Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Spring 2007 Movie Preview

After what has been a less than lovely winter season for a lot of the country, which certainly includes these parts, it’s about time for the return of spring. And not a moment too soon, as my skin has been drying up like the Chicago Cubs’ chances of ever winning a World Series.

Never one to wait until the official changeover on the calendar, Hollywood makes it a point to always begin their movie seasons early. Thus, the spring movie season is set to be thrust upon us, beginning Friday. As usual, there will be some duds mixed in here, but there’s always some gems to be found, including the long awaited return to the director’s chair from a couple of acclaimed authors (David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino).

So sit back, grab some popcorn (or a healthier alternative) and prepare for the next couple of months in your movie going experiences. Once again, release dates are subject to change.

“Black Snake Moan”

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson
Directed by Craig Brewer

Following up the critically acclaimed success of his last feature, “Hustle and Flow,” director Craig Brewer has certainly crafted something different again, as a bluesman (Jackson) takes it upon himself to save a young woman (Ricci) from heading down a path of sin. How he does so is, let’s say a bit unorthodox.
(March 2)
Official Web site

“Wild Hogs”
Starring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Jill Hennessey and Ray Liotta
Directed by Walt Becker

There’s always room for good comedies with a good cast, but the premise to this one (four middle-aged men deciding to take a motorcycle trip) looks a little tired. Still, there’s a lot of good acting talent here that might be able to lift the material beyond its somewhat tired sounding storyline. Anyway, isn’t it about time for another comeback for Travolta? (March 2)
Official Web site

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney
Directed by David Fincher

Directing his first film since 2003’s “Panic Room,” director David Fincher remains in dark territory here, with a film based on the Robert Graysmith (played by Gyllenhaal) books about the Zodiac serial killer that tormented San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s. Ruffalo and Edwards play police inspectors on the case, while Downey plays a newspaper crime reporter. Early buzz on this is very good, with some saying it’s Fincher’s best yet. That would be a significant accomplishment. (March 2)
Official Web site

Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham and Dominic West
Directed by Zack Snyder

Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (“Sin City”) comes a story depicting the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. that pitted a small group of Spartans against the Persian army. Snyder showed with his entertaining update of “Dawn of the Dead” that he has some skills. Plus, the visuals on this look outstanding. But can a hyperviolent action pic attract a wide enough audience for success? (March 9)
Official Web site

“I Think I Love My Wife”
Starring Chris Rock, Kerry Washington, Gina Torres and Steve Buscemi
Directed by Chris Rock

Rock is pulling down triple duty in this movie, co-writing, starring and directing a comedic tale of a man struggling to maintain the passion in his marriage. Further complicating matters is when he crosses paths of a beautiful woman (Washington) who used to be involved with his best friend. Having been involved in projects such as the TV show, “Everybody Hates Chris,” it’s good to see him return to the big screen in his first starring role since 2003. (March 16)
Official Web site

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra and Ned Beatty
Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Wahlberg stars as an ex-Marine Corps sniper who is brought back into service to foil an assassination attempt. But when he’s double crossed and framed for the attempt, he works to uncover who was involved and why. The story of a wrongfully accused man seeking to expose a conspiracy is a tried and true formula for Hollywood. But whether or not this good cast and director Fuqua (“Training Day”) can bring anything new to the table remains to be seen. (March 16)
Official Web site

Starring Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Kate Nelligan, Amber Valletta and Peter Stormare
Directed by Mennan Yapo

A woman (Bullock) who seemingly has the life she’s dreamed of, finds it turned upside down when she receives news of her husband (McMahon) dying in a car crash. The next morning she awakens to find him alive, believing the news to be a very vivid dream. But signs start pointing to her that it was more than a dream. An interesting concept with an interesting star that might require more than a couple leaps in logic to make it all work. (March 16)
Official Web site

“The Hills Have Eyes 2”
Starring Michael McMillan, Jacob Vargas, Flex Alexander, Jessica Stroup
Directed by Martin Weisz

Keeping the seemingly never ending train of horror flicks churning out comes a quick sequel to the 2006 film, which was itself a remake of a Wes Craven film from the 1970s. The plot involves a group of National Guard trainees coming into contact with a band of mutants out in the desert. Their military training probably didn’t quite prepare them for this. (March 23)
Official Web site

“Reign Over Me”
Starring Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler, Saffron Burrows, Donald Sutherland, Mike Binder
Directed by Mike Binder

