Saturday, April 28, 2001

Summer movie scene

It's heavy on action, romance, crime and comedy, but light on star power

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The 2001 crop of summer movies includes the usual complement of brawny, high-dollar events, such as Pearl Harbor, Planet of the Apes and The Mummy Returns, which kicks off the season on Friday.

        What the seasonal menu offers only sparingly, though, is star power. While John Travolta (Swordfish), Julia Roberts (America's Sweethearts) and Nicolas Cage (Captain Corelli's Mandolin) will show up, such king-of-the-mountain peers as Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Mel Gibson and Meg Ryan are nowhere to be found.

        That's good news for promising up-and-comers. No-shows leave the field open for fresh faces to stake claims in blockbuster territory.

        Among the potential beneficiaries: Heath Ledger, with high-quality buzz all over his rollicking A Knight's Tale; Angelina Jolie, already beloved by teen-age boys even before swinging into action in Tomb Raider; and Vin Diesel, whose cult fans could multiply if The Fast & The Furious proves as exciting as its coming-attractions reel.

        Following is a rundown of movies expected — but not guaranteed — to open this summer. Release dates, if available, are included. Remember, all dates are subject to change.

Major spectacles

        The Mummy Returns — Brendan Fraser is back. Rachel Weisz is back. Oded Fehr and Arnold Vosloo are back. But this guy, The Rock, is new. Wonder where he got that nice build? (May 4)

        A Knight's Tale — Don't be misled by the modern jokes and rock music; this comic adventure starring Heath Ledger really is set in medieval England. (May 11)

        Pearl Harbor — The 1941 Japanese attack and its aftermath get the Michael Bay (Armageddon) treatment. Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale and Cuba Gooding Jr. head a cast of jillions. (May 25)

        Moulin Rouge — Lots of early talk of “daring and edgy” surrounds this splashy musical about a writer (Ewan McGregor) in love with a courtesan (Nicole Kidman). Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet) directs. (June 1)

        Tomb Raider — Angelina Jolie meets video game; special-effects mayhem follows. (June 15)

        Planet of the Apes — Tim Burton is the director, Mark Walhberg is the astronaut, Helena Bonham Carter is an ape. Charlton Heston makes a cameo appearance. This is not a remake, the studio says, it's a “revisiting.” (July 27)

        Jurassic Park III — A thick cloak of secrecy surrounds this adventure starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy and Tea Leoni. We're betting it has something to do with dinosaurs. (July 18)

Major animated spectacles

        Shrek — The hero of this summer's DreamWorks animated entry is a big green monster with the voice of Mike Myers. (May 18)

        Atlantis: The Lost Empire — This summer's big Disney cartoon movie follows a young man's quest to find the legendary city beneath the sea. Michael J. Fox tops the voice talent. (June 15)

        Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within — This all computer-generated movie based on a Japanese video game has cyber-enthusiasts panting for its premiere. (July 11)

        Osmosis Jones — Warner Bros. summer animation entry follows the cold-fighting adventures of a white blood cell. (Aug 10)

Thrills & spills, ghosts & goblins

        Swordfish — John Travolta tries to erase the memory of Lucky Numbers in this thriller about spies and computers. Halle Berry co-stars. (June 8)

        The Fast & the Furious — Vin Diesel fans are already lining up for this street-racing saga. (June 22)

        Series 7 — The ultimate reality show stars a gun-toting pregnant woman. Remember, they made this before Survivor.

        The Score — Professional thief Robert De Niro plays mentor to Edward Norton for the sake of a big heist. Frank Oz directs. (July 13)

        Soul Survivors — College kids Eliza Dushku, Wes Bentley and Casey Affleck face otherwordly horror.

        Ghosts of Mars — Horrormeister John Carpenter sends colonists to Mars, where they are haunted by Martian ghosts. (Aug. 24)

        Kiss of the Dragon — Jet Li goes for respectability when Luc Besson directs his latest dramatic action adventure. Bridget Fonda co-stars. (Aug. 3)

        American Outlaws — Young Hollywood guys Colin Farrell and Scott Caan team up to show how Jesse James got his start. (Aug. 17)

        Knockaround Guys — Vin Diesel, again, leads junior mobster buddies Barry Pepper, Seth Green et al. on an ill-fated job in Montana. (Aug. 31)


        Angel Eyes — Jim Caviezel and Jennifer Lopez steam up the screen for director Luis Mandoki (Amazing Grace). (May 18)

        The Center of the World — Director Wayne Wang already has stirred up controversy with this steamy, unrated tale of a dot-com guy who hires a stripper for three days in Las Vegas. (May 18)

        Captain Corelli's Mandolin — An Italian officer (Nicolas Cage) falls in love with a Greek woman (Penelope Cruz).

Wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance

        crazy/beautiful — Kirsten Dunst and Jay Hernandez co-star in a rich-girl/poor-boy romance. (July 20)

        Summer Catch — A few scenes with Ken Griffey Jr. were filmed in Cincinnati for this story of a rich-girl/poor-boy romance, with baseball. (Aug. 24)

Romantic comedy
        America's Sweethearts — Married movie stars split just when their new film is supposed to open. With John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal and many other stars. (July 13)

        The Princess Diaries — An American teen-ager inherits a crown and takes royalty lessons from her grandmother — Julie Andrews. (Aug. 3)

        Sidewalks of New York — Writer-director-actor Edward Burns takes another swing at a big-city love story.

        Rat Race — Ordinary schmoes (Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg) scramble to win $2 million. Jerry Zucker (Airplane!) directs.

        Book of Love: The Definitive Reason Why Men Are Dogs — Robin Givens heads an ensemble that explores, comically, the hard road to true love in Los Angeles.

        Serendipity — Strange things happen after John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale fall in love, then separate for 10 years. (Aug. 17)

Comic romance

        Bubble Boy — Even though he must live in a plastic bubble, Jake Gyllenhaal (October Sky) sets out to win the girl.

        40 Days and 40 Nights — Josh Hartnett pledges to stay celibate for the appointed period, then meets a gorgeous dame. (Aug. 24)

Sci-fi comedy

        Evolution — Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) directs David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Julianne Moore in a comedy about alien invaders. (June 8)

Talking-animal comedy

        Dr. Dolittle 2 — Eddie Murphy's back, talking to the animals, and they want him to save their habitat. (June 22)

        Cats & Dogs — Big stars (Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon) give voice to animated animals conducting a secret war for global dominion. (July 4)

Frightening comedy sequels

        Scary Movie 2 — Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans. You saw the first one; you've been warned. (July 4)

        American Pie 2 — Can anyone possibly be ready for this? Hide the Krispy Kremes. (Aug. 10)

        Rush Hour 2 — Jackie Chan plus Chris Tucker plus a criminal conspiracy — things could get wacky. (Aug. 3)

Just comedy

        The Animal — Animal transplants turn Rob Schneider into a beast. (June 1)

        What's the Worst That Could Happen? — Billionaire Danny DeVito and burglar Martin Lawrence tangle over a lucky ring. (June 1)

        Pootie Tang — From The Chris Rock Show comes a smooth-talking hero with secret enemies.

        Made — Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn mix it up with the New York mob. (July 20)

        Curse of the Jade Scorpion — Woody Allen wrote directed and stars in a comedy about an insurance investigator. Helen Hunt co-stars. (Aug. 10)

        Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes return one last time, we're told, to close the book on the Clerks characters. (Aug. 10)

Indies, imports, possible gems

        About Adam — A comic love story set in Dublin. (May 11)

        Bread and Roses — Ken Loach directs a tale about union struggles in Los Angeles. (This one's a hold-over from last year.) (June 1)

        Baby Boy — Director John Singleton goes back to South Central for this story of a young man with a lot of growing up to do. (June 29)

        The Anniversary Party — A newly reconciled husband and wife throw a party for themselves. Stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, who also co-directed.

        Too Much Sleep — A drowsy night watchman falls into a bizarre big-city adventure.

        When Brendan Met Trudy — The latest comedy from Roddy Doyle (The Commitments) features a mismatched couple.

        The Dish — Sam Neill stars in an Australian story about a small town that figured in Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon.

        The Day I Became a Woman — A highly acclaimed Iranian film explores the everyday life of women.

High culture

        The Golden Bowl — Merchant-Ivory return with Henry James' classic story of greed, love and betrayal. (May 18)

        Bride of the Wind — Bruce Beresford directs a story based on the life of composer Gustav Mahler's wife, Alma. (June 8)

        Shadow Magic — Jared Harris brings silent movies to old China.

True facts

        Startup.Com War Room documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker track a new Internet business. (June 15)

        Raw Deal: A Question of Consent — A graphic documentary about a campus rape case from 1999.

       Contact Margaret A. McGurk at 768-8517; fax: 768-8330; e-mail; Cincinnati.Com keyword: McGurk.


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