Sunday, April 25, 2004

For some reason, I can't get that excited over the blockbuster movie summer of 2004. Last year I found great or good flicks in "X2," "Terminator 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "The Italian Job," "Finding Nemo" and more. Even "The Matrix Reloaded" wasn't totally worthless. But after reading both Premiere and Entertainment Weekly's summer previews, this season seems staler than most.

Of the "big" movies, I have to say only a few interest me. These days, I watch far more movies on DVD than in the theatre, so it has to be special to pull me out. Number one on my geek-watch chart is Spider-Man 2, since I was an enormous fan of the first, I've read Spider-Man comics for 20 years and besides, you can't do better in casting than Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and in this installment, the excellent Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus.

But after Spidey, the thrill meter drops a long way for me. I'm interested in Shrek 2 and the latest Harry Potter, but reviews will determine whether or not I actually see them on the big screen. Troy also looks very promising based on the trailer, and The Bourne Supremacy with Matt Damon is a sequel I'll definitely seek out -- the first was a truly smart spy thriller. Yet much of the summer's other overstuffed rides, like Van Helsing, King Arthur, Chronicles of Riddick, The Day After Tomorrow, Garfield, I, Robot, and the godawful-looking Catwoman and Garfield-- I'll probably wait for the videos. I'll admit the 13-year-old in me is curious about the sci-fi mashup Alien Vs. Predator, though.

A few lower-profile films are also looking good -- Michael Mann directs Tom Cruise as a vicious assassin in Collateral. Cruise is most appealing to me when there's a hint of scoundrel in his work -- as in "Magnolia," "Interview With A Vampire," or "Jerry Maguire." The usually funny Will Ferrell is back as a '70s TV newsman in Anchorman. The Door In The Floor is another heavily reworked adaptation of a John Irving novel (like "Simon Birch" was of "A Prayer For Owen Meany"), but the trailer wasn't bad and it's got Jeff Bridges, one of the most underrated actors out there.

And although it'll probably never come to my desolate corner of cinema-land in Oregon, Zach Braff, J.D. on TV's "Scrubs," has written, directed and stars in the very intriguing sounding indie Garden State. The trailer is fascinating and while a character-driven, quiet film like this will never top the charts, it might just be one of the best things going in the season of summer bombast. Another indie I'm interested in seeing is the controversial documentary by the man who ate nothing but McDonald's food for a month, Supersize Me.

Of course, you never know -- there's always a few surprises every summer. Remember last year, when Ang Lee's "Hulk" was going to be a smash -- that is, until people actually saw it. And who would've thought "Pirates of the Caribbean" would've cleaned up like it did?

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