(DreamWorks, June 18)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
STARRING: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Raul Rudd
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
WRITERS: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
PREMISE: Will Ferrell mugs a lot as a sexist San Diego newscaster in 1973.
OUTLOOK: The trailer suggests easy summer retro laughs with no surprises whatsoever.
(DreamWorks, July 9)
STARRING: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater
WRITERS: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
PREMISE: The romantic Yank and Frog from the 1995 film Before Sunrise reunite nine years later.
OUTLOOK: From Slacker to School of Rock, Linklater throws his heart into his work. This quickie sequel (shot in 15 days) may deliver the same offhand charm and believable characters as its predecessor. This time Hawke pretends that he's an author -- an obvious case of art reflecting life.
(Warner Independent Pictures, July 2)
The Bourne Supremacy
STARRING: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Joan Allen, Brian Cox
DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
WRITERS: Tony Gilroy, Brian Helgeland, novelist Robert Ludlum
PREMISE: This time Jason Bourne (or whatever his name is) must clear his name following brutal assassinations.
OUTLOOK: The first one proved a pleasant surprise, and this sequel promises lots of dark intrigue all over Germany, Russia and India. In particular, the work of Greengrass holds appeal, as his documentary-style Northern Ireland riot reenactment Bloody Sunday was truly stunning. Production here was apparently rushed, but whatever its flaws, at least it don't feature no Affleck.
(Universal, July 23)
STARRING: Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, and that French dude from the Matrix sequels
DIRECTOR: Pitof (One word, like Madonna. He's a former effects guy for Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.)
WRITERS: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (Terminator 3)
PREMISE: Jettisoning the Batman connection altogether, Halle Berry dons a Mouseketeer-meets-Matrix stripper outfit as Patience Philips, a graphic designer who gains some kind of super cat-powers.
OUTLOOK: Had this film come out in 1993, starred Michelle Pfeiffer, and been directed by Tim Burton, we'd be talking mega-hit. As is, Berry's costume looks stupid (can't wait for the inevitable drag-queen version, though), the trailer's lame (she likes sushi!), and Mattel recently canceled plans for a Barbie tie-in. Expect Gigli comparisons before the year is out, as well as endless puns like Cat-astrophe. Sadly, this will probably cancel out any chance of the real Catwoman character appearing in the new Christian Bale Batman franchise.
(Warner Bros., July 23)
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
STARRING: John Cho, Kal Penn
DIRECTOR: Danny Leiner (Dude, Where's My Car?)
WRITERS: John Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
PREMISE: Stoner Indian student and stoner Korean student quest for burgers.
OUTLOOK: Sometimes the title says enough.
(New Line, July 30)
She Hate Me
STARRING: Anthony Mackie, Monica Bellucci, John Turturro, Chiwetel Ejiofor
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Spike Lee
PREMISE: A corporate whistle-blower (8 Mile's Mackie) loses his job on Wall Street and winds up selling his sperm to rich childless lesbians who pay big bucks to get impregnated the old-fashioned way. Yes, it's a comedy.
OUTLOOK: Lee is often on shaky ground when it comes to comedies, and it'll be ironic if vocal minority groups (lesbians, in this case) start protesting him.
(Sony Classics, July 30)
STARRING: Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver
WRITER/DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan
PREMISE: A 19th-century Pennsylvania village, hermetically sealed from the rest of civilization, is disturbed by an outside menace.
OUTLOOK: Shyamalan's a ding-dong. While The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable smartly mixed dank moodiness with semi-unpredictable twist endings, the flailing Signs dumbed things down into eye-rolling territory. This project appears to follow suit, with nice production values and cast but a lame, sub-sub-Twilight Zone twist even Webheads have long since sussed. If you can't figure it out from the red paint marks on the villagers' doors, you are exactly the designated audience for this movie. Catch it in an Amish town for extra fun.
(Buena Vista, July 30)
Alien vs. Predator
STARRING: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, and some big, ugly meanies from outer space
DIRECTOR: Paul W.S. Anderson
WRITERS: Paul W.S. Anderson, Shane Salerno, Peter Briggs
PREMISE: Titular franchise thingies battle each other in Antarctica while humans stupidly interfere.
OUTLOOK: After two pointless place-holder sequels, at least the Aliens finally get to do something on Earth. Their interactions with the Predator species are sure to fuel many a comic-geek debate, but whoever wins, the human actors are brave to participate. Note: Director Anderson did Resident Evil (and its star, Milla Jovovich) and is not that Magnolia guy.