Sunday, May 05, 2002

Ten hottest summer films

Movies that seem headed straight to the top of the box office

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Brace yourself. Summer movies laden with spectacle, special effects and larger-than-life heroes are lined up like fighter jets, ready to roar into a multiplex near you. The Scorpion King made an early sortie on April 19; this weekend's opening of Spider-Man signaled an all-out assault that will not let up until Labor Day.

        Many of last year's most anticipated summer movies (Pearl Harbor, Planet of the Apes, Lara Croft) turned out to be short-lived hits; after big opening weekends, their audiences shriveled. This year, moviemakers hope that familiarity will breed profits; the schedule is stacked with sequels.

        With potential monster hits rolling out almost every week, the summer movie menu could overwhelm even the greediest film fans, and no summer is complete without a few flat-out duds. Highest hopes, however, are pinned on these movies, each one bred to be a blockbuster:

        Spider-Man — Such a sure bet that star Tobey Maguire is already locked into two sequels. Now playing.

        Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones — The Natalie Portman-Hayden Christensen love story could be the best thing that ever happened to the Mother of All Franchises. May 16

        Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron — This animated feature features the adventures of a legendary horse. Matt Damon narrates. May 24

        Bad Company — Comedy meets international intrigue with Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins front and center. June 7

        The Bourne Identity — Robert Ludlum's action-heavy spy thriller goes Hollywood with Matt Damon at the helm. June 14

        Windtalkers — Nicolas Cage stars in a story built around WWII Navajo code-talkers. With John Woo directing, expect off-the-charts combat scenes. June 14.

        Minority Report — Steven Spielberg directs, Tom Cruise stars, it's a sci-fi thriller. The odds look good. June 21

        Men in Black 2 — Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld are back. Bad sign: Linda Fiorentino isn't. July 3

        Austin Powers 3: Goldmember — Mike Myers returns as Austin, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard and the title villain. Reluctantly, he let Beyonce Knowles play The Girl. July 26

        Signs — The subject is crop circles; Mel Gibson stars. M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) directs. Scared yet? Aug. 2

Other summer movies

        Enough — Jennifer Lopez buffs up to defend herself from an abusive husband played by Bill Campbell, of the TV series Once and Again. May 24

        The Importance of Being Earnest — Rupert Everett and Reese Witherspoon star in a new version of the Oscar Wilde stage perennial. May 24

        Insomnia — Al Pacino tracks a killer in the wilds of Alaska. Christopher Nolan (Memento) directs. Robin Williams co-stars as a non-funny, non-cuddly character. May 24

        The Sum of All Fears — Ben Affleck takes over the role of Jack Ryan in the newest Tom Clancy thrill ride. May 31

        The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Sandra Bullock and Ellen Burstyn star in the screen version of the best-selling novel. Callie Khouri, writer of Thelma and Louise, directs. June 7

        Scooby-Doo — Live actors Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard join forces with the animated critters to solve crimes. June 14

        Lilo & Stitch — Disney tries a new look in this Asian-influenced animated story of a girl who adopts an alien as a pet. June 21

        Mr. Deeds — Adam Sandler, with an assist from Winona Ryder, tests his staying power in this remake of a Frank Capra classic. June 21

        The Powerpuff Girls — The crime-fighting ladies from the popular TV cartoon series arrive on the big screen. July 3

        The Road to Perdition — In perhaps the summer's riskiest gambit, Tom Hanks plays a morally conflicted hit man, based on a dark graphic novel. Sam Mendes (American Beauty) directs. July 12

        Eight-Legged Freaks — Giant spiders attack David Arquette in what looks like a good candidate for cult status. July 19

        K-19: The Widowmaker — Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson and a broken Russian submarine in a Cold War crisis — sounds like Tom Clancy, but it isn't. July 19.

        Stuart Little 2 — Michael J. Fox again lends his voice to the tiny talking mouse who lives with Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie. July 19

        The Country Bears — An animated features based on the Country Bears Jamboree at Disney World, featuring the voices of Christopher Walken and Haley Joel Osment. July 26

        Full Frontal — Julia Roberts appears in this low-budget ensemble story from Steven Soderbergh, which is being compared to to his breakout feature, sex, lies and videotape. Aug 2

        XXX — Following the surprise hit The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel stars as an extreme athlete who takes on a secret government mission. Aug 2

        Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams — Robert Rodriguez's adventuresome clan (led by Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) returns, gadgets at the ready, to take on more bad guys. Aug. 7


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