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Summer Movie Preview

Cassie Belek, Stephanie DePrez, Caitlin Ferarro, and Analise Lipari | Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Crystal SkullMay 22

After almost 20 years in development hell, the fourth Indiana Jones movie, “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull,” is finally being released. Fans of the original trilogy of archeologist-action-hero adventures might question the film’s star himself, given the fact that Harrison Ford is no spring chicken. But with a cast that rounds out with Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen returning as Marion Ravenwood and Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, this latest Spielberg concoction definitely seems promising.Time will tell if “Crystal Skull” will redeem the long-latent characters, or if this fourth Jones film will fall short of success. But with Ford as its eponymous anchor, the possibilities look good.

Sex and the CityMay 30

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) are back together again four years after the hit HBO series ended. The foursome is still trying to find love and get their lives straight with the beautiful backdrop of New York City behind them. Changes are ahead for the girls with an engagement, a new baby, a marriage in trouble and a move to another coast. Have no fear, because the men of the series – Mr. Big (Chris Noth), Steve (David Eigenberg), Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis), and Harry (Evan Handler) – are all back as well. New to the stellar cast is Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson as Carrie’s assistant Louise. The promos promise big plot twists, outrageous fashion statements and salacious girl talk. And be sure to look out for what should be an excellent soundtrack that includes artists such as Fergie, India.Arie, Al Green, Run-D.M.C. and Hudson.

WALL-EJune 27

Since the late 1990ss, they’ve brought you talking toys, talking cars, talking fish and even talking rats. This summer, the wacky minds at Pixar are taking a turn for the robotic. “WALL-E” tells the story of a young robot, of the Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class, who spends his days on a post-industrial earth. When he meets EVE, a sleek new robot who sees a bright future for WALL-E, the film takes off.Pixar’s track record is highly respectable on the whole. None of their films have been real missteps, though some have fared better than others. The success of films like “Finding Nemo” and “Monster’s, Inc.,” two of their strongest releases, bodes well for a solid reception of “WALL-E.” Whether or not audiences can click with a robotic protagonist remains to be seen.

HancockJuly 2

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a force to be reckoned with in “Independence Day,” “Men in Black,” “Bad Boys,” and most recently “I am Legend.” Will Smith aims to bring this star power to his new film “Hancock.” Smith plays the titular character: an edgy, sarcastic, and misunderstood superhero. His heroics get the job done but always seem to leave serious damage behind. When the public has finally had enough, public relations executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), whose life Hancock saves, aims to help the scornful superhero and find his softer side. But Ray’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) insists Hancock is a lost cause. This power-house movie of a quasi-super hero packs plenty of action. Smith has yet to fail his audience, and this should be no exception.

The Dark KnightJuly 18

Christian Bale reprises his role as the Caped Crusader in this sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins.”Bale plays the title role of Batman and billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego. This time around, Batman faces off against his traditional arch nemesis, the sadistic Joker (Heath Ledger, in his final role).Batman works with familiar allies in this film, including his butler Alfred (Michael Caine), Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Gotham City Police Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman). Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Wayne’s love interest Rachel Dawes, a lawyer who works in the DA’s office.Aaron Eckert joins the cast as Gotham district attorney Harvey Dent – a name most Batman fans will recognize as the supervillain Two-Face. Director Christopher Nolan, who directed the first film, takes the helm of this one, as well, meaning fans of “Batman Begins” should be pleased with its sequel.

Mamma Mia!July 18

Meryl Streep has mastered her craft. She’s conquered the fashion world in “The Devil Wears Prada,” agonized with audiences in “Sophie’s Choice,” and even taken to literature with the allusive “The Hours.” But even after all of this success, one question might remain: Can the woman of a thousand accents actually carry a tune?Viewers will find out, for better or for worse, in the movie adaptation of the hit musical “Mamma Mia!” Drawing on the music of disco-era pop icons ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” is light on plot but heavy on frothy fun. The recently released trailer for “Mamma Mia!” was underwhelming at best. Hopefully Streep and crew have what it takes to impress both fans and new viewers alike.

