It looks like a big summer at the box office

May 22, 2008|By RENE RODRIGUEZ / McClatchy Newspapers

Indiana Jones"? Check. "Batman"? Yep. Will Smith? Him, too.

There will be no shortage of box-office draws during the 2008 summer movie season, which is so loaded with potential blockbusters that it may surpass last year's record-setting summer grosses of $4.15 billion, the highest in Hollywood history.

That is no guarantee the movies themselves will be good, of course: Just because they've made another "Hulk" picture doesn't mean it will be any better. But at least on paper, the 2008 summer movie lineup certainly looks formidable enough.

May 22

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull": Almost 20 years after the last Indy film, Harrison Ford picks up his whip and leather jacket for more old-school, serial-matinee adventure. Director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas took their sweet time coming up with a script everyone liked, setting aside the Nazi villains of the first and third films for Cold War-era Russkies, led by a raven-haired Cate Blanchett. Karen Allen and Shia LaBeouf co-star. Start lining up now.


May 30

"Sex and the City": The plot of this big-screen spin-off of the hit HBO series has been kept top-secret, so no one really knows what to expect. All we can confirm is that Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis are all back, and so is Chris Noth (Mr. Big). Oh, and it's rated R, so it'll be just as raunchy as the show was.

June 6

"Kung-Fu Panda": Just as the title promises, a lazy panda bear (voiced by Jack Black) studies the martial arts to battle an evil leopard (Ian McShane).

"You Don"t Mess with the Zohan": Adam Sandler returns to his low-brow roots with this comedy about a former Mossad agent who reinvents himself as a New York City hairstylist.

June 13

"The Happening": Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan tries to rebound from the debacle of "Lady in the Water" with this eerie thriller about a high school science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) trying to elude a mysterious force that leaves entire cities of dead people in its wake.

"The Incredible Hulk": After the box-office failure of Ang Lee's 2003 "Hulk," executives at Marvel Comics give the big green guy another shot at movie stardom with this new version of the story of Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) and his hard-to-control temper. Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt co-star for director Louis Leterrier ("Unleashed," "Transporter 2").

June 20

"Get Smart": Steve Carrell takes over for Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, the bumbling super-spy battling the forces of KAOS. Anne Hathaway, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bill Murray co-star.

"The Love Guru": In his first live-action film since 2003's "The Cat in the Hat," Mike Myers unveils his latest character-creation, a spiritual leader who wants to become the world's leading authority in relationship advice.

June 27

"Wall*E": The wizards at Pixar Animation Studios ("Ratatouille," "The Incredibles") take a gamble with this largely dialogue-free (but not silent) story of a garbage-compacting robot who discovers his true purpose 700 years after he was made.

"Wanted": Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov ("Nightwatch") makes his Hollywood debut with this adaptation of the graphic novel about an ordinary guy (James McAvoy) recruited by the appropriately-named Fox (Angelina Jolie) to join an elite squad of assassins.

July 2

"Hancock": A cranky, alcoholic superhero (Will Smith) hires a publicist (Jason Bateman) to help him repair his public persona. Charlize Theron co-stars for director Peter Berg ("The Kingdom").

July 11

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army": Although the first "Hellboy" movie didn't set the box-office on fire in 2004, director Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") proves he genuinely loves the character with this sequel in which the red-skinned hero (Ron Perlman) must defend the planet from a rebellion by the denizens of the mythical world.

"Journey to the Center of the Earth": A scientist (Brendan Fraser) discovers Jules Verne's classic sci-fi novel actually doubles as a map to the Earth's core, where monsters and dinosaurs await. Shot with 3-D cameras designed by James Cameron.

"Meet Dave": Eddie Murphy moves past the "Norbit" fiasco with this high-concept comedy. He plays a tiny alien from outer space who travels to Earth inside a spaceship that looks like a human-sized version of himself.

July 18

"The Dark Knight": The early buzz is that the late Heath Ledger's turn as the villainous Joker in this sequel to 2005's "Batman Begins" is genuinely, profoundly creepy -- just the way the Joker should be. Christian Bale returns as Batman. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman also star; Christopher Nolan directed.

"Mamma Mia!": The idea of sitting through a film adaptation of the junky Broadway smash is made more palatable by the casting of Meryl Streep as the mother of a young bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) trying to figure out who her real father is. Meryl does ABBA!

July 25

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