Summer movie preview
With apologies to Halle Berry, this summer doesn’t look so hot
By DEREK TSE — Toronto Sun
Picking our No. 1 flick — Spider-Man 2 — for our summer movie preview was easy. Sifting through the detritus of the other releases in search of nine other films worthy of a top-10 list was the hard part.
In what looks like the weakest summer crop in a long time, the web-slinging crimefighter stands to be the only safe bet in terms of being a crowd-pleasing, mega-bucks-raking hit. Sure, there are several others that could bust out big, but this will be remembered as the summer of the spider.
And then, as they say, there’s Maude.
Opens July 23
– WHAT: When shy graphic designer Patience (Halle Berry) gets caught up in a corporate scandal, she survives an attempt on her life and is reborn as sexy superheroine Catwoman.
– HOT: Berry is smokin’ hot in her feline duds, which pretty much consists of a whip, a leather brassiere and a cat mask.
– COLD: Uh-oh, Internet geek buzz is that this is a steaming pile of kitty litter. Then again, Internet geek buzz proclaimed Chewbacca the person they would most want to meet.
– WE SAY: The last time French director Pitof was allowed near a major Hollywood franchise, the execrable Alien: Resurrection chest-bursted onto the scene. We have a feeling he’s coughed up another hairball here.
9. KING ARTHUR
Opens July 7
– WHAT: A straight-ahead retelling of the legend of Camelot, this historical adventure stars Clive Owen as reluctant leader Arthur, who longs only to return to the relative peace and quiet of Rome but comes to realize tumultuous old Britain needs a king. With the help of a tempestuous Guinevere (Keira Knightley), an unmagical Merlin (Stephen Dillane) and his Knights of the Round Table, he sets out to become that king.
– HOT: Knightley is one of Hollywood’s hottest ingenues; these days, historical epics are all the rage …
– COLD: … sort of. Troy had a big first weekend, but interest dipped significantly afterward. Will audiences go for a medieval tale that doesn’t feature sorcery and magic swords? And can director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Replacement Killers) pull this off?
– WE SAY: Anything would be better than the rancid A Knight’s Tale, the last medieval epic that tried to appeal to younger audiences. But that’s not saying much.
8. THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
Opens June 11
– WHAT: Musclebound anti-hero Riddick (Vin Diesel) is once again forced to fight on the side of good — this time, he battles the evil Lord Marshal (played by Pierre Elliot Trudeau himself, Colm Feore), who wants to transform humans into his army of mindless slaves, the Necromongers. Kind of like Trudeau did.
– HOT: Surprisingly, advance word has been mostly positive; judging from the trailers, the effects look impressive indeed.
– COLD: Those who have been anxiously awaiting a sequel to the cult flick Pitch Black, released in 2000, speak up now. Uh, how about now? (Cue sound of crickets chirping.)
– WE SAY: Diesel, who was supposed to be the next great action superstar a couple of years ago (remember all the hype that attended his action dud, XXX?), needs a hit in a big way; while we’re not sure Chronicles Of Riddick will do that, it should at least be able to, like its predecessor, generate another cult following.
Opens Aug. 6
– WHAT: An ordinary Los Angeles cab driver (Jamie Foxx) faces an extraordinary situation when he’s co-opted by a cold-blooded hitman (Tom Cruise) to chauffeur him around the city. While he kills people.
– HOT: From capable director Michael Mann, whose other sleek odes to testosterone include Heat and The Insider; Cruise plays way against type as the ruthless assassin, who kills one man by throwing him out of a highrise.
– COLD: Will audiences be able to suspend their disbelief at Cruise playing an evil killer — with a shock of white hair, no less? We had enough trouble believing he dumped Penelope Cruz!
– WE SAY: We’re willing to give the Hollywood pretty boy the benefit of the doubt — but we still think ex Nicole Kidman will kick his ass with The Stepford Wives.
6. THE VILLAGE
Opens Aug. 6
– WHAT: An isolated 19th-century village braces itself for an attack by the mysterious creatures who dwell in the surrounding woods. But young Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) is determined to discover these creatures’ secret — even if it means stepping across the forbidden forest boundary.
– HOT: The creepy films of writer-director M. Night Shyamalan are one of Hollywood’s surest bets for a good time at the theatre; the strong cast features Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Adrien Brody.
– COLD: There’s reportedly yet another twist ending — which makes us wonder whether Shyamalan can ever tell a story without trying to pull the rug out from under our feet … and whether he can do it without the convoluted climaxes of Signs and Unbreakable.
– WE SAY: Chalk up another spine-tingling crowd-pleaser for Shyamalan — while we’re sure it’ll be good, we just hope the end justifies the means.
