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May the Franchise be with You
Are they worth seeing? Peter Chattaway looks at blockbusters that are already released and others still to come this summer.

Summer is here, and that must mean it’s time for lots of sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes at the multiplex. The operating principle seems to be: If you liked munching popcorn through the last three movies about superpowered mutants, or the last three movies about killer cyborgs, or the last five movies about teenaged wizards, then of course you'll want to slurp your sodas through even more of those kinds of movies! Sometimes an original idea or two do peek through, though.

Here are a few of the more highly-anticipated would-be blockbusters coming out this year. As always, the release dates are subject to change.

Year One(June 19) stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as Zed and Oh, a couple of prehistoric hunter-gatherer types who somehow end up wandering through the Book of Genesis. Biblical characters who appear in the film reportedly include Adam (Harold Ramis), Eve (Rhoda Griffis), Cain (David Cross), Abel (Paul Rudd), Abraham (Hank Azaria) and Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Oh, and a significant part of the story will take place in Sodom. No word yet on whether Gomorrah will get a cameo. The film is produced by R-rated comedy veteran Judd Apatow (Knocked Up).

Terminator: Salvation(May 22) It has been a full quarter-century since a robot first came back in time to kill the woman who was destined to give birth to the saviour of mankind. The robot failed, of course, and now, three movies and 25 years later, the son of that woman is leading the fight against an army of machines that are determined to wipe us out. The Terminator franchise, including the TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, has always had religious overtones, but the makers of the newest film have been particularly keen to stress the messianic aura surrounding John Connor (Christian Bale, who actually played Jesus in a 1999 TV-movie).

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince(July 17) The end is now in sight, as the sixth movie based on J.K. Rowling's seven-part series of books finally hits the big screen. Once again, there are stunning revelations, spectacular special effects, offbeat humour, and some pretty startling plot twists. If the film stays true to the book, this should, in fact, be easily the darkest movie in the series to date.

Star Trek (May 8) Part sequel, part prequel and part reboot, the eleventh film in the Star Trek series takes a step back – way, way back – to look at how Kirk, Spock and all the other characters made famous on the original 1960s TV show came to be shipmates on the starship Enterprise. The cast includes Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as Spock, John Cho (Harold and Kumar) as Sulu and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as Scotty – and it also includes Leonard Nimoy as the original, and now elderly, Spock, here to pass the baton to a new generation of actors. Directed by J.J. Abrams.

Public Enemies (June 26) stars Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, a bank robber who became something of a folk hero during the 1930s; it also stars Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis, the federal agent who pursued Dillinger and thereby helped to establish the fledgling Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a major national institution. Co-written and directed by crime-movie veteran Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat).

Angels & Demons (May 15) In this sequel to The Da Vinci Code, the Illuminati come back and plot to destroy the Vatican and all of its cardinals with some stolen anti-matter. The novel that inspired this film is, if anything, even cheesier than the book that inspired the previous movie. And since the wacky claims made by Angels & Demons apply only to the Renaissance, they won’t be nearly as controversial as the claims made by the previous movie about the origins of Christianity itself.

Transformers: Revenge of theFallen (June 26) More big robots turning into cars and airplanes. More big noisy battle scenes.  More big special effects. This is almost certainly guaranteed to be the biggest movie based on a Hasbro toy this year. (The summer’s other Hasbro movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, opens August 7.)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine(May 1) After three movies based on the teamwork of the X-Men as a whole, the newest movie puts its titular mutant superhero front and centre and tells the story of how he got his adamantium claws in the first place.

Land of the Lost (June 5) This remake of the 1970s TV show stars Will Ferrell as a scientist who, along with a couple of his colleagues, gets sucked into a space-time vortex and dumped in a world with dinosaurs, giant insects and a bunch of primates.

Originally published in Options, Spring 2009.

 

 
 
 
 

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