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Summer Movie Preview
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

hostel2.jpg
American tourists suffer the vilest indignities
in Eli Roth's Hostel: Part II.

COMING ATTRACTIONS
(Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)

Spider-Man 3 may be one of the most hotly anticipated arrivals of the season, but it’s got plenty of company. Here are just a few of the potential remedies for your summertime blues.

May

28 Weeks Later

There is no answer for some kinds of infection. So we were warned in 28 Days Later, Danny Boyle’s chilling tale of ravenous zombies on the rampage in London. 28 Weeks returns to the scene of the slaughter – minus Boyle and star Cillian Murphy – just as the deadly rage virus restores anarchy in the U.K. Rated R. (May 11)

Shrek the Third

The fate of the DreamWorks empire rests squarely on Shrek’s shoulders, and so far the jolly green giant has proved he can handle the load. After Shrek 2 became the third highest-grossing film in U.S. history – only Titanic and Star Wars earned more – it was just a matter of time before screenwriter Adam Adamson returned to the land of Far, Far Away, where new inhabitants include Justin Timberlake and the ever-menacing Ian McShane. Rated PG. (May 18)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

The latest “Pirates” chapter finds Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow struggling to escape Davy Jones’ locker, just in time to provide Disney’s wildly successful (but occasionally murky) trilogy with some measure of resolution. But is this really the “End”? Time will tell. Rated PG-13. (May 25)

June

Knocked Up

From Judd Apatow, director of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, comes another raunchy tale of libidinous misadventure, in which fellow Virgin alum Seth Rogen lucks into a one-night-stand with Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl. The result? An unexpected pregnancy, followed by an even more unexpected romance. Rated R. (June 1)

Mr. Brooks

Kevin Costner plays a clean-cut family man with an unhealthy appetite for carnage and a seriously unfunny sidekick (Dane Cook) in Mr. Brooks. Rated R. (June 1)

Hostel: Part II

Director Eli Roth revisits the torture chambers of Slovakia, where unsuspecting American tourists are lured to their grisly deaths. Not for the squeamish, and not yet rated. (June 8)

Ocean’s Thirteen

George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the rest of the Ocean’s gang re-team for Thirteen, which seeks to atone for the self-indulgent sins of its immediate predecessor. This time, the boys are back in Vegas – no big surprise there – preparing the ultimate heist to take down a rogue casino owner played by Al Pacino. Not yet rated. (June 8)

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Despite the critical backlash that accompanied the box-office success of Fantastic Four, Ioan Gruffudd is confident that The Silver Surfer will avoid a similar fate. “The first movie had its share of problems,” says Gruffudd, who plays Mr. Fantastic. “It wasn’t always the easiest shoot, and we had to establish these characters before we could get comfortable with them. But The Silver Surfer was a great experience, and it has a much stronger story.” Not yet rated. (June 15)

Nancy Drew

Author Carolyn Keene’s famous teen detective, played by Emma Roberts, arrives in modern-day Hollywood ready to solve a cold-case murder mystery. Can the Hardy Boys be far behind? Rated PG. (June 15)

Evan Almighty

No Jim Carrey? No problem. Evan Almighty, the long-awaited sequel to 2003’s Bruce, finds formerly tongue-tied newscaster Evan Baxter (Steve Carell, of TV’s The Office) building an ark, Noah-style, in preparation for a great Biblical flood. Morgan Freeman co-stars, as does most of the animal kingdom. Not yet rated. (June 22)

Live Free or Die Hard

Twelve years after John McClane (Bruce Willis) saved Manhattan from a murderous gang of gold thieves, the wisecracking, old-school cop is back on the job, chasing down a decidedly 21st century villain – a ruthless cyber-terrorist played by Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood). Not yet rated. (June 27)

Ratatouille

A mischievous rat takes up residence in the restaurant of an acclaimed Paris chef. Not interested? It’s made by Pixar. Now are you interested? We thought so. Not yet rated. (June 29)

Sicko

Not much is known about Michael Moore’s Sicko – the Fahrenheit 9/11 documentarian remains uncharacteristically mum – except that it casts a critical eye on America’s health-care industry and is due sometime in June. Stay tuned for further details. Not yet rated.

