Star Wars: The Clone Wars
directed by Dave Filoni
For those Star Wars fans who left feeling unsatisfied when the end credits to Revenge of the Sith rolled in 2005, Star Wars: The Clone Wars may provide answers to some burning questions. The Clone Wars is the first animated Star Wars feature film and will lead the way for a TV series set to debut this fall on the Cartoon Network and TNT. The newest chapter in the Star Wars galaxy fills in the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, as the ongoing intergalactic battle between the Jedis of the Republic and the battle droids of the Trade Federation reaches a fever pitch. (Won’t they ever just get along?) Many of the iconic characters from the live-action films make appearances, as do some of the voices of the actors who played them, including Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and Anthony Daniels as the irrepressible C-3P0. While George Lucas has less direct involvement than he did on the previous films, acting strictly as an executive producer, diehard Star Wars fans, if no one else, will probably turn out for The Clone Wars regardless, eager for another tale set in that galaxy far, far away.
directed by Ben Stiller
One of the most hotly anticipated comedies of the summer is also, according to many reviews, by far the funniest. Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder in an exclusive cover story in MM’s Summer 2008 issue”>who was interviewed about Tropic Thunder in an exclusive cover story in MM’s Summer 2008 issue) co-wrote, directed and stars as one of several actors (including Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.) shooting a big-budget war movie in Southeast Asia. When a dangerous, real-life conflict arises, the actors are forced to become the intrepid soldiers they’re depicting. The film has already courted controversy due to Downey’s bold, must-see performance as Kirk Lazarus, the ultimate Method actor who surgically darkens his skin in order to play an African American soldier. With great early buzz, a well-deserved R rating and a supposedly brilliant cameo appearance by Tom Cruise as a balding, movie studio bigwig, this action-war-comedy could very well be the late summer hit. Who knows, this rag-tag team of actors-turned-soldiers might even be able to replace The Dark Knight at the top of the box office come Monday.
directed by Alexandre Aja
In this horror flick, helmed by French moviemaker Alexandre Aja, Kiefer Sutherland plays an ex-cop whose family is targeted by an evil supernatural force that uses mirrors as a gateway to invade their home. Aja has already demonstrated his ability to make audiences squirm with such recent horror fare as the slasher-driven High Tension and the uber-violent remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Whether Aja can hold on to his crown as the Prince of Gore with Mirrors remains to be seen.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
directed by Woody Allen
Woody Allen is supposedly back in fine form with his latest film, which many claim is his best since 2005’s Oscar-nominated Match Point. Allen reteams with his current muse, Scarlett Johannson, for this breezy romantic comedy-drama. Rebecca Hall plays Vicky to Johannson’s Cristina, best friends who become enamored with the same hunky painter (Javier Bardem) while on summer vacation in Spain. The stakes are raised when the painter’s bitter, seductive ex-wife (Penélope Cruz), with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, re-enters the picture. The female-centered film includes a much talked-about and anticipated love scene between Johansson and Cruz. Allen’s recent work has been re-energized by relocating from his native New York. With a top-notch cast and the usual allotment of witty Allen one-liners, the film should prove to be a good alternative for adults wishing to avoid the usual witless late-summer Hollywood fare.
Henry Poole Is Here
directed by Mark Pellington
In this quirky comedy-drama, Luke Wilson stars as the disillusioned, misanthropic title character who leaves his fiancée and family business to spend what he believes are his remaining days alone. (Sounds like a real cheery optimist, doesn’t he?) Everything seems to be going according to Henry’s plan until the discovery of a “miracle” by a nosy neighbor intrudes upon his isolation and restores his faith and appreciation for life. While the film didn’t receive the warmest reception at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, Henry Poole at least looks more ambitious and offbeat than the typically bland comedies Wilson has recently been starring in as of late.
Fly Me To The Moon
directed by Ben Stassen
This Belgian import (Americanized with the voices of English-speaking actors) is the first animated film created specifically for 3-D. The story centers around three adventurous houseflies who get launched into outer space when they sneak aboard Apollo 11’s historic lunar mission. The film even features legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin playing himself. Already a hit in its native country, the 3-D factor can only increase anticipation for what otherwise looks like a fairly routine kid-flick. Last month’s live-action 3-D feature Journey to the Center of the Earth did fair business at the box office; Fly Me To The Moon may be poised to fly up the charts as well and cash in on the 3-D trend.