The summer of love — and movies

With the school year merrily on its way out once more, many of us are looking ahead to the summer and asking, “What do I do now?” Thankfully, Hollywood once again has found a plethora of ways for us to spend our time and, more importantly, our dollars, during the warm months. Summer blockbusters are back, and they’re looking better than ever.

First out of the gate is “Iron Man,” debuting May 2, which promises to be your typical superhero flick. Robert Downey Jr. (“Zodiac”) steps into the real man of steel’s shoes this summer. From what I’ve seen of the trailers, he’s definitely at the top of his game, instilling the wise-ass anti-hero with enough pompous flare to make him stand out among the sea of everyheroes.

The plot follows Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist who decides to fight evil and help mankind after realizing the devastating effects of his arms manufacturing. Over the course of the film, he’ll romance his secretary, played by the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow (“Running With Scissors”), and tango with the inevitable super villain. “Iron Man” looks to break some of the cliches of most superhero movies, a fact that I welcome with open arms.

Set for release May 9, the Wachowski brothers’ vision of “Speed Racer” stars Emile Hirsch. I haven’t seen a second of the trailers that isn’t drenched in green-screened goodness, so this one looks to be primarily a feast for your eyes. Just don’t come into the film looking for a great plot — scratch that, any plot. The over-the-top race sequences, ridiculous villains and monkey sidekick certainly attest to the movie’s cartoon origins.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” sequel to “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” hits theaters May 16. While it’s just the latest children’s-book-turned-movie, it looks to uphold the same standards as its predecessor, which was loaded with stunning visuals, talking beavers and religious metaphors. This movie promises a darker storyline and hopes to seal the deal for Disney’s plan to make a trilogy.

Arguably the most hyped release of the summer, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which debuts May 22, marks the long-awaited return of everyone’s favorite archaeologist. Harrison Ford (“What Lies Beneath”) reprises his role, but Sean Connery (“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) opted to stay in retirement. Replacing him as, the grounding force for Indy is Shia Lebouf (“Transformers”), who will play his sidekick. Though George Lucas is one of the writers, Steven Spielberg’s direction will hopefully keep this picture from straying too far from the original movies, unlike the recent Star Wars trilogy that must not be named. The teaser trailer shows an older and less dynamic Indy, who seems to be battling Russian and American troops alike. Plot details have been scarce, but early screenshots show temples in South America and wreckage from the famed UFO crash of 1951 at Roswell, N.M. My pick for the summer.

In addition to “Iron Man,” one more superhero piece premiers this summer — “The Dark Knight,” follow-up to “Batman Begins,” premieres sometime after July 18 — the official date has yet to be released. Taking the dark and gritty interpretation of the world’s greatest detective to a new level, director Christopher Nolan makes the Joker the story’s primary villain. Though the plot has been kept very hush-hush, we do know that all the characters from “Batman Begins” will return except for Katie Holmes (“Thank You for Smoking”), who is being replaced by the infinitely more talented and sophisticated Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Stranger than Fiction”). Heath Ledger (“Brokeback Mountain”) stepped into the demanding role of the Joker and, judging from footage in the trailers, seemed to nail the role perfectly. A likely contender with Indiana Jones for the title of number-one blockbuster of the summer.

With so many promising films, it’s hard to predict what will ultimately be the movie of the summer. Just like last year, all the big releases are basically rehashes of old cartoons, movies or comic books. The entertainment industry may be obsessed with nostalgia, but this year’s crop looks more enticing and exciting than any other I can remember. It’s clear that Hollywood has gone out of its way to apologize for the nuclear winter that followed the writers’ strike. I’m not usually so forgiving, but the sheer amount of entertainment to be had this summer has me more than eager to get back in bed with movies all over again. Apology accepted.

Matthew is a junior at the College. He plans to watch summer blockbusters till he drops.


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