Sunday, April 15, 2007

Summer Movie Preview 2007 – Part 1

Sequels are all over the place this summer movie season, which begins early again this year, with none other than “Spider-Man 3” swinging into theaters May 4. Most summers, it would look to be the odds-on favorite to win the box office crown. But at the end of May comes Captain Jack Sparrow, as the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie seeks to make it back-to-back years as the box office champ, coming off the record-breaking success of last summer’s sequel.

It’s shaping up to be a real clash of the titans in May, with the third “Shrek” sequel (are you sensing a trend here?) also poised to pull in big numbers. Everybody in the wake of these three will need to hold on tight, as it could be a bumpy ride. That’s not to say there isn’t any competition, as there’s plenty out there that extends well beyond May. But because of that, this first part will just focus on May and June.

So get out those calendars, and start making plans. People have got a lot of movie watching to do over the next few months. Those poor people in Hollywood are depending on your generosity.

“Spider-Man 3”
Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell, Rosemary Harris

After the huge success of the first two films, there’s no denying this has the opportunity to be the biggest of the three, with the principal cast and crew returning for the web slinger’s latest adventure. Spidey (Maguire) is dealing with two new villains, Sandman (Church) and Venom (Grace), as well as a changing suit that brings out a darker, more vengeful side of him. Getting an early jump on the competition this summer could mean really big box office receipts. (May 4)
Official Web site

“Lucky You”
Starring Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall, Debra Messing

What an apt name for a movie that gets to open the same weekend as “Spider-Man.” Warner Bros. is obviously seeing this movie as counter programming to the superhero, but why this movie was plucked from its original fall release date to land here is a mystery. For what it’s worth, Bana stars as a professional poker player who runs into his estranged father (Duvall) and falls in love with a singer (Barrymore) while out in Las Vegas. (May 4)
Official Web site

“28 Weeks Later”
Starring Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Idris Elba, Mackintosh Muggleton

A sequel to the hit film, “28 Days Later,” this movie takes place, well, as the title suggests, 28 weeks after the aftermath of the deadly virus that struck Great Britain. The war against the virus has been declared won and refugees from the country begin to return. But it’s not long before the virus makes its way back too. The original’s director, Danny Boyle, is back as an executive producer, but the directing reins have been passed over to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. (May 11)
Official Web site

“Georgia Rule”
Starring Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, Felicity Huffman, Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes, Garrett Hedlund

It seemed like much of this movie’s previous publicity centered around problems the producers were having with Lohan and her partying lifestyle. A stint in rehab later and all seems to be OK, right? Well, who knows for real? But having a couple of Oscar winners (Fonda and Huffman) in the cast sure can’t hurt the film’s credibility. And Lohan is no acting slouch, given the right material. (May 11)
Official Web site

“Shrek the Third”
Starring the voice of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Cheri O’Teri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, John Krasinski, Ian McShane

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve really enjoyed the “Shrek” movies, but doesn’t it seem like the cast size is becoming increasingly huge. I mean, look at the size of the cast above. Still, that’s some impressive vocal talent at the service of a story that finds Shrek (Myers) seeking a suitable heir to the throne, while Princess Fiona (Diaz) has to unite the kingdom from an attempted coup from the jilted Prince Charming (Everett). As the first real family-oriented picture of the summer, big business is a foregone conclusion.(May 18)
Official Web site

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”
Starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Chow Yun-Fat, Stellan Skarsgård, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally and Jonathan Pryce

Following on the heels of the colossal success of last summer’s “Pirates” sequel, Disney is positioning itself to try and capture the top box office grosser again this year, in the midst of some heavy competition in May. But it’s hard to underestimate the sea legs of Captain Jack (Depp) at this point, after such an impressive run less than 12 months ago. A quick return on their investment was a primary reason why the film’s producers shot the sequels back-to-back.(May 25)
Official Web site

