Summer movie preview

Summer movies have long been a source of debate among filmgoers. Some claim it is the season when films cater to out-of-school students by releasing expensive, overproduced fluff. Others, however, relish the escapist power garnered by summer entertainment. Regardless, summer has traditionally been the time when Hollywood studios release their surefire hits, and this summer is no exception. Here are the highlights.

Mission: Impossible III (May 5):

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces yet another high-octane, suspense-filled mission as an agent for Impossible Mission Taskforce (IMF). Whereas John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2 focused on stylized action scenes, this film aims for a more suspenseful, personal tone. This new approach undoubtedly stems from the guidance of first-time feature director J.J. Abrams, creator of hit shows Alias and Lost. In his other projects, Abrams has found the humanity in his characters, and perhaps his skills will transform Hunt into a more developed character than in previous installments.

The Da Vinci Code (May 19):

With Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, this adaptation of Dan Brown’s phenomenally successful novel is guaranteed to draw audiences. However, due to its religious themes, the film is receiving some criticism from Christian groups. The revelation Hanks’ character discovers at film’s end has religious devotees clamoring for a disclaimer in the beginning of the film, asserting it is a work of fiction. Like The Passion of the Christ, expect all the publicity to only increase ticket sales. With such an esteemed pedigree, Da Vinci may generate Oscar buzz.

Lady in the Water (July 21):

Following the disappointing box-office returns and lackluster reviews of 2004’s The Village, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan attempts to rebound with this mysterious bedtime story starring Paul Giamatti (Sideways) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village). Like Shyamalan’s previous films, the plot remains vague, but expect it to be more of a fantasy film than his previous efforts. No word yet on if Lady will feature one of his signature plot twists.

X-men: The Last Stand (May 26)

After the success of 2000’s X-Men and 2003’s X2: X-Men United, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and company unite for the final battle between mutants and humanity. When a cure arises to strip mutants of their abilities, the mutant population must decide to change or remain forever isolated from humanity. In addition to Magneto’s evil Brotherhood, the X-Men also face the return of a far more powerful and dangerous Jean Grey, who becomes Phoenix. Popular comic book characters Beast (Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer), Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and Angel (Ben Foster) join the cast. The trilogy is completed with a new director – Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon). Although 20th Century Fox has repeatedly stated this is the end of the series, several spin-off projects are in development, including Wolverine and Magneto films.

Click (June 23):

Taking a rest from producing Deuce Bigalow movies, Adam Sandler stars in this fantasy comedy about a family man who acquires a remote control that controls time. While the film is sure to incorporate Sandler’s trademark crude humor and over-the-top comedic style, the trailer for Click hints this may not be the typical Sandler fare. As the previews reveal, Sandler’s character loses control of the remote, resulting in time speeding up to an obscene degree. The film uses the remote to illustrate the preciousness of time, a sentimental theme uncommon for Sandler’s usual lowbrow antics. Kate Beckinsale and Christopher Walken co-star.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (July 7):

Surprising everyone, 2003’s Curse of the Black Pearl earned more than $300 million domestically and scored Johnny Depp his first Oscar nomination. The story continues as Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) seeks the help of friends Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) as he faces a curse that will claim his life. The third Pirates film, shot simultaneously with this one, will follow Dead Man’s Chest in 2007.