This year’s sequel-laden summer movie season begins this month with the quintessential hat trick of trilogies: Spider-Man 3, then Shrek the Third, and finally Pirates of the Caribbean: At The World’s End.
The amazing Spidey will contend with Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church (Wings, Sideways), Venom, played by Topher Grace (That '70s Show), and former best friend Harry Osborne, played by James Franco (Flyboys). Audiences get a full story (140 minutes) including Gwen Stacy, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Lady in the Water) who develops a crush on Spider-Man.
Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas return to voice Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and Puss in Boots respectively. Filmmakers add more fairy tale characters featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake, Amy Sedaris, and John Krasinski (The Office).
In Pirates of the Caribbean: At The World’s End, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and Bill Nighy all return in their seafaring roles with some surprise characters and pirate captain Sao Feng, played by Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
It will be hard to compete against these three surefire hits, but here are a few that will try.
The delayed drama/comedy Lucky You stars Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana (Troy). Robert Duvall also co-stars and Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) directs this gambling-themed film. The family drama Georgia Rule stars Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, and Lindsay Lohan in her first R-rated movie. Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) directs. Jon Voight and Terence Stamp star in the drama September Dawn, which chronicles real-life events set in the 1850s between settlers and Mormon militia. How about some comedy? Seth Rogan (Freak & Geeks) and Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy) star in the relationship comedy Knocked Up.
Lately Hollywood has produced a lot of scary movies and this summer will be no exception. This trend continues with the thriller Bug, starring genre vet Ashley Judd and actor/singer Harry Connick Jr. William Friedkin (The Exorcist) directs. 28 Weeks Later sets up more zombie-infested action in Britain with lead star Robert Carlyle (The World is Not Enough, The Full Monty). This is a sequel to the Danny Boyle-directed, Cillian Murphy starmaker 28 Days Later.
Update: September Dawn will open on June 22nd.
June begins with Mr. Brooks, a promising drama/thriller in which a tough detective played by Demi Moore investigates a family man played by Kevin Costner. Look for William Hurt to possibly steal the show here, which could expand into a planned trilogy if successful. Ocean’s 13 expands this summer’s amazing sequel cache adding Al Pacino to the stellar cast that includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, and Carl Reiner. The superhero-filled Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer also opens in June, with the original cast for the foursome and Dr. Doom returning. Fans can look for more action featuring the Surfer as a completely computer-generated character.
The very promising Live Free or Die Hard culminates Bruce Willis’ fourth outing as police action hero John McClane who must foil terrorists wreaking havoc on U.S. soil. Directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld). Evan Almighty, the expensive comedy sequel to Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty, stars comedian Steve Carell in a Noah’s Ark story. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as God. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore will address the health care industry in Sicko. The drama Mighty Heart centers on the real-life story of Mariane Pearl, played by Angelina Jolie, and her husband Danny, a journalist kidnapped in Pakistan. Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder lend their voices to the penguin story Surf’s Up, an animated comedy. The long delayed video game adaptation Dead or Alive features female fighters, including Jamie Pressley (My Name is Earl).
Ratatouille, written and directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles), represents Pixar’s seventh full-length computer animated feature film; it's the story of a rat who ditches the dumpster diving to become a chef in Paris, France. Sleuthing hero Nancy Drew jumps from books to the big screen to solve a movie star mystery. The soccer drama Gracie rolls out near the beginning of women’s soccer in the late 1970s.
July begins with the comedy License to Wed, which stars Robin Williams as a pastor putting a young couple through his personalized marriage course. The Transformers film also competes for your box office bucks during the Fourth of July holiday. Rising star Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia, Holes) stars in this action-packed movie based on the popular robot shape-shifting toys. Rescue Dawn stars Christian Bale and Steve Zahn as POW camp escapees, based on the real life events surrounding U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler.
The musical comedy Hairspray stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron (High School Musical), and John Travolta in a unique role. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth in the series, continues darker themes centering on the evil Lord Voldemort's return. Gary Oldman reprises his Sirius Black role. Yet another Stephen King story finds its way to the big screen. This hotel-themed thriller, titled 1408, stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.
Lindsay Lohen and Julia Ormand star in the thriller I Know Who Killed Me, featuring a promising screenplay from first timer Jeff Hammond. The cooking comedy No Reservations stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine). What would the summer be like without an Adam Sandler comedy? This time, the SNL alum and Kevin James team up for the firefighting comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Look for laughs as the numerous animated TV characters from Springfield jump to the big screen in The Simpsons Movie.
The summer season closes in August with the adventure Stardust starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Claire Danes, and Peter O’ Toole. The inspiring drama Resurrecting the Champ stars Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett, Teri Hatcher, and Alan Alda. Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, Princess Dairies) stars as famous author Jane Austen in the romantic drama Becoming Jane. Husband and wife team Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony star in the biopic El Cantante about salsa music legend Hector Lavoe set in the 1970s.
Already an international hit, Mr Bean’s Holiday lands stateside with Rowan Atkinson reprising his popular comedic character. Star Wars fanatics hit the road in the comedy Fanboys. Current SNL comedian Andy Samberg plays a stuntman in Hot Rod. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) and Ian McShane (Deadwood) co-star. Talented stand-up comedian Dane Cook might finally find success on the big screen with the romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck co-starring Jessica Alba.
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return in the comedy-action vehicle Rush Hour 3 co-starring Max von Sydow and Vinnie Jones. Brett Ratner (X-Men: Last Stand) returns to direct in a Paris setting. Matt Damon reprises his action-filled role as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum co-starring Julia Stiles. Paul Greengrass (United 93) has more than enough emotion and technical proficiency to direct this third film installment.
The Brothers Solomon could provide more comedy this summer. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) stars with current Saturday Night Live comedians Will Forte and Kristen Wiig. Animated super-hero Underdog transfers to live action with My Name is Earl’s Jason Lee voicing the featured canine. Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and his Casino Royale co-star Jeffrey Wright battle an extraterrestrial epidemic in Invasion.