5. THE TERMINAL
Opens June 18
– WHAT: Eastern European native Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) gets stuck in New York when civil war breaks out in his homeland. Ordered not to leave the airport, he stays true to his word, living inside the terminal and having all sorts of heartwarming adventures, including finding love with beautiful stewardess Catherine Zeta-Jones. Somebody please pass the barf bags …
– HOT: From director Steven Spielberg, the best mainstream director working today — you’ve gotta go waaay back (1991’s Hook) to find his last serious misfire; add Hanks to the bill, and you’ve got a film discerning adults can flock to.
– COLD: Amid the bombast of the arachnoid heroes, cat-attired vixens, homicidal robots, hordes of Necromongers and chauvinistic ’70s anchormen, this romantic, adult-oriented offering could get stuck on the runway.
– WE SAY: There isn’t much treacle in this crop of summer flicks, so The Terminal is sure to corner the market on tearjerking, heartwarming fare. Just remember, the exits are here, here and here.
4. I, ROBOT
Opens July 16
– WHAT: Will Smith stars as robophobic detective Del Spooner, who investigates a murder in the year 2035 that apparently has been committed by a robot called Sonny (Alan Tudyk). This is bad news, since it means Sonny has broken the Laws of Robotics, which prevent all emotionless automatons from running amok and taking over the world. See, we knew Al Gore’s day would come.
– HOT: This is based loosely on the old Isaac Asimov story, and promises to be a good, old-fashioned, effects-laden popcorn movie; director Alex Proyas has a strong track record for genre films (The Crow, Dark City).
– COLD: The look of the robots is a little underwhelming — the ones we’ve seen look like automated crash-test dummies.
– WE SAY: While we weren’t blown away by the trailer, we’d still give I, Robot a shot. Another thing going for it: Smith was once the undisputed king of the summer blockbuster, and is itching to reclaim his crown.
3. THE STEPFORD WIVES
Opens June 11
– WHAT: In this remake of the 1975 cult classic, Joanne and Walter Eberhart (Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick) relocate to the upscale neighbourhood of Stepford, Conn., where everything seems a little too perfect — especially the beautiful, blond and robotic housewives who cater to their husbands’ every needs.
– HOT: Kidman looks more radiant than ever — a testament to the wonders that breaking up with Tom Cruise can do for a lady; the fantastical premise makes for potentially great satire.
– COLD: There have been reports of turmoil behind the scenes and talk of reshoots — never a good sign. And try to avoid the latest TV trailers, which seem to completely give away a major plot point involving Bette Midler’s character.
– WE SAY: Domo arigato, Mrs. Roboto. In a summer of dumb and dumber, here’s hoping the high-concept Stepford Wives is a step above.
Opens July 9
– WHAT: Will Ferrell stars as 1970s news-thingy Ron Burgundy, a mustachioed, sexist pig who just happens to be the leading newscaster of the top-rated Channel 4 News in San Diego. But his polyester-suited world is thrown for a loop when Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) becomes his news team’s first female member.
– HOT: Ferrell is making the most consistently funny movies of any comedic actors these days; he’s backed up by a terrific supporting cast, which includes The Daily Show’s Steve Carrell, Vince Vaughn and Paul Rudd.
– COLD: Anchorman runs the risk of stretching a one-note joke too far.
– WE SAY: News flash: Anchorman is our second-most-anticipated movie of the summer, which says a lot about its competition. Still, Ferrell’s riding a hot streak that has no signs of fizzling out anytime soon.
1. SPIDER-MAN 2
Opens June 30
– WHAT: Poor Peter Parker (Toby Maguire): His life is a wreck as he copes with being a costumed superhero and trying to lead a normal life. Not only that, but a freakish new supervillain, Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), shows up, apparently in league with Peter’s best pal, Harry (James Franco). Can Spidey save the day? Can he win the girl of his dreams, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst)? Can millions of geeks hold back tears of rage when they realize there’s no scene featuring Mary Jane kissing Spidey while wearing a wet T-shirt?
– HOT: The whole team from the blockbuster original is back, and they’ve promised the sequel is a big improvement; from first glimpses, Dr. Octopus actually looks cool and menacing, no mean feat for a villain whose namesake is shared with James Bond super-bimbo Octopussy.
– COLD: The first Spider-Man’s lame action sequences were that film’s biggest letdown — hopefully, the past couple of years have taught director Sam Raimi et al their lesson.
– WE SAY: Web us up! The box office won’t be so itsy bitsy for this spider, and it looks like it can actually deliver on all the hype.
Summer movie preview