Finally following up on the dramatic promise he showed in “Punch-Drunk Love,” Sandler co-stars with Cheadle as former college roommates who meet up again years later in Manhattan, with both their lives seemingly going in very different directions. Charlie (Sandler) has shut out most everything in his life after suffering a tragic loss in 9/11, while Alan (Cheadle) is feeling overwhelmed with all the new responsibilities in his life. This marks writer/director Binder’s follow-up to the underrated “The Upside of Anger.” (March 23)
Official Web site

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
Starring the voices of James Arnold Taylor, Mikey Kelley, Mitchell Whitfield, Nolan North, Mako, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Patrick Stewart
Directed by Kevin Munroe

Remember these guys? Well, they’re back, whether you wanted them or not. This time out, it’s an all-CGI affair for the foursome of fighting turtles against an army of ancient monsters. Just goes to show you that everything old can be new again. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to a good thing. (March 23)
Official Web site

“Are We Done Yet?”
Starring Ice Cube, Nia Long, John C. McGinley, Aleisha Allen, Philip Daniel Bolden
Directed by Steve Carr

It’s been two years since “Are We There Yet?,” the slight box office hit starring Ice Cube. Coming straight from the unnecessary sequel department is another “comedy” about a family moving into a “fixer upper” house, only to find it far from ideal when an eccentric contractor (McGinley) takes on the job. (April 4)
Official Web site

Starring Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn, Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino

Some may call it a brilliant marketing idea, while other might deem it as more of an ego trip, but longtime friends and directors Rodriguez (“Sin City”) and Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”) have decided to combine their talents into one big feature film that is actually broken into two unrelated action-filled horror segments. Rodriguez helms “Planet Terror,” while Tarantino is behind “Death Proof.” In between the two segments will be coming attractions to fake films. Clearly, the two are looking to indulge themselves a little, hoping audiences come along for what should be a fun ride. (April 6)
Official Web site

“The Reaping”
Starring Hilary Swank, David Morrisey, Idris Elba, AnnaSophia Robb
Directed by Stephen Hopkins

Oscar winner Swank stars as a former Christian missionary who has become an expert in disproving religious phenomena. But when she arrives in a small Louisiana town, the Biblical plagues that seem to be occurring prove to be her biggest challenge yet. This is a bit of a departure for Swank, but she seems believeable as a potential action hero. Still, whether she can help ground the story’s somewhat shaky premise may be another story. (April 6)
Official Web site

“Perfect Stranger”
Starring Bruce Willis, Halle Berry, Giovanni Ribisi, Gary Dourdan
Directed by James Foley

Looking to find out the truth behind her friend’s murder, a reporter (Berry) goes undercover, leading her on the path to Harrison Hill (Willis), a multi-millionaire with some dark secrets. This psychological thriller looks somewhat interesting, but one still has to think that former Oscar winner Berry seems capable of more than this. And which actor is playing Balki in this? Oh wait, that’s “Perfect Strangers.” (April 13)
Official Web site

Starring Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer and Carrie-Anne Moss
Directed by D.J. Caruso

A troubled teen (LaBeouf) gets placed under house arrest, but finds his situation a precarious one upon becoming convinced his neighbor (Morse) is a serial killer. And no, this isn’t a remake of “Rear Window.” I mean, who could believe Jimmy Stewart ever being under house arrest, or a troubled teen for that matter?
(April 13)
Official Web site

“Hot Fuzz”
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent
Directed by Edgar Wright

From the same guys who created the darkly funny “Shaun of the Dead,” comes a high-octane action comedy about a standout cop (Pegg) getting transferred to a small town, only to discover himself in the midst of a series of suspicious deaths taking place. So it’s up to him and his witless partner (Frost) to solve the crimes. (April 20)
Official Web site

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Billy Burke, Rosalind Pike
Directed by Gregory Hoblit

Coming off his Oscar nominated turn for “Half-Nelson,” Gosling gets a chance to square off against an Oscar winner (Hopkins), playing a young assistant DA rising the career ladder. But complications set in when he takes on a case involving a man accused of shooting his wife. (April 20)
Official Web site

Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel and Peter Falk
Directed by Lee Tamahori

Cage, starring in what might be his 20th movie in the past year, headlines as a man who can see into the future, thus capable of changing events before they happen. This makes him a target of a government organization looking to use him to help predict future terrorist acts. The trailer shows some good action, but Cage’s hair is definitely not his best look. But this wouldn’t be the first follically-challenged role he’s taken on. (April 27)
Official Web site

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