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Friday, May 18, 2001

Summer movie preview

The challenge this summer for moviebuffs: 20 films in 14 weeks. Can you dig it?
   Other summer-movie guides - the one-film-per-week versions - are for those with a low tolerance for air-conditioning and surround-sound. Instead, here's every inch of celluloid paradise (and purgatory) scheduled for this summer.
   Some weeks feature more than one must-see flick (the dino-riffic "Jurassic Park III" opens two days after Julia Roberts' industry insider pic "America's Sweethearts"). Besides, all you movie lovers need a heads up on the good, the bad and the Mariah Carey. Believe it.
   Twenty films from now till the end of August - can you hang? Let's see.
   "Pearl Harbor" (May 25) How do you say "Titanic"-style success? Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay are spelling it out by hinging a devastating love story on a monumental historical event with a cast including names such as Affleck, Baldwin and Gooding. They won't even need to buy a vowel to solve that puzzle.
   "Moulin Rouge" (June 1) Australian writer/director Baz Luhrmann modernized "Romeo and Juliet" in 1996. Now he adds remixed contemporary hits (the Police's "Roxanne") and a sultry cast (Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor) to the infamous Parisian nightclub's roster.
   "Evolution" (June 8) David Duchovny is again amongst aliens. Unlike "The X-Files" this season, "Evolution" actually deserves attention. Director Ivan Reitman is getting lots of ink - hinting that the film will be reminiscent to his
  "Ghostbusters" days. So who you gonna call?
   "Tomb Raider" (June 15) Angelina Jolie as virtual hottie Laura Croft? It's true; Jolie kicks some high-tech butt in her skin-tight all-black get-up in this video game-based picture. It's the best news for video gamers everywhere since the Sega Dreamcast.
   "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" (June 15) If you have kids or favor animated to action, "Atlantis" will be a better option for you this week. Michael J. Fox, James Garner and Leonard Nimoy lend their voices to this tale about the discovery of the long-lost underwater city.
   "The Fast and the Furious" (June 22) Hot rods and hot teens zip around Los Angeles in this elongated action sequence. Some of the cast members didn't have drivers' licenses while shooting, but it's all still legal. Their dream world of cruising L.A. streets is all simulated - including the lack of traffic that would enable a 150-mph tear on La Cieniga Blvd.
   "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (June 29) In the new foreword to Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey," Clarke mentions an unfinished project by the late director Stanley Kubrick. This is it. Kubrick and Steven Spielberg corresponded on the film as a future collaborative project, and Spielberg was saddled with the daunting responsibility of taking their thoughts and bringing them to life. Haley Joel Osment stars as a cyborg in the form of a 11-year-old kid.
   "Scary Movie 2" (July 4) Before the first "Scary Movie," the Wayans brothers vowed they wouldn't make a sequel. Then again, Clarke said the same thing about "2001." When the first gross-out horror parody "Movie" hit theaters and embarked on its skyrocketing journey (raking in more than $150 million along the way), it quickly became obvious that another would soon follow. But did it have to come this soon?
   "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" (July 11) This summer's other computer game-born flick is actually more true to its roots than "Tomb Raider." "Final Fantasy" was shot digitally, and thanks to some actual landscapes, these virtual characters look righteously cool. It's set in 2065 where humans are dying and aliens are taking over. Think "Battlefield Earth" as a sexy, glossy toon.
   "Jurassic Park III" (July 18) The velociraptors are back, only this time Spielberg, busy on "A.I.," is executive producing - not directing. More dinosaurs. More mysterious islands. Sam Neill is even back for this one (he missed out on the "Lost World" bore).
   "America's Sweethearts" (July 20) Imagine this: while at a day-long press conference, a big star gets into it with her husband. Even though her sister and publicist try to save the day, disaster in inevitable. This is the plight of Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack. Guess who plays the megalomaniac actress? Hint: it's not Roberts.
   "Made" (July 20) Hipsters everywhere have anticipated the new Jon Favreau ("Swingers") film, "Made." Last time he stamped "money" into cool-cat adjective status and made a film that spoke blankly to all men; this story is about a boxer who is coerced into doing a favor for a New York City mobster (played by Puff Daddy).
   "Planet of the Apes" (July 27) Tim Burton's remake of the classic man-ape film is a study of genius in makeup: The apes have an uncanny resemblance to the actors who play them. Even if you didn't know that Tim Roth plays a general or that Helena Bonham Carter is the love interest to Mark Wahlberg's astronaut, the make-up and prosthetics carry the actors' strong facial characteristics through the rubber masks.
   "Rollerball" (August 1) Yet another remake (this time of Norman Jewison's 1975 sci-fi action flick), "Rollerball" tells of a futuristic sport and the evil perils that go along with foreboding TV success. With his recent lawsuit, "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett can certainly sympathize.
   "Rush Hour 2" (August 3) The first Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan comedy surprised everyone involved by hitting such a powerful comedic chord. Since it worked so well the first time (why do we laugh so hard when Chan starts rapping?), expect much of the same from the second installation.
   "American Pie 2" (August 10) The sequel has the "Pie" boys back in Michigan, and it's the summer after their freshman year of college. The involvement of pastry is unknown at this point. The same crew (including Jason Biggs and Chris Klien and Mena Suvari) will also return.
   "Curse of Jade Scorpion" (August 10 in limited release) Woody Allen is back, and "Curse of Jade Scorpion" sounds like familiar ground for the filmmaker. Allen stars as CW Briggs, a self-proclaimed big-shot insurance investigator in New York in 1940. He's honed his craft by getting into the mind of the thief, and he's not afraid to brag to his co-worker, played by Helen Hunt.
   "Serendipity" (August 17) Every summer needs a romantic comedy, and "Serendipity" looks to be the most entertaining 2001 fare. Characters played by John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale randomly meet one night in New York City, and they leave it to fate (and not the traditional exchange of phone numbers) to see if they ever hook up again. A.k.a.: "Noncommittal in New York."
   "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (August 24) Writer/director Kevin Smith closes shop on his famed Jersey collection and retires slacker posterboys Jay and Silent Bob. Ain't It Cool News has the inside scoop on the film and Smith's script, which features Jay and Bob (it sounds wrong without the Silent there, doesn't it?) hijacking a film based on a comic book that Jay and Silent Bob inspired.
   "All That Glitters" (August 31) Mariah Carey acts. Need I say more?

Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688 or by e-mail at

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