Summer movie capsules

Ted Pigeon

“Austin Powers in Goldmember” *** This is a hit-or-miss film that uses all the same jokes the first two “Powers” films did. Many people will think it is garbage, but others will find it hilarious…and I am one of them. It is slow getting on its feet, but has several laugh-out-loud moments and some ingenious, albeit disgusting, visual humor. Good, raunchy fun.

“The Bourne Identity” **½Typical spy movie with a throwaway story, but this film offers some amazing action sequences. Matt Damon plays an amnesiac who discovers his remarkable martial arts ability when he finds out he is being hunted. This highly stylized film has great action, notably one spectacular car chase, but the lack of interest in the overall story makes it all seem unnecessary.

“Men In Black II” *½Probably the only truly bad movie of the summer, this movie is humorless, pointless and unoriginal. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back, and so is everyone else, except this time it just doesn’t work. The same jokes told over and over again just don’t have the same effect as they did the first time, and the movie crashes and burns.

“Minority Report” **** Truly amazing film that proves yet again that Steven Spielberg is the master of storytelling. It is a sci-fi flick starring Tom Cruise as a cop who arrests people before they commit a crime, until he finds himself on the run from his own squad for a murder he has not yet committed. This is a spectacular movie in every way, from its ability to deliver great entertainment to the thought-provoking ideas it examines. This one should not be missed.

“Road to Perdition” ***Atmospheric and absorbing, this film stars Tom Hanks as a hit man who journeys with his son to escape a mob intent on killing him. It’s an artistic triumph from director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) that has been compared to “The Godfather,” but unrightfully so, as its ideas are all out of place in trying to achieve a touching father-son dynamic. Not as deep as it appears, but a good film nonetheless.

“Signs” *** This is yet another venture into the unknown for local director M. Night Shyamalan. But instead of dead people, it is aliens and there are scares galore. However, the plot isn’t the focus in this film. It is about characters, and because of that this film has substance. It delivers the scares and displays a Hitchcock-like style from the young director. Though its plot may be a bit off the wall, its focus on character gives it a unique edge over the so many films out there.

“Spider-man” ** Why this film grossed more than $400 million at the box office is beyond me. Tobey Maguire plays the famous superhero in this lackluster film that will hold your interest for two hours, but falls terribly short of anything more. It’s not a bad film, but a long stretch from a good one.

“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” ***Despite being a movie aimed directly at kids, this movie has a whole lot to offer. It is the touching story of a horse, but unlike so many other movies about animals, this one is far more mature, with narration by the main character instead of dialogue. It ultimately falls into recognizable story formula, but you won’t mind, because there is a unique sincerity in this film that few others possess.

“Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones” ***½George Lucas astounds yet again with this fifth episode of the mythic saga that is “Star Wars,” in which young Anakin Skywalker shows signs of the dark villain he will eventually become. Some of the acting and dialogue may be lacking in quality, but these are problems to be found in the entire series. Overall, it’s an exhilarating film with plenty of action, gorgeous music from John Williams and jaw-dropping visuals.

“The Sum of All Fears” **½ Ben Affleck plays Jack Ryan in this taut, if implausible, political thriller based on the novel by Tom Clancy. This film adaptation is interesting and thrilling, but a little corny for its own good. Problems likely won’t arise while you’re watching it, but rather when you start thinking about it.

“XXX” **½This film is the epitome of summer entertainment. It’s mindless, but has enough explosions and over-the-top action sequences to entertain for two hours. Instead of James Bond, Vin Diesel plays the secret agent who gets to blow stuff up the entire time and who gets the girl in the end. It may be stupid, but it’s certainly not boring. It’s just simple, thought-free entertainment.