With “Disturbia” topping last weekend’s box office for the third straight week, the silver screen fell to its lowest point all year. After all the trash released this past month by executives, moviegoers are rejoicing as next week is the official start of the summer box office season. While most are accustomed to the traditional onslaught of big-budget, loud-in-every-way, summer blockbuster fares, this time of the year is also home to many of the year’s best smaller films. Here is a diverse list of movies for you film aficionados that can’t be missed this summer.
“Spider-Man 3” — The first ‘Spider-Man’ movie overcame all the odds and was a box office phenomenon. Here we are five years later and the third installment has arrived. The main reason for Spidey’s success is the loyalty and dedication of those working with the project. To have anyone else but Sam Raimi direct future installments would be a crime, and to replace Tobey Maguire at this point would be a mistake as well. While many were skeptical at first of the skinny kid from “Pleasantville” becoming Spider-Man, it’s come to the point where there is no one else that can be associated with the role. As for the film, everything about it screams “big.” From three villains — Green Goblin, The Sandman and Venom — to a new love interest — Gwen Stacey played by Bryce Dallas Howard (“The Lady in the Water”) — to an epic showdown that took a third of the reportedly $258 million budget, “Spider-Man” is the first true comic book trilogy masterpiece.
Release date — May 4.
p. “Rescue Dawn” — Christian Bale (“The Prestige”) is hands-down one of the best actors in Hollywood today. His ability to become entranced in his role is scary at times. In this Vietnam War film, Bale plays a U.S. fighter pilot (a role for which he lost 55 pounds) whose plane is shot down over Laos and who is captured and put in a prisoner-of-war camp. His character attempts to lead all the POWs through a death-defying escape from the camp. With a solid plotline and Bale leading the charge, this film promises to deliver plenty of excitement.
Release date — July 4.
p. “Talk to Me” — Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda”) has been on a roll ever since his Oscar nomination two years ago, delivering scene stealing performances in all his films. In this new drama, set in the turbulent times of the 1960s, Cheadle plays “Petey” Greene, an outspoken ex-convict who goes on to become one of the most renowned talk show personalities of his generation. Greene is able to lend a voice to the black community and, with his daredevil attitude, is able to make changes. This film looks like the perfect counter-programming to the typical summer film, promising lots of laughs and lots of tears. Here’s hoping Cheadle can snag another nomination for this role.
Release date — July 13.
p. “Halloween” — Being an avid Rob Zombie (“The Devil’s Rejects”) fan, I may be biased, but to say that this man does not know how to do horror would be blasphemy. Zombie has adapted John Carptenter’s classic for the modern generation into a hybrid prequel-remake film. Early reports are saying that the film is darker, grittier and, of course, gorier than the original. Here’s hoping the gore is not in place of the tension that made the first film great. Zombie’s cast seems more than capable of honoring the tradition of the “Halloween” films, however, to be fair, the last four “Halloween” films have been complete garbage (rapper Busta Rhymes starred in the last installment). Hopefully, Zombie can resurrect a once-dominant franchise.
Release date — August 31.
p. “The Simpsons” — While many have claimed that this modern day, American classic cartoon may have overstayed its welcome, there is no denying that fans have been clamoring for a feature-length film for years. The time is now upon us and, love them or hate them, the Simpsons will hold their place in American pop culture forever. All that is known about the plot is that Homer must save the world from a disaster he, himself, has created. The Simpsons have been able to be successful for a half-hour at a time, but will that translate into a 90-minute film? I believe so, if the writers are on top of their game. There is no reason for this film not to deliver the laughs of the summer.
Release date — July 27.
p. Other films to watch out for in the summer are “Mr. Brooks,” starring Kevin Costner (“Field of Dreams”) as a successful businessman turned serial killer. Think “American Psycho” meets “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.” Then there’s “Evan Almighty,” the sequel to “Bruce Almighty,” which takes a completely different direction and focuses on the minor character of Evan (Steve Carell, “The Office”) as the main protagonist who has to build an Ark. Carell has had a lot of success the last few years and the studio is banking on his brand of comedy to sell a lot of tickets. With a reported price tag of over $120 million, this film will be all over the place, if anything.
p. John Cusack (“Must Love Dogs”) stars as a paranormal debunker in the Stephen King adaptation of “1408.” 1408 refers to the room number in a hotel where all of it’s residents have died in peculiar manners and now Cusac’s character has come to investigate. The last few Stephen King adaptations have been less than stellar, but with a solid cast, this should provide plenty of scares. “The Bourne Ultimatum” is the third film in the “Bourne” series, which has been a very nice alternative to the “Bond” series with its techno-European feel and realistic action sequences. It’s star, Matt Damon (“The Good Shepard”), has also seen his profile raised to a much higher level with these films. It’s too bad that he’s done after this one. With mostly everyone returning from the previous film including director Paul Greengrass (“United 93”), the third film promises more of the same in terms of action and suspense, but this time with the added knowledge that Jason Bourne (Damon) has fully recovered his memory and now is out for vengeance.
p. Finally, there’s the summer’s typical fantasy entry in “Stardust.” Tristan, played by Charlie Cox (“Casanova”) must retrieve a fallen star from the magical realm in order to keep a promise to his beloved. Featuring a cast of Robert De Niro (“The Good Shepard”), Claire Danes (“The Family Stone”) and Michelle Pfeiffer (“What Lies Beneath”) and a big budget, “Stardust” could end up being this year’s “Lord of the Rings.”
p. So there you have it folks, just some of the films you shouldn’t miss this summer. There’s plenty more out there, but do watch out for drivel such as “Georgia Rule” and “Dead or Alive.” Aside from that, this looks to be one of the biggest summers in the history of the box office.