Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hollywood Summer: Murder By Numbers

Spider-Man III
Pirate's of the Caribbean: At World's End
Ocean's 13
The Bourne Ultimatum
Rush Hour

Are there ANY big Hollywood summer movies that aren't watered-down third installments of Hollywood blockbusters?

Oh yeah, we get the fourth installment in the Die Hard series, the fifth Harry Potter, and the ninth (!) Halloween, this time helmed by rock 'n' roll director Rob Zombie.

Then there are sequels, as in, the second time around: 28 Weeks Later (imaginative, scary), a follow-up to 28 Days Later; Evan Almighty, , an overpriced successor to Bruce Almighty, which sounds lame, but with the great Steve Carell in it, who knows?; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (snore); more torture porn, in the form of Hostel: Part II; plus Daddy Day Camp and Mr. Bean's Holiday.

And don't forget about the adaptations/remakes: Hairspray, a remake of the Broadway show based on the great John Waters movie (which didn't require a remake); The Simpsons Movie; Transformers (based on the toys); Underdog, a live-action adaptation of the vintage cartoon; and The Invasion, the 150th remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (as a sucker for classic horror, I'll be suckered into seeing this one)

The latest issue of Rolling Stone offers Peter Travers' round-up of summer's hits and misses, including a tip about a potential gem, Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral, and Travers' typically fawning mini-review of documentarian wannabe Michael Moore's Sicko.

Not that I particularly trust Travers anyway. His pedigree? In a previous life, he was "film critic" for People Weekly. And it's kind of funny to see Travers slam Hollywood shlock while his magazine feeds the $$ machine with cover shots that feel like extensions of corporate ad campaigns.

The new issue features a cover story with Johnny Depp and Keith Richards, from Pirates. In the story, the Rolling Stones guitarist confesses that he fell asleep during Pirates 2, and Depp jokes that he might have done the same thing. And at three hours, Pirates 3 won't have the same effect? We'll see.

I'm looking forward to catching up with Away From Her and Black Book (may have to wait for the DVD release of both), and hoping to make it to a screening or a theatrical run of some of these: Bug, Knocked Up, Death at a Funeral, A Mighty Heart (early Oscar buzz for Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, wife of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter brutally murdered in Pakistan by radical fundamentalist Muslims; perhaps it will work as a refresher course for those who've forgotten why we fight?); and Rescue Dawn, directed by legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog.

Want summer movie round-ups?

Check these out:

San Jose Mercury News, by Bruce Newman

St. Petersburg Times, by Steve Persall

Entertainment Weekly summer movie guide

USA Today

ABC News

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