While summer is the season prized for absolutely nothing—as in vacation getaways, school recess and scaled back aspirations—it’s the time when Hollywood always kicks into high gear, unloading its wide-range of good, bad and worse stash of sequels, remakes, copycat romances, comic book adaptations and movie-toon. It’s no secret the left coast dream machine seems, at times, to have mastered the dubious art of releasing the same movie over and over again, while just tacking on brand new titles, so expect lot of déjà vu with your popcorn between Memorial weekend and Labor Day, with a few surprises sandwiched here and there before the serious-minded fall awards season kicks in. Here’s a sampling of that forecast:
FRIDAY, JUNE 4
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
There should be a lot more than the AC to cool down the heat this summer, when Executive Producer Guillermo del Toro gets to sending chills up and down audience spines with Director Vincenzo Natali’s genetic engineering horror fantasy Splice. With a female monster on the Frankenstein menu this time around, del Toro conjures a multi-clone sci-fi thriller that will hopefully be a cut above the usual mad scientist shocker. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are rebel experimental biochemists Clive and Elsa, unintentionally bringing out the animal in man as they conspire to bypass human anti-cloning laws by substituting creature DNA instead. In a similarly impossible-to-predict off-screen deal splicing of sorts, Joel Silver grabbed the project from indie minor player Magnolia Pictures for a splashy Warner Bros. release.
FRIDAY, JUNE 18
Toy Story 3
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Joan Cusack
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
While being recycled may not be as bad a fate as getting cloned, the Pixar playthings in Toy Story 3 could seem more like they’re stuck in an escape from a Bratz adventure thriller than anything else, especially after being sequel-ized twice over in 3D, 2D and IMAX. Finding Nemo’s Lee Unkrich directs a voice cast including Tom Hanks (Woody), Michael Keaton (Barbie’s Ken), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Whoopi Goldberg (Stretch the Octopus) and Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head) mouthing off as an assortment of kid toys in peril, with their owner Andy off to college. The addition of Little Miss Sunshine’s Michael Arndt as screenwriter could inject an offbeat element into the rowdy and raucous playtime mix, but no worries, mom and dad: Even an animated attraction between Ken and Barbie should not require getting a room in this rated-G fantasy.
FRIDAY, JUNE 18
Starring: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Will Arnett
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Can the superpowers of a Wild West old school 1970s DC Comics gunslinger compete with the more futuristic crowd pleasers? Animator turned director Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!) and Crank co-writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor hope Josh Brolin as the Weird Western Tales anti-hero comeback cowboy and facially disfigured bounty hunter can pull it off, with an unusual mix of Manifest Destiny-period skirmishes and high-tech supernatural flourishes. John Malkovich adds some black magic to the on-screen mix of varmints and voodoo as the cunning Turnbull. While this surreal saddle and saloon saga is heavily stacked with male actors, it could be leading lady petticoat wench Megan Fox who’s the decisive factor at the box office, which may be why Matthew McConaughey and Thomas Jane were keen snapping up the leading role, with Jane even venturing into donning the Hex outfit with accessorized skin scars.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Dakota Fanning
Directed by: David Slade
The Twilight Saga, like its temperamental immortal vampires, may just keep on coming and never go away, though a new and edgier filmmaker David Slade (Hard Candy) may provide more bite this time around with Eclipse. (Chris Weitz, the man behind the lens of the previous installment, was too preoccupied with New Moon and passed on the opportunity when asked to direct). In any case, a series of mysterious murders continue to ensue, but who’s counting? Kristen Stewart’s Bella is too preoccupied with the romantic pros and cons of cross-species vampire (Robert Pattinson) versus furry werewolf (Taylor Lautner) animal attraction. Oh, and then there’s high school graduation, along with the immortality option, to squeeze into her insanely busy social calendar. The good news is the cranky Volturi and a demonic Dakota Fanning are poised again to spice up all that perpetual glum and weepy girl infatuation with high-tech creature carnage, though Bryce Dallas Howard taking over from Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria (due to the latter’s scheduling conflicts) has left all those loyal fans decidedly irate.
FRIDAY, JULY 2
The Last Airbender
Starring: Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Dev Patel, Cliff Curtis, Noah Ringer
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
A guaranteed winner because M. Night Shyamalan basically has nowhere to go but up after his last critical disaster The Happening, The Last Airbender is the first of three proposed chapters to be crafted by the mystically inclined moviemaker. Noah Ringer is Aang, a solitary superhero out to save a broken world. Teaming up with Waterbender Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), Aang and his supernatural posse venture forth to pacify and preserve the world. The Last Airbender is based on the popular animated Nickelodeon television series and its meteorologically minded, harmonious spotlight on air, water, earth and fire. But the biggest challenge for the young savior in this doomsday eco-adventure blockbuster may be at the box office, what with the heavy summer competition of show and tell superheroes crowding the ’plexes.