Review by Kam Williams
Once again, the Hollywood studio execs, ever conscious of the bottom-line, have adopted a cautious approach to their summer offerings, investing primarily in blockbusters with a proven pedigree. As a result, the bulk of the big budget flicks set to be released soon are sequels, prequels, remakes, 3-D revivals, English-language versions of foreign film favorites, and screen adaptations of classic TV shows, novels, comic books and cartoon strips.
But, just because you might already be familiar with a franchise doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t thoroughly enjoy yourself sitting in an air-conditioned theater, as the proof is still in the pudding in terms of whether what’s served up is A-1 entertainment or a take-the-money-and-run rip-off. So, without further ado, may I present a chronological list of capsules of what diversions you might like to anticipate as an escape as the dog days approach.
(5/27) Sex and the City 2 (R for profanity and graphic sexuality) Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker all return for this sequel which has the decadent, NYC quartet reuniting a couple of years later for an eventful, all expenses-paid getaway to Abu Dhabi. Cast additions include Miley Cyrus, Penelope Cruz and Liza Minelli.
(5/28) Kites (Unrated) Bollywood romantic thriller about a wanted Hindu man (Hrithik Roshan), wounded and left for dead in the scorching Mexican desert, who stays alive by clinging to the hope of a reunion with the love of his life (Barbara Mori) even though they can’t communicate because she only speaks Spanish and is already engaged to somebody else. (In English, Hindi and Spanish with subtitles)
(5/28) Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PG-13 for intense violence) Medieval action fantasy, based on the video game of the same name, about a rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) who reluctantly joins forces with a rival princess (Gemma Atherton) in order to keep an ancient dagger said to have supernatural powers from falling into the clutches of a diabolical despot Ben Kingsley) bent on world domination. With Alfred Molina, Richard Coyle and Steve Toussaint.
(6/4) Get Him to the Greek (R for pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality and heavy drug use) Intercontinental road comedy about the hijinks which ensue when an ambitious intern (Jonah Hill) is assigned to escort an over-imbibing, womanizing rock star (Russell Brand) from London to L.A. for a comeback concert. Spinoff of Forgetting Sarah Marshall features Rose Byrne and Sean Diddy Combs, with cameos by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Pharrell, Meredith Viera and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.
(6/4) Killers (PG-13 for violence, profanity and sexuality) Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl co-star in this action comedy about an international spy who retires from the CIA to settle down in suburbia with the girl of his dreams only to discover they’re being trailed by assassins intent on killing them both. With Tom Selleck, Martin Mull, Catherine O’Hara and SNL’s Casey Wilson.
(6/4) Marmaduke (PG for crude humor and mild epithets) Live action adaptation of the popular comic strip features Owen Wilson as the voice of the clumsy, if lovable, Great Dane. Road comedy revolves around the pet and his owners’ misadventures as the family relocates from Kansas to California . Cast includes William H. Macy, Judy Greer and Anjelah Johnson, with voiceover work by George Lopez, Marlon Wayans, Sam Elliot and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
(6/4) Splice (R for profanity, nudity, disturbing elements, violence and graphic sexuality) Sci-fi horror flick about a couple of rogue scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) whose ethically-questionable experimentation splicing together of human and animal DNA results in the creation of a beautiful but dangerous winged mutant (Delphine Chaneac).
(6/11) The A-Team (Not Yet Rated) Screen adaptation of the hit TV series from the Eighties abut the exploits of four former Special Service soldiers determined to clear their names after unfairly being branded war criminals. With Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, Sharlto Copley as Face and Quinton Jackson as B.A. Baracus.
(6/11) The Karate Kid (PG for fighting, teasing and mild epithets) Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan co-star in this Beijing-based remake of the 1984 screen classic about a 12-year-old newcomer being bullied at school whose unassuming janitor agrees to help him master the martial arts so long as he promises not to question the seemingly-unorthodox training regimen. With Taraji P. Henson, Tess Liu and Harry Van Gorkum.
(6/18) Jonah Hex (Not Yet Rated) Screen adaptation of the DC Comics series about a scarfaced bounty hunter of last resort (Josh Brolin) who cuts a deal with the U.S. military to bring his archenemy (John Malkovich), to justice, a frightening terrorist threatening to unleash hell. With Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Thomas Lennon and Aidan Quinn.
(6/18) Let It Rain (Not Yet Rated) Character-driven drama about the sibling rivalry which bubbles back to the surface when a feminist (Agnes Jaoui) with political ambitions returns home to the family manse in the South of France to help her unhappily-married sister (Pascale Arbillot) put their recently-deceased mother’s affairs in order. (In French with subtitles)
(6/18) Toy Story 3 (Not Yet Rated) Revival of the animated franchise finds Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang in a daycare center after being accidentally thrown away by the mother (Laurie Metcalf) of their now college-bound owner, Andy (John Morris). Voice cast includes Joan Cusack, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Keaton, Bonnie Hunt and Jeff Garlin.
(6/25) Grown Ups (Not Yet Rated) Buddy comedy about five former teammates (Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider) who, in honor of their recently-deceased basketball coach, reunite for the first time in years to runamuck over the 4th of July weekend at the same lake house where they celebrated winning a championship as kids. With Maya Rudolph, Salma Hayek, Tim Meadows, Maria Bello, Steve Buscemi, Norm Macdonald and Gary Busey.
(6/25) Knight and Day (Not Yet Rated) Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz reunite for the first time since Vanilla Sky for this action comedy about an unlucky in love Plain Jane from the Midwest who unwittingly goes on a blind date with a dashing international spy only to become embroiled in a globetrotting adventure where they must prevent a piece of technology holding the key to infinite power from falling into the wrong hands. With Maggie Grace, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano.
(6/30) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Not Yet Rated) Episode three in the fantasy saga opens with high school graduation fast approaching, and Bella (Kristen Stewart) being forced to choose between her love of a vampire (Edward Pattinson) and her friendship with a werewolf (Taylor Lautner). Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest again finds itself plagued by a string of mysterious slayings. Cast includes Anna Kendrick, Dakota Fanning and Bryce Dallas Howard.
(7/2) The Last Airbender (Not Yet Rated) M. Night Shyamalan directs this initial offering in a live- action trilogy based on the popular animated television series “Avatar.” First installment in the sci-fi fantasy series opens with the world at war and on the brink of destruction and revolves around the attempt of a young boy (Noah Ringer) to restore peace with the help of a of couple friends (Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone) and a flying bison (Dee Bradley Baker). With Dev Patel, Ali Khan and Rohan Shah.
(7/7) The Kids Are All Right (Not Yet Rated) Family comedy about the fireworks which ensue when two teenagers (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) conceived by artificial insemination by a lesbian couple (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) decide to track down their sperm donor father (Mark Ruffalo).
(7/9) Despicable Me (Not Yet rated) 3-D computer-animated comedy, set in an otherwise idyllic suburban neighborhood, where a wicked weirdo (Steve Carell) with a black house and a dead lawn is secretly hatching a diabolical plan to steal the moon with the help of an army of minions. Hope for averting the disaster rests with three orphans (Dana Gaier, Miranda Cosgrove and Elsie Fisher) in need of a father who see some potential for redemption in the evil villain. Voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Jason Segel, Danny McBride, Will Arnett, Dr. Ken Jeong, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews.
(7/9) Predators (Not Yet Rated) Sci-fi sequel about a group of elite warriors who discover that they were brought to another planet to be hunted like prey in a human game reserve by a new race of bloodthirsty alien creatures. Cast includes Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne, Alice Braga and Danny Trejo.
(7/9) Cyrus (Not Yet Rated) Dysfunctional family comedy about a divorced guy (John C. Reilly) who thinks he’s met the woman of his dreams (Marisa Tomei) until he has to deal with her 21-year-old son (Jonah Hill) who’s still living at home. Supporting cast includes Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh and Zosia Mamet.
(7/16) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Not Yet Rated) Live-action remake of the Mickey Mouse cartoon updated as a latter-day fantasy, set in Manhattan, where a magician (Nicolas Cage) enlists the assistance of a college student (Jay Baruchel) to do battle with his evil archenemy (Alfred Molina). With Monica Bellucci, Teresa Palmer and Omar Benson Miller.
(7/16) Inception (Not Yet Rated) Christopher Nolan directs this sci-fi, psychological thriller about a master mental thief (Leonard DiCaprio), capable of hacking into people’s subconscious minds while in the dream state, who plans to pull off the perfect heist by implanting an idea instead of stealing one. Cast includes Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
(7/23) Salt (Not Yet Rated) Angleina Jolie plays the title character in this espionage thriller about a disgraced CIA Agent-turned-fugitive who goes on the run to try to clear her name after being falsely accused of being a Russian spy. Cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Live Schreiber and Zoe Lister Jones.
(7/23) Dinner for Schmucks (Not Yet Rated) English-language remake of The Dinner Game, the French farce about a businessman (Paul Rudd) who invites a naive simpleton (Steve Carell) to a party where his boss gives a prize to the employee who brings along the biggest buffoon. Cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Bruce Greenwood and Ron Livingston.
(7/30) Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (Not Yet Rated) 3-D sequel to Cats and Dogs finds canines and felines joining forces this go-round after a tabby spy (Bette Midler) goes rogue and hatches a plot to conquer the world. Starring Fred Armisen, Chris O’Donnell and Roger Moore , with voice work by Alec Baldwin, Michael Clarke Duncan and Joe Pantoliano.
(7/30) Beastly (Not Yet Rated) Modern-day take on Beauty and the Beast reimagined as a tale about a school bully (Alex Pettyfer) who finds himself transformed into an ugly monster when a Goth classmate (Mary-Kate Olsen) he teased casts a spell on him. To undo the curse, he must find a woman (Vanessa Hudgens) willing to love him in this hideous state. Cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Rhiannon Moller-Trotter.