic go back for reshoots to make the movie more violent, as it’s now aiming to move the rating from a PG-13 to R. The movie centers on an FBI agent (Jackson) trying to keep a witness on a plane alive after an assassin has unleashed hundreds of reptiles on board. There’s already a ravenous fan following of this movie, months before it’s set to open. But will this be a case of too much attention, too early? (Aug. 18)
Official Web site

“Clerks 2: The Passion of the Clerks”
Starring Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Kevin Weisman, Wanda Sykes
It’s 12 years after the original “Clerks” and Dante (O’Halloran) and Randall (Anderson) have still not really grown up, nor have Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith). But will a fire that destroys the stores where they work and hang out change all that? Writer-director Smith returns to the scene of his first film, presumably to finally put these characters to bed. Expect lots of cameos from some of his friends, including Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, both of whom have appeared in most, if not all of his films. (Aug. 18)
Official Web site


Jack said...

What, no preview of The Simpson's Movie set for this summer?

MC said...

Actually, The Simpsons will be coming to theaters in summer 2007. They just wanted to get the word out really, really early.

Jack said...


RC said...

Love some of the picks on your list...especially flags of our fathers, lady in the water...


8 of your films landed on my recent list of movies that make me want to vomit...Garfield deserves no place on any good list.

--RC of

MC said...

Make no mistake – not all the movies on this list deserve to be successful. These are merely some of the ones that likely will be (Garfield too, unfortunately. After all, it made enough to actually warrant a sequel).

Anonymous said...

What, no preveiw of football movie "Invicible" the true story of Vince Papale. Coming out August 25?