IF you ever doubted that Hollywood has fear of change, take a look at the array of upcoming summer movies. Familiar faces with pointy ears and bad rafting skills will once again space travel, time travel and generally repeat themselves across the screen.
Meet the new summer lineup. Same as the old summer lineup. All right, with some exceptions.
Not that anyone expects a bust at the box office. Big-time producers know all they have to do is get “Star” and “Trek” into a title and people will come. Same with the “Terminator,” same with “Harry Potter,” same with that pretty boy Johnny Depp doing anything at all.
If it ain’t broke, seems to be the Hollywood philosophy, don’t fix it.
Not that all is hopeless. How many millions, I wonder, will wander out to see “Land of the Lost” just for the sheer nostalgia of revisiting a cheesy plot from Saturday mornings of youth. And who hasn’t been gnawing the inside of their cheek for two years waiting for Ben Stiller to return for another “Night at the Museum,” am I right?
With that, I give you some of the blockbusters expected this summer. Enjoy the deja vu.
Star Trek (May 8)
Starring: Chris Pine, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin and Zoe Saldana. Am I forgetting anyone? Oh, right. Leonard Nimoy.
Will be shown at Maine’s first I-Max theater in Saco on Friday, May 8.
Director J.J. Adams goes warp speed into the past to reveal how Kirk, Spock and Bones formed a friendship that would ultimately carry them across the cosmos.
Forgive me here, but when a director talks the history of friendship, I see one of two things. I see Kirk, Spock and Bones dressed all goth in some long-ago childhood, listening to suicidal music, knocking over cemetery headstones and perhaps exploring their sexuality together.
Or I see the three of them banding together to battle a soul-eating clown who lives in the sewers.
I’m assured that none of these scenarios will unfold in the latest, greatest Star Trek. Instead, we will find James T. Kirk a student at the Starfleet Academy where he is working on the essentials of hand-to-hand combat, space survival and that hesitation style of speech.
At the academy, Kirk will meet Spock the half-Vulcan and Dr. Leonard Bones, a medical student, and the odyssey begins.
Right after they kiss.
Terminator Salvation (May 21)
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Bale will play John Connor, all grown up and presumably without the squeaky voice. Now it is post-apocalyptic 2018 and Connor must lead the human resistance against those bastards at Skynet. Should be smooth sailing. Crash a few Humvees, blow up the metal guys with rockets, deliver ominous speeches about how mankind is just too stupid to live.
Only this time, Connor will have to think rather than just shoot stuff. A stranger appears, along with a weird memory of Death Row, and Connor will have to figure out what it means for the future of the species. He’ll have to do it without Schwarzeneger, who is presently fighting the swine flu in California. And without his hot mom. And that’s a real drag because the prospect of seeing Linda Hamilton doing pull-ups is always a box office draw for me, if you know what I mean.
The way I see it, “Terminator Salvation” better be awesome because we all had to listen to that horrible clip of Bale screaming all woman-like at a crew member on the set. He owes us.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (May 22)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Owen Wilson.
Excellent cast and it’s only a part deux, not a part nueve or part diez. Here Stiller returns as a night watchman who encounters strange things in the wee hours at the museum. Hank Azaria is along as a villain instead of a cartoon voice.
I’ve always thought of Stiller as one of those actors who is only as good as the plot in which he has been placed. That is, he cannot always overcome a stale script or weak co-stars like some other actors.
In “Night at the Museum,” he should be just fine. After all, we’re talking about the Smithsonian here. Stiller should be in the company of such luminaries as Archie Bunker’s cigar, Fonzie’s leather coat, Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Marilyn Monroe’s unmentionables. There are also rumors that Stiller will run into the likes of Abe Lincoln, Al Capone and Amelia Earhart. Not quite Matt Dillon, but they should be enough to prop up Stiller’s performance.
Land of the Lost (June 5)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride.
Will Ferrell is a hit-or-miss kind of comedic actor. He hit in “Anchorman,” swung and missed badly in “Bewitched.” When Ferrell is bad, he’s terrible. Let’s hope he has game for this one because there is just too much at stake to fail.