The X-Files: I Want to BelieveJuly 25

Mulder and Scully are back in a film that takes place six years after the season finale of the show anad ten years after the first film. Instead of aliens and extra-terrestrials, the team will be asked to discover the cause of the disappearence of a group of women from rural Virginia. Though the X-Files have been closed for years, Mulder and Scully are called on to use their sci-fi friendly skills to discover why body parts are appearing on the side of the road. The film is being pitched to avid X-Files fans and average movie-goers alike. The lack of any great alien appeal leaves room for those who have never seen the show or followed the plotline to pick up the story fairly easily. The relationship tension between Mulder and Scully remains, and hopes are high for this sci-fi sequal.

American TeenJuly 25

The princess, the jock, the rebel, the geek and the heartthrob. These sound like stereotypes straight from “The Breakfast Club,” but really they are the labels attached to five high school seniors from Warsaw, Ind., as they deal with the pressures of cliques, relationships, family and their impending graduations.Megan, the princess, works to get into her dream school. Colin, the jock, faces enlisting in the army if he doesn’t get a basketball scholarship. Hannah, the rebel, wants to get out of Indiana and find somewhere that she can fit in. Jake, the geek, wants to finally find a girlfriend. And Mitch, the heartthrob, has his eyes set on the artsy Hannah. Directed by Nanette Burstein, “American Teen” won the Directing Award for a documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and has garnered a great deal of critical buzz since then.

The Pineapple ExpressAugust 8

This movie is producer Judd Apatow’s realization of a long0time goal in Hollywood: a “weed action movie.”Written by “Superbad” scribes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film follows stoner Dale Denton (Rogen) and his dealer Saul Silver (James Franco). After Dale witnesses a murder, he leaves behind a strain of marijuana so rare (called Pineapple Express) that it can be traced back to him and Saul. The two go on the run to escape the wrath of a dangerous drug lord who took part in the murder.”Pineapple Express” officially welcomes James Franco back into the Apatow fold. The “Freaks and Geeks” star finished college at UCLA after making some poor movie choices, but now he returns to comedy with his “Freaks and Geeks” co-star Rogen. The film looks to be another summer hit for Apatow, and it even features a theme song written and performed by Huey Lewis.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2August 8

Put those pants back on.Ann Brashares’ highly successful book series “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” was first made into a film three years ago. Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) and company clicked well with teenage audiences in the first film, making the possibility of a sequel pretty likely.Now the girls are three years older, college freshmen still adjusting to adulthood, the real world and life without the constant presence of your best friends. What unites them on the surface, still, is that magical pair of pants. Whether or not audiences buy into any pants-related metaphors, the film seems likely to do well, given its good source material and solid predecessor.

Hamlet 2August 22

Shakespeare probably never envisioned a sequel for his great tragedy “Hamlet” (especially since everyone dies in the end), but that doesn’t mean that a failed actor-turned-drama teacher can’t make a musical sequel to the Bard’s tale. With songs like “Rock Me, Sexy Jesus” and some help from the Tucson Gay Men’s Chorus, drama teacher Dana (Steve Coogan) decides to go out with a bang before the high school he teaches at shuts down its theatre department. Look out for actress Elizabeth Shue playing herself – kind of. She’s now a nurse (but not really) after becoming sick of Hollywood and leaving it behind.Focus Features bought “Hamlet 2” at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival for $10 million, almost tying the $10.5 million record that “Little Miss Sunshine” set in 2006. The irreverent twist on Shakespeare also stars Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler and David Arquette.

The House BunnyAugust 22

If the preview for “The House Bunny” is remarkably reminiscent of “Legally Blonde,” that could be because the screenplay is by “Legally Blonde” writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith (the duo also co-wrote “10 Things I Hate About You”). But while Elle Woods escaped to Harvard, Shelley (Anna Faris) is escaping to a sorority house – although not one that Elle would have ever joined.When Shelley is kicked out of the Playboy Mansion by a rival, she becomes a housemother for a nerdy sorority and helps the girls sign a new pledge class so that they can keep their charter. In the end (after a few makeovers), everyone learns that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Judging from the preview, the real laughs come from the performances of Faris and the sorority girls she helps, played by such actresses as Emma Stone (“Superbad”), Katharine McPhee (“American Idol”) and Rumer Willis (the offspring of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore).