By Michael A. Smith
Ah, summer! The weather is warm, the grass is green and it's time for Hollywood to release those highly anticipated films that will take our minds off of the price of gasoline. Here are the films that will entertain us until school starts again. Plot information compiled with help from the Internet Movie Data Base. As always, please remember that release dates are subject to change at the whim of the studios.
Mission: Impossible: 3
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
What it's about: This time it's personal as Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Mission Force (including the always dependable Ving Rhames) match wits with bad guy arms dealer Owen Davian (recent Oscar winner Hoffman). The stakes are raised when Davian threatens Hunt's girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan).
Why do I want to see it: With "Alias" and "Lost," director Abrams is the hottest thing in Hollywood. That the world's biggest movie star chose him to make his directing debut with this film speaks volumes.
The trailer promises some great action and an even greater supporting cast, including Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup and Jonathon Rhys Meyers.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Emmy Rossum, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
What it's about: As midnight approaches on New Years Eve, the S.S. Poseidon is hit by a giant wave and overturned. A group of survivors decide to make their way "up" to the bottom of the ship in hopes of surviving.
Why do I want to see it: Based more on Paul Gallico's 1969 novel then on the 1972 film, the movie takes a more intense look at the relationships and interactions of the people on board. Director Petersen has already shown his knack for boats and waves, having previously directed "The Perfect Storm." Not sure if anyone can take the place of Shelly Winters in my heart, though. How much is the original film ingrained in the memories of my generation? My best friend used to hang on the rings in gym class and recite Gene Hackman's final speech before "dropping" to his death. 30 years later he still does it.
Just My Luck
Starring: Lindsay Lohan and Chris Pine
Directed by: Donald Petrie
What it's about: A young woman with incredibly good luck gives a kiss to an unlucky young man and their luck changes. Lot's of use of the word "luck," don't you think. Basically it's "Trading Places" with teenagers and romance (Jamie Lee Curtis not withstanding).
Why do I want to see it: I don't, really. There hasn't really been a great teen romantic comedy since the days of John Hughes. On the plus side, director Petrie also did "Grumpy Old Men," "Miss Congeniality" and "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days." On the negative side, he did "Welcome to Mooseport."
The DaVinci Code
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany
Directed by: Ron Howard
What it's about: A murder in the Louvre, coupled with clues hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, lead a Harvard Professor (Hanks) and a French cryptologist to a secret society known as the Priory of Sion. Based on the novel that has sold millions of copies world wide.
Why do I want to see it: A great story, told by a great director with a great cast. Howard made Hanks a star when he cast him in "Splash" two decades ago. Since then, they've both put a couple Oscars on the mantle. They may add a couple more here. One of the few films this summer on my MUST SEE list.
Over the Hedge
Starring the voices of: Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner and Bruce Willis
Directed by: Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick
What's it about: A group of forest animals are seduced by the comforts of suburbia.
Why do I want to see it: A great comedic cast and the director of Dreamwork's first computer animated hit, "Antz," should make for a fun time at the movies. Could get lost in the many animated "cute animal" films of the summer.
X-Men: The Last Stand
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Patrick Stewart and Kelsey Grammer
Directed by: Brett Ratner
What it's about: A cure is discovered for the genetic problems that make Wolverine, Storm and the others mutants. The group must choose between becoming "normal" or remaining as they are.
Why do I want to see it: Because every summer needs a great comic book movie! Director Ratner took over from Bryan Singer, who had helmed the first two "X-men films," after Singer decided to do "Superman Returns" (ok, perhaps THIS summer needs two great comic book movies). The cast has grown comfortable in their roles and welcome Grammer as Beast and Ben Foster as Angel.
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Favreau and Joey Lauren Adams
Directed by: Peyton Reed
What it's about: A couple living together decide to separate but still live in the same condo.
Why do I want to see it: Vaughn and Favreau were a team to remember in "Swingers" and I can't see them losing their comic touch here.
Starring: Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles and Mia Farrow
Directed by John Moore
What it's about: Rather than tell his wife that she's lost the baby she was carrying, an American diplomat adopts a newborn and raises him as his son. Oh, and he's the son of Satan.
Why do I want to see it: You've got to give credit to the folks in Hollywood. I'll bet some studio executive had been waiting years to pitch a remake of "The Omen" to be released on June 6, 2006. That's right - 666- the number of the beast. The teaser trailer got many laughs, which probably isn't a good sign. Farrow, who actually gave birth to the anti-Christ almost 40 years ago in "Rosemary's Baby," plays the nanny sent by Lucifer himself to look after the child.
Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Keaton and Paul Newman
Directed by: John Lasseter
What it's about: On his way to a big race, cocky race car Lightning McQueen (Wilson), gets sidetracked in Radiator Springs, where he finds the true meaning of family and friendship.
Why do I want to see it: From the creators of "Toy Story," "Monster's Inc" and "Finding Nemo." Isn't that enough?
A Prairie Home Companion
Starring: Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline and John C. Reilly
Directed by: Robert Altman
What it's about: When radio station WLT is sold, the new owners decide to cancel Garrison Keillor's show after 32 years.
Why do I want to see it: Because I love the weekly radio show. Director Altman is a master of overlapping dialogue so there should be some great verbal battles on screen. Fans of the radio program will finally get to see long time friends like Lefty and Dusty (Woody Harrelson and Reilly) and Guy Noir (Kline). Filmed inside the Fitzgerald Theater in St Paul where the radio show broadcasts live each week.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Starring: Lucas Black and Bow Wow
Directed by: Justin Lin
What it's about: An American in Japan is drawn into the world of drift racing.
Why do I want to see it: Movie number two on the "I don't" list. Vin Diesel was wise to bail on Part 2 and this time Paul Walker has joined the exodus. If I want to watch a bunch of fast cars drafting I'll become a NASCAR fan.
Starring: Jack Black, Hector Jimenez and Peter Stormare
Directed by: Jared Hess
What it's about: A Mexican cook becomes a wrestler in order to raise money for orphans.
Why do I want to see it: As much as I hate to admit it, Jack Black in tights. This is Hess' follow up to "Napoleon Dynamite." Hess co-wrote the script with "School of Rock" writer Mike White so the action should be as funny as the dialogue.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Sean Astin and Christopher Walken
Directed by: Frank Coraci
What it's about: Run ragged by his job and family, Michael Newman (Sandler) is given a remote control that is truly universal.
Why do I want to see it: Because Adam Sandler is a funny guy! And I find the idea of having a device that can pause time or rewind to a favorite day pretty interesting. Plus you get Christopher Walken dancing, which is always a bonus!
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey and Eva Marie Saint
Directed by: Bryan Singer
What it's about: After a 5 year absence from Earth, the Man of Steel returns to find things not as he left them.
Why do I want to see it: Movie #2 on my MUST SEE list. Director Singer has always maintained that 1978's "Superman the Movie" (along with Steven Spielberg's "Jaws") was the film that made him want to be a director. Like most fans of the series, Singer doesn't think highly of "Superman III" or "IV," so here, Superman returns after the events of "Superman II." Newcomer Routh was given the ultimate seal of approval by Christopher Reeve's widow, Dana, shortly before she passed away. Bosworth is Lois Lane, here a single mother, while Spacey takes over for Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
What it's about: Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) is back and this time he's dealing with the ghostly Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his crew.
Why do I want to see it: Because the first film was such an adventure. Is there a more chameleon like actor in film these days then Depp? One day he's Willy Wonka. The next he's Ed Wood. And here he's a pirate! Plus I'm anxious to see if the rumors of Keith Richards doing a cameo as Jack's father are true.
A Scanner Darkly
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by: Richard Linklater
What it's about: An undercover drug agent (Reeves) investigates his friends while hooked himself on Substance D. Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick (Bladerunner).
Why do I want to see it: This is director Linklater's second film using an unusual process: after the film was shot on film, animators went back and painted the action frame by frame. The story may be a little dark but it should be visually impressive.