“Knocked Up”
Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr

Writer/director Judd Apatow’s follow-up to 2005’s hit, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” has one of that film’s stars (Rogen) playing a immature slacker whose one-night stand with a young journalist (Heigl) leads to her unexpected pregnancy. She decides to give the guy a chance to be a father, forcing both of them to quickly grow up and learn about each other. OK, so the story’s central plot isn’t groundbreaking. Still, Apatow has shown the ability to mine laughter and find depth in seemingly shallow stories before. (June 1)
Official Web site

“Mr. Brooks”
Starring Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt, Marg Helgenberger, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Danielle Panabaker

Costner’s getting all bloodthirsty here, playing a successful businessman and loving father, who also has a bit of a secret hobby – he kills people. Complete with a sinister alter ego (Hurt), Brooks runs into problems when an amateur photographer (Cook) witnesses one of his crimes, while a relentless detective (Moore) starts putting the pieces together. After many years of portraying good guys on screen, it could be interesting to see Costner only pretending to play another one here. (June 1)
Official Web site

“Ocean’s 13”
Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould and Al Pacino

While a fair number of viewers were put off by “Ocean’s 12,” the gang is back where it belongs for this sequel (Las Vegas), taking on a ruthless casino owner (Pacino) who double crosses one of their own. Steven Soderbergh directs again, with Clooney, Pitt, Damon and Co. looking to recapture that fun Sin City vibe they had in the original. (June 8)
Official Web site

“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”
Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher

The first “Fantastic Four,” while technically a box office hit, wasn’t a huge hit with audiences or critics. So this one might be the key to determining whether this is really a film franchise or just a couple of expensive and mediocre movies. The title villain has come to earth to destroy it, while the foursome’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Doom (McMahon), has emerged from captivity. Surprise, surprise, surprise! (June 15)
Official Web site

“Nancy Drew”
Starring Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Max Thieriot, Rachael Leigh Cook and Tate Donovan

Not that I have anything against Nancy, but how does she get a big screen version of her character before the Hardy Boys? Those guys were awesome! But, back to Ms. Drew (Roberts), she heads out to Hollywood with her father (Donovan) on a business trip, only to stumble over a long-unsolved crime. (June 15)
Official Web site

“Evan Almighty”
Starring Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Goodman, John Michael Higgins, Jimmy Bennett, Wanda Sykes, Jonah Hill

Ditching Jim Carrey, God (Freeman) turns to Evan Baxter (Carell, reprising his role from “Bruce Almighty”) as his next subject to appear before, instructing Evan to build an ark. Evan, who has just recently been elected as a congressman, feels compelled to comply, despite his family and co-workers befuddlement. Carell is a hot commodity right now and while the entire sequel’s cast, save for him and Freeman, is new, this could be a solid hit. (June 22)
Official Web site

“Live Free or Die Hard”
Starring Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant, Jeffrey Wright, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jonathan Sadowski

Some of you will know this better as “Die Hard 4,” but the filmmakers don’t like putting numbers behind these sequels, evidently (see “Die Hard with a Vengeance”). Still, all you need to know is Willis is back as John McClane, ready to trip up the plans of another dastardly villain. This time, he’s got the guy from those Apple computer ads (Long) helping him out. But sorry, there’s no PC in sight. A dozen years after the last sequel, is there enough gas left in this vehicle’s tank? (June 27)
Official Web site

Starring the voices of Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O'Toole, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, Julius Callahan, James Remar, John Ratzenberger, Teddy Newton, Tony Fucile, Jake Steinfeld, Brad Bird, Laurent Spelvogel

Looking to continue it’s stellar track record at the box office, Pixar Animation returns with another original concoction, this one surrounding around a group of rats and a gourmet restaurant in Paris. Well, it’s not what you’d consider a slam dunk of a concept. Actually, it sounds a bit unsanitary. But judging that this is coming from Pixar and director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), you’ve got to be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But why use such a tough name for kids (and some adults) to pronounce? (June 29)
Official Web site

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