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ISSUE 117 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/14/2004

Summer flicks feature action, romance

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor


Friday, May 14, 2004

Summer is the most popular time for movie releases. For once, audiences can throw away notions that a film has to be "deep" or have a "message." When movie-goers enter the local cineplex to see the hottest blockbuster of the season, they go for pure entertainment value, which is what makes the summer blockbuster golden.

This summer promises a good selection of films. Everyone from Steven Spielberg to newcomer Adam McKay, making his directorial debut with "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," is hoping to capitalize on summer audiences looking to escape the heat.

The movie with the biggest buzz this season seems to be "Spiderman 2." Yes, the Marvel comic book movie franchise's biggest seller ("Spiderman" is the fifth-highest grossing movie of all time) returns with a much-anticipated sequel. The first "Spiderman" captivated viewers with its mix of romance, adventure and special effects. Now, the same cast and director returns with a new villain, Doc Ock, an octopus-man played by Alfred Molina. It promises of the same balance of romance and action that excited audiences the first time around.

Another movie which has garnered a lot of attention -- if not for its epic plot, then for its epic amount of hotness -- is "Troy," based on, of course, Homer's "The Iliad." This movie has the perfect equation for a huge summer blockbuster: classic story, plenty of action, a little romance mixed in and lots of hot bodies.

Although the films budget ballooned to $200 million before production ended, this movie will have no problem making a profit at the box office. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom are reason enough to see it, and early buzz will no doubt get movie-goers flocking to theaters when it opens May 14.

Many St. Olaf students are anxiously awaiting the latest Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." This third addition to the Potter film series is an interesting one, as it is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the director of "Y Tu Mama Tambien", which is, well, not very much like Harry Potter. But his new ideas may give the franchise exciting new life. The actors playing Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione are back, looking much older and more mature. Devoted fans of J.K. Rowling's series will come out in droves to compare the movie to the beloved book.

There are, of course, a slew of pure comedies for summer, which make up for lack of explosions with the brand of silly humor that seems most appropriate in the summer season.

The Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and White Chicks all promise audiences something light and silly rather than a casualty-heavy action flick. Ben Stiller's performance in Dodgeball will no doubt bring back memories of competitive grade-school physical education class. As for White Chicks, audiences might go just to see Marlon and Shawn Wayans as blonde, white debutantes (actually they play FBI undercover agents dressed as blonde, white debutantes who infiltrate the Hamptons).

Other movies worth looking forward to include The Bourne Supremacy, The Stepford Wives, King Arthur, the hot independent film, The Garden State and perhaps even The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. The Bourne Supremacy is the sequel to the popular Bourne Identity, and promises the same thinker-action that can be so entertaining. The Stepford Wives is a remake of the 1975 film with a bit of modernization and a great cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick and Bette Midler.

King Arthur is a grittier version of the classic tale with less romance and magic, and more battles and dirt. The Garden State is written and directed by Zach Braff (of TV's Scrubs) and promises to be a "dramadey," a serious comedy. However, it promises to be more of a film than a movie -- with meaning and material for thought -- which is not typical for the summer blockbuster, but still may be worth seeing. Finally, many can't resist seeing The Princess Diaries 2, which has its appeal in its sweet humor, innocence and simplicity.

There are some hits and misses in this summer's offerings, and some that will not stand up to the competition. But the excitement of going to see a good, simply entertaining movie is what summer is all about.





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