Lady in the Water
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeffrey Wright
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
What it's about: An apartment complex manager (Giamatti) discovers a "Narf" (Howard) living in the swimming pool.
Why do I want to see it: Because with the exception of "The Village," which I had figured out 23 minutes into the film, Shyamalan can tell a story. Of course, it's being advertised as "A bedtime story," so who knows what he's got up his sleeve. I wonder if there will be a surprise ending. Or will the surprise be that there isn't one?
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Starring: Luke Wilson, Uma Thurman and Eddie Izzard
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
What it's about: An architect (Wilson) dumps his girlfriend and learns that she's actually a spiteful superhero.
Why do I want to see it: Because Reitman has directed some of the funniest films ever made, including "Meatballs," "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters." However, Luke Wilson is no Bill Murray so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Starring CGI versions of: Maggie Gyllenhaal, John Heder, Jason Lee and Steve Buscemi
Directed by: Gil Kenan
What it's about: An old house comes to life to deal with some kids in the neighborhood.
Why do I want to see it: Because I found the CGI process used here to be incredible when it was used in "The Polar Express." They laughed 10 years ago when people said that one day we won't need movie stars anymore, just computer rendered images. This could be a step in that direction.
Starring the voices of: Kevin James, Sam Elliot and Courtney Cox
Directed by: Steve Oedekerk
What it's about: A cow (James) wants to reveal that animals have human abilities.
Why do I want to see it: Because to me it looks like an animated "Far Side" cartoon. Besides, I'd really like to know what cows think when we drive by and yell "Moo" out the window.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx and Gong Li
Directed by: Michael Mann
What it's about: Unless you avoided television in the 1980s, you know that these are the adventures of Detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs.
Why do I want to see it: Because at one time, next to Bruce Willis' David Addison on "Moonlighting," Don Johnson's Sonny Crockett was THE coolest man on television. Director Mann, who created the television show, maintains that this is "Miami Vice" done seriously.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen and Gary Cole
Directed by: Adam McKay
What it's about: NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) must answer the challenge when the sport is threatened by the emergence of a French Formula 1 racer. (Cohen)
Why do I want to see it: Because when he's turned loose Will Ferrell is not to be missed. Plus I'm sure that we can expect a Vince Vaughn/Luke Wilson/Ben Stiller cameo somewhere.
World Trade Center
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena and Maria Bello
Directed by: Oliver Stone
What it's about: Port Authority Police Officers John McLoughlin (Cage) and Will Jimeno (Pena) are trapped when the World Trade Center collapses on 9/11. The film is the story of their rescue.
Why do I want to see it: Because in my opinion this film, like "United 93," will tell a story that should never die. That in the darkest times this country has faced, it's citizens have never failed to band together and work miracles. Like "United 93's" director Paul Greengrass, Oliver Stone sought out the thoughts of those directly touched by the tragedy.
Snakes On a Plane
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson and Julianna Marguiles
Directed by: Steven Ellis
What it's about: Guess.
Why do I want to see it: Because it's Samuel L. Jackson on a plane with 400 snakes! And you just KNOW he's not going to be happy.
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes
Directed by: Kevin Smith
What it's about: Now working at the local hamburger hamlet, Dante' (O'Halloran) and Randall (Anderson) contemplate their lives at 30.
Why do I want to see it: In 1994 Kevin Smith charged $27,000 on his credit cards and made "Clerks," Even before "Pulp Fiction," "Clerks" signaled the beginning of small films with great scripts chock full of pop culture references. Besides, it's been way too long since Jay and Silent Bob have graced movie screens.
Starring: Andre Benjamin, Antwan A. Patton and Terrence Howard
Directed by: Bryan Barber
What it's about: Gangsters (the old kind) and music.
Why do I want to see it: Because I'm a sucker for musicals. OutKast band mates Benjamin and Patton have conceived a musical reminiscent of the classics from the 1940s and 50s. Think of "The Cotton Club" without Richard Gere.
"The 2006 Summer Movie Preview" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design by Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.