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ISSUE 120 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/4/2007

Overlooked summer films

By Geoff Swanson
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 4, 2007

Even as we're all enjoying this great weather, I can't stop thinking about the plethora of movies that are sure to assault audiences this coming summer. With more and more sequels, remakes and book-to-screen adaptations, it seems hard to pick out what's worth seeing and what's worth skipping.

Assuming that most people plan on seeing swashbuckling pirates, boy wizards, and superhero spiders, I compiled a list of films that promise to be a worthwhile, if overlooked, venture to the local theater, perhaps on a rainy day.

Horror: "28 Weeks Later"

Obviously, this continuation of the cult classic "28 Days Later" takes place 28 weeks after the first film. The premise is quite simple -- London is being reopened and repopulated after a devastating "rage" virus has run its course. However, things don't go as planned, and when someone still infected with the virus enters the city, havoc and chaos inevitably ensue.

I've never been particularly fond of zombie films -- in my opinion, they're pointless, overly gratuitous and somewhat boring -- but when I first saw "28 Days Later," I remember expressing a concern for the characters that is not usually found in horror films. This film undoubtedly promises a continuation of the successful horror series, and it is certain to top rival horror sequel "Hostel: Part Two."

Release Date: May 11

Drama: "Paris, Je T'aime"

This one is a little bit of a cheap shot because it actually premiered at last year's Cannes film Festival, but it is just coming to theaters in the U.S. now. The film is one of many different segments woven together to create a picture of Paris, the city of love.

Directors such as Joel and Ethan Coen ("Fargo"), Alfonso Cuarón ("Children of Men"), Wes Craven ("Scream"), Walter Salles ("The Constant Gardner"), Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") and Gus Van Sant ("Elephant") have all lent their creative eye at directing one of the arrondissements (sections), which are fused together to create the entire film. Stars include Leonor Watling, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Miranda Richardson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elijah Wood, Natalie Portman, Gaspard Ulliel and Steve Buscemi. The film has a limited release in the US, but can probably be found scattered a few places around the Twin Cities and many other metropolitan areas.

Release Date: May 4

Comedy: "Knocked Up"

From Judd Apatow ("The 40 Year Old Virgin") comes "Knocked Up," a film where the title gives all the explanation needed. What strikes me about the trailer is that despite the title, the film seems to contain a sweet humanity. The combination of Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy" and Jonah Hill ("Accepted") is inspired, and should lead to a lasting appeal with comedy aficionados as well as romance lovers, as did "The 40 Year Old Virgin." This will most likely be the smash date movie this summer.

Release Date: June 1

Action: "The Bourne Ultimatum"

While most people are gearing up for "Spiderman 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean 3," "Die Hard" or any other action film this summer, I have been preparing for "The Bourne Ultimatum" since I left the theater of the "Bourne Supremacy."

What distinguishes "Ultimatum" from just about every other action movie of the summer is its return to old-school filming techniques and its reluctance to submit to the green screen craze. Under the direction of Paul Greengrass ("United 93"), "Supremacy" engaged the audience with its stunning use of handheld cameras, tight shots and realistic violence. "Ultimatum" sets itself to be a great continuation of the series, and unfortunately might be over-looked amidst all of the overbearing box-office monsters.

Release Date: August 3

Science Fiction: 'The Invasion"

Loosely based on "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," this science fiction thriller focuses on Nicole Kidman, a psychiatrist in Washington DC who unearths the origin of an alien epidemic. During filming, co-star Daniel Craig won the role of James Bond in "Casino Royale." After initially wrapping, the producers were not satisfied and hired the Wachowski brothers ("The Matrix") to do a fast rewrite and director James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta") to step in and direct the new sequences. That being said, there has been a considerable amount of hype around this film, especially since production began more than two years ago.

Out of all the other films mentioned in this article, this is the one I am most uncertain about. There is a tendency for big stars to make some pretty unflattering choices along their career paths, and the science fiction angle might be too much of a stretch for Kidman. Who knows? It could be disastrous like "Aeon Flux" for Charlize Theron or interesting like "War of the Worlds" for Tom Cruise.

Release Date: August 17

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