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SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW (2000) by COOP

Posted on May 14th, 2008
Posted on May 14th, 2008

The summer movie season is upon us and Hollywood has already pulled out some big guns. “Gladiator” and “Dinosaur” are still doing well. “Mission Impossible 2” seems to be a huge early success. So why does Hollywood put out so many of their “summer movies” out before summer? It’s a race like any other actually. Most are trying to beat out the competition while others are troubled projects that didn’t make their due date last year.
Why all the hype about summer movies? Simply because the kids get out of school then. Having time and money on their hands, they flock to the swimming pools, entertainment centers and movie multiplexes in search for amusement. That, plus the massive movie hype, spills over into the adult demographic, setting off the race to release the most entertaining, and highest grossing film to the general masses.
Hollywood released many of their most anticipated films early this year, but many of them were aimed more at adults and had more mature themes. Now that the first horses have gotten out of the gate and the kiddies are finally out of school, let’s take a look at the most furious part of the summer race… The June through early August round-up.
Next in line to make a heap-load of summer tickets is “Gone in 60 Seconds” (June 9). This action flick is a remake of a 1974 car-wreck disguised as a film. Nicholas Cage, Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall, star as car thieves making one last big score in order to save a friend in trouble. Sounds promising, but I have reservations considering this was put together by Mega-Producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Known for making similar films such as “Con-Air” and “Armageddon”, Bruckheimer has a knack for making mindless movies, even if they are visually intense and entertaining.
On the teen-comedy end we have “Boys and Girls” (June 16) starring Jason Biggs of “American Pie” fame and teen idol, Freddie Prinze Jr. Prinze has no range, finding a one-note career in making silly romantic comedies aimed at the female teen market. Biggs has a tad bit more promise, also starring in another teen comedy “Loser” (July 21) opposite “American Pie’s” Meena Suvari. Neither looks very original, but Biggs seems to have some watchable talent.
“Shaft”, the much anticipated remake of the 1971 film that kicked of the “Blaxploitation” genre, kicks off on June 16. Samuel Jackson takes over as the title character with the original John Shaft, Richard Roundtree, appearing in a supporting role. Christian Bale of “American Psycho” infamy gets typecast as the villain in a film that doesn’t seem to resemble much of the original. That might be a good thing, but the trailer seems overly campy and the film is already plagued with negative rumors. Apparently a sex scene involving Jackson was cut because the studio felt that Jackson had no sex appeal. What is the point of a Shaft without sex appeal? Regardless, I expect it to make a good return at the box office.
Two animated films “Titan A.E.”(June 16) and “Chicken Run”(June 23) will both feature voices by numerous, A-list celebrities. “Titan” looks like a more serious, sci-fi adventure that boasts revolutionary effects in animation. That’s strange considering it looked very lame and out of date in the trailer I saw. “Chicken Run” looks much more promising. This claymation comedy, made my the award-winning creators of the hilarious “claymation” cartoons “Wallace and Gromit”, looks funny, smart and masterfully animated. Its excellent marketing campaign spoofing “Gladiator” and “MI:2” are hilarious and I expect it to be the smartest comedy aimed at kids this summer.
Other June comedies, such as “Me, Myself and Irene”(June 23) and “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle”(June 30) showcase big names and zany plots. “Irene” stars Jim Carrey as a state trooper with a split personality. When both personalities fall in love with the same woman, wackiness ensues. Directed by the Farrelly brothers, the creators of “There’s Something about Mary”, expect lots of physical gags and gross-out jokes. Not something I look forward too, but these filmmakers do make consistently entertaining comedies. “Rocky and Bullwinkle” stars Jason Alexander (Costanza from “Seinfeld”) as Boris, Rene Russo as Natasha and Robert De Niro as Fearless Leader. What I want to know is… Why now? Why choose the summer of 2000 to make a live-action motion picture of a 1961 cartoon that wasn’t very funny in the first place? Beats me but I hope it at least has some fun camp value.
“Scary Movie”(July 7) and “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”(July 28) are two July comedies with strong African-American ties. “Scary Movie”, made by the Wayans brothers, is a spoof poking fun at “Scream” and every other recent horror movie success. Word has it that the film had to go through extensive re-cutting due to excessive raunchiness, yet the film does look smart and funny (fun fact: “Scream” was originally entitled “Scary Movie” until the studio changed it). “The Klumps” is a sequel bringing back our favorite characters from the first film, the overweight and dysfunctional Klump family, each one played by Eddie Murphy. Good move by the filmmakers considering these characters made the last movie watchable and hilarious. However, the sequel’s trailer only showcases gross-out humor. I certainly hope the actual film turns out to be much better than that since it has the potential to be the funniest movie of the year.
Two huge summer action films, “The Patriot”(June 28) and “The Perfect Storm”(June30) round out the end of the month. “Patriot” stars Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger as a father and son thrust into the Revolutionary War. I already have two problems with this film… First the theme and plot are identical to Gibson’s overrated period epic “Braveheart”. Second, the film is directed by Roland Emmerich of “Independence Day”, “Stargate” and the recent, ridiculous “Godzilla” movie. Considering his track record, I don’t think he can handle a serious epic. “The Perfect Storm”, staring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, tells the true-life story of a fishing crew caught in the worst recorded sea conditions in history. Even though the book was a best seller, the film doesn’t look as exciting as it makes itself out to be. Perhaps the competent cast and director Wolfgang Petersen can make this one a sleeper hit.
“The In Crowd”(July 21) and “What Lies Beneath”(July 21) round out the weak crop of July films. “Crowd” looks like a promising college-age thriller about social cliques and murder in a rich, East Coast town. With a fresh-faced cast of unknowns and a wicked plot, this film has the potential to be a strong hit similar to cult favorites like “Heathers” and “Cruel Intentions”. “What Lies Beneath” is a supernatural chiller starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, probably trying to cash in on the recent success of “The Sixth Sense”. Although boasting numerous thrills and twists, the plot and the trailer seem pretty generic and lame. Competent director, Robert Zemeckis does have experience in horror films, being one of the original creators of HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt” series. However, he hasn’t done much directing since 1994’s “Forrest Gump” and his last film, “Contact”, didn’t win me over. If he’s lost his touch then this film is a goner.
Early August, the unofficial end of the summer movie rush, turns out one highly anticipated film with a massive cast and massive potential. “Space Cowboys”(Aug. 4) features Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner and Donald Sutherland as aging, ex-astronauts taking one last mission into space to fix an ancient piece of NASA hardware. With a formula and a cast like
that, how can you lose?

Most Anticipated Films of the Summer:
I’ve chosen three summer films that look interesting and have a lot of potential from my perspective. “X-Men”(July 14), seems to be one of the few sci-fi adventures of the season. Adapted from the wildly successful Marvel comic book, the film takes place on an Earth where a race of super-humans, known as “mutants” have been born into a world that fears them. A psychic, Professor Charles Xavier, organizes a band of powerful mutants to protect both humans and mutants alike as a gesture of good-will to the world. While a Joe McCarthy-like senator, threatens their freedom, they fight evil mutants from waging war against the humans. I’ve been a big fan of the “X-Men” since I was a kid and I was very skeptical about the project since Hollywood has a bad record for making terrible films out of the Marvel comic franchise. Although, the hiring of Brian Singer (director of the incredible “The Usual Suspects”) gave me hope and the trailers make the film look spectacular. I expect good things from this potential blockbuster.
“Hollow Man”(Aug. 4) is horror remake of the 1993 film “The Invisible Man”. Didn’t sound very interesting at first until I saw the trailer, which had to be one of the most frightening previews I’ve ever seen. Director Paul Verhoven made a name for himself directing violent and gory movies like “Robocop”, “Basic Instinct” and “Starship Troopers” and this one is no exception. Kevin Bacon stars as an arrogant scientist who becomes invisible and slowly loses his mind and his conscience. After learning that his colleagues intend to stop him, he goes on a rampage of depravity and murder. This one looks like an intense and very disturbing film and I expect it to be the horror sleeper of the summer.
Finally… “Cut”(Aug. 4) is an Australian film that has already become a cult phenomenon overseas. It’s being marketed as the Aussie answer to the American genre-buster “Scream” and will probably only receive a limited release in the U.S. The plot revolves around a cursed film that can’t ever seem to get made because the cast and crew get knocked-off every time someone tries to finish the picture. Brat-pack survivor Molly Ringwald and Australian “pop” sensation, Kylie Minogue lead off the cast of the newly doomed production. If distributors decide to hype this film in America, it might actually make a good bit of return and win over some American fans.
Although most of these films are fairly locked in, some of their release dates will inevitably change. As for the success and quality of these films, expect some big surprises, as well as some big upsets. I’m counting on some of these movies (especially the ones I’m not excited about) to blow me away and crossing my fingers that the ones I’m anticipating don’t disappoint me or flat-out tank at the box office. No matter what, enjoy the summer and buy your tickets with care… because what you decide to see will help Hollywood choose what kind of movies to release for next summer!

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