Summer Movie Preview

Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton
Featuring the voices of D.B. Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, Julianna Margulies
MAY 19

The latest animated project from Disney combines the most recent technological advancements in character animation with real, albeit digitally enhanced, live-action backgrounds filmed in such bizarre sites as the Mojave Desert. The plot is typical and uncreative, yet sounds somewhat fantastic: a dinosaur gets separated from its family as an egg and is raised a by a group of lemur monkeys. The asteroid that supposedly wipes out the dinosaurs hits earth, and the dinosaur, who has been reunited with his kind, acts like a sort of Dino-Moses who saves the day with canny primate-know-how. Although there are voice-overs for the animals in the movie, it is not a musical comedy, and the dinosaurs do not break into song. The amazingly thrilling drama is only enhanced by the astonishing realism of the animals. Dinosaur makes the animation in Jurassic Park seem like claymation. If only seen for the computer effects, Dinosaur is a definite breakthrough in the field of animation.

Director Dominic Sena
Starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall

Formulaic and contrived like most other Jerry Bruckheimer productions (e.g. Armageddon and The Rock), his latest film Gone in Sixty Seconds tells the story of notorious car thief Randall Memphis Raines (Nicolas Cage) who could elude any form of theft deterrent, stealing any car in under sixty seconds. When the law becomes too intense, he abandons his life of crime, only to be pulled back in to save his kid brother (Giovanni Ribisi) who has become entangled in a high stakes scheme. Much like Bruckheimer's multi-million dollar child, Armageddon, Cage must follow the conventional prescription. Instead of a team of experts racing against the clock to save the world, Cage must race against the clock to steal 50 cars and save Ribisi. Based on the original, shot in 1974, Bruckheimer's quite predictable production is saved by the hilarious interaction between Cage and Jolie. While not a "must see," Gone in Sixty Seconds is definitely worth attending this summer.


Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans
Starring Marlon Wayans,Cheri Oteri, Shawn Wayans

Just when you have come to terms with the fact that there will be no Scream 4, thankfully, Keenen Ivory Wayans and his 96 brothers (2 appear in the film) are ready to give you their own twist. With Scream, we got a highly entertaining parody of the horror genre (yes, it was a parody) but with Wayans' brilliant sense of subtlety we get an even more devastating parody of a parody. Yes it can be done, and who better than 476 Wayans Brothers to pull it off. Scary Movie, as if not implicit in the name, is made to shock and not just with its feeble attempt at reviving Carmen Electra's career after her long and emotionally draining marriage with Denis Rodman (approximate time-five hours). And if that is not enticing enough, just the fact that 5,689,000 Wayans Brothers appear should be reason enough to sample this comedy-horror (master)piece?

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer

In this spooky thriller, Pfeiffer is happily married to Ford, a college professor, when she begins to suspect that their house is being haunted. She soon discovers that her perfect husband is not so perfect after all, and the ghost that's haunting them may or may not be the spirit of a murdered student her husband once had an affair with. Based on an idea by Steven Spielberg, the film promises to be a sly adventure, full of twists and surprises, comparable to The Sixth Sense. Zemekis has wrapped his production in a shroud of secrecy, although the film is said to boast computer effects and shocks in the tradition of his earlier films Forrest Gump and the dubious Death Becomes Her. But even though Internet surfers are buzzing with conspiracy theories of their own about the film's plotline, test screenings have been less than spectacular.

Directed by John Woo
Starring Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames
MAY 24

After failing to turn Eyes Wide Shut into an art-house blockbuster, Tom Cruise has returned to safer ground, teaming with much-worshipped action director John Woo for a high-octane sequel to his 1996 smash Mission: Impossible. Although it might seem as if Cruise is abandoning his lofty artistic ambitions in favor of instant box office, he actually continues his admirable tradition of seeking out the industry's top directors. Woo is an absolute master at bringing a graceful touch to epic action sequences, and much of his Hong Kong work, such as The Killer and Bullet in the Head, is regarded as classic cinema. The sequel brings back Cruise's superagent Ethan Hunt, who romances a sexy female agent (Thandie Newton of Beloved) while chasing a group of terrorists armed with a lethal virus. A flashy premise and Cruise's mega-watt appeal helped the original gross $180 million. The addition of Woo, in his first film since Face/Off, should push the sequel into the stratosphere. If the jaw-dropping trailer is any indicator, M:I2 could easily be the highlight of the summer.

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