“Land of the Lost” is the product of the 1970s TV show we all watched on Saturday mornings before wandering out to blow up frogs and eat dirt. A scientist and his children stumbled — through epically bad rafting techniques — into a prehistoric time where they were forced to battle all sorts of creatures with hysterically bad costumes. The best thing about the show, of course, were the sleestaks. These were a bug-eyed cross between a lizard and a human, who never moved at more than 1 mph but who always nearly captured the dumb scientist and his stumbling children.
In the movie, Ferrell will play the scientist. Instead of kids, his co-stars will be a lovely research assistant, who will no doubt be ready to show cleavage in case Ferrell starts to fall flat, and a redneck survivalist.
If Ferrell is good and the script decent, maybe it won’t be the gigantic yawn that “Bewitched” was. All I can say is that there better be sleestaks, with or without cleavage.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rubert Grint, Emma Watson, Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Muggles everywhere.
It’s time for Harry to put away childish things. That dreamy Edward from “Twilight” is stealing a lot of his fandom, but there’s also the matter of Voldemort. He Who Will Not Be Named is out to take over both the Muggle and Wizard worlds and only Harry can stop him. A big battle will be fought in the halls of Hogwarts and preparation for the clash begins.
Meanwhile, Harry develops big-boy feelings for the sister of a friend and we know how troublesome that kind of thing can be. Look for some killer conflict as the boy wizard experiences unfamiliar tingles in his Ministry of Magic just at the biggest battle of them all is coming down.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24)
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese GIbson, John Turturro, Rainn Wilson.
To get the inside scoop on this one, I had only to speak with my B Section partner, Tammy “Hair” Chamberland. Her thoughts on the second Transformer movie: “This is going to be a big one for the Decepticon. They’re coming out in full force.” Then she got a vacuous look in her eyes and asserted: “Transformers, robots in disguise. Transformers, more than meets the eye.”
Clearly my partner has been sniffing her Sharpie. But she’s right. According to Duhamel, this one will be more about Autobots and Decepticons than the first film. Director Michael Bay says only that there will be a round of machines ruling the world.
Me, I thought transformers were those things at the top of telephone poles that are always barbecuing squirrels. This robot stuff will probably make for a better movie.
Angels & Demons (May 15)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino
This one promises the high-tension slugging of the original Rocky, only instead of brutish men duking it out in the ring, the fight is between the secret brotherhood Illuminati and its mortal foe, the Catholic church. In between is Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, the religious expert who first made his appearance in the biblically popular “The Da Vinci Code.” This time, he is joined by a sexy (I assume) Italian scientist as he follows ancient clues and explores forces that threaten the Vatican itself.
Hanks is no doubt one of the finest actors of our time, yet every time I see a new movie in which he stars, for the first few seconds I expect raw “Bachelor Party” comedy. I can almost guarantee you, however, that he will not appear in this one swilling beer with an exotic dancer and a drug-crazed mule.
Inglourious Basterds (Aug 21)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger
Here is one that will appeal to fans of Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt or movies with misspellings in the title. Here, Pitt is a lieutenant in World War II tasked with convincing a group of Jewish soldiers to commit acts of retribution against their enemies, known as the Basterds. The aim is no less than the overthrow of the Third Reich.
It seems heady stuff for Tarantino, who is usually more comfortable with hitmen, severed ears, and women with automatic weapons for limbs. The horrors of Nazi Germany seems like a good match for this director’s twisted view of reality. I just wish Samuel L. Jackson was in it because I suspect there was a lot of swearing around the era of Hitler and nobody swears like Samuel L.
G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra (Aug.7)
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller.
What a way to end the summer. Once you get past the hilarious innuendo of the title, you will see that this is meant to be a live action film adaptation of that very macho doll you played with as a kid. Set 10 years in the future, the movie seeks to explain how the group known as Cobra came to be. It features characters with cool names like Snake Eyes, Ripcord, Duke and Hawk. Bring your kid to see this one and maybe he won’t be so ashamed to hear that you played with dolls as a kid.


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