Spring 2007 movie preview

Ben Raymond

Winter is over. As the snow melts on cinema’s most desolate season, a promising lineup of cult classics and blockbusters emerges. From pirates to superheroes to brain-eating zombies and one-legged strippers, the season looks to have something for the movie buff in all of us.

Here’s a preview of what to look for in theaters this spring.

“Grindhouse” – April 6

If you find yourself a little too close to personal salvation and inner harmony on Easter weekend, I suggest you hightail it to the nearest cinema and check out “Grindhouse.” It’ll put the sin right back in.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the trailer by now. It’s the one with the chesty stripper shooting a grenade at a pack of zombies with the rocket launcher that her Latino assassin-boyfriend attached to her recently amputated leg. Yeah, that’s right. It’s that one.

From the sultans of smut, Quentin Tarantino (“Kill Bill”) and Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City”), comes possibly the raunchiest, most degenerate piece of voyeuristic trash ever to hit mainstream audiences. Blood, monsters, profanity, explosions and car chases are the name of the game. It’s a gift to every no-good, low-grade, thrill-seeking dunce in creation. That means every 20-something male will go see it.

It looks deliciously bad, and I can’t wait. Hooray for smut!

“Vacancy” – April 20

Everyone likes a good horror flick. The trouble is that there aren’t many worth seeing. I can count on one hand the number of decently scary, well-crafted horror movies released in the last 20 years. It’s a real shame the genre has taken such a steep nosedive into mediocrity.

Amid the innumerable bombs, failures and flops, one title this year shows some potential. “Vacancy” stars Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson as a couple stranded in an isolated hotel where they find a disturbing videotape and a series of hidden cameras installed around their room. Trapped, they are hunted by a group of crazed, homicidal lunatics. They’re screwed; you enjoy.

It sounds simple enough, and it is. But, with two capable actors in the lead and a guy named Nimród (yes, his name is Nimród) directing, it looks worth a try. If the film is as unnerving as the trailer, it’ll be a good time.

“Spider-Man 3” – May 4

My spidey-senses are tingling. Are yours? I hope so.

The third film in the “Spider-Man” series promises to be the darkest yet. Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson prepare for marriage; Harry Osborn seeks revenge for his father’s death; and a dark force engulfs Spider-Man, threatening to destroy him. The next installment of the “Spider-Man” saga is upon us.

Unfortunately, it might be the last. Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire, has said repeatedly that he will be quitting the franchise for good. Fellow star Kirsten Dunst is reported to have similar feelings. Could this be it? Could this be the end of Spider-Man? Will geeks worldwide have to move out of their grandmas’ basements and get jobs?

I say, not quite yet. The stars’ unwillingness to return is definitely a problem. But any problem can be fixed with God or money. This is Hollywood we’re talking about, so the answer certainly won’t be within God’s jurisdiction. Money is the answer.

I cannot see Columbia Pictures allowing a franchise that has already earned well over $1 billion worldwide die before it says so. Nothing short of the biggest payment to a cast in film history will suffice. I’m thinking a $70 million paycheck between Maguire and Dunst will do the trick. Fear not, young nerds.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” – May 25

He’s daring, he’s unkempt, he wears mascara and he knows how to use his sword. Captain Jack is back for one final hoorah.

Jack, Will and Elizabeth journey to the end of the known world to save their skins and, with the help of some new mates and old adversaries, defeat Davy Jones and his crew of barnacled, coralloid scallywags.

The first film was a landmark and a mega-blockbuster success that delighted and thrilled the entire country. The second was a sprawling adventure and one of the highest-grossing films in history. How do you follow this up? You stick with what works is how: a hull-full of humor, a shattering volley of effects and a whole lot of Depp.

Prepare for a swashbuckling good time and another billion-dollar success.

See you at the movies.