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LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!

America has been fascinated with movies since they were invented. With the advent of adding sound to the film strip itself, movies exploded in popularity and continue to become a more pervasive part of our society. The glamour, the larger-than-life personas, the studio mogul's obsessive control, and the behind-the-scenes shenanigans have intrigued and infuriated us over the years. And still we watch.

No other entertainment medium has caught the public's attention quite like the movies. Good or bad, we go to the theaters in droves every weekend. And today, there is a genre of film for everyone's taste: sci-fi, action, drama, comedy, anime, independent (more a way of doing film than a specific genre as any genre can be touched on), and others. Even musicals are making a comeback.

So what is coming out this summer, and should you watch it? I'll tell you about some of the movies coming out, what I think about them and expect them to be like. I will not tell you whether you should watch a movie or not; that is completely up to you. My goal is to set your expectations at a realistic level so you are not disappointed (devastated?) when walking out of the theater.

First, some movies that have recently come out (at the time of this writing):

X2, the second X-Men movie, has Magneto and his band of mutants joining with Professor Xavier and his students to combat a common enemy set on destroying all of them. With the characters fairly well-established in the first movie, this movie concentrates more on story. And it pays off: X-Men was pretty good; X2 is better. The opening scene left me breathless and is well worth the price of admission.

The Matrix Reloaded picks up a short time after The Matrix ended. Neo is confident in his abilities, and we learn more about the workings of The Matrix. There are many questions raised which should be resolved by the third installment due in November (Agent Smith returns?). This movie does not end so much as it just stops; you are now primed for The Matrix Revolutions.

The next Pixar (Toy Story, Monsters, Inc.) picture, Finding Nemo, continues their standards of excellence in 3-D animation. The story is a little weaker than other Pixar offerings but still good; there are some very intense scenes for younger viewers. The adventures in searching for Nemo are quite thrilling, and, if they're not careful, many parents might learn a thing or two about their kids.

Coming up...

The Hulk brings the big green guy to the big silver screen. The Hulk character is entirely computer-generated and, frankly, looks cartoony. Hopefully, Ang Lee (director) will offset this with an extremely strong story, but I am expecting very little from this movie. I'm mainly going to see Jennifer Connelly.

From Justin to Kelly harkens back to the beach movies of the fifties with a touch of Grease thrown in. Fox Studios moved the movie from a February release to the summer after viewing it, stating that they felt it was a very strong summer release and could compete. Planning to offer the DVD six weeks after the film's release belies that belief, though they have backed away from that plan. This looks like a fun movie if not a great or meaningful one.

Alex & Emma looks like a pale imitation of When Harry Met Sally, complete with diner scene. I'll catch it on rental.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle follows in the footsteps of the first movie: over-the-top action and lots of disguises. Fun? You betcha! Demi Moore looks pretty evil with the dark eyes in this one.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde. The cleverest thing about this movie appears to be its title. The first movie was charming; this one looks hackneyed.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines brings the next chapter in the successful Terminator series. A new Terminator model (a "girl"!) comes back to take out John Connor again. From previews, this looks to be as enjoyable as T2 was.

28 Days Later is not a sequel to Sandra Bullock's 28 Days. It is instead in the horror/thriller genre (see -- nothing's pure anymore) and is about a virus that wipes out most of the Earth's population. Think a modern day Night of the Living Dead, except they aren't zombies, just people (well, okay, they are zombies).

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (aka LXG) stars Sean Connery as the leader, Allan Quartermain, of a group of fictional characters, including The Invisible Man, Mr. Hyde, and Captain Nemo among others, all joined together to fight a common menace. The comic book this movie is based upon was fantastic. The movie seems to keep the spirit of the comic in its translation to the big screen.

Movies I think will be worth seeing:
The Italian Job (Edward Norton, Mini-Coopers)
The Hard Word (Guy Pearce, British bank robbers)
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (animated, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones)
Pirates of the Caribbean (Johnny Depp, pirates)

Nothing else coming out between now and the second week of July captured my attention. Perhaps I'll view one of these movies on rental and think it one of the best of the year. But it would probably be two or three years before I ever saw it.
- Jack Curl
July 2003
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