Summer films crackle with retro flair

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So many films, so little time. As Hollywood prepares its annual
dash for your cash, The University News offers a brief glimpse into
this summer’s hottest blockbusters.

Troy
opens May 14

Movies like Braveheart and Gladiator started a new
trend in Hollywood as of late. Due to their success, and with the
help of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, big-budgeted epic
action films are storming the theaters. King Arthur and
Alexander (as in Alexander the Great) are all coming out
this year, and Troy makes its debut this summer.

Based on the Greek myth of Helen of Troy, the two great nations
of Greece and Troy go to war with each other, over the fact that
Helen was stolen away from her Spartan husband, King Menelaus.

The cast of Troy has some of the biggest names in
Hollywood today–Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Brian Cox and
Peter O’Toole.

Although this film is backed by big names, special effects and
major hype, the studios have had severe setbacks during
production.

Originally set to shoot in Morocco, the film had to relocate due
to the war in Iraq. Because of the move, many of their props and
sets were damaged and had to be rebuilt. After all these issues the
budget for Troy is now around the $200 million mark, making
box-office gross an important factor in the film’s success.

-Dave Decepida

The Day After Tomorrow
opens May 14

Poised to be a major box office champion this summer, The Day
After Tomorrow
promises to be director Roland Emmerich’s next
big blockbuster, after his mega hit Independence Day.

Tomorrow takes another look at the world facing disaster;
however, this time, instead of aliens, natural disasters strike the
earth due to greenhouse and global-warming effects.

Dennis Quaid stars as paleoclimatologist (a scientist who
studies the changes in weather in the past) Adrian Hall, who
discovers that worldwide catastrophes are on the verge of erupting
all over the world.

Jake Gyllenhaal, of Donnie Darko and The Good Girl
fame, plays Sam Hall, Quaid’s son. We follow Adrian Hall as he
attempts to save his son from a flooded New York City. Tornadoes,
hurricanes, hailstorms, tsunamis, blizzards, floods and typhoons
rip through cities like New York and Los Angeles leaving everything
in their path decimated.

With a budget of more than $100 million, The Day After
Tomorrow
guarantees some of the most advanced and realistic
effects seen to date.

Unless you study meteorology, you probably won’t leave the
theater with anything educational from this film; rather, like most
summer movies, this is meant to be a roller-coaster ride of action
and special effects.

-DD

Spider-Man 2
opens June 30

The first Spider-Man film was a cinematic tour de force
that reduced even the most pessimistic of comic geeks tears of joy.
So how can the sequel possibly improve on the best origin story
since Superman and the highest-opening film of all time? For
starters, by hiring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon
(The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) to pen the
screenplay. Like its predecessor, Spider-Man 2 will explore
the ongoing tribulations of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) as he
struggles to find his place in life.

That place may include romantic time with the stunning Mary Jane
(Kirsten Dunst), but first the webslinger must eliminate the threat
of Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina). But the injuries from Doc Ock are
nothing compared to Peter’s heartbreak after seeing his best
friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), reunite with Mary Jane and
swear vengeance on Spider-Man. From the looks of the trailer, it
looks like young Harry might even discover that his best friend and
his worst enemy are one and the same.

If you remotely enjoyed the first film’s deft combination of
real-life angst and superhero theatrics, Spider-Man 2 should
improve these themes by, well, leaps and bounds.

-Jon Butler

Anchorman
opens July 9

Not even All the President’s Men approaches the epic
scale of this riveting tale of ’70s journalism, starring Will
Ferrell. Just kidding. Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, a pompous
anchor whose penchant for partying is rivaled only by his
professional ineptitude. Ron’s world turns upside down when, horror
of horrors, women enter the workplace and he is paired with
Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Despite Ron’s
insistance that Veronica cover such gripping topics as cat fashion
shows and cooking, he soon realizes that Veronica is a talented
journalist and may threaten his position as Portland’s most
immaculately coiffed, mustachioed newsman.

Ferrell’s status as Hollywood’s man-of-the-hour comedian
all but guarantees hilarious cameos, and Daily Show correspondent
Steve Carell is one of Ron’s colleagues. It remains to be seen if
Anchorman will follow the smutty success of Old School or be
watered down for Elf‘s family-friendly audience, but Farrell
is sure to captivate either way. Miss Anchorman at your own
risk: Ron Burgundy may become as venerated by reporters as Frank
“The Tank” was by frat guys.

-JB

Catwoman
opens July 23

The first of two additions to the Batman-film franchise
(Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins is slated for 2005), this
spin-off focuses on the perennially popular titular character.
Suiting up as the world’s preeminent cat burglar is Oscar-winner
Halle Berry, taking over the role played by Michelle Pfeiffer in
1992’s Batman Returns. Directed by major studio first-timer
Pitof and written by the folks who brought last summer’s
surprisingly well-done Terminator 3, Catwoman will
seek to reclaim the fortunes of the house that Burton built.

Berry plays Patience Price, a graphic designer for cosmetic
giant Hedare Beauty. When she discovers that her company is running
a dirty operation, Patience finds herself in the middle of
unethical maneuvering that would shock even Martha Stewart and
Enron executives. However, fate comes to Patience’s aid as she
mystically develops cat-like powers, including heightened senses,
perfect balance and the ability to look really good in tight
leather. With these powers, the newly minted Catwoman begins her
quest to set things right in the corporate world.

The film was marred by accidents to Berry on-set, but this July
will prove whether this film can nimbly climb the box office or
trip over its own two feet.

-James Malone

Alien vs. Predator
opens Aug. 6

Eventually, all comparisons of action films will turn toward who
could kick whose ass in a fight. Horror fans got their ultimate
nightmare realized in Freddy Vs. Jason, and now sci-fi fans
have their most vicious dreams put to celluloid with this summer’s
Paul W.S. Anderson-directed showdown of homo sapiens-whuppin’
species, Alien vs. Predator.

When a relatively present-day expedition (including Alien
series regular Lance Henriksen) finds a temple in Antarctica that
predates ancient Egypt. Finding skeletal remains with unusual holes
in their rib cages, the team realizes that there is something
amiss. Obviously, everyone’s favorite H.R. Giger-designed terrors
are lurking around. To complicate things, a team of five young
Predators arrives to complete their coming of age ritual–to kill
the Aliens.

Who wins in the end? Will mankind survive? Can the movie live up
to its hype? These questions will be answered when Alien Vs.
Predator
attempts to battle its way to the top of the box
office in August.

-JM