Summer movies to anticipate

Ben Raymond

We’re all sick of writing papers, completing projects and studying for finals. The intoxicating aroma of summer effuses around campus, teasing us cruelly, calling us away from our studies. As if we needed yet another reason to be distracted, the summer months are looking to be a great time at the Cineplex.

With the penultimate appearance of the late Heath Ledger, two massive superhero blockbusters, Pixar’s latest gem and the return of Indiana Jones all on the slate, how can we lose?

Here’s a sneak peek of what to look for in theaters this summer.

“Iron Man”


Geeks of America, lay down your comic books!

“Iron Man” hits theaters tomorrow.

Out of rehab and back into form, Robert Downey Jr. trades peace-pipe for weapon-suit in the title role of the popular Marvel comic franchise.

Co-starring Terrence Howard (“Hustle & Flow”) and Jeff Bridges (“The Big Lebowski”), “Iron Man” tells the tale of billionaire arms manufacturer Tony Stark (Downey Jr.), who, after a freak accident, decides to fight evil in his ironclad, jet-propelled, machine-gunning, rocket-launching earth suit.

It doesn’t get any dorkier than that. I can’t say I expect much from “Iron Man.”

Downey Jr. is a top-notch actor, and the special effects look great, but with a director (Jon Favreau), whose corpus includes such cinematic flops as “Elf” and “Zathura,” at the helm, don’t expect a classic.

The one saving grace may be writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who penned the awe-inspiring “Children of Men” two years ago.

Regardless of quality, “Iron Man” will haul-in a truckload of money at the box office.

One more thing: if it rains, will Iron Man rust?

“The Chronicles of

Narnia: Prince Caspian”

May 16

After the hugely successful first installment of the Narnia film franchise in 2005, writer/director Andrew Adamson brings audiences back inside the wardrobe with “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.”

England’s four most adorable post-pubescent war children venture once again into Narnia to help crown Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) as the rightful leader of the corrupt kingdom.

“Prince Caspian” promises to be less placid than its predecessor. More monsters and fewer talking beavers will make for a more epic picture. Don’t be fooled, though. “Prince Caspian” landed a PG rating.

So, don’t expect your sadistic bloodlust to be slaked; the 6-year-old next to you is the target audience. But seriously … who can pass on an opportunity to listen to a lion with the voice of Oscar Schindler?

“Prince Caspian” also stars recently Oscared Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”) as the White Witch – a role she narrowly won over Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“Indiana Jones and

the Kingdom of the

Crystal Skull”

May 22

He’s back! The hat. The whip. The wit. Indiana Jones. This is as exciting as moviemaking gets!

After a 19-year hiatus, everyone’s favorite warrior/archeologist returns for yet another adventure in the franchise’s most ridiculously titled installment yet, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

In “Indy 4,” Dr. Jones will be once again called back to action to prevent Soviet Russia from obtaining the powerful and mysterious artifacts called “the crystal skulls.”

Sound cheesy? No more so than fighting the Nazis for the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail.

Harrison Ford is unstoppable. At the age of 65 (yes, he’s 65), Ford is a living legend. After “Indy 4,” the legend will swell to a newfound intensity. Is another Oscar nomination in his future? I think yes.

Director Steven Spielberg and writer/creator George Lucas are also on-board for “Indy 4.”

Joining them in the cast are Shia LeBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Jon Hurt, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent and Karen Allen.

After Lucas turned down the film’s original script written by Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”), cinephiles like yours truly began to worry.

The working script was written by longtime Spielberg cohort David Koepp – a man who has in the past done little more than dilute Spielberg’s film with clichéd, hackneyed writing. Can he eek-out a script worthy of its pedigree? We shall see.

The May 22 release of the fourth Indiana Jones film is truly a great event in modern cinema.


June 27

If it came down to it and I had to give you my preliminary prediction for my favorite film of 2008, I would say, hands-down, it’s Pixar’s latest, “Wall-E.”

Over the past dozen or so years, Pixar has been Hollywood’s most consistent studio. From skittish monsters to talking cars, from “Toy Story” in 1995 to “Ratatouille” this past summer, Pixar has consistently delighted audiences young and old.

“Wall-E” looks to be another instant classic. Andrew Stanton, writer/director of “Finding Nemo,” brings us the story of Wall-E, a diligent, rambunctious robot who, for the past 700 years, has been cleaning-up a post-apocalyptic earth.

One day, a spaceship lands, bringing Wall-E on an unexpected, interstellar adventure.

The voice of Wall-E is none other than Ben Burtt, the voice of R2-D2 in the “Star Wars” trilogies.

All indications are “Wall-E” will be Pixar’s most daring effort to date.

“The Dark Knight”

July 18

It goes without saying the untimely death of Heath Ledger is now the main draw for the second film in the new “Batman” series, “The Dark Knight.”

Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring fellow “Batman Begins” compatriots Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Gary Oldman, “The Dark Knight” is stacked.

That’s not to mention the addition of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who replaces the out-of-favor Katie Holmes as the new Rachel Dawes.

Even before Ledger’s death, the anticipation of his performance was at a fever pitch. Trailers show Ledger smiling ear to ear with sadistic menace. His frenzied cackle permeates throughout.

I don’t think it is too far of a stretch to imagine Ledger not only being nominated for an Oscar next January but possibly a posthumous win as well.

See you at the movies.