July

Rescue Dawn

Christian Bale sheds his Batman cape, at least temporarily, for Rescue Dawn, director Werner Herzog’s account of one man’s desperate bid to escape a Laotian POW camp during the Vietnam War. Think Rambo, minus the cartoonish ultra-violence and cheesy one-liners. Not yet rated. (July 4)

Transformers

Twenty-one years after Orson Welles finished his storied career with one last starring role – as the voice of Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie – director Michael Bay (Armageddon) brings the epic battle between the Autobots and Decepticons to earth, in live-action format. The future of the free world, of course, hangs in the balance. Not yet rated. (July 4)

1408

Stephen King’s stories have inspired films both fair (Misery, The Shining) and foul (pretty much everything else), but that spotty track record didn’t scare off John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, who star in this spooky thriller about a hotel room that doubles as hell on earth – and not just because of the room service. Not yet rated. (July 13)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The fourth installment of J.K. Rowling’s celebrated saga will feature enough magic to satisfy even the most discriminating Muggle, but detail-obsessed readers be warned: At just over two hours, Order of the Phoenix will be the shortest Potter movie to date, meaning that some of Harry’s Hogwarts adventures won’t make it past the editing-room floor. Not yet rated. (July 13)

Hairspray

Like the 2005 version of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, “Hairspray” is based more on the popular Broadway musical than on the outrageous original, filmed by John Waters. Even so, director Adam Shankman’s comedy about teenage angst and segregation in early-’60s Baltimore should feature at least one shocker – the sight of John Travolta in blubbery drag, tackling his first singing role since Grease. Not yet rated. (July 20)

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Adam Sandler and Kevin James star in this edgy comedy about two heterosexual firefighters who pose as a gay couple to receive domestic-partner benefits. And who better than Happy Gilmore and the King of Queens to inject themselves into the debate over same-sex marriage? On second thought, don’t answer that. Not yet rated. (July 20)

I Know Who Killed Me

Well-publicized production delays (possibly caused by star Lindsay Lohan’s hard-partying ways) couldn’t sink this thriller, about a young woman who suffers an identity crisis after surviving a brush with a serial killer. Rated R. (July 27)

No Reservations

Hungry for love? Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart play upscale chefs whose professional rivalry gives way to old-fashioned romance in this remake of Mostly Martha, from Snow Falling on Cedars director Scott Hicks. Not yet rated. (July 27)

The Simpson Movie

Let’s face it, The Simpsons has seen better days, having floundered creatively during its past two seasons on Fox. No matter. For the first time in nearly two decades, the animated sitcom’s top writers – including series creator Matt Groening – have joined forces to bring Springfield to life as we once knew it. Not yet rated. (July 27)

August

El Cantante

Jennifer Lopez fans, rejoice! (Yes, both of you.) Despite the high-profile flops that accompanied her rocky romance with Ben Affleck, J-Lo and husband Marc Anthony will share top billing this summer in El Cantante, a biopic about Puerto Rican salsa sensation Hector Lavoe. Not yet rated. (Aug. 1)

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne series has always been smarter than its competition, less reliant on effects-heavy fantasy than tense, character-driven drama. Does Ultimatum represent the end of the line? Maybe. The late Robert Ludlum wrote only three novels about super-spy Jason Bourne, but director Paul Greengrass mercifully refuses to rule out the possibility of another sequel. Not yet rated. (Aug. 3)

Rush Hour 3

It wasn’t so long ago that Jackie Chan publicly accused Rush Hour co-star Chris Tucker of demanding too much creative control over their somewhat forgotten (but massively successful) franchise. Differences aside, the two will reunite in theaters this August, traveling to Paris to fight a Chinese crime syndicate. Not yet rated. (Aug. 10)

The Brothers Solomon

Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Will Forte (Saturday Night Live) star as a pair of socially inept brothers whose attempts to produce a grandchild for their dying father go wildly astray. Where does the line begin? Not yet rated. (Aug. 31)

Halloween

It’s not a sequel or a remake, it’s a re-imagining – that’s director Rob Zombie’s story, and he’s sticking to it. His latest delves deep into the psyche of Mike Myers, the legendary on-screen serial killer, and gives him a backstory ghoulish enough to explain his insatiable lust for blood. Not yet rated. (Aug. 31)

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