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Watching and Waiting... for the Flicks of Summer

Express Staff - May 27th, 2004
Memorial Day is the kick-off for the summer film season, and after what was a rather tepid, drizzly spring on the silver screen, we’re more than ready to be enterained. Following are highlights of the wanna-be summer blockbusters as well as lesser-known contenders for your attention.

The Day After Tomorrow: Director Roland Emmerich, who unleashed aliens on the planet in “Independence Day,” and wrecked New York City in “Godzilla,” returns with Mother Nature as a villain this time, destroying civilization with an ice age combo that comes with blizzards and tidal waves. Paleoclimatologist Dennis Quaid battles the superstorms to visit icebound New York in search of his son. May 28.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry enters his teen years with the news that bad wizard Gary Oldman has busted out of prison and is out to get him. June 4.

Garfield: Computer graphics fat cat (voiced by Bill Murray) goes on the prowl for his abducted owner, Odie. June 11.

The Terminal: Tom Hanks plays a refugee from East Europe who arrives at JFK airport in New York to find that a coup back home has left him a man without a country or a passport. He begins living in the airport terminal in this story directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on the true story of an Iranian exile who’s lived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for years. June 18.

The Stepford Wives: Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman play a couple who take root in a community of male technocrats who share a dark secret... and perfect wives. It’s hard to imagine topping the 1975 ode to male dominance, paranoia and feminist rebellion, but the remake will apparently make the attempt with more of an emphasis on humor mixed with the horror of converting women to robots. June 11.

The Chronicles of Riddick: This prequel to the sci-fi creepfest, “Pitch Black,” has intergalactic tough guy Riddick (Vin Diesel) busting up the nefarious plan of Lord Marshall (Colmm Feore), who roams the universe in a planet-sized ship. Lord Marshall is trying to create an army of zombie-like warriors who are numb to pain, and only Riddick has the balls to stop him. June 11.

Around the World in 80 Days: Jackie Chan plays Passepartout, the go-fer valet of English inventor Phineas Fogg (Steve Coogan) in this comic remake to the Jules Verne tale of a clubhouse bet that leads to an around-the-world adventure that was a high-speed dash from the viewpoint of the 19th century. June 16.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: At last, a sports film that picked-on high school nerds can relate to. Vince Vaughn plays a gym owner whose business is threatened by a takeover by fitness club tycoon Ben Stiller. To save the gym, he organizes a team to compete in a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas in a sports satire. June 18.

White Chicks: Black dudes Marlon and Shawn Wayans put on whiteface makeup and mall chick outfits to pose undercover as spoiled heiresses in the Hampton’s debutate circuit to bust a kidnapping ring. June 23.

The Door in the Floor: Explores the first half of John Irving’s novel, “Widow for One Year,” with the story of a Hamptons couple (Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger) trying to recover from the death of their two sons. June 23.

The Notebook: A three-hanky weeper of a love story told in flashbacks about young lovers who are separated by World War II who compare notes decades later on the events of their lives. With Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the young couple and Gena Rowlands and James Garner playing their roles in the sunset years. June 25.

Two Brothers: Twin tigers are separated at birth and then pitted against each other by a misguided adventurer in this hit film from France, written and directed by Jean-jacques Annaud, creater of “The Bear.” June 25.

De-Lovely: A musical on the life and times of Cole Porter, with Kevin Kline exploring the Broadway composer’s gay sexual escapades and the reality of his platonic marriage to Linda Lee Porter, played by Ashley Judd. With guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette. June 25.

The Clearing: A tale for our times with Willem Dafoe as a downsized employee who kidnaps his CEO boss Robert Redford and takes him to a clearing in the woods for some payback and straight talk on the problems of the dispossessed. July 2.

Before Sunset: A sequel to the 1995 film about two lovers who have a one-night stand in Prague, knowing they’ll never meet again. Turns out Ethan Hawke (now a novelist) and Julie Delpy (an environmentalist) hook up in Paris nine years later to compare notes. The original was a sweet-natured romance; advance word on the follow-up says it measures up to expectations. July 2.

Undertaking Betty: Comedy starring Christopher Walken as a mortician who specializes in funerals that are more showbiz than sobfests. He takes on a rival mortician as they compete for the affections of Betty (Brenda Blethyn). July 2.

King Arthur: Takes us back to 400 A.D. when the last Roman general Arthur (Clive Owen) and his knights of the round table embark on a rescue mission in Ye Olde England, only to run up against an army of invading Saxons. With the blessing of Merlin (Stephan Dillane) and Guinevere (Keira Knightley), Arthur takes the crown of England and kicks Saxon ass in plenty of Braveheart style. A film which claims to lean more on history than on Arthurian legend. July 7.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Will Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, a 1973-era action anchorman whose cool deal unravels when polished pro Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) joins the news team. A satire on the ‘70s and the action news shtick. July 9.

I, Robot: Loosely based on Isaac Asimov’s short story collection, this film stars Will Smith as a detective in Chicago of 2035 who’s on the trail of a robot suspect in a murder. The case is a puzzler for Smith because according to the First Law of Robotics, robots are incapable of harming human beings. Then too, Smith may have a “Blade Runner”-style mystery on his hands as to whether he too is a robot. July 16.

A Cinderella Story: The fairy tale action moves to the present day with Cinderella (Hilary Duff) meeting her Prince Charming (Chad Michael Murray) online while she’s working as a waitress at a greasy spoon. July 16.

Catwoman: Halle Berry dons a skimpy leather catsuit to become the DC Comics action kitty who has a day job as a graphic designer. In the comics, she was Batman’s nemesis, but this time out, it’s entirely Catwoman’s caper as she takes on her evil boss, with nary a flutter from the Batcave. July 23.

The Bourne Supremacy: Jason Bourne (Matt Daman) is on the run again as a CIA killer with amnesia who doesn’t know why his former colleagues are out to get him. He has to come out of hiding in Greece to track down a Russian assassin who has been killing people using Bourne’s identity. The action involves a world-wide chase scene through Moscow, Berlin and India. July 23.

The Manchurian Candidate: An update of the classic 1962 satire/thriller about a 1991 Gulf War veteran (Liev Schreiber) who’s been programmed as a political assassin. Denzel Washington portrays the army officer (originally played by Frank Sinatra) who suspects that the soldier is a pawn in a political game. Meryl Streep reprises the Angela Lansbury role of a mother with an evil agenda. Mix & match your enjoyment on this one by checking out the original film, which was a commentary on Cold War paranoia. July 30.

The Village: Director M. Night Shyamalan (“Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs”) stays on his quiet and creepy course with this tale of a 19th century village which maintains a fragile relationship with a mythical horror living in the woods. With Sigourney Weaver as a village elder and Joaquin Phoenix as her son who confronts the terror. July 30.

Thunderbirds: A remake of the ‘60s British TV show whose puppet heroes zipped around the planet in rocket ships to head off evil doers and natural disasters. Bill Paxton plays a billionaire astronaut who finances the Thunderbirds’ tip-top secret International Rescue squad from an island in the Pacific. With Ben Kingsley as the campy evil nemesis. July 30.

Garden State: Written by and starring Zach Braff of “Scrubs” as a tribute to his 20something generation with a soundtrack to match by bands such as Coldplay. Braff plays a failing TV actor who returns to new Jersey and falls for Natalie Portman, a local girl who has a problem with epilepsy as well as with telling the truth. An indie film hit at Sundance. July 30.

Shall We Dance? A remake of a 1996 film about an uptight Japanese man who frees himself from a self-imposed prison by learning to dance in public. On this outing, Richard Gere plays a Chicago attorney married to Susan Sarandon who spots sad-face Jennifer Lopez moping in a dance studio and decides it’s high time he gave dance lessons a twirl. She whips him into competitive ballroom dancing form. Aug. 6.

Collateral: Tom Cruise puts on his bad guy hat to become a hitman who commandeers a cab driven by Jamie Foxx for a night of mayhem and bloodshed. The problem for the cabbie is that he knows that by the end of the night he has to take Cruise on a drive to murder someone he cares about. Aug. 6.

Code 46: An insurance investigator in the future (Tim Robbins) tracks down a document forger (Samantha Morton) and finds himself falling in love. Aug. 6.

Open Water: Based on the true story of a couple of divers who were left stranded in the shark-filled ocean off Australia by a dive tour boat. Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis find themselves stranded far out at sea with the sharks circling in this film shot under real-world conditions in the Bahamas. Aug. 6.

We Don’t Live Here Anymore: Two self-loathing, passive-agressive couples played by Mark Ruffalo, Namoi Watts, Peter Krause and Laura Dern mix & match in a futile quest for midlife happiness in this film based on the “In the Bedroom” short stories of Andre Dubus. Aug. 13.

Alien vs. Predator: The fight the fans have been aching for with a team of youthful predators hunting a captured alien in a pyramid buried in Antarctica. Human intruders get in the way of the slashdown. Aug. 13.

Cellular: What do you do when you get kidnapped? Kim Basinger accidentally connects with the cell phone of Chris Evans who has to figure out how to free her from nasty Jason Statham. Aug. 20.

Exorcist: The Beginning: Can you stand it? Fans of the film have been talking about a prequel to the 1973 horror hit for 30 years now. Talk about answered prayers, with Stellan Skarsgard playing Father Merrin in his encounters with the demon Pazuzu in the years before he made Linda Blair’s head spin. Aug. 20.

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid: A remake of the unintended comedy from the ‘90s that starred J. Lo and Ice Cube. This time, some “Survivor”-style scientists run afoul of big wiggle-worms in Borneo while searching for a fountain of youth. Aug. 27.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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